Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Splash du Jour: Wednesday

If I were a writer, how I would enjoy being told the novel is dead. How liberating to work in the margins, outside a central perception. You are the ghoul of literature. Lovely.
-- Don DeLillo --

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Splash du Jour: Tuesday

You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.

-- C.S. Lewis --

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Chances Are...

This very evening after work I was sitting in a Chapters bookstore, reading this great page-turner of a book, The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.
Sipping a Starbucks coffee....... mmm.
All day long [at work] I wait for that moment when I will be able to set aside the concerns of life [work] and just sit for a few moments with my book [and not work].
In tonight's reading [do not worry, what I am about to say is not a spoiler, per se...] but one of the characters suddenly dies. IN A BOOKSTORE.
KICKS THE BUCKET [see above illustration] IN A BOOKSTORE.
The entire episode unnerved me.
I put the book down for a moment and had an unsettling thought.

Given the amount of time I spend in bookstores [and seriously, it is an inordinate amount of time... I would be embarrassed to reveal to you even an underestimated... estimate].... umm, where was I -- oh yeah -- I figure that it's quite likely that I myself will one day die in a bookstore.

Really, if The Grim Reaper is out looking for me [I'm being serious here] he could do no better than to search in a few local bookstores. By golly, there I am!
He can lean his sharpened scythe right up against my table there in the Starbucks and wait for just that right moment to hack me down.
In fact, other than sleeping, here are the FOUR PLACES I'LL MOST LIKELY BE:

1) Work.
2) Chapters Bookstore / Starbucks
3) Some burger joint Drive-Thru.
4) Here at this very desk in my apartment.... candles aglow.... listening to Alan Parsons Project on my iTunes.

Technically speaking, I live on the 13th floor!
[I hope The Grim Reaper does not read my blog! Unless "he" looks like THIS!]


Splash du Jour: Monday

Every religion is true one way or another. It is true when understood metaphorically. But when it gets stuck in its own metaphors, interpreting them as facts, then you are in trouble.
-- Joseph Campbell --

Have a great Monday!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Her Selfish Grief: A Saturday Poem

Her Selfish Grief

-- John ch.11 --

Four days his shell lay Bethany-bound
when rang the Martha-prompted sound
"Come forth" -- she truly sorrowed when
unwrapped, he wished to die again.

c. Ciprianowords Inc. 2009
-- Click --

Friday, September 25, 2009

Wherein He Discusses Negative Aspects of Extreme [and apparently incurable] Bookavorism

When it comes to books, I tend to move on quickly.
Too quickly, perhaps.
What I mean is, I will finish a book and almost immediately pick up a new one and start page-flipping.
I go into some kind of epileptic panic if I am not CURRENTLY reading something, I guess.
I liken the discovery of no book in my backpack to..... a seagull landing on the blowhole of a snorkeler's......... snorkel..... dealie.
Get the picture?
Something needs to happen, and happen fast.
Perhaps many of us are similar in this area.
The people that tend to visit Bookpuddle are generally prolific readers -- I think it would be safe to say that. If you weren't a rabid Bookavore, you wouldn't be here, am I right?
But for me, the downside of this insatiable appetite is that by the time I want to speak of a completed book [ie., do a book review].... well this may be a bit too intestinal of a metaphor for the squeamish out there, but it's like while I'm still digesting the last thing, all I want to really talk about is the new thing that is now mixing with my saliva -- as it were. I have a high metabolism when it comes to books and all. So, the last book is now on its merry way to my colon, [so to say] and the new book is..... well, you get the picture, right?
Perhaps some of you have noticed this thing about me?
I say more about books while I'm still eating them then I do when I'm doing the dishes?
[I'm the same with hamburgers, actually.]

