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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.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Homeowners by Steve Vermillion

The Homeowners, a story by Steve Vermillion, one of my favourite dudes, has been nominated for a Best of The Net award!

Read it here

Pasternak and the Valet

The story of Boris Pasternak's publication of his novel, Dr Zhivago, is a cat’s cradle, an eternal zigzag of plotlines, coincidences, inconsistencies and maddening disappearances.
"Isaiah Berlin was on his honeymoon – he married late – when he first read Dr Zhivago. It was the evening of Saturday, 18 August 1956, and he had just made the short journey back to Moscow from the village of Peredelkino, where he had spent the day with Boris Pasternak. Pasternak’s dacha was part of a complex set up on Stalin’s orders in 1934 to reward the Soviet Union’s most prominent writers. One of them, Korney Chukovsky, described the scheme as ‘entrapping writers within a cocoon of comforts, surrounding them with a network of spies’. Periodically, and usually at night, the NKVD would turn over a dacha and bundle its resident into a waiting car. Pasternak’s immediate neighbour and friend, Boris Pilnyak, was arrested in October 1937, removed to the Lubyanka, and killed with a single bullet to the back of the head. The same fate awaited Isaac Babel, who was taken from Peredelkino in May 1939. There were others, less well known, but equals in the manner of their death."
Full story:  LRB 


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Crow Lake

Crow Lake is Mary Lawson's bestselling first novel. It got a lot of buzz when it was published in 2003 and I always meant to read it but didn't get around to it until now.
Set in Northern Ontario it is the story of the Morrison family. The parents die in a car accident, leaving 4 children behind. The two teenaged brothers, Luke and Matt, take over the care of their young siblings, Kate and Bo. Kate, just 7 years old at the time of her parents' deaths, narrates the story from the point of view of a child and as an adult preparing to return for a family gathering with her partner, Daniel.
The novel is about the sacrifices made to keep the family together. It's about having to hide grief for fear of fracturing what little is left after tragic loss. It's about the love that keeps the family going. It's about a small community that does what it can to help.
I tore through it quickly, not wanting to put it down, and find myself thinking about it days after I finished it. It's a quiet book, touching without veering into sentimentality and I recommend it.

Male Novelist Jokes

Q: How many male novelists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

A: The terrible sex had made him feel deeply interesting, like a murder victim.

 Q:How many male novelists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

A: The beast, which had represented his feelings, was dead. “I think I’ll do a pushup,” he announced to the sea. The sea respected him for it.

 Q:How many male novelists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

A: [4000 words from the narrator about his feelings on his childhood circumcision]

Q:How many male novelists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

A:War is hell.

Q:How many male novelists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

A:His alcoholism was different, because someday he was going to die.

Q:How many male novelists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

A:[Nothing happens for 450 pages; receives fourteen awards]

More at The Toast

Via the always hilarious Steve Vermillion

Short story by Plan 9 from Outer Space auteur Ed Wood, Jr.

"The Day The Mummy Returned" is a 1971 short story written by Ed Wood, Jr. the American original who gave us Bride of the Monster, Plan 9 from Outer Space, and so much more. It's presented here for the first time in over forty years since its initial publication.
Read it at Boing Boing

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Snow Queen

Barrett Meeks is walking through Central Park when he looks up and sees a pale aqua light in the night sky. This light takes on enormous significance for Barrrett. He has just been dumped by his lover, has failed to find a career for himself despite his intelligence and education and is now living with his brother Tyler, an addict, and Tyler's dying girlfriend, Beth, in a run down Brooklyn neighbourhood.
Was the light a divine miracle? Is Beth's remission proof? Barrett thinks it might be and turns to religion.The book follows the brothers, Beth and their sophisticated circle of friends over a period of four years. All are middle aged and searching for meaning in their anchorless lives. They seem to bump into people without making any substantive connection. 
It's a short novel and a good one although it never seems to take shape. If you want to read something by Cunningham I recommend The Hours and Specimen Days.

The Last Saturday

The Last Saturday is a graphic novella by the award-winning cartoonist Chris Ware, tracing the lives of six individuals from Sandy Port, Michigan, published in weekly episodes.

​Gigantic Word Search Contains Every Single Word Jorge Luis Borges Wrote

With the installation Borges Library, Daniel Temkin, algorithmic artist and theorist, along with writer and artist Rony Maltz, dig into Borges' fascination with this infinity of words. It takes the form of a gigantic projected word search containing every word Borges wrote, both in his native Spanish and in English translation.

More: Motherboard

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Alan Moore Just Wrote A Novel So Enormous People Can't Pick It Up

The acclaimed author of Watchmen has recently finished his second novel, Jerusalem. Two interesting facts about it: 1) it's not set in Jerusalem, but Northampton, England, and 2) at over one million words, it's almost twice the size of Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace. Moore has said he doubts people will even be able to lift it.

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Top 10 literary canines

Thomas Hardy and his wife with their dog Wessex in 1914.
Photograph: EO Hopp/Corbis

From Lord Byron and his much-loved Newfoundland to the Hardys and their attention-seeking terrier, Mikita Brottman on her favourite bookish hounds

More: The Guardian

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Hamlet in Africa

On this day in 1607 Hamlet was performed on board the merchant ship "Red Dragon," anchored off the coast of Sierra Leone. Scholars regard this amateur, one-show-only production by the ship's crew as the first staging of a Shakespearean play outside of Europe, one that predates any New World Hamlet by about 150 years.

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T.S. Eliot's summer house for sale

T.S. Eliot was born to a wealthy Boston family in 1888; in 1896 they built a summer house near the shore in Gloucester. Situated on 1.96 acres, the seven-bedroom, three-bath home is now for sale for $1.3 million.

The interior photos are lovely.

More: LA Times

Monday, September 08, 2014

“Le Philosophe”

Via Ferocious Sprout 

Callan Winks: Exotics

On the last day of class before summer vacation, his students – all fifteen of them, ranging age eight to sixteen – filed out the door saying their goodbyes. Before leaving, one of his sixth-graders, Molly Hanchet, stopped at his desk. She had red hair and freckles and, in five years, would likely be Park County’s Fourth of July Rodeo queen. After that she would go on to pre-med at Stanford. She had her thumbs hooked in the straps of her backpack and she said, ‘Have a good summer, Mr Colson. I hope next year you feel better.’

Read more:  Granta Magazine