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Meaford Public Library

THE DEFENDER:  Jack Pledger 

Jack is retired and he and his wife live a country lifestyle on a fifty-acre hobby farm on the Niagara Escarpment with a small flock of sheep and large produce garden.  Originally from Scotland as an adolescent, his career life was spent in Toronto in information-systems as a programmer, manager, and technology planner, working in the private, public and university sectors.  He moved to Grey county in 2000 and before full retirement in 2017 worked part-time for Grey-Bruce Health Services doing call-centre support work for the regional hospitals.

Jack always has always had a love of the outdoors and his pursuits have included cycling and horsemanship, receiving an honours certificate from the part-time Equestrian Studies at Humber College.  He and his wife are experienced wilderness canoeists, and as a backpacker he has visited some of the most remote places in Canada, with three arctic trips, two solo, including the high arctic. He now enjoys sailing, and has a modest cruising sailboat located at Meaford harbour.

Libraries and reading are an important part of his life.  He participates in online chat groups and courses about books, and enjoys both classic and modern literature.  He and wife have visited some literary sites, most recently a driving tour in New England taking in Edith Wharton’s, Emily Dickinson’s and Robert Frost’s former homes, now museums.  Some years back they visited the Bronte Parsonage in Yorkshire, a site usually busy with tourists, but being mid-December, it was virtually deserted.   Being the only two on the moors, they will never forget their hike up to Top Withens, the setting of Wuthering Heights.  It was on a blowing day with low clouds and shadows racing across the moors. They felt they had walked into Emily’s masterpiece.

On types of books Jack enjoys, he shares the view of the British poet Philip Larkin who wrote, “I like to read about people who have done nothing spectacular, aren’t beautiful or lucky; who try to behave well in a limited field of activity and who can see in the little autumnal moments of vision that the so called ‘big experiences of life’ are going to miss them.  I like to read about such things presented not with self-pity or despair or romanticism but with the realistic firmness and even humour.”   As for writing style, Jack admires and has a special liking for the works of authors who have mastered stream-of-consciousness such as Virginia Woolf and Eimear McBride.

A quick thought on some of his all-time favourite novels, he would mention, The Third Policeman, Flann O’Brien; The Lessor Bohemians, Eimear McBride; Our Mutual Friend, Charles Dickens; Days and Nights, Konstantin Simonov; and many more if space permitted.


THE BOOK: The Luminous Sea by Melissa Barbeau

A team of researchers from a nearby university have set up a research station in a fictional outport in Newfoundland, studying the strange emergence of phosphorescent tides. And Vivienne, a young assistant, accidentally captures a creature unknown to science: a kind of fish, both sentient and distinctly female. As the project supervisor and lead researcher attempt to exploit the discovery, the creature begins to waste away, and Vivian must endanger herself to save them both.