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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.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Son Of A Certain Woman

This story takes place in the dark shadow of the judgmental Catholic Church in 1950's St. John's Newfoundland. Percy Joyce is born with a disfiguring port wine stain on his face and grotesquely large hands and feet. He is the child of the beautiful and single Penelope whose fiancé left her before the child was born. Percy, like most men in the town, lusts after her.
I was drawn in at first. The book and its characters were engaging but something happened about one third of the way in. The local Archbishop takes Percy under his wing to ensure he isn't bullied or beaten up at school, and also decrees that corporal punishment will not be accepted  no matter how he misbehaves. As Percy grows into his teen years he tests the rules and this draws the ire of Brother McHugh, director of the high school. The reason Percy's father abandoned his mother is revealed but the behaviour of the main characters remains inexplicable. Percy's sexual attraction to Penelope is creepy and her reaction to it is odd. McHugh is an arch villain who will stop at nothing to punish Penelope. He spies on her from his perch across the street and uses the information he gleans to insist that Percy be baptized. He also uses emotional blackmail to force her to marry the boarder to whom she has been selling sexual favours. The novel begins to smack of Victorian melodrama. Penelope, her lesbian lover, her besotted boarder and disabled son all quiver in fear when Brother McHugh tells them how it's going to go down. I thought Penelope should have told McHugh to fuck off. I finished it but admit to skipping over large bits that described Percy's religious training  because I just wanted it all to be over. I don't recommend this book.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Art in "The Goldfinch"

Pinterest board of artworks mentioned in Donna Tartt's "The Goldfinch."

"It's there in the light-rinsed atmosphere, the brush strokes he permits us to see, up close, for exactly what they are -- hand worked flashes of pigment, the very passage of the bristles visible -- and then, at a distance, the miracle, or the joke as Horst called it, although really it's both, the slide of transubstantiation where paint is paint and yet also feather and bone." p.766

Christ in the Storm on the Lake of Galilee, Rembrandt, 1633, p.741. This is the painting that Theo hopes has been recovered ("One was a Rembrandt." "Not a seascape?" "No -- people in a dark room."). Stolen in 1990, still missing; one of the most famous and valuable missing artworks in the world.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Missing Borges, Graciela Mochkofsky

Seven years ago, a stolen first edition of Borges’s early poems was returned to Argentina’s National Library. But was it the right copy?

Via Paris Review 

Trailer: Gone Girl

The first trailer has dropped for David Fincher's highly-anticipated adaptation of Gillian Flynn's bestseller Gone Girl. Starring Ben Affleck alongside Rosamund Pike, the film follows Nick Dunne (Affleck) as he leads the search for his missing wife.

I read the book when it came out and thought that the twists and turns it takes would make it ideal for film.

Via HUH.

Fictitious Dishes by Dinah Fried

 Fictitious Dishes: An Album of Literature’s Most Memorable Meals is a project by designer and writer Dinah Fried, who cooks, art-directs, and photographs meals from famous fiction.

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, 1963
'Then I tackled the avocado and crabmeat salad...Every Sunday my grandfather
used to bring me an avocado pear hidden at the
bottom of his briefcase under six soiled shirts and the Sunday comic.'

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole, 1980
'Stopping before the narrow garage, he sniffed the fumes from Paradise with
great sensory pleasure, the protruding hairs in his nostrils analyzing,
cataloging, categorizing, and classifying the distinct
odors of the hot dog, mustard, and lubricant.' 

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1925
'On buffet tables, garnished with glistening hors-d’oeuvre, spiced baked hams
crowded against salads of harlequin designs and pastry pigs and turkeys
bewitched to a dark gold.'

The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, 1915
'There were old, half-rotten vegetables; bones from the evening meal,
covered in white sauce that had gone hard; a few raisins and almonds;
some cheese that Gregor had declared inedible two days before;
a dry roll and some bread spread with butter and salt….'

Each photograph is accompanied by the passage in which the recipe appeared and with facts about the respective author, novel, or food.

Much More: Brain Pickings


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Heaven of Animals by James L. Dickey

The Heaven of Animals

Here they are. The soft eyes open.   
If they have lived in a wood
It is a wood.
If they have lived on plains
It is grass rolling
Under their feet forever.

Having no souls, they have come,   
Anyway, beyond their knowing.   
Their instincts wholly bloom   
And they rise.
The soft eyes open.

To match them, the landscape flowers,   
Outdoing, desperately
Outdoing what is required:
The richest wood,
The deepest field.

For some of these,
It could not be the place
It is, without blood.
These hunt, as they have done,
But with claws and teeth grown perfect,

More deadly than they can believe.   
They stalk more silently,
And crouch on the limbs of trees,   
And their descent
Upon the bright backs of their prey

May take years
In a sovereign floating of joy.   
And those that are hunted   
Know this as their life,
Their reward: to walk

Under such trees in full knowledge   
Of what is in glory above them,   
And to feel no fear,
But acceptance, compliance.   
Fulfilling themselves without pain

At the cycle’s center,
They tremble, they walk   
Under the tree,
They fall, they are torn,   
They rise, they walk again.
James Dickey, “The Heaven of Animals” from The Whole Motion: Collected Poems 1945-1992. Copyright © 1992 by James Dickey. Reprinted with the permission of Wesleyan University Press, www.wesleyan.edu/wespress.
The Poetry Foundation

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Library Dioramas of Marc Giai-Miniet

French artist Marc Giai-Miniet constructs tiny bookish worlds. These incredibly detailed dioramas, while lovely, have a decidedly sinister air about them.

