I look forward to future novels from Dennis Bock. Reviewed by Dale-Anne Stewart Sep 10, Penny McGill rated it really liked it Shelves: I liked this book a great deal and had a couple of good conversations about it on the weekend with patrons. They were evenly divided - one liked it and one found it hard to read - but we all agreed that the main character was self-centred but interesting.
I don't mind an aggravating character and thought that, despite him being a bit egotistical, he was making interesting decisions and showing a lot of growth. It was a wonderful trip through 20 years of this man's life as he returns to his home I liked this book a great deal and had a couple of good conversations about it on the weekend with patrons. It was a wonderful trip through 20 years of this man's life as he returns to his home town Toronto and gets to know his brother and nephews after years away.
He reflects upon his childhood, thinks about his marriage and parenthood and revisits the death of a cherished friend from his university days. It felt like a true representation of how all of these feeling swirl together to make this character the man he is and after reading the book I thought about it for quite a while. I did think he grew as a person and that Dennis Bock wrote a beautiful novel filled with the layers a man like Charlie should have.
It was easy to follow Charlie as he reminisced about past love and his relationship with his awful brother and I felt the ending was very satisfying. In this I am a direct opposite to a fast-reading patron who felt she had to see how it ended, just because she disliked the main character so much, and she didn't see that the ending 'rang true'. So, it's a book that is worth suggesting to patrons, if only to have the fun of talking about it when they bring it back.
I felt it would be a nice selection for book clubs because Charlie lives an international life and is struggling with parenting. There is a lot in this book for a group to talk about and it would be particularly fun for a group with men and women - so fun. Oct 27, Kimbofo rated it really liked it Shelves: I wanted to read it, because I generally like stories about repatriation; but I also didn't want to read it, because I know Trevor, from The Mookse and The Gripes , didn't like it.
Yet, when I opened this book on Saturday afternoon, thinking I'd just read a couple of chapters, I found myself completely absorbed by this tale of two divorced men and their fragile I'll admit that I was in two minds about reading Dennis Bock's Going Home Again , which has been shortlisted for this year's Giller Prize.
Yet, when I opened this book on Saturday afternoon, thinking I'd just read a couple of chapters, I found myself completely absorbed by this tale of two divorced men and their fragile relationships with those around them, and before I knew it I had almost finished the entire novel.
The story is narrated by Charlie Bellerose, a Canadian who has spent the best part of 20 years living in Madrid, where he is married with a year-old daughter. But things are not as cosy as they first seem. Charlie and his Spanish wife are estranged, and Charlie has made the decision to return home to Toronto, where he plans to open his fifth foreign language school and start his life afresh.
And it is here in Toronto that he re-establishes contact with his older brother, Nate, with whom he has a troubled relationship. The last time he saw Nate was a decade ago — and the two have not been on speaking terms since. But things are different now — Nate seems older and wiser, even if he is going through a rather messy divorce with his wife, Monica, and he is sharing responsibility for bringing up their two sons, Titus and Quinn.
To read the rest of my review, please visit my blog. Sep 22, Jennifer Venner rated it really liked it. I have read Dennis Bock's previous works The Ash Garden, The Communist's Daughter and found them quite restrained, to the point of being crystallized, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect with this latest venture. I was intrigued by the immediacy of the time and place Toronto, present day as opposed to the settings of his last books China, Hiroshima.
The writing style was markedly different as well, more relaxed, less troubled, at least, not with global or historical concerns. It is as if I have read Dennis Bock's previous works The Ash Garden, The Communist's Daughter and found them quite restrained, to the point of being crystallized, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect with this latest venture. It is as if Bock has drawn his orbit closer to what he knows, and with that decision, has permitted himself to take some deep breaths and reflect.
The characters are all people we know, and we can recognize them also in ourselves. Charlie is reflective but also very pragmatic, and his concerns are real 21st century realities: But going home entails more than just his business; he has to contend with a troubled brother and with a memories elicited by a chance encounter with a woman he loved in university. All of this happens quite organically, and touchingly, and Bock doesn't push the drama. He relies on the mentality of most of us as we navigate through the surprises and doubts of contemporary life - I think we can all relate to Charlie's feelings of confusion, trepidation and even joy.
