Lori's Book Nook

Archive for the ‘Ramblings’ Category

This fabulous video-fied talk of Stephen Fry‘s reminded me this morning of what I find fabulous about language:

I may get itchy Sharpie fingers when I see signs with inappropriately-placed apostrophes, and I still geek-out to things like my friend’s t-shirt that reads “Does anal retentive have a hyphen?” [Answer: depends on your style sheet?], but give me rich, frenzied writing any day over the terse and uptight.

Give me the verbal lushness and inconsistency of spelling and punctuation of Keri Hulme’s The Bone People (which I’ve already blogged about here)….

…. or the crazy richness of image that is The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway (again, previously blogged here)….

…. or the rich neologisms of Earle Birney (see AngloSaxon Street in this post).

Your favourites?

Lori

So the other day, I was alone in a little restaurant near my work, having a late lunch…and I was bookless! And notebook-less, and newspaper-less…I’m sure you get the picture.

The guy sitting a couple of tables over was also eating alone…[DIGRESSION: I was told once that the friendly Philippine people will go out of their way to ensure that a friend/co-worker/what-have-you does not eat alone. Then there are cultures where people turn away when they’re eating or drinking, for privacy. What a lovely odd world we live in.]

So, this guy was eating alone…no, I did not join him. He was completely en-booked. He didn’t need anyone. But he was not just reading, he was reading, margin-note-taking, notebook-note-taking…rather frantically.

And there was me, so bereft of reading material that I frantically tried to see the cover of the paperback he was perusing so thoroughly, just to read something!

Do I want to read like that? No. I may take the odd note, and if I were to get an ereader, I’d want one with note-taking capability, but I have no need to be obsessive about it. What I resolve to do is to ensure that I’ve got a book (or something!) with me at all times. I can’t believe I’ve come to this point, where I have to remind myself to carry reading material!

Plus, I want to blog more — about books and reading, obviously. Perhaps not the Post-A-Day challenge, but at least the Post-A-Week. We’ll see how that goes.

Read on!

My #1 pleasure in life? Browsing in a bookstore, esp. a second-hand bookstore, or one with piles of discount, ‘remaindered’ books…I love the never knowing of rummaging these piles.

Anyone else with me? (If you’re ever in Victoria, check out Munro’s Books, for those sale tables and extensive selection of new books)

Today’s treasures:

The Book of Martyrdom & Artifice: First Journals and Poems 1937-1952, Allen Ginsberg.

Random excerpt (p168 in my copy):

“January 13 [1947]

Tried tea and junk tonite for second time.

Hip conversation:

“You bug me.”

“I bug you?”

“Yeah, you bug me.”

“I bug you.”

“You bet you bug me.”

“Well, you bug me.”

“So, I bug you.”

Hmm. Art?

I also picked up Rita Mae Brown‘s memoir, Rita Will: Memoir of a Literary Rabble-Rouser. First couple of chapters are fun…but then her writing is always fun.

Well, I seem to have been in a gay mood, now that I look at it. Must have been the discussion this morning over breakfast about the local baker who discriminates against those of alternate sexual persuasion. Guess where I don’t buy cupcakes?

Lori

I’ve reviewed books, many times. I don’t consider what I do on this blog to be really reviewing though. I think I’m more commenting on how this book or that book moved me or messed with me, or sometimes,  just how it connected with another book in my mind.

Here is the top 10 of the 20 most annoying book review clichés:

1. Gripping

2. Poignant: if anything at all sad happens in the book, it will be described as poignant

3. Compelling

4. Nuanced: in reviewerspeak, this means, “The writing in the book is really great. I just can’t come up with the specific words to explain why.”

5. Lyrical: see definition of nuanced, above.

6. Tour de force

7. Readable

8. Haunting

9. Deceptively simple: as in, “deceptively simple prose”

10. Rollicking: a favorite for reviewers when writing about comedy/adventure books

Thank the gods, I’m only batting 2 for 10 here. I’m so totally guilty of ‘readable’ and ‘compelling’…’cause books often are those things!

Looking at the whole list, I believe I’m still only 20% clichéd. I hope.

My favourite example?

17. That said: as in, “Stephenie Meyer couldn’t identify quality writing with a compass and a trained guide; that said, Twilight is a harmless read.””

Check out the whole article…oh, and the newly created Bingo cards!

Well, it’s happened again…I’ve received another box of books to review (here’s a list of the previous batch, and the one before).

This time they look like a lovely mix: 4 books of short stories, 1 memoir, 1 poetry/novel, 2 novels.

Short Stories

Cobalt Blue by Mary Borsky (Thomas Allen Publishers) — Judging this book by its cover, I’d say it’ll be mighty good. Lovely hand-holding size, good design, a trade paper with useful jacket-flaps. (A note to the publishers — your page for the book didn’t google well.) (Reviewed at Quill and Quire here.)

Silent Girl by Tricia Dower (Inanna Publications) — Wow. A quick google of this book title exposes me to something new, unexpected: A moving book trailer on YouTube.

I’m absolutely flumoxed. Tricia, me girl, that was inspired. I’m now terribly eager to read the book. (Book publishers/authors, take note: this woman knows how to market a book on the Internet!).

Out of Cleveland by Lolette Kuby (Véhicule Press) — A slim book with a very simple, unpretentious cover. I’m a sucker for short stories by women about women, so add that to the author’s background as a poet, I’m looking forward to this collection too.

