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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.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Spinster Cut Out Dolls

In honour of Kate Bolick’s new book Spinster, Crown has created lovely spinster cut out dolls featuring pioneering women writers:


Wharton was born to the affluent class she chronicled (and brilliantly satirized) in The Age of Innocence and The House of Mirth. Both works offer a heartbreaking commentary on unwed women and the destructive power of tradition. An architectural designer as well as an author, Wharton’s estate, The Mount, operates today as a museum and testament to her legacy.

“My candle burns at both ends, it will not last the night…” America’s first rock-star poetess, Edna St. Vincent Millay toured the country after winning the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1923, bringing her revolutionary lyrics and bohemian lifestyle to the masses. Millay’s work, including the poem “First Fig,” was definitive and revolutionary for her generation, yet her lyrical voice is timeless.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Reese Witherspoon set to record Harper Lee's new novel

Harper Lee’s closely guarded second novel, Go Set a Watchman, will have an unexpected early reader: Reese Witherspoon, who is due to record the audio version of the forthcoming book. 

More: The Guardian

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Lost Garden

The Lost Garden was written in 2002 and is Helen Humphreys' third novel. It tells the story of Gwen Davis, 35 years old, plain, unloveable, with a fondness for flowers and Virginia Woolf.  She lives in a boarding house in London, a city she loves, and works for the Royal Horticultural Society where she researches diseased parsnips. In 1941 London is being destroyed by the blitz and she volunteers to oversee a group of girls in the Women's Land Army who will be growing vegetables for the war effort on an estate in the British countryside.
She arrives in Devon a week after she was expected, having confused her dates, and discovers that the young women have arrived before her and that they have already established their own routines. A group of Canadian soldiers is billeted nearby while waiting to be assigned to active combat and the girls have been spending time with them.  Gwen develops a rapport with Jane, a Land Girl whose fiancé is missing in action and Canadian Captain Raley who is grieving the death of a good friend.
One day Gwen comes across a neglected and overgrown hidden garden on the estate and she takes on its reclamation as a personal mission. She is curious about the history of the garden and wants to know more about the person who put so much thought and care into planting it. 
This is the fifth Humphreys novel I have read and once again I am charmed by the rhythm and precision of her writing and the way she expresses so much in few words. It's a wonderful little book and I'm pleased that there are four more Humphreys novels and a work of nonfiction that I haven't yet read.

Bleak Futurescapes for Earth Day

  Literary Hub suggests six apocalyptic novels to scare the life out of you on Earth Day.

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Library of Congress Is Uploading 75 Years of Poetry and Literature Recordings

The material includes readings by former US Poet Laureates and Consultants Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Lowell, and Gwendolyn Brooks, as well as a 1971 lecture by Kurt Vonnegut, a 1984 talk by Ray Bradbury, a 1959 interview with Robert Frost, and readings by Audre Lorde and Nobel Laureate Czesław Miłosz.

How a Vintage Children’s Book Illustrated by Lynd Ward Saved New York’s Iconic Little Red Lighthouse

Once upon a time a little lighthouse was built on a sharp point of the shore in the Hudson Valley. 

 It was round and fat and red. 

 It was fat and red and jolly. 

And it was VERY, VERY PROUD.

More: Brain Pickings

Sunday, April 19, 2015

18 Literary Maps of the United States

The Library of Congress’ Language of the Land exhibit collects bookish state maps that chart the regions and the writers who loved them, either through birth or discovery.

More literary maps at Mental Floss

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Dirty Dust

Photograph: Design Pics/Gareth McCormack/Getty Images/Perspectives
"The clinical term used to be hysterical dependency. Small Irish towns circle around the same old obsessions and gripes and perceived slights for months and years and decades unending, and it is these that unite us, and the sheer depth of the bitterness that sustains us: our neurotic systems are powered to near-bionic levels of happy outrage on the engines of our talk, our bitching and our gossip. Mairtin  O Cadhain’s splendidly batty 1949 novel Crena Cille, translated here by Alan Titley as The Dirty Dust, and from Irish into English for the first time, amounts essentially to 305 pages of such bitching, and in small doses it makes for evil fun."

More:The Guardian

Name the Famous Novelist

How many novelists can you name from just a single picture?

Via Kuriositas

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Lakeside Lantern a Glowing Tribute To Irish Poet

"According to the poem by W.B. Yeats, the Lake Isle of Innisfree is a place where "midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow" and "peace comes dropping slow." The Yeats 2015 Architectural Competition asked designers to interpret the famous verse and take advantage of a rare opportunity to stage a temporary intervention in a protected landscape, receiving more than 100 entries before the mid-March deadline. The winner, Square Moon, designed by Yong ho Shin and John Randle of Anglo-Korean studio shindesignworks, executed a simple concept well, placing a luminous lantern within an aluminum frame."

More: Curbed National

How To Tell If You Are In A J.D. Salinger Story

  • It’s almost 2:30 and you’ve been waiting since noon for your call to go through. You’ve used the time, though. 
  • As children, you and your siblings were featured on a radio quiz show. According to listeners, you were the most consistently rewarding speaker. 
  • You’re going to burn your fingers if you don’t put out that cigarette. 
  • You’ve just felt so destructive all week. It’s awful. You’re horrible.
  • Your mother is ever so slightly insane.

More: The Toast

Sons + Fathers

Sons + Fathers is an anthology of entertaining essays which celebrates the special relationships between sons and fathers. The book, in aid of the Irish Hospice Foundation, features affectionate and witty musings from writers, actors, musicians, politicians and entrepreneurs. Here, we reproduce those of Bono, Adam Clayton, Roddy Doyle and Colum McCann.


Roddy Doyle was born in 1958. He has written ten novels, including The Commitments (1987), Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha (Booker Prize 1993), A Star Called Henry (1999), and, most recently, The Guts (2013). The Second Half, which he wrote with Roy Keane, was published in October 2014. He lives and works in Dublin.

My father lost his teeth in Ballybunion. This happened in August 1966, when I was eight, and - I just worked it out now - my father was forty-two. I sat on the beach for hours and watched him and my sister diving into the water, and coming back up, and diving in and coming back up. This was the Atlantic Ocean they were diving into, so the chances of finding his teeth, or anyone else's, were slim. But, eventually - and inevitably - I heard a roar: he'd found his teeth, or my sister had. He came out of the water a bit like Ursula Andress in Dr No, if Ursula had been male and she'd just found the false teeth she'd lost hours earlier. 
More: Independent.ie 

A God In Ruins

Read an excerpt from Kate Atkinson's new novel"A God In Ruins"

Baileys women's prize for fiction shortlists

Now in its 20th year, the prize – formerly known as the Orange – sets out to reward “excellence, originality and accessibility in writing by women from throughout the world”.

  Outline by Rachel Cusk (Faber/Vintage)

The Bees by Laline Paull (Fourth Estate)

A God in Every Stone by Kamila Shamsie (Bloomsbury)

How to Be Both by Ali Smith (Hamish Hamilton)

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler (Chatto & Windus)

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters (Virago)

More: The Guardian

R.I.P. Gunter Grass

Gunter Grass, who has died aged 87, was Germany’s best-known postwar novelist, a man of titanic energy and zest who, besides his fiction-writing, enjoyed the cut and thrust of political debate and relaxed by drawing, painting and making sculptures.

More:  The Guardian