This is not a novel about despair, but there is a transformation in it that we can all recognize, the subtle transformations we all deal with, sometimes adequately, sometimes not. Jan 12, Tonya added it Shelves: After separating, somewhat amicably, from his wife, he moves from Madrid ba After two acclaimed historical novels, one of Canada's most celebrated young writers now goes contemporary with the vibrant story of a man taking stock of the shape his life has taken, and why, and what-as a husband, a father, a brother, and an uncle-his responsibilities truly are.
This book will stay with me for a long time. And that is saying something. I tend to like female authors more than the male authors, I have a couple of male authors I like, but not love. But Dennis has been moved to that list! I liked how he tried to take care of his brother. Such simple words but when you put them all together, it just wowed me. Read it, you just must! Jan 11, Charles rated it liked it. They spend a lot of time together until Miles dies falling off a footbridge-which turns out later is suicide precipitated by Holly's admission that she loves Charlie.
Though they will form a relationship, it will be marred by Holly's sense of guilt. He owns several language schools. However the marriage breaks up when Ava is Nate's ex-wife has moved in with her Swedish wealthy lover. When Charlie returns to Madrid for Ava's 13th BD, he renews his relation with Isobel, and later will return permanently to his family there.
Oct 03, Steven Buechler rated it it was amazing. And it is the complexities that surround that question that he builds his poignant novel around. Page 46 A lot disappears from your memory in two decades. Things slip and fade and finally vanish. Places you've seen, people you knew, those wild revelations you thought would change your life.
Where do they go? But there are things about my student days that I still remember perfectly - a view from a window, h 'Do we fail love or does love fail us? But there are things about my student days that I still remember perfectly - a view from a window, how an old friend moved when he was in a hurry, the autumn sunshine catching the bright white pages of a book turned open on a desk. Seeing Holly again brought that world back into sharp focus for me. It was like no time at all had passed since that weekend in Montreal when I first met her.
The book deals with a period of life that the protagonist Charlie Bellerose is in flux with. He is recently separated from his wife and his year-old daughter. He comes back to his native Canada and is trying to build a relationship with his brother. And worse of it all, he has bumps into a ex-girlfriend whom he shares some painful memories. Link to my blog It must have been a slow year for Giller nominees.
Going Home Again reads easily and is mildly interesting as travelogue, criss-crossing the Atlantic between Canada and Europe several times. However, it does this perhaps too many times for the relatively short length of the novel, managing to fit in Toronto, Montreal, Berlin and Madrid, with side-trips to Niagara Falls and Paris in pages.
None of the characters are particularly engaging, and their upper-middle class psychodramas are the stuf It must have been a slow year for Giller nominees. None of the characters are particularly engaging, and their upper-middle class psychodramas are the stuff of old drama series like Thirtysomething. The not-very-nuanced messages seem to be that family, lovers and ourselves can be disappointing and that being connected to others is messy and difficult. Not Earth-shattering stuff by any means. Everything feels a bit muted and careful.
Still, if you want something to while away a few hours at the beach or on a plane you might want to check it out of the library. I think that if I had had to purchase this book, I would have been even less favorably disposed to it. Sep 12, Susan rated it it was amazing.
- Striving To Be Accepted.
- The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart.
Charlie is a successful businessman living in Madrid with his wife and daughter when Isabel informs him shes been having an affair and their marriage is over. In spite of his need to keep his relationship with his 12 year old daughter strong, he heads home to Toronto to start a new branch of his language schools and to escape. To his surprise he is able to find some sort of family with his brother, long estranged and also recently separated, and the nephews he has never met, though it is clear t Charlie is a successful businessman living in Madrid with his wife and daughter when Isabel informs him shes been having an affair and their marriage is over.
To his surprise he is able to find some sort of family with his brother, long estranged and also recently separated, and the nephews he has never met, though it is clear there is trouble here too. A brief meeting with his first girlfriend sends Charlie into a tailspin of memories as he deals with work and struggles to keep connected to his daughter. But there are tragedies here, way in the past, unresolved, and also ahead. A really good story, ultimately a story about love. The characters, well, mostly Charlie but all are well written, just not all likable, and the plot, pulled me in very quickly and worked its way into my heart.