I must admit, this post is turning into a “Who wins on the Internet marketing front?” — and here’s one that has almost no presence. To get anywhere, you have to put the title in quotes. Publisher — pay attention! I had to search for your site separately! (Hopeless, as web-un-savvy as this group is, they will likely not see this post. Unlike Tricia, above, who will be visiting me shortly, I’m sure!)

Red Rooms by Cherie Dimaline (Theytus Books) — Theytus Books is a small publisher, but all of the books I’ve seen are beautifully designed. I’m a little biased, as this publisher is in my town. Being from them, I do know that the author must be First Nations — and looking at the jacket, the stories are about the “urban Native people.” Another book to look forward to.

Memoir

The Way It Was: Vignettes from My One-Room Schools by Edith Van Kleek (University of Calgary Press) — Beautifully designed cover, readable text, nice heft to the book…I know I’ll enjoy this one. The author wrote notes throughout her career, and her daughter has now edited them into this book. (On the Internet marketing scale, this one doesn’t even rate. Note to authors — don’t expect a university publisher to market your book!)

Poetry/Novel

The Given by Daphne Marlatt (McClelland & Stewart) — I would expect Daphne Marlatt, who’s been writing poetry and novels for years, to have a good publisher (which she does)…and that publisher to have decent web-savvy (and they do). Even with the name of this poetry novel being rather common, the book’s page googled up on the first page. Of course, I’m looking forward to reading this offering.

Novels

The End of East by Jen Sookfong Lee (Vintage Canada – Random House) — I would expect Random House to be up-to-date on the whole web marketing issue, and they are. Search the phrase end of east and it’s the first hit. Well done! 2nd place prize to Random House. The novel itself looks lovely — a generational piece on Vancouver’s Chinatown. Can’t wait.

Living with the Dead by Karen Armstrong (Random House) — Armstrong has a series of her Otherworld books out, and while I’ve not read any (yet), I have heard of her. Random House didn’t do as well for this author, but her own website is informative, listing her books. Bronze medal for web marketing.

I will try to post something other than my first impressions as I read the books. Please feel free to ask me directly for feedback.

And Tricia? Stop and say hi! 😀

My faithful readers (all 3 of you!) will have noticed the lack of new posts recently. My apologies for that. It’s part laziness, part the pile of books I received for review a while ago.

Now, I’m an amateur reviewer…’amateur’ in the classic sense in that I don’t do it for money, but enjoy composing my little reviews for CBRA. Up until this last batch of books, all of the reviews I wrote sat in a hardbound annual in libraries across the country…likely very few people actually read them. Now, however, these reviews are going online, where they will (theoretically) be searchable by anyone looking for information on a given book.

And now I’m hesitant. When I blogged the list of books I received, I realized something I’d not thought about seriously before — the author may read my review of her/his book. Oh, I’m sure they did before, in the hardcover annual, but now, they truly will.

And they might respond.

In this day’n’age of tracking mentions of yourself/your book/your cause célébre online, I’m sure every single person attached to the books I received hit my blog.

Two responded.

This is exciting if you’re offering up praise. How every cool to be in touch with someone whose work you admire.

But what if the work is awful? What if it makes you cringe at the state of the book publishing industry in this country?

I will have to decide…to post my opinion, for good or for bad, as it is my opinion. Honest and true-as-I-see-it. It’s all I can do.

And I won’t ignore my blog anymore.

Thanks for listening.

I’m in the middle of two books, and suddenly I feel like I’m reading one of those artsy-fartsy double features at your local, non-mainstream movie house. You know the ones, where there is a connection between the films, and it is your job as the audience to find it.

The most obscure one I ever came across was where the only link was an ice cream cone in each film. The most delightful was Robert LePage’s Le Confessional (1995) shown with Hitchcock’s I Confess (1953).

So, back to books.

I’m reading two books right now:

While both books are utterly different in plot, character, setting, and genre they have in common a wonderful bookyness to them…they are both a literary soup of references that verge on the border of being overwhelming, but instead are almost inspiring in their bibliophilia.

Two different books, two utterly different characters, but both texts are littered with pop culture:

Eco, being a semiologist, does not really surprise us in this. His other books have been thick with historical references, illuminating his amazing well-readness. This time however, it is a plot point, as our protagonist is an older man suffering from amnesia who uses the books of his lifetime to rebuild his lifeline. The references this time are both classical and current, albeit the focus of the current is on Italian modern history and corresponding pop culture.

Pessl, a young woman writing her first novel, holds her own in general bookyness in comparison to the towering Eco. The character, Blue van der Meer, is not quite 18 but is an astoundingly well-read genius, being the daughter of a rather eccentric, nomadic, genius professor father. As she navigates the teen hell of a yet another new school, her every thought is a literary or pop culture reference, at times against her will. Despite how ponderous that sounds, it is a delightful read, and un-put-down-able once you really get rolling.

I need more books of this genre (is it a meta- or sub-genre?). Any suggestions?


Book Discussion Pages

Here on the Book Nook you can discuss: The Fifth Business by Robertson Davies, as well as the next two books in the Deptford Trilogy, The Manticore and World of Wonders, and if that's not enough for you, see what's up on the forums at BookTalk.org!