Sunday, January 31, 2010

Something About Sunday

Sunday is my favorite day of the week.
And I'm not sure why. It just is.
It has been for a long while now, and so much so, that I have suspected an uncanny reason. Like that the air is different or something. Back when I was a church-going person, I believed that I favored Sundays because that was when I got to go to church.
But then I quit going to church altogether. Quit exercising my "spirituality" in that way.
And I still loved Sundays.
I mean, immeasurably more than Saturdays.
When I wake up on a Sunday, I feel different than on any other day of the week.
Tonight as I was walking home in the chilly evening, I really invested some thought into this question -- why do I like Sundays so much?
Think, think, think, think..... and here is what I came up with --
My answer is that it is wrong to try and find a reason!
[I breathed in the crisp January 31st air molecules of Ottawa, which, in that moment were mingled with someone's fireplace wood, crackling away... giving itself to their pleasure and warmth]....
The entire question of trying to figure out why I love Sunday is wrongheaded.
My boots sound different on the sidewalk, as they scrunch salted gravel and ice and snow... different against clean concrete -- IT JUST IS.
The people who wrote the Old Testament felt it was a blasphemy to even pronounce the name of the God they worshipped. And when I recognize that fact, I realize that it would be no different for me to try and define why I like Sunday so much.
Some things are killed, in the defining.

And then it came to me -- Sunday is the day I am most there.
And most here. Where I should be.
Just as I came up with that conclusion I was passing a cathedral that once, quite a while ago now, inspired me to bring forth the following poem:

The Good Ones

There is something about a cathedral

that an atheist would admit to.

The good ones, mind.

With stone and spires. Ones with

big bells that ring you awake. Assymetrically

pleasing, and full of candles within.
Hooded people mumbling help.

The good ones have stained glass, and unreadable
things written, these are the ones that inspire
mystery, and a sense that God should live here.
You need smoke from an unseen place.

What are these other buildings made of wood?

Trees. Did Moses ever strike a tree to make

God talk? No.

He struck a rock.

A cathedral is what you need.
What you need is a place so ominous

that you fail to realize that God is indeed there

only because you are.

c. Ciprianowords, Inc. 2008

Friday, January 29, 2010

Sade -- New Album

I've been waiting a decade.
Sade is someone... well, I just cannot tell you how much I love her music.
My inauguration was her 5th album Lovers Rock. Released in the year 2000. I was enthralled and captured.
But with the release of her full-concert DVD [Lovers Live] in 2002, well, I mean seriously, she has gathered around her, the best musicians on this or any other planet. Terrific production. Wonderful music.
I just found out she has a new album, due to be released on February 8th, 2010.
I will be there, in the iTunes store, getting the new Sade.
Music that can not be described in words. It must be felt.
Sit back. Pour yourself something good. And click HERE.


Splash du Jour: Friday

Have a great Friday!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Catcher -- In The Sky

All day long I had the radio blaring in the warehouse where I work. I had it on CBC [talk-radio] as usual.
At a certain point in the day I heard the announcement that J.D. Salinger had died.
And I just stopped.
I knew it would happen one day, I mean, he was 91 years old and all, but geez -- it just shocked me. Honestly, [I'm not making this up] just the other day I was in the bookstore [as I am right now, typing this], and as I passed by one table of books I thought I saw the name Salinger.
And I realized that for a long while now I've had this inner expectation -- as though Salinger would one day produce another novel.
But no. It wasn't him.

And now, today -- the news that he is gone. The fact that he has not published anything since I was 17 months old old [1965] aside, I can't help but feel that the world has lost a literary icon.
Perhaps something will posthumously be published, one day.

Salinger once said, “There is a marvelous peace in not publishing. It’s peaceful. Still. Publishing is a terrible invasion of my privacy. I like to write. I love to write. But I write just for myself and my own pleasure.”
I can't imagine how awesome it would be to be able to read some of that stuff.
At the same time -- we must respect the man's privacy.
In my opinion, the world has lost one of the most reclusive, mysterious, non-prolific, and yet influential authors of all time. Click on the image below, to see a terrific article:

J.D. Salinger
January 1, 1919 – January 27, 2010

Splash du Jour: Thursday

The books that mean the most to me are ones that make me feel that I'm seeing the world for the first time, almost. But there's a paradox here, because at the same time they're showing me something I recognize; something familiar.
-- Rupert Thomson --

Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Splash du Jour: Wednesday

Without words, without writing and without books there would be no history, there could be no concept of humanity.
-- Hermann Hesse --

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Now THAT'S Thirsty!

