Alec O'Hanley Recommends

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The Next Chapter regularly asks Canadian musicians what books are on their bedside. On the June 13, 2011, episode, Alec O'Hanley, guitarist, keyboardist and vocalist for Two Hours Traffic, stopped by to give not one but two glowing recommendations: Rabbit at Rest by John Updike and The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood.

The members of P.E.I.-based Two Hours Traffic have been making waves in Canadian music with their original power pop style and East Coast feel. Their sophomore album, Little Jabs, was nominated for the 2008 Polaris Music Prize.

Here's what Alec had to say about his favourite bedside books:



"I am piddling through the final installment of the Rabbit series by John Updike. It's called Rabbit at Rest and before that I polished off Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. Both the Rabbit series and The Handmaid's Tale deal with a lead character who is constrained by a surrounding imposing society. Rabbit Angstrom certainly deals with the more typical middle American [and] middle Canadian experience that we've grown accustomed to in the late 20th century, whereas Atwood's lead character in The Handmaid's Tale is in more of an Orwellian totalitarian, oppressive and fascist regime. I wouldn't want to be a female under a demoralizing patriarchy. I would prefer to be bound by the more common constraints of domesticity and being a typical male provider. I think corporate democracy is a bit better thing to be under than outright fascism."


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Rabbit at RestRabbit at Rest
by John Updike


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"A haunting novel that completes Updike's extraordinary tetralogy chronicling four decades of life in America. In the final novel about ex-basketball player Harry 'Rabbit' Angstrom, the hero has acquired heart trouble, a Florida condo and a second grandchild while exploring the bleak terrain of late middle age and looking for reasons to live."

Read more at Random House Canada.







The Handmaid's TaleThe Handmaid's Tale
by Margaret Atwood


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"In the world of the near future, who will control women's bodies?

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are only valued if their ovaries are viable."

Read more at Random House Canada.