Helpful hint-- reread the prologue when you finish the book. In very simple prose Dennis Bock has created an easy read that digs deep into the fractured heart of his main character, Charlie Bellerose. The story travels back and forth in time between a young Charlie and the now middle aged father of a twelve year old daughter who is newly separated from his Spanish wife.
The flailing protagonist has an eventful year that has him questioning all of the major relationships in his life, both past and present, and is humbled to realize that "I was in the middl In very simple prose Dennis Bock has created an easy read that digs deep into the fractured heart of his main character, Charlie Bellerose.
The flailing protagonist has an eventful year that has him questioning all of the major relationships in his life, both past and present, and is humbled to realize that "I was in the middle of a life I hadn't paid much attention to. I don't know if it is him or the author himself who is the bigger romantic, but I liked Charlie Bellerose, and I think that he will stick with me for awhile!
Aug 31, Michael May rated it really liked it. I picked this up instead because my parents died young and my brother and I aren't very close. I'm in my 40s, I've been married for a while, and I have kids, so I was interested in Bock's reflective, masculine approach to these sorts of relationships. A lot of Bock's writing is brilliant, especially scenes from the narrator's early years in Spain, but I did have trouble rela I hadn't read Dennis Bock's other books, and I didn't know that Going Home Again had been shortlisted for the Giller Prize.
A lot of Bock's writing is brilliant, especially scenes from the narrator's early years in Spain, but I did have trouble relating to the older businessman to whom everything comes so easy, even his difficult relationships, which seem more like essay exercises than lived experiences. I would have appreciated more complexity and ambiguity and slightly less interpretation and introspection, but overall I enjoyed this novel.
Aug 12, Veronica rated it really liked it Shelves: I was pleasantly surprised by this novel. I wasn't exactly sure what I was expecting but I always get such a thrill over reading a story that takes place in my fair city. I was surprisingly not sketchy. I met my friends at Hoboken and kick turned on the larger ramp and did all of my basic tricks on the smaller one. I had to seriously restrain myself from trying anything and from skating for too long. My plan is to put on my wrist guard and skate gently an hour or so a week for the next month.
Just this minor in the scheme of things injury took a toll on me, not only physically but personally, professionally and financially. Ed broke his wrist his first day skating again. Ray horrifically broke his arm on the bigger Hoboken mini. This woman Kathy broke her wrist the same way as mine when someone dropped in on her in the old House of Vans bowl. Andrew broke his elbow at Chelsea. Steve broke his wrist. There were also a myriad of other less dramatic muscle, tendon and ligament injuries that were just as debilitating.
The kids heal fast. The adults… sometimes they will be gone for almost a year. In some ways it was inevitable that this would happen to me but I never thought it would. I slowly worked tricks from tiny to medium sized and never tried anything complicated on anything big. In fact, some of my friends joked that they never saw me fall. That is an exaggeration but I normally only took one tumble a session, if that.
My worries were that I was going to pull something in my knee or lower back, something that would make skating uncomfortable and force me to stretch and do yoga or other exercises. I never thought I would break something. I never even broke anything as a kid, jumping down stairs. The piper will have to be paid. It may be minor but it may be something major, something that at our age could limit you physically for the rest of your life.
We are almost the same age and I used a teenage picture of him as a surrogate for me in one of my earliest blog posts. He retired from skateboarding when he broke his leg. If that had happened to me I think I may have quit too. In fact I believe the opposite. Its not a comfortable thought, being made to confront the reality of aging, but at some point I know I am not going to be able to do this any longer. Skateboarding has its claws deep in me. For my 42 nd birthday I treated myself to a cheap HD camcorder, fish eye lens and handle and started doing some filming, but that is a pale substitute for the real thing.
I lay in bed at night imagining all the tricks I want to learn when I can start skating again. Yet, this is tempered by reality and I am not sure what to expect going forward. Will I have lost a bunch of tricks?