So, apologies to Jennifer Egan, whose book The Keep deserves a 5-star review.
Apologies to Ann Patchett, John Irving, [he pats his chest.... is that gas?] -- Saul Bellow, Richard Bausch, even Mark Twain...... oh God, too many to mention -- all of them gorged upon with the ferocity of three starving tigers --
but, I just wanted to check in here with my peeps, and tell you that this latest book by some Barcelonian author named Carlos Ruiz Zafon [buuuuuuurp...] umm, I just started it yesterday and seriously [as he puts the thing down to type...] I CANNOT PUT THE THING DOWN!
It's too good. [He pops a Rolaids....] like REAL good!
The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.
This is one of the best halfway-through books I have ever belched about here on Bookpuddle!


Splash du Jour: Friday

Have a great Friday!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Splash du Jour: Thursday

Once, in my father's bookshop, I heard a regular customer say that few things leave a deeper mark on a reader than the first book that finds its way into his heart. Those first images, the echo of words we think we have left behind, accompany us throughout our lives and sculpt a palace in our memory to which, sooner or later—no matter how many books we read, how many worlds we discover, or how much we learn or forget—we will return.
-- From The Shadow Of The Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon --

Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Her Maggieness

It was awesome.
The whole "Atwood" experience last night.
It is very difficult to explain here, but the whole evening was a sort of dramatic recreation of certain excerpts from her new novel The Year of the Flood.
Three actors played the parts of Ren, Toby, and Adam One from the novel, and Her Maggieness narrated in between their lines.
One of the most humorous moments of the evening [and there were a few] occurred when, in the Question period following, an audience member asked Margaret, "What is the next thing on your mind? Your next novel, what is the topic, I need to prepare myself."
She answered, "Uh-huh. Like I would tell you?"
Along with the dramatic presentation, a local choir, the Calixa Lavallee Ensemble, conducted by Laurence Ewashko, sang the hymns that appear in the book.
This one is entitled The Peach or Plum, from page 278 of the novel.
[That's Her Maggieness in the left-hand corner].

The Peach or Plum

The Peach or Plum that spreads its boughs
Is beauteous at time of flower,

And Birds and Bees and Bats rejoice,
And sip its nectar hour by hour.

And Pollination then takes place:
For every Nut or Seed or Fruit,

A tiny golden particle

Has winged its way, and taken root.

Then swells the oval on the stem,

And slowly ripens, week by week --
Within it stored the nourishment

That Birds and Beasts and Men do seek.

And in each Seed or Fruit or Nut

Is coiled a silver infant Tree

That will arise of planted right,

Unfurling flowers, a joy to see.

When next you eat a golden Peach

And lightly throw away the pit,

Consider how it shines with Life --

God dwelling in the midst of it.

Maggie, signing books.

Splash du Jour: Wednesday

Atwood knows how to show us ourselves, but the mirror she holds up to life does more than reflect — it’s like one of those mirrors made with mercury that gives us both a deepening and a distorting effect, allowing both the depths of human nature and its potential mutations. We don’t know how we will evolve, or if we will evolve at all. “The Year of the Flood” isn’t prophecy, but it is eerily possible.
-- Jeannette Winterson --

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Splash du Jour: Tuesday

We will never achieve human maturity until we let go and take leave of this parent substitute. Jesus is not to God what Clark Kent was to Superman. Jesus was a human life so deeply lived, a human life through which love flowed without barrier or interception, a being so courageously present that he was open to the ground of all being. He had stepped from self-consciousness into a universal consciousness that brings us into a profound oneness with all there is. He had become one with God.
-- John Shelby Spong, in Eternal Life: A New Vision --

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Splash du Jour: Monday

I made my blog strong, I made it with my hands, fitted the joists and the beams and the floorboards neat, planed the crooked surfaces, sanded the knots where there were knots and varnished the sanded knots until a blind man couldn't tell you their location. It was a fine labor of many days and it stands, my blog, by the salty beseeching sea, a stone's throw from where the searching tidal claws at their highest point mark the sand. My blog is an outpost on forever.
-- from The Dreaming Jaw, The Salivating Ear, a short story by Jonathem Lethem, in the current Harpers magazine --

Have a great Monday!