More: Beautiful/Decay Artist & Design

Via Nag on the Lake

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Don Dreams and I Dream by Leah Umansky

Leah Umansky’s chapbook both celebrates and transcends its subject, the iconic Mad Men television series. You don’t have to love or even know the show to go where Umansky takes us in this scathing dissection of American advertising, pop culture, and gender.

I'm watching back episodes of Mad Men and it's re-kindled my ill-fated crush on Don Draper. This book would make a perfect reading companion.

Here's an example of what's inside:

Love is just an advertisement…
                             —Mad Men (season 1)
It's a madmadmadmad world.
Everything can be manufactured, sold and bought, but love,
love is the mold. You sure could have a lot of fun with this.
In the material world, objects are marked up from face value.
The confusion of client services is merely based on articles,
like he and she. You can find anything on the internet:
even beauty. Advertising is based on happiness.
                                                                           Be happy.
More: Powell's Books

Friday, April 11, 2014

Dorothy Parker Reads “Inscription for the Ceiling of a Bedroom”

Click to hear Parker read this rare 1926 recording. 

Daily dawns another day;

I must up, to make my way.

Though I dress and drink and eat,

Move my fingers and my feet,

Learn a little, here and there,

Weep and laugh and sweat and swear,

Hear a song, or watch a stage,

Leave some words upon a page,

Claim a foe, or hail a friend –

Bed awaits me at the end.

 Though I go in pride and strength,

 I’ll come back to bed at length.

Though I walk in blinded woe,

Back to bed I’m bound to go.

High my heart, or bowed my head,

All my days but lead to bed.

Up, and out, and on; and then

Ever back to bed again,

Summer, Winter, Spring, and Fall

I’m a fool to rise at all!

Via Brain Pickings

Sue Townsend R.I.P.

Sue Townsend in 2000. Photograph: Rob Judges/Rex

Sue Townsend, best known for writing the fictional diaries of Adrian Mole, died yesterday aged 68 after suffering from a stroke. She was one of Britain’s most celebrated comic writers: novelist, playwright and journalist.

Townsend,who grew up poor, was a passionate socialist. She eventually achieved success for her Adrian Mole book series which sees an adolescent Adrian struggling with adolescence during the brutal Thatcher years. Townsend took the Mole character through marriage and prostate cancer.

She herself suffered through a myriad of illnesses including the diabetes which left her blind and led to a kidney transplant.
She leaves her husband and four children.

More:  theguardian

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

American Library

How many book lovers among the young has the Internet produced? Far fewer, I suspect, than the millions libraries have turned out over the last hundred years. Their slow disappearance is a tragedy, not just for those impoverished towns and cities, but for everyone everywhere terrified at the thought of a country without libraries -A Country Without Libraries, by Charles Simic
Photographer Robert Dawson has photographed hundreds of libraries in 48 states. Here are a few from The Public Library: A Photographic Essay:

Destroyed Mark Twain Branch Library, Detroit, Michigan, 2011

Library built by ex-slaves, Allensworth, California, 1995

Miss Cass Lake winners, Cass Lake Community Library,
Cass Lake, Minnesota, 2012

Monday, April 07, 2014

Ice Moon

The story opens with Kimmo Joentaa, a young Finnish detective, sitting by the bedside of his wife, Sanno, who has just passed away. He cannot talk to anyone about her death and goes back to work without giving himself a chance to grieve. He is assigned to the investigation of the case of a woman who has been suffocated in her sleep and this murder is followed by two more, all victims having died peacefully in their sleep. The murderer is revealed to us at the outset and he and Kimmo alternately narrate the story. As the murders occur Kimmo becomes overly involved in the cases and  feels a strong connection with the killer because he has spared his victims any suffering.
Ice Moon is about Kimmo's attempts to come to terms with Sanno's death and the effect that grief has on him, his ability to communicate with those around him and to do his job. His struggle is very moving. 
There was a character introduced at the end of the book who seems superfluous to the plot but overall I was pleasantly surprised by Ice Moon and would like to read more by Jan Costin Wagner.

Friday, April 04, 2014

It Will Look Like Sunset

“You made me hit you in the face,” he said mournfully. “Now everyone is going to know.”

It Will Look Like a Sunset is a touching story of love and abuse by Kelly Sundberg who blogs about domestic violence at letterofapology.blogspot.com

On the Road: Illustrated Scroll 7

See more:
Paul Rogers 

Thanks Bruce!

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

This Day in History: April 2nd, 1805

Hans Christian Andersen was born on April 2, 1805 in Odense, Denmark to a cobbler and a washerwoman. Although they were poor, his parents doted on him and encouraged him to develop his imagination by putting on puppet shows and making up his own stories. His mother introduced him to the world of folklore before she slid into full-blown alcoholism.

When Andersen was 14, he set off for Copenhagen to become an actor, singer or dancer. He had little success, but made valuable connections during his time as a struggling performer. The Royal Theater’s Jonas Collin provided Andersen with a grant to attend Copenhagen University, and during this time he began writing poems, plays and stories. In 1827, his first poem, “The Dying Child,” was published in the Copenhagen Post.

More: This Day in History: April 2nd