Going Home Again by Dennis Bock
Will it all come back and I will continue to improve? Will I be afraid and much more cautious? Will I make the switch into fully padded old man bowl skating? Will I just mess around on small obstacles and skate street more? That all remains to be seen. Which means there will be at least one more blog post coming. A number of different people have encouraged me to keep it going but, while I am not ruling out that possibility, I always envisioned this blog as a finite project. It was to be a personal history of the two phases of my skateboarding, as a teenager and as an adult.
It has reached its conclusion, save for one final thing, which is contemporary video. What follows are a series of clips spanning the last two and half years. Marc was one of my good friends in high school and a core member of my skate crew. He started skating again almost exactly one year ago.
He now lives in Italy yet, despite the ocean between us, we talk nearly daily about skateboard related ephemera. He was the obvious choice when I decided that, instead of writing about it, I wanted to have a conversation about what it means to be an adult skateboarder. It turned out better than I had hoped. A few posts ago I wrote about how watching skate videos inspired me to start skating again.
Where did your desire to start again came from? I think I may have had a big influence on you. Skateboarding was always in the back of my mind, that is just what it is like when you skated. You walk down the street and your eye just roves towards possible spots. You see a set of stairs, you see a ledge, you see a bank and your mind skates it.
I think that has always been there for me, ever since I quit. It never went away. But all of this is probably a Facebook phenomenon. At some point, or , maybe even earlier, you were sending me videos. You sent me Cheese and Crackers , with Daewon and Haslam on the mini ramp…. For me, mini ramps were still Jeff B in Doing what they were doing [in Cheese and Crackers] was literally not on my radar at all.
It blew me away. Where has it gone? I was really fascinated by where skateboarding had gone and it was exciting watching these videos. You kept sending them I started searching them out myself. I had no idea who these people were but it was interesting and it just snowballed. I wanted to see if I could do it again. I got my board on November 16th of last year. I received it in the mail. I had no idea about sizes, wheels…. It was a 7. I went out the evening I got it.
I was so psyched I took it to work. There is this little park near my office that is just flat. When I got off work, it was dark, I was in my business shirt and office shoes, and I took the skateboard out and just ran to the park and jumped on it and started rolling around. Then I hit a pebble and I slammed. Now, I think about it, but that night I was just cruising around in the dark and I hit a pebble and went flying and slammed on my shoulder and elbow.
I had a swellbow the next day. But still, I rode around and tried to ollie. I got about a 2cm ollie and I felt really cool. I did one of those things where your torso twists to stop yourself from falling and I had a rib bruise for a month. I went to Baltimore last year, for Christmas. Ed lives about two blocks from the new bowl they built there. He did an ollie or two, and then he wanted his own board. We went to the local skate shop, Vu , which is literally right next to the park, and he bought a board as well as a mini for his daughter.
We decided to skate again the next morning. He carved the deep end of the bowl about three quarters of the way up, both frontside and backside. Yeah, they are hard. You have to hit that perfect balance on that turn. I think he was so hyped up and me cheering him on fanned those flames.
He was a little sketchy. One of those axle stalls looked like he was almost going to go to disaster and hang up. You are doing the tricks but you are scaring me a little bit! He was just doing a flatground ollie when he landed off balance and slipped out fell forward and fractured his wrist. I came into town, got him skating again, after twenty some years, and he breaks his wrist the first day.
He skated a few more time but kept hurting himself. I think he just went for it too hard. It took me months before I was messing around with lip tricks on a quarter pipe. I skated flat for about a month. I failed miserably the first time I went to a skate park. I spent a month just getting comfortable with turning and carving on transition before I did anything. I had a lot of injuries the first six months. Those movements kind of became second nature again. My back used to be so sore every time after skating. I make a point of doing back flexibility and core stuff because I have a stiff back anyway, which is probably really bad for skateboarding.
I get a lot of these little pains in my legs and in my inner thighs. I remember I would go out and dick around on flat ground for half an hour and come home and feel like I pulled a muscle in my groin. My foot hurts sometimes. I jammed it trying to backside ollie some gap, the rotation, my foot kind of slammed in the tail wrong way and my toe still kind of hurts now but I got these new insoles and that seems to be helping. I try to skate once a week. An hour or two. Never three or four. Even when I went to the skate park in Rome a few weeks ago, it was a two hour session.