Sunday, September 20, 2009



<-- See this here?
I was walking into Chapters today and was accosted by this, posted up on the bulletin board at the Sussex Street entrance.
Margaret Atwood is one of my favorite authors EVER!
And I have seen her several times before, at speaking engagements here and there.
She has always been so gracious with my rambling praise of her when I finally get to the Holy Table where she humbly sits as though she is not Canada's Goddess of The Novel. [Notice how I said that? I left room for Alice Munro's rightful designation as Canada's Goddess of the Short Story.]
I just love the work of Margaret Atwood.
I like what she does. I think she is brilliant.
I have a signed copy of Oryx & Crake, so I am thinking.... dang it all, even though I could request a free REVIEW copy from the fine folks at Random House, I think I will have to break down and buy The Year of the Flood tomorrow... so that I am good and ready on Tuesday, in case there is a signing afterward!
I will never forget what Margaret Atwood said to me, when I leaned forward and whispered, "Tell me. What is your own favorite novel you've written?"
She, in that crazy voice she has, replied, "If I told you, the others would hear, and be jealous."
The neat thing about this venue here [St. Brigid's Church] is that it is only a couple of blocks from where I live!
A dramatic production of Year of The Flood, with Her Maggieness as narrator?
How could I miss this?
I immediately went and bought a ticket, after reading this bulletin!
The lady that sold me the ticket said the event is very nearly sold out.
Thank the metaphorical Lord for this announcement!
I would not have known about it otherwise.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

After Dying Elsewhere: A Saturday Poem

After Dying Elsewhere

Love gone,
and I the poorer
walk on. Slower now
through forest shadows
where crunching autumn
leaves a cricket song

Not long ago
this same pathway
upheld spirited lovers.
Careless, led along
by the murmuring
of a stream
and a dream
that loneliness would never
wound them.

I stop
as moonlight finds
the old tree stump -- a
cenotaph in honor
of all that I am -- the
living part missing
and all hope
of resurrection... gone.

The cricket resumes,
and I the poorer
walk on.

c. Ciprianowords Inc. 2009

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Splash du Jour: Thursday

This guy wakes up one morning to find a gorilla in his tree. He looks in the phone book for a gorilla removal service until he finds one.

"Is it a boy or girl Gorilla?" the service guy asks.
"Boy," is the man's response.
"Oh yeah, I can do it. I'll be right there." An hour later the service guy shows up with a stick, a Chihuahua, a shotgun, and a pair of handcuffs.
He then gives the man some instructions. "Now, I'm going to climb this tree and poke the gorilla with the stick until he falls.

When he does, the trained Chihuahua will bite the gorilla's testicles off.
The gorilla will then cross his hands to protect himself and allow you to put the handcuffs on."

The man asks, "What do I do with the shotgun?"
"If I fall out of the tree before the gorilla, shoot the dog."

Have a great Thursday!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Splash du Jour: Tuesday

"The so-called 'psychotically depressed' person who tries to kill herself doesn't do so out of quote 'hopelessness' or any abstract conviction that life's assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire's flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It's not desiring the fall; it's terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling 'Don't!' and 'Hang on!', can understand the jump. Not really. You'd have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling."
-- David Foster Wallace --

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, September 14, 2009


I just really liked this big new poster at the front door of Chapters tonight.
I think there is great wisdom in that maxim!
Wasn't it Flaubert that said something like "Read, in order to live"?
Can you make out the new Atwood novel there in the book pavement?

Sometimes I feel as though I live, to read.
I know there are many people that live semi-decent lives and don't read very much, but it is not a life I can fathom living.
Anyhoo, something else I have been thinking about today.
It's driving me completely mental that I have to work so much simply to sustain my BBCH Lifestyle. [The abbreviation stands for Books, Beer, Catfood, Hamburger!]
But seriously, today [while at work] I repeatedly heard this ad on the radio.
Come buy a new car at Blah-Blah Car Lot. And [this is what freaked me out], the ad ended by saying, "If you lose your income in the first 12 months, simply return the car!"
Something like that anyway. I'm not kidding!
Are times really that bad that this proviso needs to be mentioned?
It's just not right... it doesn't seem right that they need to say that.
It's scary.

