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Showing posts from November, 2011

November 2011 Books

The Power and the Glory, Graham Greene. Leaven of Malice, Robertson Davies. Me Talk Pretty One Day, David Sedaris. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien. The Confidential Agent, Graham Greene. The Ministry of Fear, Graham Greene.
Someone once wrote that a critic tends to project his views on the novels he reads, that a review is more about what the critic thinks rather than what the writer intends. This may be true up to a point, but my reviews aren't about a writer's intent. I don't pretend my impressions are objective. In fact I'm as subjective as they come regarding novels. I've been known to latch on to certain authors from time to time and devour everything I could get my hands on, as if that writer and I had a soul connection or something. Or in cases where, say, I just felt the writer could do no wrong. But inevitably I’d read something by that writer that would render him or her human again, and they’d fall from the top of my Books To Read Right Now list to take a number a…

"What's Bred in the Bone" by Robertson Davies

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My friend Brad gave this book to me, and I should’ve read it immediately. Instead it stood at the back of the line for a year while I read books inferior to it. Which is strange, since everything Brad has ever handed me to read has been exceptional. You’d think I would’ve learned by now. But then, I’ve always enjoyed saving dessert until last.
And what a sumptuous read this was. 
This isn’t a synopsis of the story. I generally don’t read for plot anyway. I put less stock in it than I probably should. For one thing, I’d rather celebrate good style and a solid command of the language. Besides, the obligatory blurb on the back cover or inner jacket often serves only to frighten the bookworm away.
Still, many read entirely for plot or genre. Nothing wrong with that, necessarily. But consider: Brad and some friends and I once sat in a club together. One friend said, “What if people could talk only when quoting from a book?” I thought I was being clever when I replied, “I bet people would read…

Character Sketches with Gary

Gary lives in a condemned house on the outskirts of the city, and apart from the occasional meter reader and postal worker, he has few visitors. Well, I mean apart from the animals. But unlike the civil servant, the animals have access to the inside of the house, and they come and go as they please – cats, dogs, rats, an armadillo – an array of at least 37 flee-ridden, tick-infested creatures, most of which aren’t domesticated. Since they aren’t bound by leashes, collars, or potty training, it goes without saying that it isn’t safe if you forgot to bring your snow boots.
His yard looks like a mine field after the mines have gone off. Or rather like what a college fraternity on a treasure hunt might look like, assuming all the students had foregone shovels in favor of dynamite. There are so many two to three feet deep craters in his yard that you couldn’t get from one side to the other without a land rover.
The only reason the city hasn’t evicted Gary yet is probably because they feel s…

The Writer in Denial is a Happy Writer

There is no such thing as writer’s block. Nothing is stopping you from writing. A writer simply writes. Or a writer writes simply. Or simply a writer … oh, nevermind. Point is you shouldn’t write only when you think you have something to say. You’ll discover things to say while writing. At least that’s what I’m telling myself as I write this.
When I first began writing (which was last Tuesday morning), I often found myself staring at a blank screen. Ideas in my head like whether it was time to shower, why I haven’t trimmed my toenails since last Valentine’s, and where I put my cell phone nagged me. True. But I also had story ideas. My problem was that blank screen. It was my enemy. I had to attack it with some great and memorable lines.
Once I realized this was silly and that I’d never get anything written if I was waiting for the Famous Quote Fairy to knock me over the head, I began with a simple keystroke – a period. More like a dot really since it didn’t follow a word. But soon tha…