It still takes me an hour to really feel warmed up. I go out and just cruise around and I work it up. Then you begin doing the tricks you know you can, on lock. Twice a week occasionally. I go for four or five hours but the parks get busy and there is a lot of talking. The other parks, there is often too many people, even early, so there is a lot of just hanging out. There is a social element to it. You wrote about that, when the social element disappeared, you quit skating. Sometimes I do like being alone though.
On street, a kickflip. I know I could do them back in the day, you have video attesting to the fact that I could actually land them. I have a block, I think, now. Mine is just frontside s on transition. Not even a slash. I have the same problem with curbs. I can ollie up to I got them in Richmond, when I was there. One of the sides was like a 6 inch curb, you know? And it had metal coping and I got s on that pretty consistently, that day, but that was the only time. I started doing them without really thinking about it because I was doing manuals already so it just seemed like it was easy, just on the coping.
It just kind of happened without thinking about it. Back disasters were the ones that surprised me. Can you do that? Missing a back disaster is sketchy. If you get up on that deck instead of catching on the board, you are going face first into the flat. Or you are going to noseblunt without meaning too….
But I got them, after just a few tries. I remember back in the day mini ramping, my backside disasters were pretty much on lock. If you look at those mini ramp parts from like , those pro parts…. We were doing all that stuff, rail to smith over the spine and what not. We could do a lot of stuff back then, for the time.
Going Home Again
Yeah disaster slide smith grind revert. I remember him doing them. He had them on lock. He was really good. He had a great pop too. He could really ollie high. I would say that the last video that was in anyway approachable was Useless Wooden Toys. Where you felt like you might be able to get to that level if you skated well enough. Those people were that good then, that they would just blow your mind, but that all changed with Plan B Questionable. Its different on transition. But something like a smith grind, that is within the realm of possibility of me learning again.
Yeah in bowl skating it is, bowl skating is bowl skating unless you are going to kickflip noseblunt in the deep end of a bowl, I mean, come on. Yeah, a lot of the guys that skate the bowl just carve and do lines. Bowl skating is like retirement skating. You can carve a bowl into your mid 50s, which a lot of these guys have demonstrated to me.
- Love on the Run (The Morgan Men).
- Going Home Again | Avatar Wiki | FANDOM powered by Wikia.
- Going Home Again;
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I still feel like there is a bunch of stuff I can get if I put the time in. You were a flow skater. You never had a huge bag of tricks back in the day. You always did the same things for the most part but you always had good flow, good consistency. Is learning tricks an important thing for you now? I just do the same things over and over and over again because I want them to be perfect. Then I slowly start to work in something new. It does feel great when you learn something new though.
My goal, when I started back up, was to just look like I knew what I was doing.
See a Problem?
The kids around here, the skater kids, they all know each other so they are always in contact so they all kind of organize to go to the same spot at the same time, so if you are not part of that you might run into them at that spot, but you are probably not going to. Because here the spots are few and far between. There are no skate parks. I usually go to the same four spots. It depends on what I feel like skating.
You get these 11 or 12 year old kids with some crappy K-Mart board their dad bought them and they are trying to learn to ollie. The parents are just sitting on a bench playing on their phone while the kid is pushing around. So for me when I go skating I really skate hard for like two hours. Those two hours for me are really concentrated skating. An hour of that is warm up and an hour of that is working on something I want to get.
So I do end up working on new tricks a lot but there is also a sense of satisfaction I get from learning new tricks. I almost always skate alone, though. Yeah there is a core group of people who are probably between 20 and 25, they started this… you know the Majer crew in Texas? Well they all want to be like the Majer crew now so they started this YouTube channel and they have this crew identity now.
They are really into their own thing. They just skate around and do their tre flips and their crook grinds and then they go off to some other spot together. So you end up winning games of skate against people who can technically skate your ass off. So I think there is a certain level of respect because they kind of know me now and they see that I can skate. I remember skaters were really judgmental back when we were kids. You always felt like everyone was judging everyone else, there were the cool kids and… us. I remember that whole crew of guys who were just one year older than us but I felt this huge abyss, like they were cool and we were just dorks.
