I haven’t done one of these posts in a while, and I miss them!
Here are a few literary tidbits that might interest you.
1. This one is simple: I want it. It’s the Recamier Reading Corner, and while it’s featured on other blogs, I’m linking to this one because the description is hilarious. I love when blogs use English as a second language. This piece of furniture has a more contemporary design than is usually my taste, especially since it’s not particularly cozy looking, but I love the concept. Throw on a king-sized pillow, a sheep skin and a faux-fur blanket or two, and it’s perfect. There should be four photos of the reading corner to look at.
2. I came across this piece, “Who Would Dare?” on March 22 on the New York Review of Books blog and it’s still circulating. It’s an enjoyable read by Spanish author Roberto Bolaño, and it begins: “The books I remember best are the ones I stole in Mexico City….” Tell me that doesn’t pull you in. It’s not long and it’s great writing. I’d like to read the book it comes from, called Between Parentheses: Essays, Articles and Speeches (1998–2003), forthcoming from New Directions Publishing.
3. For those of you who enjoy intellectually stimulating talks, I introduce you to the beautiful and articulate Elif Shafak, a Turkish author who speaks on the storytelling, particularly the politics of fiction. While it’s obviously rehearsed, she, her glorious accent, and her words are captivating, and I was riveted for the entire 20 minutes. By the end I found myself wanting to stand and clap. I especially wholeheartedly agree, have always thought, that we need to get rid of the tiresome cliché “Write what you know.” (When I saw a publisher say this to Erica, an aspiring author on Being Erica, I angrily spat out “bullshit!!” much to C’s shock). But this is about much more than that. Do have a listen, especially if you write as well as read. It may change the way you think about international authors and fiction. (Thanks to my sis, Therese Neelands, for sending the link to me!)
4. Jen Knoch, associate editor at ECW Press (for whom I now happily copyedit and proofread!) and principal blogger and president of the Keepin’ It Real Book Club, and Erin Balser, also a blogger on KIRBC and an associate producer at CBC, are once again helping out the Toronto Public Library in their fun campaign Keep Toronto Reading. Readers submit video book recommendations to Jen and they will be posted all month on the KIRBC site to help spread the love of books and reading. So far Jen, Erin, and Terry Fallis have videos up on the KIRBC site. Tons more have submitted, authors and readers alike, and yours truly will be on there at some point as well. You too can submit if you like. Let me tell you, handselling a book in person is far easier than trying to make a video to do it. I have such a hard time being articulate and knowing what to say. But stay tuned: I recommend Torontonian author Martha Baillie’s The Incident Report. (Jen and Erin regularly do video book reviews together for their Booksin140 program.
5. I have a major thing for clocks (not digital ones, those are the devil’s handiwork, particularly when they come with an alarm and brightly lit displays you cannot dim but instead must turn to the wall to get any sleep). Did you know that the clock is one of the oldest human inventions? Interesting tidbit:
The word clock is derived ultimately (via Dutch, Northern French, and Medieval Latin) from the Celtic words clagan and clocca meaning “bell.” A silent instrument missing such a mechanism has traditionally been known as a timepiece. In general usage today a “clock” refers to any device for measuring and displaying the time. (Wikipedia)
If I could, I’d have traditional clocks everywhere—unique ones, preferably—in spite of the fact that I dislike watching the time. But for me there is nothing more soothing or comforting than a ticking clock. I love that mechanical sound. In fact, I’m sitting below my favourite one in the house right now, and it’s ticking slowly and methodically, not frantically, as though to slow time, a perfect sound for a personal library. So when Shiver and Linger author Maggie Stiefvater tweeted these old-world bookish clocks today (if you go to the home page, here, have your sound on), of course I checked them out. And I am irrevocably smitten. I want. They so beautifully evoke that particular fairy-tale-ish, enchanted mood I hold dear (that’s not the right phrase. It’s a deeper feeling than that, one so hard to put my finger on because I can’t separate it from the mythical, folkloric atmosphere). Here is a link to The Hermitage, where the gorgeous Rima from Dartmoor in England blogs about her clocks. How could you not fall in love with her, the illustrations, and the magic summons: “Welcome Travellers…if your feet are weary, be cheered, for your road is nearing its end. Follow the sign to the Hermitage, a phantasmagoria of fancy, a museum of myth, realm of the ridiculous, and online home of Rima Staines, Illustrator, Painter, Maker of Things and Teller of Tales…” For Rima’s Etsy shops, here is The Hermitage and here, Once Upon A Clock (these links are different from the previous ones I gave you with the same names). When I live in England one day, I am going to visit her in person.I have a feeling she’s an elf.
6. Some exciting news: this Thursday, I’ll be participating as part of an online panel discussion called The Future of Publishing. Canadian authors Tish Cohen and Robin Spano, both of whom many of you already know, will be part of the panel as well. I’m not sure of all the details yet, but I’ll keep you posted. I’d love to hear your thoughts!