This is so cute I seriously can't stand it!

Splash du Jour: Tuesday

You feel completely in control when you hear a wave of laughter coming back at you that you have caused.
-- Gilda Radner --

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Dust Jacket Issues

<-- The dust jacket of my book is upside down.
What I mean is, I cannot put it right side up.
See, it's a Library Book and the dust cover is rather severely AFFIXED to the thing.
To rectify the problem would require a measure of surgical skill I do not possess.

The book is Death of a Murderer by Rupert Thomson.
And so I just began reading it this evening.
There I was at Starbucks [of course] and well, I should preface by saying that I rarely read a book while it lays flat open on a table. I hold it, one way or another.
Looking on, you can SEE what it is I am reading. [Getting the picture?]
Not only this, but tonight I wasn't even AT a table. I was in one of the comfy couch-type chairs at the fireplace area.
I knew it was only a matter of time before someone would conclude that I have some kind of brain disease.
I mean, dyslexic is understandable, but reading upside down?
Sure enough, I saw one or two people do a double-take. The whole experience was very distracting for me.
I even thought of going over to the shelves and getting some OTHER dust jacket off a book and putting it around this one, right side up.
People kept a wide berth around me.
"Whatever he's got, it might be contagious. I ain't gettin' any nearer!"
When I heard one man cry out to a woman heedlessly toddling towards me, "Muriel, no! Stay downwind!" I realized it was time to go home.


Splash du Jour: Monday

All blame is a waste of time. No matter how much fault you find with another, and regardless of how much you blame him, it will not change you. The only thing blame does is to keep the focus off you when you are looking for external reasons to explain your unhappiness or frustration. You may succeed in making another feel guilty about something by blaming him, but you won't succeed in changing whatever it is about you that is making you unhappy.
-- Wayne Dyer --

Have a great Monday!

Sunday, January 24, 2010


I just finished a terrific book tonight.
Wow. I'm not kidding, it was truly grand! Absolutely wonderful!
St. Urbain's Horseman, by Mordecai Richler.
I would write a proper review, but at this point of the evening I'm afraid it would be the fourth or fifth Old Milwaukee talking, so I am going to re... [buuuuuuuurp] refrain.
However, I am still sober enough to scan my bookshelves here at The Bookpuddle Library and see that I have amassed a fair amount of -- Richlerania...... over the years.
All of them gleaned from used book sales hither and yon, overall cheapskate that I am.
So, I've got a lot of terrific reading ahead of me, if my liver holds out!
So far I have only read the top two in the photo. Horseman and Duddy.

His daughter is quite the authoress also.
Emma Richler.
Oh, yes! There are more books to acquire, after I get through the above pile!


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Wordcentric Predisposition

I do not have any sort of scientific defense for what I am about to declare.
In fact -- I'm sure I could find some corroborating evidence.
But I'm not going to look for it.
I believe that there are some people who have a certain..... hmmm..... shall we say "temperamental framework" or maybe -- "word-centric predisposition"?
I kind of like that. Wordcentric Predisposition.
[Notice how I even dropped the hyphen?]
I just "googled" the term and got no hits on it, so there you go.... I'm frigging INVENTING a thing.
In fact, Google will ask you... "Did you mean worldcentric predisposition?"

When I was a kid, well, ever since I can remember, words fascinated me. I think that some sort of chemical rush occurred when I first fully registered the exchange of THOUGHT that was a result of my interpreting the words of an author.
For instance, someone a century dead can still speak to me clearer than someone breathing into my ear. Using only second-hand typeface? REMARKABLE!
To so commit oneself to those that shall outlive us. I HEAR you, Mr. Hardy. I hear you. And not only this, I agree with you, I feel the same way!
[Can someone get Steven Pinker in here to elaborate?]

And when I say "chemical" rush, I am not exaggerating.
I discovered books. It's like some sort of previously unused enzyme suddenly enervated my synapses in that moment. Convincing me, [with heroin-like urgency] -- that becoming more fully human would involve ever increasing dosages.