And now, I see the younger kids and the older kids and it seems like they are cool together. It seems like there is not as much of that, or none of it. It surprised probably everybody because it kind of came out of left field. Is skateboarding popular in Italy now? In NYC there are a bunch of older people who have come back to it and they all come back with their vintage Powell Peralta decks, with no nose and no concave, and if they stick with it they eventually get a more modern board.
Also longboarding, which may be past its peak, but longboarding… there are just kids pushing mongo down the street everywhere. I still never see random kids skating the streets. Even American pros make a pit stop in Milan to film. In some ways skateboarding is kind of accepted now but I still feel like there is a stigma to it. People at my work know I used to ride my bike more seriously; they think of me as a cyclist.
Skateboarding is the atheism of the sports world. There is a stigma attached to it. Sometimes I wonder if the stigma is just in my mind from when we were kids, from the skateboarding is not a crime generation. Cycling is considered a serious sports. In the culture, skateboarding is something that kids do. Useless Wooden Toys , just the name of that video says it all. It is looked at as something for kids, something you experiment with for a little while and then you grow out of.
Which is one of the reasons I like it. Okay that is debatable. Sometimes it seems like a sport, other times like a philosophy. My wife does martial arts and the two actually have a lot of aspects in common. I compare it to dance. I read something somewhere that said that Rodney Mullen invented the tricks and then Gonz made them look like dancing. You just go out there and do these weird physical motions for almost purely aesthetic reasons. Like you are chasing some kind of Platonic ideal of what a trick is.
Its this really aesthetic thing which is why I compare it to dance. You just do this beautiful motion and you take pleasure in the fact when you know you did something perfectly. But now there is the tendency to try to film everything. I think it takes away from a session. Just carving the walls and not doing anything… there is something deep in the mammalian brain that likes going fast and gliding. Like riding a bike down a hill. One of the things I have really enjoyed about skating again is I get hit with these constant waves of nostalgia.
Like I was right there. The smells, the sounds, the leaves on the ground…. It just comes back. It just floors me sometimes, the stuff that it brings back. I think because for us, for most skateboarders, it was this intense experience you identify with entirely. It was what we did. It was all we did. That was our social life, our physical activity, what we thought about in our beds at night, that is what we talked about, that is what we watched on television, that is what we read in magazines, that is what we drew in our notebooks.
The whole idea that twenty years later, you have not stepped on a skateboard and you still walk down the street and you skateboard in your head. You see a handrail and you think, I could do that. I still play with my fingers, on the edges of tables, doing lip tricks. I would just be sitting bored in a restaurant and doing disasters on the edge of the table with my fingers.
I would imagine that every person who ever skated is exactly the same way. It just gets into your brain. I played basketball, I played football, I played soccer but none of them left that… aftertaste. I never think about kicking a soccer ball. I imagine if you are a pro cyclist you think like that. Maybe the BMX kids… but yeah, there are very few things like it. Maybe it is tied into teenage tribal identities. Nothing makes you feel as good as just doing a smooth ollie on a bank, or a powerslide down a hill. There is something about it that is different than kicking a ball around.
There is something about it that is just so satisfying. When it goes well. There is something so satisfying about whatever it is we are doing out there. I have no idea how to explain why that particular thing is that satisfying. Despite Azula's assurance that Ba Sing Se will be left in good care with Joo Dee at the helm, Zuko asserts that he will not go and storms out of the room. Azula, believing that Zuko is making things difficult, visits Ty Lee and alerts her of the situation. With the knowledge that Mai and Zuko had childhood crushes on one another, Azula reveals to Ty Lee that getting them to know each other again will solve their problem.
A while later, Azula is commanding a few Dai Li to set a dinner table for two. When Zuko and Mai arrive, although knowing they have been tricked into eating together, sit down and begin to dine. They leave the table after Zuko points out that Azula and Ty Lee are spying on them. While walking through the streets of Ba Sing Se, Jin recognizes her old date "Lee", which is the name Zuko used on his night out with her.
Apparently intrigued by this fantasy, Mai decides that she will demonstrate her skills for Jin by throwing a pointed icicle through a fish resting on Zuko's head, which she accomplishes. When Mai offers for Jin to try it herself, she does so, but misses the intended mark and sends Zuko toppling into the Firelight Fountain.