I don't want to have to "work" myself into the grave, simply to live.
I want to just READ to live.


Splash du Jour: Monday

Please tell me you've got one minute for this?
This guy is NOT HUMAN!

Have a great Monday!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Lost in Translation

I just had one of those WWJD moments.
As in, What Would Jesus Do?
It was just weird, and the people I am about to talk about, two complete strangers to me, have just left the premises, minutes ago.

So I'm sitting here at Starbucks in the Chapters store downtown. It's just packed with people. To put it mildly, it's a proverbial barrel of fish. I had to wait quite a while for a table to open up so I could read my book and get my caffeine fix.
But sure enough [patience is rewarded] two people got up to leave and I hustled in there and nabbed the table.
So far so so good, right? Everything's been done fair and square? Survival of the fittest, and all that jazz? No dolphins were harmed, yadda yadda?

OK, I was happily re-acquainting myself with the latter stages of this excellent book called The Keep when, in my over-anxiety I dribbled some Pumpkin-Spice Latte ['tis the season] on the table and got up to fetch a napkin from yonder dispenser. These are over at the condiment center, a few yards away.
When I turned around to go back to my table there was a mother and daughter team already sitting at my table, pushing all my stuff to the side.... my book, my laptop, my John Irving action figure... all the stuff I travel with, it's all just pushed over and these two have basically MOVED IN.... and I'm left standing there, milling about.
I at least want my damn book back?

The truth is, I wasn't even angry or anything. Spending 90% of my life in coffee places has conditioned me for this sort of scenario. I quickly adapt to such horrific encounters with..... random human beings.
I asked some people at a neighboring table if I could borrow their one unused chair and then I dragged this chair close to "my" table, reached over for my book and said to these two Usurpers, these two Table Hounds, "I'll just sit over here."
I even smiled.
But from the look on the daughter's face I might as well have said, "I will shoot you both in four seconds."
She looked at me like I needed an exorcism. And said, "What?"
So, I repeated exactly what I had said before, but way slower, "It's OK. I -- will -- sit -- over -- here."
But this only horrified her further.
As though I was slapping them both in the face a second time.
In other words friends, I quickly realized that there was absolutely no sentence, put however nicely, that would not sound offensive, when all the while I was not angry or offended. I truthfully could not have cared less -- I mean sure, it was not comfortable to now sit in a chair and have to hold my coffee in one hand and the book in the other, but the point of what I am saying is that there was no good way for me to relate to these women that I was not scandalized by their intrusion into "my" table.
The younger woman continued to just GLARE at me. My God, it was unnerving.
Then the elderly woman turned completely around and said to me, "We will not be long, there was nowhere else to sit."
I just acknowledged with my eyes that I heard her, there was nothing to say.... all would have been lost in translation.
And the young one, the daughter, wow... the couple times I glanced up while I sipped from that cup that was burning the hell out of my left hand, her eyes cut me to shreds!

They just left, leaving muffin crumbs and plates all over "my" table, and as I moved back here the girl threw me a parting "look" as they both went out the front doors of Chapters.
That "look" was NOT lost in translation.
It said, "You've got some serious issues, buddy! Get some help."


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Round: A Saturday Poem


I was just thinking it could have easily been a cylinder.
Three of the hundred clouds parted and there it was.
Round as hell, bright as four ghosts, and sucking the
ocean like an Amsterdam whore would gobble a guy.

Or a square. Why not a fucking rectangle or something.
Orbiting like an old fridge box the derelict runs toward
in too much of a breeze, Holy shit, I could live in that!
But no, somehow this dusty beachball is opting for --

A triangle could have called the whole world to lunch.
A trapezoid remind us of acid trips in high school. But
this perfect circle? Every night screaming that I'm
standing, every day, on something even more perfect?

