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Niagara on the Lake, Ontario, Canada
My virtue is that I say what I think, my vice that what I think doesn't amount to much.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Tiny Library in China


Built with an investment equivalent to $ 185,000 the tiny Liyuan Library opened in 2012, on a hillside in the village of Jiaojiehe, a suburb of Beijing, China. Covering an area of ​​just 175 square meters, it was designed by Chinese architect Li Xiaodong. The library won an international award and $100,000 grant established this year by Canadian architect Raymond Moriyama.



Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Children Act

I read this book because I will read anything by Ian McEwan but I was also interested because I worked in the field of child protection for the first third of my working life and this novel is about Fiona Maye, a family court judge. Fiona and Jack, her professor husband, are in their late fifties, childless and have a comfortable marriage. Perhaps their relationship has grown too comfortable because he decides to have an affair with one of his younger colleagues and seeks her permission to do so. Unsurprisingly Fiona is outraged and, when he leaves their flat with a suitcase, she changes the locks on the doors.
The book lays out a number of the challenging cases before her and the burden to provide fair and impartial judgements. The decision she renders on one of these cases will have repercussions. At its centre is a teenage Jehovah's Witness who has leukemia and his parents who refuse a life saving blood transfusion for religious reasons. Fiona is asked for an emergency court order allowing doctors to transfuse the boy. She visits him in hospital and makes a decision based on what she feels is in his best interest.
Fiona's professional life and her troubled home life play out against each other and, as always, McEwan handles it all with skill and thoughtfulness. Fiona's character is fully developed in this short novel. The cases she is called on to adjudicate and the gradual repair of her cracked marriage ring true. It's another great read from a wonderful writer.

Monday, October 27, 2014

How to Write a Sentence

"Never mind and never fear. I am an, thankfully, expert of sentences. Read on and be disbelieving! There is much to have taught you, and little time, so very, very little and small time."
More: The New Yorker:

The Life of Dylan Thomas

"In this set of films we celebrate the life and works of the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas in this his centenary year. The films cover his childhood, career and his work. Four Dylan Thomas experts explain precisely why he is such an important figure in 20th Century literature."
See the videos: The life of Dylan Thomas

Saturday, October 25, 2014

56-Song Playlist of Music in Haruki Murakami’s Novels

A 56-Song Playlist of Music in Haruki Murakami’s Novels: Ray Charles, Glenn Gould, the Beach Boys & more. My kind of music.

More: Open Culture

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Bookish World of ‘Birdman'

Last week, the much anticipated movie "Birdman" opened in New York City. In it, Michael Keaton plays Riggan Thomson, a down-and-out actor who used to carry the superhero tentpole "Birdman" series. Thomson is looking to rebuild his career on Broadway by directing and starring in an adaptation of Raymond Carver's stark, gin-soaked short story What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. It's a last-ditch effort, and the dark nights of Thomson's soul are complicated both by a cast of insecure loons and the disembodied voice of his superhero alter ego.

More:  Biographile

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Joan Didion Documentary by Griffin Dunne and Susanne Rostock

Griffin Dunne's Kickstarter Project ,We Tell Ourselves Stories In Order to Live, is a documentary about Dunne's aunt, author Joan Didion. Made with Joan, using Joan's words.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

From Wheels to Bikes

 "Bicycling for Ladies" (Book - 1896) with hints as to the art of wheeling, advice to beginners, dress, care of the bicycle, mechanics, training, exercise, etc., etc. by Maria E. Ward. Published in 1896.

Thanks Bruce!

Thriving in an Amazon world

Don’t tell Sharon Anderson Wright that bookstores are a dying industry. The 56-year-old CEO of Half Price Books took a disorganized collection of stores co-founded by her mom—they started by selling used paperbacks and hardcovers out of a dingy former laundromat—and transformed the operation into a chain that is defying a seemingly inexorable tide. While bookstores are shuttered around the country and industry revenue has decreased an average of 3.2% a year over the past five years, Half Price Books is growing.

More here

Thanks, Bruce!

Endnotes | David Foster Wallace Documentary

When David Foster Wallace hanged himself in 2008, at the age of 46, he was considered by many to be the most gifted and linguistically exuberant American novelist and short story writer of his generation. His books include the 1,000-page Infinite Jest, a novel of grand ambition and stylistic experiment that came complete with 388 endnotes.

Monday, October 20, 2014

I Am Zoe Handke

I've had this book by Eric Larsen on my shelf for decades and finally pulled it down to read. What a find!
``I was born into my mother's madness,'' observes Zoe Handke whose mother was physically and emotionally abusive to her. Zoe's father was not equipped to deal with the drama and her grandmother was ill and also the victim of her mother's rages so little Zoe was left without an advocate. At college in Minnesota, Zoe experiences episodes of hysterical blindness and deafness in reaction to the abuse. No motive is provided for her mother's mental illness but Zoe makes sense of the dysfunctional relationship by repetitively studying childhood events, reorganizing her past. Vignettes of her childhood are still, quiet and evocative. The last chapters of the book show the 40 year old Zoe righting herself, marrying and having children of her own.
Eric Larsen's prize-winning first novel, An American Memory, is about Malcolm Reiner, who married Zoe Handke. I'm going to seek it out.

The Assassination Of Margaret Thatcher

Yay! A new book by Hilary Mantel! And a good one it is. Each of the ten short stories in this collection is a little jewel, as we would expect from an author who has won the Man Booker Prize twice. Most of the stories are about unhappy, isolated women: the lonely, ill woman in her apartment in Saudi Arabia, the author on a depressing book tour, the anorexic girl who could no longer trust her food, the disturbed, deprived girl who torments a disabled child, the woman whose apartment is chosen as the perch for an IRA sniper who intends to assassinate former PM Margaret Thatcher. All these women are outwardly passive but inwardly seething and we wait on tenterhooks for the moment when the membrane between interior and exterior breaks down.

The title story was received with immediate outrage by British Conservatives who accused Mantel of advocating assassination of political figures who evoke negative public opinion. But it is just a what if? fantasy, no reason to get knickers in a twist.

I'm not sure if these stories appeal specifically to women of a certain age but I devoured them and wanted more. I highly recommend this book.

UPDATE: Here is a clip from the audiobook that the publisher sent to me. It's the title story read by Jane Carr. Give it a listen.


Scheherazade, a short story by Haruki Murakami in the New Yorker.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Literary United States: A Map of the Best Book for Every State

illustration by Sarah Lutkenhaus

"We wanted to come up with a list that was more than just a general reflection of a place, but rather paid attention to the specifics, even at the risk of the exclusion of the whole."
Read about the choices at Brooklyn Magazine

Saturday, October 18, 2014

'Am I being catfished?' An author confronts her number one online critic

When a bad review of her first novel appeared online, Kathleen Hale was warned not to respond. But she soon found herself wading in. A fascinating read.

More: The Guardian