Monday, 31 December 2012

Digression: Books I'm Reviewing—Chris Czajkowski’s 'Ginty's Ghost'

  Ginty's Ghost and Annette Lapointe's Whitetail Shooting Gallery were the last books I wrote about in 2012. The Vancouver Sun will publish the Whitetail review next week; the one for Ginty ran on Dec. 29. 

Friday, 14 December 2012

Non-Fiction Sidebar: Twelve+ Favourite Readings of 2012

   As someone who teaches lit and writes reviews of it, my reading habits tend to result less from browsing book aisles than in receiving review assignments and preparing for new courses. The benefit is that I read material that falls well outside of what I already know I enjoy (while the disadvantage can be having to force myself to finish books I feel are actively wasting my time and which—
were I not writing a review—I would likely have stopped reading after the first chapter). 

   The titles that really stayed with me in a positive way are listed below, in no particular order. A sub-category resulting from class readings and published as far back as 1974, deserve mention because they're so damned terrific.
   Throughout the year I reviewed a few titles that stayed with me like a taste that triggers a mild gag response. Mentioning them in a Least Favourite Readings of 2012 section was a temptation with bad karma, I figured. Then again, Margaret Atwood once asked, "If you see a person heading toward a huge hole in the ground, is it not a friendly act to warn him?" But her hole in the ground metaphor was referring to the political activism of dystopian novels, and not a book she didn't like. Is it best to let sleeping dogs lie? 

   New Readings, Published in 2012—

   Alain de Botton — Religion for Atheists
   Patricia Cohen — In Our Prime: The Invention of Middle Age
   Cheryl Strayed — Wild
   Tamas Dobozy — Siege 13
   Alix Ohlin — Inside
   Douglas Glover — "Attack of the Copula Spiders"
   Anne Fleming — Gay Dwarves of America
   Candace Savage — A Geography of Blood
   Anakana Schofield — Malarky
   Augusten Burroughs — This is How
   Cheryl Strayed — Tiny Beautiful Things

   Re-Readings, Dating From Before 2012—

   Alice Munro — Lives of Girls and Women
   J.J. Lee — The Measure of a Man
   J.M. Coetzee — Elizabeth Costello
   Don Hannah — The Wise and Foolish Virgins
   Jonathan Safran Foer Eating Animals 
   Alisa Smith and James MacKinnon — The 100-Mile Diet

Monday, 3 December 2012

Non-Fiction Sidebar: Twelve+ Songs of 2012

  A song of the year...and some runners-up separated by thin line of hyphens that also represents a hair's breadth. The list makes no claim to quality. I'll leave that to music journalists. Instead, the motivation seems to be sharing the love. (And included for the sake of asymmetry: two guilty pleasures and one favourite discovery, dating from 2009.)

   1. "Pyramids" - Frank Ocean


   2."Night and Day (2 Bears feat. Trim Edit)" — Hot Chip
   3. "Kiko" — Dead Can Dance
   4. "All That is My Own" (feat. Cosey Fanni Tutti) — X-TG
   5. "Reason with Me" — Sinéad O'Connor
   6. "Wulfstan II" — Beak>
   7. "House of Balloons / Glass Table Girls" — The Weeknd
   8. "Her Fantasy" — Matthew Dear
   9. "NYC: 73-78" — Philip Glass & Beck
   10. "I'm a Sinner" — Madonna
   11. "A Ring on Every Finger" — Liars
   12. (tie) "Loner" — Burial / "Luxury Problems" — Andy Stott / "Ahora" - Daphni


   GP1. "Those Who Live for Love Will Live Forever" — Prince Rama

   GP2. "Payphone (feat. Wiz Khalifa)" — Maroon 5


   FDDF2009. "Let's Practise" — Lindstrøm & Christabelle

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Tips for Writing Success: Source Material (#3)

   Just past a damp alley on Abbott Street near Pender (Vancouver, Canada), 22 November, approximately 9:30 pm.
 Two leashed dogs are entangled with one another and a parking meter. The men walking the confused beasts—late 20s, indifferent to fashion—have abandoned that friendly sort of awkward exchange normally accompanying snafus like this
   It's possible they already know and dislike each other. Whatever the case they're furious and beginning to puff up and posture, and the verbal highlight could be heard as far as two blocks away—

    "If you touch my dog, I'll murder you. I WILL FUCKING MURDER YOU."