-- a message.

c. Ciprianowords Inc. 2009

Friday, September 11, 2009

This One's a KEEPER!

Hah! I'm so witty.
No, but seriously, I am in the throes of being immersed in a really truly terrific book.
The Keep, by Jennifer Egan.
In the dictionary, beside the word "pageturner" there should be a picture of this book, and then the author bio should have, right next to it, these photos of Michelle Pfeiffer.
I mean.... Jennifer Egan!

Splash du Jour: Friday

It is now more than a decade since I sat in my study in London, writing the last chapter of this book. In that conclusion, I evaluated the call by the Shiite cleric Ali Allawi for Westerners to disassociate Islam from the "background noise" of prejudice and dire social practice in so many Islamic regimes.
On September 11, 2001, that background noise became a roar. That morning, I woke to the news in a hotel room in Portland, Oregon, about as far as one could be from the dust and flame of the Pentagon and the World Trade Center and still be in the continental United States. I was on a speaking tour for my first novel, Year of Wonders. After years of toiling through the hardwood forests of contemporary fact, I had turned to historical fiction as an alternative way to explore questions of faith and idealism, and how human beings cope with catastrophe.
-- Geraldine Brooks, Afterword to Nine Parts of Desire --

I'm sure we all remember today, where we were that morning.

Wishing you a great Friday!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

New Atwood Novel

As though I need to buy yet more books!
Right now I am awaiting a shipment of stuff that I ordered online.
And then tonight I was innocently walking around in Chapters and was literally accosted by this huge display of the latest novel by one of my favorite writers, Margaret Atwood!
The Year of the Flood.
I am going to have to get this book, I just know it. I should not even fight it!
It is a futuristic novel [dystopia] along the lines of her [2003] novel Oryx and Crake.
I have a signed copy of Oryx!
I think I may have to re-read it. Several of Oryx's characters reappear in the new novel. I will at least re-browse it before re-visiting Atwood's future world.
Any other Maggie fans out there?

Read about Year of the Flood -- HERE.

Splash du Jour: Thursday

Have a great Thursday!


Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Splash du Jour: Wednesday

Yes, well I would drink some coffee if I had some to drink!
[See last night's blog-posting for details of current conditions!]
Arrrrgggghhhh! I'm cranky, can you tell?

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

What's Wrong With Me?

I think I am having problems in the memory department!
After my coffee time at Starbucks I went to the supermarket to buy..... umm...... coffee!
I love Starbucks coffee but I'm on a budget, and for my home-brew I buy cheaper stuff from the regular old store!
Point is, my entire mission was coffee!


Need coffee for the morning -- get coffee -- GET COFFEE!

By the time I was at the cashier my cart was full.
Out in the parking lot, the trunk of my car was jammed with bags of food and stuff.
I barely made it up here to my apartment, hauling all of this stuff in my arms.
Unpacked it all.

Think there was any coffee to be discovered in all that unpacking?


Splash du Jour: Tuesday

The greatest mystery is not that we have been flung at random among the profusion of the earth and the galaxy of the stars, but that in this prison we can fashion images of ourselves sufficiently powerful to deny our nothingness.
-- Maurice Freedman --

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, September 07, 2009

Afterlife Research

I have innovative views concerning the Afterlife.
It is a goal of my lifetime to systematically outline my beliefs about what is most likely to happen to us after we die.
I want to write a book about it. My ideas seem original and relevant enough [to me] to warrant a readership.

My thoughts on this topic have changed over the years, and there is still quite a lot of morphing going on.
Let's face it, no one, myself included, will ever really know the Answer.
But it really helps [I think] to at least narrow the hallway of speculation down a bit by way of elimination. By this, I mean that part of my own process has been to one-by-one discard certain ideas that just do not seem tenable.
In lieu of specific conclusions further understanding often comes by way of knowing what one does NOT believe.
At one time in my life I was fully committed to what I might call an evangelical and even doctrinally fundamentalist Christian idea of the hereafter. I studied the Bible in college from the perspective of a preconceived faith-acceptance [which I now believe taints what I might call true "study"] and I received a degree in Theology at the end of four years. Since then, my ideas have expanded, and I've embraced many facets of the topic that would seem heretical to my previous Christian understanding.