In Grade 2, I was already reading on such a constant basis, that my teacher [Mrs. Okrainetz...... she had a real B-52's-style bouffant hairdo] told my mother in a parent-teacher meeting, "I do not believe your child reads as many books as he claims to read."
As far back as then, I meticulously recorded every book I read. And I presented this Atrocious List to my teacher, as though it were some kind of extra-curricular assignment.

Why did I read like this?
Why did I carry books from the Library, by the armload.... and sit and read them while other kids played outside?
Because I was born [yes....... BORN] with some kind of wordcentric predisposition.
I am the only one in my family, so afflicted.
I'm convinced that if I were born in Neanderthal times, and a big elephant-type thing were to run past our.... cave-hole..... I would have been the one to point and say, "Mastodon."

Is such a thing a blessing or a curse.
I don't know. Depends entirely upon who answers the question.
It's just...... what it is.
It's something I cannot deny, because to do so, would be to deny my very being.
My best friend is a person who, when we walk through a bookstore with our Starbucks coffees steaming, says things like, "Wow. Look at all the shit people write!"
He has about as much use for the latest Ian McEwan novel as I have for....... a garden weasel!
Does my predisposition make me better than him?
It's just that.... were each of us condemned to stare at a wall for the rest of our days, he would immediately want to kill himself.
My suicide plans would hinge upon whether or not a replenished supply of books was available.
Which is to say -- both of us would be dependent.
But on very different things.


Friday, January 22, 2010

Splash du Jour: Friday

All children have to be deceived if they are to grow up without trauma.
-- Kazuo Ishiguro --

Have a great Friday!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Splash du Jour: Wednesday

The very existence of flame-throwers proves that some time, somewhere, someone said to themselves, You know, I want to set those people over there on fire, but I'm just not close enough to get the job done.
-- George Carlin --

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Richness of Richler

As I was saying this morning, I started to read Mordecai Richler's [1966] novel St. Urbain's Horseman.
70 pages in, I am really enjoying it. He has this way of barging into his subject matter, sort of in media res, as though the reader is supposed to know a few prerequisite things about the novel they are holding in their hands.
I wouldn't say it is disconcerting as much as I would say it is kind of exciting.
Like when you're speaking to lifelong friends, you can cut the preamble.
And it does not take long to get really drawn in to this novel. Several times now, I have laughed out loud at the brazen wit! And the Jewish idiom. Of course, this whole novel is so wonderfully dated, as well. And I like that. Like reading something ancient by Brian Moore or Hugh MacLennan, but with more authority to it.
I'm not a connoisseur of Richler, [have only read Duddy Kravitz] yet there is that sense that I can trust him. Can trust where he's going.
I love the following video-clip, where a 30-something Richler discusses the process of writing this very novel.
It is so awesome to see him fan through the manuscript of St. Urbain's Horseman still on the shelf, as yet unpublished -- almost half a century ago.

Splash du Jour: Tuesday

I am just embarking on what I know will be a remarkable book.
St. Urbain's Horseman, by Mordecai Richler.
One of my favorite quotes of his:
Coming from Canada, being a writer and Jewish as well, I have impeccable paranoia credentials.

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Splash du Jour: Monday

We have a name for your disease. We call it a hyper-aesthetic one. You have been encouraged to over-indulge yourself in literature; and have inflamed your organs of fancy.
— Sarah Waters, in her novel, Fingersmith --

Have a great Monday!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Some Good Books

