About Me

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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, August 20, 2017

Little Pig's Ramble From Home

Jack Pig dresses up to go to town but receives his comeuppance when he discovers how pigs are "dressed" at the butcher's.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Eclipses, Comets, and Dragons in a 16th-Century Chinese Text

A manuscript compendium from China, currently available for purchase from Jonathan A. Hill, Bookseller, records prognostications related to astronomic phenomena, including the possible meanings of eclipses.

More here

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Writers React To Trump's Defense Of White Supremacists

Writers have been tweeting their feelings about President Trump's remarks on the violence in Charlottesville in which he defended the "Unite the Right" protesters.

J.K. Rowling described the speech as an "abomination."

Stephen King said Trump "must be removed" and called him an "obscene man."

Joyce Carol Oates shared a photo of a poster comparing Trump to Adolf Hitler.
More here 

Monday, August 14, 2017

How We Got to Here

reading list of features from the past two years that trace the disturbing path of how we got to Charlottesville.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

This Map Lets You Read Literature From Every Country on Earth

The Global Anthology interactive map highlights a work of prose from every country on Earth. Simply click on a book icon to read a story from the relevant region.


Friday, August 11, 2017

Playing Soviet

Playing Soviet is an online interactive database created by Princeton of children’s books from the Soviet Union.

More here

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Good As Gone

I read this domestic suspense novel by Amy Gentry a while back and neglected to post it here. It's the story of the kidnapping of thirteen-year-old Julie Whitaker from her family home, witnessed only by her little sister. Her family still bears the scars of the traumatic loss and has all but given up hope that she might return. Eight years later a woman shows up at their door claiming to be Julie but as inconsistencies in her story emerge her mother, Anna, begins to have doubts which she sets about resolving by hiring a private investigator.
The story unfolds in alternating first person accounts by Julie and Anna. The reader knows early on that there is something off about Julie's initial story of being imprisoned by the leader of a drug cartel. But what exactly? Is this strange girl Julie Whittaker? What is identity? 
It was a good enough story but did not keep me on the edge of my seat although its sub-title is "A Novel Of Suspense". If you're looking for a thriller this isn't it but Good As Gone does provoke interesting thoughts about loss and hope. 

Joe Orton, His Lover, and 72 Stolen Library Books

Joe Orton at home in Islington, London, 1966.

Police came to the door of Joe Orton, the man who would one day be one of the most famous playwrights in the United Kingdom, and his partner Kenneth Halliwell’s one-bedroom apartment at 9 a.m. on 28 April, 1962. It was a Saturday, the cooling end of the first warm week of the year, and the men had been up for hours, customarily getting up with the sunrise.
“We are police officers,” one said, “and I have a warrant to search your flat as I have reason to believe you have a number of stolen library books.” Orton replied: “Oh dear.”

Read more: Atlas Obscura

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Jean-Paul Sartre vs. Surfing, Illustrated

In his new book, Surfing with Sartre, philosophy professor and surfer Aaron James  makes the case that one does have to choose to get out of bed every morning by pitting the deductions of philosophers against the lessons he’s learned surfing.

Surfing With Sartre-inspired illustrations © Nathan Gelgud

More here

One Poem by Calvin Walds

One Poem by Detroit Poet Calvin Walds:
Adopting Persona
(of) An Ancestor

Insert your brown body into the negative space.
The space between four bodies.
Is the space closed if I touch you?
Black walled gallery.
I’ve been breathing my entire life.
Spilled cold water.
The house is outside. I’m in the house.
If you step outside, you are in the world.
Shatter glass. Steeped light. I’m allergic.
If air touches my lungs they fill.
I want empty lungs.
High beams. Sky walkers.
Who here can walk on air?
I can but eyes see space.
I ran through the door. It closed.
Can you unlock the door? I forgot my keys.
Rub mint into a shea bowl.
Moisture originates. Leaf darkens.
There is space between cell bars.
Sometimes I look through and walk outside.
Notice the use of black space.
Gravity pulls liquid onto floor.
The hallway. Watch, I can run fast.
You watching? I’m going to go.
Look, I ran and came back before you could notice.
Where did I run? Unlock the cell and I can show you.
Hold a deer by its throat.
Empty the contents of its mouth into your hands.
Coarse squares of crust and crystal.
You’d pick a square with a spit-wet finger.
Sit evenly on the chair. Don’t move.
Filtering bronchi. Fine rub seasoning.
Dust, it’s transportable.
I am already a cliche.
Can you close the window for some air?
The pores of our cells close open.
There is no breeze here.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Dorothy Parker, The Art of Fiction No. 13

"At the time of this interview, Mrs. Parker was living in a midtown New York hotel. She shared her small apartment with a youthful poodle that had the run of the place and had caused it to look, as Mrs. Parker said apologetically, somewhat “Hogarthian”: newspapers spread about the floor, picked lamb chops here and there, and a rubber doll—its throat torn from ear to ear—which Mrs. Parker lobbed left-handed from her chair into corners of the room for the poodle to retrieve—as it did, never tiring of the opportunity."

More here

Some fairy tales are older than you think

"When it comes to the origin of Western fairy tales, the 19th century Brothers Grimm get a lot of the credit. Few scholars believe the Grimms were actually responsible for creating the tales, but academics probably didn’t realize how old many of these stories really are. A new study, which treats these fables like an evolving species, finds that some may have originated as long as 6000 years ago."

Read more 

The Most Beautiful Sentences In Literature

Buzzfeed readers share their favourite sentences in literature:

“She wasn’t doing a thing that I could see, except standing there leaning on the balcony railing, holding the universe together.”
—J. D. Salinger, A Girl I Knew

“It might be that to surrender to happiness was to accept defeat, but it was a defeat better than many victories.”
—W. Somerset Maugham, Of Human Bondage

“I could hear the human noise we sat there making, not one of us moving, not even when the room went dark.”
—Raymond Carver, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love

“I have spread my dreams under your feet; / Tread softly because you tread on my dreams”
—W. B. Yeats, Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven

See more beautiful sentences at Ideaspot

My favourite sentence in literature is not on the list, perhaps because it is actually two sentences, but I will share it with you:

Sometimes you have to use your failures as stepping stones to success. You have to maintain a fine balance between hope and despair” 
― Rohinton Mistry, A Fine Balance

Monday, August 07, 2017

The Book of the Cat

The Book of the Cat by Pentagram partner Angus Hyland and journalist and author Caroline Roberts is a cool and quirky collection of feline art and illustration by well-known artists from around the world.

More: Creative Boom