We're cheering the Toronto Public Library's selection for their One Book award. Maggie Helwig's 2008 release Girls Fall Down (Coach House), her Toronto-set story of post 9/11 paranoia, has been named as the one book Torontonians just have to read this year.
Helwig, who's recently been ordained as an Anglican minister, reads as part of the April festival Keep Toronto Reading, where she'll also participate in a panel talking about occupying public spaces and another on marginalized communities in Toronto.
And the long-time activist, a consistent presence at the Occupy Toronto action - she helped organized ministerial witnesses - has a lot to say about both those topics - reason one why we're impressed with the library's choice.
Reason two: Helwig's a spectacularly modest character. Though proud of the honour, she's uncomfortable a with the whole idea of celebrating just one book. In an interview with the Star, she allowed that "it was nice to have the endorsement, but I have to admit to slight qualms about the idea that everybody should read just one book. But better that than no book at all."
It's also pretty thrilling to see a book published by iconic small press Coach House - whose editorial policies are driven by artistry instead of commercial appeal - get some recognition.
Not to say that Girls Fall Down is a difficult read - far from it. Vividly using our city as its setting - yet another reason for celebration - the book tracks a not-so-lovable photographer obsessed with an ex-girlfriend and slowly going blind in a city where girls keep collapsing from a mysterious ailment. The book is powerful and poetic, written in pitch-perfect prose. And no, it's far from a bummer.