If the first few weeks of 2010 are any indicator, this is going to be a good year for reading!
I've already read several really terrific books.
<-- For instance, The Falls, by Joyce Carol Oates.
My first foray into "Oates" and definitely not my last [metaphorical] God willing!
Have any of you ever had a look at how many books this woman has written? It's a veritable Library unto itself. Usually, with such a prolific output, one would expect something trite to be churned out. I mean, she's been consistently punting one through the uprights on an annual basis for a long long time now. But The Falls was anything but "trite".
It was a very engaging, satisfying read -- at the literature level. An intelligent pageturner, if you will. And the story takes place in one of my favorite places on earth, Niagara Falls.
I've been to The Falls somewhere around ten separate times in my lifetime, and they never cease to mesmerize and intrigue me.
Then I read a collection of short stories by Kazuo Ishiguro.
Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall. A resonant pentachord of linked stories. Ishiguro redeeming himself here, because [truthfully] I did not really like his [2000] novel When We Were Orphans. Found it disturbingly... contrapuntal.
Then, a book I have already praised to the skies, Nicole Krauss's [2002] Man Walks Into A Room. As I have already stated, she..... I mean THIS BOOK is one you should really get your hands on!
But....... [hold on to your proverbial hats] I am right now in the closing stages of a FABULOUS book called The Little Stranger.
Sarah Waters. Her 2009 novel.
This book is absolutely incredible. It is driving me positively mental, how good it is.
In fact, I want to quit writing here so I can get back to it.... I am chagrined that just a couple months ago, the author was DOWN THE STREET FROM ME..... presenting a lecture, and I missed it!
I am an IDIOT!
This book should win every book award that ever existed, and also an Academy Award.
And a Grammy!
So, 2010 is looking good. Real good!
We are low maintenance, us book-lovers, am I right?
The world is falling apart. Earthquakes. Cold winter weather. Hamburger shortages.
Just throw us some good books. Am I right?

Last time I spent some time at Niagara Falls, my friend took the following video clip. There is something profoundly mystical, and relaxing to me, about Niagara Falls.

Different angle.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Splash du Jour: Friday

I like my sex the way I play basketball: one on one and with as little dribbling as possible.
-- Leslie Nielsen --

Have a great Friday!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

And the Royal Jackass Award goes to...

You know friends, there are times when I just stay silent, and there are other times when I have to declare someone Idiot of the Year!
<-- This guy right here takes the cake!
Evangelist Pat Robertson.
Grand Poobah of the "700 Club" -- part-time Presidential Wannabe, full-time ROYAL JACKASS!
As if the situation in Haiti right now isn't bad enough, this Jackass has to announce to the world that he knows WHY the earthquake happened.
He's got the hotline on Omniscience!
I just read this article --> HERE and it makes me want to puke.
Apparently, Haiti made some kind of national pact with the devil and so... ipso facto God Himself [I suppose] either caused or allowed the tectonic plates to shift so as to bury the place in rubble!
Wow, that is just SUCH valuable information Pat!
Thank you for sharing your wisdom with the rest of us.

You know what's the most confusing thing about "God"?
The abysmal ignorance of some of his spokesmen!
Maybe Robertson would say it's not God that "caused" or "allowed" the earthquake, it was the "Devil" that made it happen. Well, that would be even more crazy. How useless would this "God" have to be, that "he" would not be able to thwart such cruel intentions?
And what would one make of this other story? A dear Ontario lady that selflessly goes to Haiti to help the people there, and she arrives in town 90 minutes before the disaster hits.
You can read about it --> HERE.
She's there an hour-and-a-half... and then she's dead!
That brings it down to a more individual perspective, doesn't it?
Where "answers" have to be a few notches above the realm of idiocy! My point is, why should this woman have to pay with her life for this Devil Pact that was made way back when?

I'm sure morons like Pat Robertson would maybe say -- "Well. When official pacts are made with the Devil -- or whatever, hey, the stakes are high. When you mess with Devil things, it's like.... it's like really really serious what can happen!"


Splash du Jour: Thursday

A great writer is, so to speak, a second government in his country. And for that reason, no regime has ever loved great writers, only minor ones.
-- Alexander Solzhenitsyn --

Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Splash du Jour: Wednesday

There is the same difference in a person before and after he is in love as between an unlighted lamp and one that is burning. The lamp was there and was a good lamp, but now it is shedding light, too, and that is its real function.
-- Vincent Van Gogh --

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Splash du Jour: Tuesday

A noted psychiatrist was a guest speaker at an academic function where Nancy Pelosi happened to appear.
Ms Pelosi took the opportunity to schmooze the good doctor a bit and asked him a question with which he was most at ease.
"Would you mind telling me, Doctor," she asked, "how you detect a mental deficiency in somebody who appears completely normal?"
"Nothing is easier," he replied. "You ask a simple question which anyone should answer with no trouble. If the person hesitates, that puts you on the track."
"What sort of question?" asked Pelosi.
"Well, you might ask, 'Captain Cook made three trips around the world and died during one of them. Which one?'"
Pelosi thought a moment, and then said with a nervous laugh, "You wouldn't happen to have another example would you? I must confess I don't know much about history."

