Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

pmalla's blog

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Here's a good list of 100 great novels. I'm not sure about "the best" -- two Dostoevsky titles, but no Brothers Karamazov, WTF? -- but it's still a good resource, with plenty of authors on here I'd never heard of, or had heard of but had never considered reading (Howard Norman, John Williams, etc.)

Shopping for knowledge

I was talking to someone who works in the movie/TV business last night, and at one point he offered an opinion that rankled me a bit: "People go to the movies to learn something." And then we drank.

An innocuous enough thing to say, sure. And this movie-man qualified it by adding, "Even about themselves," which, again, probably seems fair enough. But it bugged me because it smacks of the expectation of the consumer: movies are for something, they serve a purpose, and we can judge them on how well they fulfill or fail to fulfil this purpose.

Cave painting

So Ridley Scott was (sort of) right: Planet Earth's earliest artists might not have been human.

THE FRIDAY INTERVIEW WITH A WRITER ABOUT WHOM I KNOW NOTHING: kevin mcpherson eckhoff

Here is the second and possibly last of the alleged weekly interviews with writers about whom I know nothing. Turns out, bi-weekly, or bi-monthly; I can never get those two straight.

--

1) Who are you?

I am a kevin. Usually a full kevin mcpherson eckhoff. And occasionally even a faux jaroslaw.

2) What do you do?

Yes. I do whats. And I do a lot of hows. Days equal unteaching English. Dusks equal unediting journals. Nights equal unwriting a novel. Dawns equal unemailing friends. Weekends equal drive-in movies & community-strength-building exercises of unpoetry readings & yordwark & book-thing-makings & floating down the Shuswap River & cooking spaghet & curating guerilla art galleries on mountain lookouts & sleeping in hammocks.

Stephen Harper and the Guinness Book

I followed Yann Martel's project of sending Stephen Harper books with mild, occasional interest. I'm not sure what I thought of it. Or, more, I had conflicted thoughts about it. As a reading list, at least, it's pretty good.

Famously (maybe apocryphally?), Stephen Harper once told a reporter that his favourite book is The Guinness Book of World Records. This caused a lot of hand-wringing among Canadians of various intellectual stripes -- Martel presumably among them.

Imaginary Friends

I see that the main character of Ryan Oakley's new book is named Budgie. It's a strange name for "a knife wielding, brass knuckled young man from the impoverished and brutal red section of Toronto’s T-Dot Center." Though I mostly say this because, when I was two or three years old, my imaginary friend was named Budgie, too.

Nathalie Sarraute!

There are a lot of truly great moments in the Paris Review interviews, from V.S. Naipaul opening the conversation by demanding, "Let me know the range of what you are doing and how you are going to approach it. I want to know with what intensity to talk," to Harry Mathews' polymath humility, to William Gaddis's beleaguered genius, to this gem from Don DeLillo:

Easy reading

Lately I've been having trouble reading difficult books. It's likely a result of an annoying case of sciatica, two bruised ribs, the fact our apartment flooded and we're living in our landlord's attic, my summer class got cancelled so I'm out $2700, and we've had a couple deaths recently of close family and friends. Not to complain. I still feel like my brain should be working better than it is.

Flannery O'Connor on the Grotesque

I was just poking around Open Culture's Free Audio Books library (tons of gems here: Hemingway reading "In Harry's Bar," Rushdie reading Barthelme, Jeannette Winterson reading Calvino, etc.) and came across something very exciting indeed.

So many masterpieces!

I'm not going to post the video, because it's so Not Safe For Work I feel like your boss might fire me for linking to it, but there's a nice bit in Louis CK's recent stand-up special, "Hilarious," about the way we overuse certain words.

Describing comedy is stupid, so I'll give you the gist: he starts with "hilarious," then talks about "amazing" (describe a basket of chicken wings as "amazing" and "you've limited yourself to a shit life") and "genius," which "you used to have to invent a number" to be called.

Add "masterpiece" to this list.

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