This is a transcription of ‘LoLT: The Island Walk on PEI & New Books — 14 October 2022’
Melissa: Coming up, a charming novel about an unforgettable train ride.
David: A horror story with a side of romance and humor.
Melissa: Plus, our distraction of the week. I’m Mel.
David: I’m Dave. This is the library of lost time.
Melissa: My recommendation this week is The Sleeping Car Porter by Suzette Mayr. I started this book last night, and I’m loving it. This is a historical novel set in 1929. The story takes place on a train crisscrossing Canada. Our hero is Baxter. He’s a sleeping car porter who also happens to be queer and Black. I’ve only just met Baxter, and I’m already 100% on his side. He’s 27 years old. He’s a fan of science fiction. And he’s saving up the stingy tips he gets from the passengers to go to dentistry school.
Melissa: You know I love a story set on a train. So I was pretty much on board immediately. The flap copy promises that this story will include annoying passengers, a secret love affair, hallucination brought on by sleep deprivation, and ghosts.
Melissa: And then there’s this plot turn: On a trip heading west, a mudslide stalls the train on the tracks for two days. Passengers misbehave, and secrets are revealed. This sounds like a literary, alternative universe take on Murder on the Orient Express only with more social commentary and way less murder.
Melissa: The author Suzette Mayr has written five other novels. They all use a little touch of magic and humor to address issues of race, identity, and sex. In her book The Widows, two elderly German widows want to ride in a barrel over Niagara Falls. And in her novel Venous Hum, one of the characters is an immigrant vampire vegetarian.
Melissa: Publisher’s Weekly called this book dazzling and captivating. I agree! It’s The Sleeping Car Porter by Suzette Mayr.
David: If you are looking for a last-minute Halloween pick, I have a book for you. It’s a werewolf story. It’s called Such Sharp Teeth by Rachel Harrison. The plot starts like an old romantic comedy. The lead character Rory leaves her fancy apartment and the job she loves in Manhattan. She returns to her hometown to help out with the family. One night, Rory is at the local bar, and she runs into a boy she grew up with. He’s still into her. He’s cute, but she’s always been a little distant. But he’s gotten more attractive while she was away. So, we’re solidly in Sweet Home Alabama territory.
David: And then she leaves the bar. She’s driving home. She hits an animal in the middle of the road. She gets out to investigate. And she’s attacked by — something. She wakes up in the hospital. And then we’re into a werewolf story.
David: This is a smart, scary, but also funny book about a woman who finds herself turning into a she-wolf. It’s got things to say about our time of rage and body-shape positivity. This is the second book from Rachel Harrison. Her first was a witch story that won a nomination for a Bram Stoker Award.
David: This is Such Sharp Teeth by Rachel Harrison.
David: And now, our Distraction of the Week. [magical sound effect]
David: Sometimes we get past an episode of ‘Strong Sense of Place’ and find out about something we wish we’d known. This is one of those things.
David: Prince Edward Island has a new trail up on Canada’s Atlantic shore. It’s called ‘The Island Walk.’ It’s a loop around PEI. It’s 435 miles long — or about 700 kilometers. It just opened in 2021.
David: As you might imagine, you’ll see a lot of ocean on the Island Walk. You’ll also see blueberry fields, fishing villages, apple orchards, country farms, and wooded paths. If you time it right, you might walk into a music festival or the fall leaves. You might see beavers or raccoons, or seals.
Melissa: I am firmly on Team Seals.
David: The trail is intended to be used by people of all fitness levels. It’s pretty flat, and there are plenty of places to stop and have a good sit. It goes through PEI’s two major cities: Charlottetown and Summerside. Charlottetown is where you’ll find the international airport, so you can fly in and start walking.
David: There are plenty of campsites and hotels along the way. Some of the hotels will help transport your stuff to the next stop.
Melissa: I was very into this idea and then that last detail clinched it.
David: If you want to walk the entire thing, experts say it’ll take about four to six weeks. But you could just walk a part of it, of course. You could also bike it if you’d like. The whole thing might take a week or two. Experts say that mid-May to October is the best time to visit.
David: If you’re interested in finding out more, there’s a site. It’s theislandwalk.ca. You can read the adventures of others who’ve walked the path. There’s a map that tells you about places to stay and places to eat. We will put a link in our show notes.
Melissa: Visit strongsenseofplace.com/library for more details about all the books we discussed and more on the amazing Island Walk.
David: Thanks for joining us in the Libary of Lost Time. Remember to visit your local library and your independent book store to lose some time yourself.
Melissa: Stay curious! We’ll talk to you soon.
Top image courtesy of Tobias Negele/Unsplash.
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