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Veracity Problems

It has come to my attention that what I think of as sarcasm [maybe that's even the wrong word]... maybe what I really mean is "joking-around" or something... but, in any case, several people have mentioned to me that some of the things I write on my blog from time to time are not only confusing, but can be construed as though I am lying. [about myself].
For instance, a couple of nights ago [scroll down] I wrote a wee blog about my playing in a rock band when I was younger [which is entirely true]... but I went on to say that I had unearthed "rare footage" of one of our gigs.
When I do things like that from time to time, however, I'm really just going for a laugh.
Just fooling around. Saying something but not really meaning it 100% at face-value.
I mention all of this because several people have been asking if that is REALLY me sliding off of the chair in a drunken stupor, in the video-clip.
No, it is not.
But neither did I ever expect anyone to think that it actually was.
For one thing, I am way better-looking than that guy there in the clip.

I am re-thinking my sarcasm-issues tonight.
But see, I like to make fun of myself -- and so I often run into these Problems of Veracity.

A perfect example comes to mind: [By the way, the following is 100% true and not being sarcastical....]
When I was in college I had a friend back home and we would exchange a cassette tape in the mail, of us talking to each other. I was on one side, he was on the other.
One time I said, on my side of the tape, "James, I'll be right back, gotta go to the can..."
I then dubbed in the most horrendous bowel-movement ever recorded in the history of mankind. It was from some comedy album. I mean you could hear where I had sort of spliced the thing... in other words, I had never assumed that my friend would actually BELIEVE it was me in the washroom and that I had somehow not known I had left the cassette tape running. My God, if any real person...... excreted..... even 50% of what was going on in the tape, they would have lost about five human beings worth of internal organs down the toilet!
A week later, when I got the tape back, there was my friend James saying on Side 2, "Ummm...... I don't know how to tell you this, but, like... you left the tape running and..."
He went on with stuff like, "You should see a doctor about that..." [I'm not making this up].
So now what was I to do? I was EMBARRASSED!
Now the burden was on me to PROVE to him that it wasn't real!

So, dear friends....... sometimes I joke around.
My blogpage is that realm where I can say I am dating Nicole Kidman.
Or Nicole Krauss.
Or...... Nick O. Craus [a super-great guy I met the other night...]

Yes, I HAVE been exactly as drunk as that guy that was sliding off his drum-chair in the video a few blogs ago... but no.
That was not me there in that particular clip!
Just like, well... read the ENDING of this blog --> HERE!
Again, not really me! [My own Borat-style body-thong is more of a fuschia color....]
I just like to joke around.
And never more than when I am the subject matter!
Perhaps I should tone it down a notch?


Splash du Jour: Monday

Have a great Monday!


Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Gem of a Book

Well, I am not even going to wait until I am done this book to tell you all that you should frigging GET IT and READ IT.
I shall finish it tonight. Only a few pages to go, but you know what, I can't wait to tell you how good the thing is.
It's called Man Walks Into A Room and it's by Nicole Krauss.
It is/was her debut novel, back in 2002. And as some of you may recall, I read her The History of Love a few weeks ago, and found it to be quite a good book, but a bit -- DIFFICULT........ ish.
I hesitate to criticize it really, because I know the fault was in me, not the author.
This book, however, [her first one to be published way back when].... well, it has had me in thrall, every page. And still, I am enthralled.
It is exquisite and [a word I do not throw around often] -- SIGNIFICANT.
Until publishing this, her first novel, Krauss focused on writing poetry, and her nuanced sentences here reveal that background. But I say that in the most positive of terms.
Oh God, there is no way to describe it, you just have to read this book.
The following synopsis I am taking directly from the back cover of my Anchor paperback:

Samson Greene, a young and popular professor at Columbia, is found wandering in the Nevada desert. When his wife, Anna, comes to bring him home, she finds a man who remembers nothing, not even his own name. The removal of a small brain tumor saves his life, but his memories beyond the age of twelve are permanently lost.

