Rosemary Nixon is a well-known figure in the Calgary literary scene, so I’ve been eager to something of hers for awhile. Her last novel Kalila didn’t appeal to me because of the heart-wrenching subject, so when a book of linked short stories labelled ‘humorous’ came along, I was eager to pick it up, and I’m really glad I did.
I love reading books by Alberta authors because I find they all have a very no-nonsense way of approaching difficult subject matter-what’s so refreshing about Are you Ready to be Lucky? is that it demonstrates this trait in an appealing way. The characters that whirl around in the story lines all face difficult situations, but endure their plights with humor and optimism-this in a nutshell, is how I view Albertans. And although some may be upset with me for painting the entire province with the same paintbrush, please understand I am offering up a compliment here. For example, most Calgarians will fondly describe the numerous chinooks that come around through winter, but cheerfully admit that during those same warm spells, they experience the most painful kinds of migraines possible. As a newly transplanted Ontario-an, I would hear these stories and grimace, feeling terrible for those who relayed these stories to me, not believing that they were really that comfortable with their plight- but now I see that’s just part of being westerner!
Yes-Albertans are tough, and so are Nixon’s characters. Roslyn was by far my favourite, slogging her way through an ill-fated marriage to a British man named Duncan, who was clearly searching for a slave rather than a wife. This book is far from a happy-ending fairy tale, but I find that each character is left with what they deserve, and this is far more satisfying for a reader.I will point out that most of the characters in Nixon’s collection are older, and hitting points in their lives that I (luckily) couldn’t relate to yet. Second marriages, grandkids and mid-life crises, are all dealt with in this book, albeit in a light way.
I have one minor problem what I read about the book-not the book itself, but the media stories on it. You can check them out here and here, and here. I only reference these to prove a point that I have-unlike what these articles and interviews say, this book is not raunchy! It fits all the other categories that the journalists mention (great writing, tawdry characters, funny dialogue) but raunchy it is not. Whether this was the journalist’s, publisher’s, or Nixon’s idea to use the word ‘raunchy’ I’m not sure, but if that’s what you’re looking for, I’ll send you along to a review of a book that I did earlier which was most definitely raunchy.
If you want a fun read with some laugh-out-loud moments, please pick this book up. And, if you’re in the mood to party with some other tough westerners and hear Nixon read from the book herself, head to the Freehand Bash at the National Music Centre on Nov 21!