Sunday, December 9, 2007

Dry Spell

Hello dear blogosphere. Where have you been?
It's been a while. I haven't been reading anything lately. And therefore, haven't been writing either. The driest of spells in the driest of wells. I have just begun Middlemarch by George Eliot however. Hope to be inspired. Must admit so far, it's been a difficult read. But I enjoy a good challenge. The most wonderful surprise has been that the book is actually written by a woman! How come no one told me?

Friday, September 28, 2007

Maybe. My Most Favourite Word.

There's something about the waiting. Something that gives life and takes it all at the same time. In a minute, anything and everything is possible. Sixty. Fifty-nine. Fifty-eight. Fifty-seven. And then one; The scarriest and most hopeful number in the world. It only takes one second to have everything. And one second to have nothing. In that one second, the possibility of an entire life can flash before your eyes. In that one second, you still have 'maybe'.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A Wild Sheep Confusion

I have finished the book. Definitely worth the effort. But someone please, put me out of my misery - tell me what it's about!!! Does the sheep and his 5-pointed star stand for humanity? Does he stand for all that has decayed in religion? Or does he symbolize Christ? If you were to ask me whether it was a friendly sheep or an evil sheep, I would lean towards evil. But a sheep, by nature, is such a docile and peaceful animal. It stands, typically, for all that is good. That is unless it is a wolf in sheep's clothing.

I will not reveal the ending. I have already said much too much.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

A Wild Sheep Chase

My first Haruki Murakami book. I've been reading it off and on since May by recommendation from a trusted friend. I'm not sure why I chose this as my first selection and perhaps something else might have served better as an introduction. Suffice it to say, I was a hair away from giving up when I reached chapter 11. It reads as follows:

"I dreamed about a dairy cow. Rather nice and small this cow, the type that looked like she'd been through a lot. We passed each other on a big bridge. It was a pleasant spring afternoon. The cow was carrying an old electric fan in one hoof, and she asked whether I wouldn't buy it from her cheap.
"I don't have much money," I said. Really, I didn't.
"Well then," said the cow, "I might trade it to you for a pair of pliers."
Not a bad deal. So the cow and I went home together, and I turned the house upside down looking for the pliers. But they were nowhere to be found.
"Odd," I said, "they were here just yesterday."
I had just brought a chair over so I could get up and look on top of the cabinet when the chauffeur tapped me on the shoulder. "We're here," he said succinctly.
The car door opened and the waning light of a summer afternoon fell across my face. Thousands of cicadas were singing at a high pitch like the winding of a clockspring. There was the rich smell of earth.
I got out of the limo, stretched, and took a deep breath. I prayed that there wasn't some kind of symbolism to the dream."

Well now, that's interesting! My curiosity has been peaked. Murakami's writing is very surreal. Very Kafkaesque. There is little logic as far as I can tell and yet I do not question it. I do hope that I can make it further. And I happily confess that chapters 12, 13, and 14 are even more mysterious. Although I find it cold that very few people have names in this book. The main characters so far have been "I" and "Rat". Hmm...

Saturday, September 8, 2007


I am currently re-reading Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto. Once again, I am reminded by how much I love her style of writing. Her sentences are simple and true. There is a lightness to them, but also a universal weight.

"The night was so deathly silent that I felt I could hear the sound of the stars moving across the heavens. The glass of water soaked into my withered heart. It was chilly. My bare feet trembled in my slippers."

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Washing Skyscraper Windows

I just finished Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose and I definitely recommend it for any lover of words. Or even liker of words. It's full of charm, anecdotes and examples of great writing. But most of all it reminds me that anything is possible in writing; that there are no rules. Her advice is simple in the end. To be a great writer, you have to be a great reader. However, I can't help thinking that no matter how many great masterpieces you read and deconstruct, you either have "it" or you don't. And why is it that the voice that tells us that we don't is always louder and more persistent, like the class bully? In my mind, there can be three possibilities, each equally as grim. 1. It's the voice of reason. 2. It's the voice of cowardice. 3. Schizophrenia has become an epidemic of great proportions.

"When we think about how many terrifying things people are called on to do every day as they fight fires, defend their rights, perform brain surgery, give birth, drive on the free-way, and wash skyscraper windows, it seems frivolous, self-indulgent, and self-important to talk about writing as an act that requires courage. What could be safer than sitting at your desk, lightly tapping a few keys, pushing your chair back, and pausing to see what marvelous tidbit of art your brain has brought forth to amuse you?

And yet most people who have tried to write have experienced not only the need for bravery but a failure of nerve as the real or imagined consequences, faults and humiliations, exposures and inadequacies dance before their eyes and across the empty screen or page. The fear of writing badly, of revealing something you would rather keep hidden, of losing the good opinion of the world, of violating your own high standards, or of discovering something about yourself that you would just as soon not know -- those are just a few of the phantoms scary enough to make the writer wonder if there might be a job available washing skyscraper windows.

All of which brings up yet another reason to read. Literature is an endless source of courage and confirmations. The reader and beginning writer can count on being heartened by all the brave original works that have been written without the slightest regard for how strange or risky they were, or for what the writer's mother might have thought when she read them."

When I was 14, my mother found a short story that I had written about a girl who started a conversation with a perfect stranger on the city bus. And that's all I have to say about that.

Monday, September 3, 2007

The Owl of Forgetting

In the basement of my mind, there lives an owl. He is old, fat, and always hungry. He is the owl of forgetting.