Here is the story of a strikingly intelligent, sensitive man returned to a world in which everything is strange and new. An emigrant in his own life, set free from everything and everyone who once defined him. Samson Greene believes he has nothing left to lose. So when a charismatic scientist asks Samson to participate in a bold experiment, he agrees. What he gains is nothing short of the beautifully painful revelation of what it is to be a human being.

As I said, I still have a few pages to go, but even so, I conclude in all earnest that this novel is a sort of flawlessly constructed work of art.
As is the author herself, shown above.
These combined conclusions have led me to realize that by the end of tonight, I have to not only reach the last page of this book, I must also seriously re-evaluate the priority of my Nicoles.


Friday, January 08, 2010

2 Much Alkiehol

As some of the more astute among you may already know, I used to be a drummer in a rock band.
We called ourselves Black Dog.
Because I had this dog. And it was...... brown.
Anyhoo, this clip goes back a ways, but it is the only actual footage of one of our last gigs we ever did. A New Years Eve event in... well, you know what?
I forget the name of the venue, for some reason.
I had maybe one or two Old Milwaukees too many, that night....
You can see for yourself -->

Splash du Jour: Friday

It was only many years after, when my grandfather had departed from this world and I was a grown man, I finally came to realize that my grandmother, after all, also believed in dreams. There could have been no other reason why, sitting one evening at the door of her cottage where she now lived alone, staring at the biggest and smallest stars overhead, she said these words: "The world is so beautiful and it is such a pity that I have to die". She didn't say she was afraid of dying, but that it was a pity to die, as if her hard life of unrelenting work was, in that almost final moment, receiving the grace of a supreme and last farewell, the consolation of beauty revealed. She was sitting at the door of a house like none other I can imagine in all the world, because in it lived people who could sleep with piglets as if they were their own children, people who were sorry to leave life just because the world was beautiful; and this Jerónimo, my grandfather, swineherd and story-teller, feeling death about to arrive and take him, went and said goodbye to the trees in the yard, one by one, embracing them and crying because he knew he wouldn't see them again.
-- from Jose Saramago's Nobel Prize speech --

Have a great Friday!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

We Need To Fight This!

Well, by now we've all heard about the guy wearing his lovely explosive diaper there on Christmas Day.
But this foiled terrorist attack has caused all manner of new [and improved?] measures at airports.
While all of this is necessary [I suppose] I suggest that what it will amount to is just a lot of serious delays for normal people like you and me, who keep the explosive properties of our underpants at a level of common flatulence!

I can live with the full pat-down thing.
And even the full body scanners where they see right through your clothes.
What do I care if some guy in another room is looking at a TV screen and saying, "Hey, Jim. Get a load of this one!"
I can live with that stuff.
....... this afternoon I nearly had a cow as I was listening to the radio at work and heard that part of the new measures were that us normal people CANNOT TAKE BOOKS WITH US AS CARRY-ON LUGGAGE!
Say again?
Yes, this is what I heard!
On CBC radio no less -- they even clarified it by saying that you could only take books that were purchased IN the airport AFTER you went through security.
Needless to say, while all [way overpriced] Airport Booksellers were probably applauding, I went into a funk.

No books on an airplane? You can't be serious!
What am I going to DO during the flight? I always read when I'm in the sky. Hell, I always read when I'm.... anywhere!
So, I did a little research immediately after work -- found THIS ARTICLE that seems to clear up the matter a bit... but now I am wondering if the news I heard on the radio is like, newer than the news I just found on the internet.
Has anyone out there heard similar horrific rumors?
The crazy No-Book Law of 2010?
Do I have to resort to... smuggling?

[Back in the Secret Room they're both laughing, but Jim peers closer at his screen....]
"Hey, wait a minute. That's no deformity! That's Anna Karenina!
Call Security!"

Folks, if we cannot take books onboard, the terrorists win!

Splash du Jour: Thursday

Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Splash du Jour: Wednesday

Romantic love is mental illness. But it's a pleasurable one. It's a drug. It distorts reality, and that's the point of it. It would be impossible to fall in love with someone that you really saw.
-- Fran Lebowitz --

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Splash du Jour: Tuesday

Life is like a library owned by an author. In it are a few books which he wrote himself, but most of them were written for him.

-- Harry Emerson Fosdick --

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, January 04, 2010

Splash du Jour: Monday

There are many people who reach their conclusions about life like schoolboys; they cheat their masters by copying the answer out of a book without having worked out the sum for themselves.
-- Soren Kierkegaard --

Have a great Monday!

