Saturday, January 15, 2005


Canadian novelist Elizabeth Hay Has published two novels in the US, The Student of Weather and Garbo Laughs. They could not be more different. If they were movies they'd be Hud and Some Like it Hot. I compare them to movies because they are both complexly allusive to movies, The Student of Weather in its language and imagery and Garbo Laughs in its very essence.
Garbo Laughs slipped in under the misternouse radar a couple of years ago and is now available as a trade paperback. It's a very funny book about Harriett Browning, a film-obsessed Ottawa writer, for whom an enviable life has become bland next to her need for the immediate excitement of life in the movies. Great characters and wonderful plot surprises. Harriett is a gloomy sort who is played by Hay for subtlest kind of laughs. She and her 10 year old son, Kenny, have a running debate about the comparitive merits of Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra. Her interesting and sweet husband Lew cannot match Cary Grant and is kept at a poignant distance by Harriett's obsessions.


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