Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Hallowe'en!

Carve your very own virtual pumpkin!

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Zadie Smith On Beauty

This afternoon I attended the International Festival of Authors and saw Zadie Smith interviewed by Globe columnist Rebecca Caldwell. I previously blogged about my love for Smith's latest novel, On Beauty, and the interview didn't disappoint.

As much of the book takes place on a university campus (a reflection on Smith's recent nine month stint as a professor at Harvard) she talked about the study of literature at university. A most appropriate topic for me as I am currently buried in my Ph.D in said subject.

She pointed out how we never discuss the affective experience of reading a poem or novel in the classroom - that we ridicule this and try to be bigger or smarter than the work. Smith said that writing, for her, was an accidental, meandering experience and thus, some questions about specific areas of her work she felt she couldn't answer with much authority. It was refreshing to hear a writer say this, and her interview was honest and thoughtful. She was even patient with the ridiculous questions - much more so than I would have been.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Trains and Archives and Patience

I know that the British complain endlessly about their rail system, but any Brit would die if they found themselves on the ambling, stuttering Via Rail. I spent nine hours shuttling between Toronto and Ottawa in the past two days which gave me lots of time to fall in love with the latest Death Cab for Cutie album, watch four previously missed episodes of Six Feet Under, and panic about my Ph.D thesis.

Once I got to Ottawa, I spent a day in the National Archives. It was very cool - going through security, being ushered into a room with huge tables where the boxes containing my research were awaiting, wearing gloves as I sifted through old manuscripts and correspondence. Part of me wishes I had gone into Library and Archival Science - it would be so interesting to sort through literary collections and archive them. But I also know that I don't have even a quarter of the patience required for such a job. Enjoying someone else's hard work will just have to do.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Rainy Day Woman #12 & 35

Weeds premiered on Showcase last night and it's possible that it is my new favourite show. It is very smart and wickedly funny. To describe it using a multitude of other interesting television shows, Weeds has snappy dialogue a la Gilmore Girls, has unexpected humour a la Desperate Housewives, pushes boundaries a la Queer As Folk, and is essentially human a la Six Feet Under. The tandem of Mary Louise Parker and Elizabeth Perkins is brilliant and I can't wait until next week!

Monday, October 10, 2005

Literary News

Mere moments ago John Banville won the Man Booker Prize. A surprise win, as it often seems to be with the Booker over the past few years. I can't really comment on the award as the only novel from the shortlist that I've read is Zadie Smith's On Beauty, which I adored. Others have written far better reviews than I can and you can check out ones from the TLS and the New York Times.

Perhaps even more interesting than the awarding of the Booker Prize is the soon to be published memoir of Martyn Goff, who retired this evening after 35 years as administrator of the Booker. Now the scandals, secrets, and gossip can be confirmed and revealed when the tell-all is released by Simon & Schuster.

In other literary news, one of my favourite literary journals, Granta has been rescued by philanthropist Sigrid Rausing who has purchased the journal. Hoorah!

Friday, October 07, 2005

Scared of Dragons? Not Me!

I thought on this rainy Friday I would introduce my favourite childhood book. When I was little, spiders and monsters and other creatures hiding under my bed did not frighten me, but I was petrified of dragons. So my mother went out and bought me this book: There's No Such Thing as a Dragon written and illustrated by Jack Kent.

The story revolves around Billy Bixbee waking up one morning to find a cute, tiny dragon in his bedroom. He tells his mother about the little guy and his mother replies, "There's no such thing as a dragon." The day progresses and every time Billy's mother refuses to acknowledge the dragon it gets a little bigger....until finally the dragon fills the entire house. Crisis strikes when a bakery truck drives by and the dragon runs after it, dragging the house along with him. Finally Billy's mother notices the dragon and he shrinks back to his normal cute size and stays to live with the family. Ahhhhh. And now I'm not scared of dragons.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Reading on the Subway

When I'm on the subway, I will actually change seats so to get a better view of the book someone is reading. At the last publisher I worked for, we often debated potential book covers by asking, "Would you read this book with this cover on the subway?" And The New Yorker went looking for books left behind on the subway, collecting twenty four boxes of left-behind books from the lost property office at Penn Station and found this.