Saturday, January 02, 2010

To Borrow or Not to Borrow

How's the New Year going, folks?
Mine is excellent.
Been reading an absolutely terrific book called The Falls, by Joyce Carol Oates.
I borrowed it from the Library.
The last four or five books I have read... all from the Library.
I love the Library.
I know that must sound crazy -- for a guy that LIVES in Bookstores, but seriously -- I am just amazed at the incredible efficiency and service of the Public Libraries in my city [Ottawa, Ontario. Capital city of Canada for those who may not know.]
This city of approximately a million residents [counting les folks across le bridge] has 33 branches and 2 Bookmobiles. Ottawa's Library system is the largest bilingual [English-French] library system in all of North America.
Thing is -- the online service is just incredible.
I search a book and with two clicks [especially with their new updated system] BOOM.... the book I want is not only reserved for me, but also DELIVERED to the branch of my choosing.
Please -- [all authors and booksellers out there, this is the part where you should put your hands over your ears and eyes] -- but like, WHY WOULD I BUY A BOOK IF I CAN GET IT LIKE THIS?
Unless I have a real hankering to OWN the book for some reason.
What are your feelings, regarding borrowing vs. owning?
What percentage of books that you read are books that you OWN?

For me -- the percentage seems to be ever DECREASING!
[Which is great -- since I am sort of running out of shelf-space in here......]


Friday, January 01, 2010

Top Books of 2009

I read 48 books last year.
<-- CLICK on the image of me carrying them, for a more detailed account.
A few times I have abandoned a book halfway through, and not just because a book is bad, but sometimes it's because I just lose interest.
This happened especially with several books of non-fiction I started, but did not finish, in 2009.
The listing though, is of books I read in their entirety.
And since the overwhelming percentage of them were fictional, this New Year's Day I am just going to select a few of these, let's say 8, which were especially outstanding. Memorable. Lasting. Timelessly good.

Even a cursory glance through my books of 2009 will reveal that I do not rely on Bestseller Lists to choose what I am going to read next.
And every year, as I myself peruse the previous year's adventures -- I make mental notes to myself.
Things like:
1) You did not read any Shakespeare? And you call yourself a "reader"?
2) Why have you not yet read Wilkie Collins's The Moonstone?
3) You are not reading enough poetry collections.

Then I crack open a beer, and relax.

Here are my 8 Favorite Books of 2009.
[Note: Not necessarily in order of preference, but in order of having read them.]

1) Libra, by Don DeLillo. [1988]
An unputdownable, riveting, fictional speculation on the assassination of J.F.K.
2) Afterlands, by Steven Heighton. [2005]
An 1872 Arctic expedition gone seriously awry. What a joy to discover this amazing author. I've already pre-ordered his new tale.
3) The Hotel New Hampshire, by John Irving. [1981]
Vintage Irving. This one has all the eccentric weirdness you could throw a transvestite bear at!
4) Herzog, by Saul Bellow [1964]
By way of letters and flashbacks, a vivisection of the profound mind of the inimitably perturbed Moses Herzog.
5) Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett [2001]
A South American hostage-taking. The beginning and ending are violent, everything in-between reminding the reader that there are two sides to every story.
6) The Year of the Flood, by Margaret Atwood [2009]
One thing -- you've got to already love Margaret. And I did. Do. Which is to say... may not make you want to marry her, but if you were already hers, you'll want to renew your vows.
7) The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien [1990]
A collection of related stories / vignettes, about a platoon of American soldiers in the Vietnam War. It creeps up on you.
8) The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, by Michael Chabon [2000]
I will remember 2009 as the year Michael Chabon discovered me. What a terrific, rollicking, book!

All of these books were great!
And I am looking forward to 2010. A year of reading, with every moment I able to give to such adventure. Such vicarious experience. Such pleasure.
HAPPY NEW YEAR, to you, my fellow book-addicts!
And finally, I do not want to verbally single out two favorites among my 8 favorites, [as Margaret Atwood once told me when I asked her what her own favorite book was, "The other ones would find out!"] but I will let the following photograph, laced with steroidal-proportions of subliminal suggestions, make its unspoken impression upon thee.