Spirituality and religion are ideas that most people keep close to the vest.
So, I totally understand if readers of Bookpuddle are not interested in answering the question I now pose.
But if you are willing, I would very much value your input and opinion regarding a matter I am currently investigating.

In your current understanding of the Afterlife, [of what is most likely to happen after your own physical death], which of these scenarios most clearly represents your belief?

A) There is absolutely no consciousness / awareness / existence, after physical death. I cease to exist in any real or even unreal sense.

B) Upon my death, the non-physical aspect of my person [soul / spirit] enters a realm of awareness, and in this realm I am aware of my previous earthly existence. In other words, I retain my distinct personality in the sense that I can recollect and recall aspects of my earthly existence as an individual human being. I can remember where I worked, who I was married to, loved, hated, etc.

C) Upon my death, the non-physical aspect of my person [soul / spirit] enters a realm of awareness, and in this realm I am not aware of my previous earthly existence. Nor do I retain the uniqueness of my previous personality. In other words, in whatever sense an awareness continues, it does so with no recollection of my previous earthly existence. I do NOT in any way remember where I worked, who I was married to, loved, hated, etc.

Thank you.
If you believe in some fourth option, a letter (D)... let me know.
All respondents shall be duly cited in the dedication page of my upcoming bestseller.


Splash du Jour: Monday


Saturday, September 05, 2009

22nd Anniversary: A Saturday Poem

22nd Anniversary

You claimed they ate carrots
and I said no the word impossible
in my mind big as a saddle.

City met country as I followed
you from the garden your hands
orange and green to the wet corral.

Some you gave to me and the fence
creaked as the warm lips threatened
to pull me to the muddy earth.

I was twelve and you ten that summer.
Darling you are the best thing about me
for as many years combined now.

c. Ciprianowords Inc. 2009

Friday, September 04, 2009

Cute, but STUPID!

Well friends, this is the last evening of my official "holidays".
Tomorrow I fly back to meowy meowy Jack!
I miss him, truth be known.
And speaking of varmints, remember this girl, to the left here?
My sister's dog?
Well, this morning as I sat out on the deck reading a book, my sister came out there and she looked sort of..... sheepish.
Scared, maybe even.
She said, "Umm. I think we are going camera shopping today, is that OK?"
"What?" I said.
"Camera shopping. For you."
"But my camera's fine," I said.
"Umm. Not really. Your camera WAS fine. Yesterday."

Zoe ate it.
Or rather, tried to eat it. Stopped half way, God knows why.
My sister found the camera out in the back yard, along with the remote control to their television.
Everything was half-digested.
I found it funny.
And I've spent half the day dissuading her from buying me a new camera.
Hey, it's as much my fault as anyone's. They warned me about this RABID MONGREL when I showed up here last Saturday!


Splash du Jour: Friday

He kissed her. There was such an incredible logic to kissing, such a metal-to-magnet pull between two people that it was a wonder that they found the strength to prevent themselves from succumbing every second. Rightfully, the world should be a whirlpool of kissing into which we sank and never found the strength to rise up again.

-- From Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett --

Have a great Friday!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Splash du Jour: Thursday

Have a great Thursday!

Splash du Jour: Wednesday

Sometimes I lie awake at night, and I ask, "Where have I gone wrong?"
Then a voice says to me, "This going to take more than one night."

-- Charlie Brown --

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Splash du Jour: Tuesday

Reading fiction not only develops our imagination and creativity, it gives us the skills to be alone. It gives us the ability to feel empathy for people we've never met, living lives we couldn't possibly experience for ourselves, because the book puts us inside the character's skin.
-- Ann Patchett --

Have a great Tuesday!