Once I fed him the entire multiplications table. Right up to and including 12x12. It took him some years to devour that feast, but he did it. I feed him dates, names, phone numbers too. Those, he loves. Appetizers. Inhales them like there is no tomorrow. Friendships are great. Ashley, Sarah, Rose; who are they? Stories about loved ones, heroes, and legacies, all turn to crumbs when he is done with them. The countries in Africa blend into one and the oceans that divide us, now alphabet soup. The pathologies of plants and the table of elements were delicious while they lasted. And the books that I read, word for word, are now a dim light. But that which he loves most of all is a visitor. A visitor from the attic of my heart. And from time to time, his wish comes true.

He is the vampire of the seconds and minutes of my days.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Your Daily Literature Vitamin

Want bite-size portions of classic novels? Have daily chapters emailed to you! 332 days to complete Ulysses! Or 241 days to read Crime & Punishment. How fun is that? lets you choose when you want to receive your segments, right down to the time. RSS feeds available too. And did I say that it's free? I love, love, love, the times we live in!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Vintage Twins

Sweet. Launching in September, Vintage Classics is pairing classics with the new. What great "independent study" choices these would make for grade 12 English Class. Kids have it easy these days.

Matches include:
  • Lewis Carol + Haruki Murakami
  • Henry Fielding + Martin Amis
  • George Elliot + A.S. Byatt
  • Charles Dickens + Irvine Welsh
  • Fyodor Dostoyevsky + Patricia Highsmith
  • Henry James + Ian McEwan
  • Mary Shelly + Jeanette Winterson
  • Jonathan Swift + Michel Houellebecqu
  • Dante Alighieri + Philip Roth

Read more about this in Giles Foden's blog from the Guardian.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Journey Out

Be fast, but quiet
Not a whisper, not a sound
Listen to me, hold my hand
And walk

Walk from here
This once a home, this once a country
This once a dome

Leave it
Leave it all behind
The worldly things that bind us to
This once a home, this once a country
This once a dome of light

Say goodbye
For you will not return
You will not look back
You will not be sad

It is not for you
This once a home

Wrapped in the embrace of my love
You will be warm without its sun

You will not miss it.

Sleeping Beauty

This is my winter, this is my sleep
This is the misery beneath the deep

This is the debauchery of my youth
The whispering, cunning of the sleuth

The ocean of my patience surged
But a handful rose from the submerged

I watch them cry a lake of dreams
Their voices calm, but echo screams

My heart and beauty full of dust
My art concealed beneath the rust

Oh fair and luminous hand of Might
Where is the day that this will right

My secret.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Crackety crack. I walked as quietly as I could. I tiptoed even. The state of my heart and the state of the floors. Was there an echo? The past forgot. The days erased. And yet still standing. A little chipped. A little torn. I tried. I tried to walk as quietly as I could. But the floors were ever so unforgiving.
"Who's there?" asked a grumbly voice.
"Who's there I say?"
"Why must you make such a ruckus?"
"I want to go outside," I said in my hushed voice.
"Outside? Outside is for lunatics. For madmen who do not know right from wrong, and who, even if they do, plead ignorance. Outside is for monkeys and fruit. Are you a monkey?"
"Then a fruit?"
I paused, wondering if I could perchance be a fruit. "What kind of a fruit would I be?" I thought. "An apple? Too obvious. A banana? No. That attracts the lazies. A pomegranate? Too difficult. Perhaps a watermelon. Yes, a watermelon."
"I'm a watermelon," I yelled.
"Ok then. That's why you're in here. Now go back to your room. It's almost time for your pills. And don't forget, the Betty By Bakers are coming in to sing at the common lounge tonight."

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

On the Streetcar

"Do you want to see that movie on Friday night?"
"Well? What do you think?" she asked, finally looking up at him. "Did you read the synopsis that I sent you?"
"It looks like something you would like."
"Yeah. It looks interesting."
"Do you remember Judy, my first manager at work?"
"You should have seen the note she sent me today. Full of ridiculous spelling mistakes. I really don't understand how she got where she is."
"And did I tell you that Jen actually wants to invite Tom to the dinner next week?"
"Yeah! She knows how much we dislike him. After what he did? Does she really think we're all going to have dinner and pretend nothing ever happened?"
"I don't know. I guess it's difficult for her. I mean you're both friends of hers".
Emily rolled her eyes and gave a dirty look to the man sitting on her other side. "If they can't shower, they shouldn't be allowed on public transportation," she thought.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

On Being Ill

One of the most beautiful sentences I've ever read is the opening of Virginia Woolf's essay On Being Ill. At 181 words, it drips with honesty, insight, and wonder.

"Consider how common illness is, how tremendous the spiritual change that it brings, how astonishing, when the lights of health go down, the undiscovered countries that are then disclosed, what wastes and deserts of the soul a slight attack of influenza brings to view, what precipices and lawns sprinkled with bright flowers a little rise of temperature reveals, what ancient and obdurate oaks are uprooted in us by the act of sickness, how we go down in the pit of death and feel the waters of annihilation close above our heads and wake thinking to find ourselves in the presence of the angels and the harpers when we have a tooth out and come to the surface in the dentist's arm-chair and confuse his "Rinse the mouth-rinse the mouth" with the greeting of the Deity stooping from the floor of Heaven to welcome us - when we think of this, as we are so frequently forced to think of it, it becomes strange indeed that illness has not taken its place with love and battle and jealousy among the prime themes of literature."

Sunday, August 12, 2007


I used to think that she had something very important to tell me. Something private. Something confidential between her and I. But it turned out she was just a chronic whisperer. All a hush. Always leaning in. Those were her ways. A secret wasn't a secret. The world was. So I corroborated.