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Fish Change Direction in Cold Weather Paperback – 3 Jan 2013

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Books; Main edition (3 Jan. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 085786162X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857861627
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.7 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 300,304 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

A book that does nothing less than make you happy . . . an absolute pleasure (France Inter)

This novel is full of quiet happiness. It transforms you . . . A great breath of truth and good humour, fresh and delicate (La Reference)

Just a mouthful of a book, but a delicious one (Voir Montreal)

Naive and unexpected, and very fetching (Le Devoir)

Szalowski's first novel sets your heart glowing without succumbing to schmaltz (Emerald)

This funny, touching and highly original novel till not fail to put a smile on your face as well as a spring in your step, when you realise that absolutely anything is possible, hope should never be lost, and wishes really can come true (Good Book Guide)

Book Description

A tale of love, vodka, coming out and very cold weather

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Sabina on 18 Jan. 2013
Format: Paperback
It is the winter of 1997/8 in Montreal when an ice storm brings some of the city to a standstill. School shuts and some houses lose electricity supply. The novel is partly narrated by an 11 year old boy who feels quietly devastated at his parents' announcement of separation. His neighbours are his (difficult) friend Alex whose father is a hapless homophobe, Boris, an eccentrically absorbed mathematician who must keep his fish at a constant temperature of 32 degrees, Julie, an exotic dancer with bad luck in men, Michael and Simon who are in a gay relationship but everyone thinks they are brothers. Extreme weather conditions lead people to become involved in helping each other out. This is a modern day fable of transformation under adverse circumstances. Sometimes I thought that it was just too unlikely, but I was beguiled by the humour and characters and enjoyed reading it on a cold winter's night.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dr R TOP 500 REVIEWER on 24 May 2014
Format: Paperback
I was seduced by the cover so full marks to its designer gray218 and Canongate. I thought that this book might be somewhat similar to Jonas Jonasson's `The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared' but it is much slighter.

Part fable, part fairytale it addresses some serious topics - parental separation, homosexuality, anti-Semitism and table-dancing, but it does so very deftly thanks to a translation by Alison Anderson that retains the child-like simplicity of the 11-year old anonymous narrator. However, in addition to these issues the F-word is used so it is not suitable for younger children who like to read.

It is Christmas Day 1997 and the narrator feels tension in the air as presents are handed out and his parents continue to argue. The book describes the events of the following fortnight when his parents explain, in a very adult way, that they are going to separate [`One week you'll be with Daddy, here. The other week you'll come to my place. You'll see, it'll almost be the same as before. There are lots of children who are very happy living like this....'].

Faced with this family break-up and feeling that it must be his fault that his parents no longer love one another, the boy `looked up at the sky, grey and black. I couldn't stop staring at it. I was so small, and it was so big. And I prayed to the sky to help me.' The result is the ice storm which, according to Google, left `millions in the dark for periods from days to weeks, and in some instances, months. It led to 35 fatalities, a shutdown of activities in large cities like Montreal and Ottawa, and an unprecedented effort in reconstruction of the power grid.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By K. J. Noyes TOP 100 REVIEWER on 25 Jun. 2013
Format: Paperback
A beautiful cover, a beguiling title. I was prepared to like this. At the start I wasn't sure of the style, but I soon settled to the pace and voice and warmed (almost a joke there!) to the multiple characters and their lives.

Taking place one winter in Canada, a boy's parents tell him they are separating. Upset, he asks the sky to help him. That night, the worst ice storm that the city has seen begins to cause havoc and force people into helping each other, talking to each other, even facing up to their issues.

There's the unnamed narrator and his parents, couch potato former policeman dad and frustrated mum. There's their neighbours. homophobic Alexis and his neglected son Alex. Closeted gay couple Michel and Simon. Stripper Julie and her unfulfilling one night stands. And Russian maths genius Boris and his eponymous, PhD-bound fish, for whom the ice storm and power cuts may mean a slow and cooling death.

It's a lively cast of likeable people, with some wonderful scenes as they struggle to cope with ice and power cuts, and each other.

The comparisons to fairy tales are justified, it has that whimsical and 'wish fulfilment' aspect. It's also very visual and would make a charming film.

I enjoyed it immensely and stormed through it in a couple of sittings. It's light and short, and a lovely little escape.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By TheatreCat on 17 Jan. 2013
Format: Paperback
I really enjoyed this book, it's a lovely tale told through a child's eyes of his parents separation.
With added weather.
I read it in January when it was snowing which I'm sure added to my reading experience!
Would recommend to put a glow on your cheeks.
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By BookWorm TOP 500 REVIEWER on 13 July 2015
Format: Paperback
A sweet feel-good novel, as implausible as they come but one you wish was true. An ice storm in Montreal causes power cuts and disruption to everyday life, bringing together a disparate group of neighbours and ultimately solving their problems in unexpected ways. The title comes from the dilemma of Boris, a mathematician who is studying the movements of a group of fish in order to prove a complex theory. Unfortunately, any change in water temperature will ruin his experiment and thus waste years of work. In steps his neighbour to help out, starting off a series of connections between the residents of their street.

I can easily see this being made into a rather slushy Christmas movie - it has all the ingredients right there, even down to the snowy setting. If real life were like this it would be a happier world - but of course it isn't. So rather like a Christmas movie, I did enjoy the chance to suspend my disbelief for a short while but I couldn't quite make the size of suspension required to become fully absorbed. It's too sweet and implausible to really tell us anything fundamental about life. I know I'm cynical, but honestly even Pollyanna herself might find the way this works out a bit too rose-tinted.

This is starting to sound like a negative review, which I don't really mean it to be. It was a nice story, quick and easy to read, and I enjoyed its quirkiness. It made me laugh at times and I liked the chance to imagine this could all actually happen. It's not cutting edge reality, but it is a feel-good book and enjoyable,. If you enjoy the works of Mitch Albom, or 'A Man Called Olav' by Frederik Bachman, you will certainly enjoy this.
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