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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?



You’re a reader. You’ve arrived at a reader’s page. Perhaps you’ve browsed around and see that we may share a taste in books. Well, here is an opportunity to leave me (and others) a book suggestion. The comments are open!!

4 Books

Posted on: November 17, 2007

Stolen from casa az, who plundered it from alejna

Four childhood books

  • Freddy the Pig — don’t really remember much about the books, but that I used to love them. (Animal Farm always sort of freaked me out, with my Freddy background.)
  • The Donkey Rustlers by Gerald Durrell. Again, I don’t remember much about the story, but I do remember taking it out of the library again and again.
  • Paddington Bear — of course. I think he is the root of my love of the absurd…how can you resist a world where people don’t think twice about talking to a bear in a coat carrying a suitcase full of marmalade sandwiches, with bacon hanging out of it and dogs following him?
  • No fourth comes to mind…the Hobbit, the Narnia books — all begun in my childhood, and continued to be read and re-read in my teens, my young adulthood, my middle ages, my dotage…

Four authors I will read again and again

  • Robertson Davies (I’m with az here)
  • Lois McMaster Bujold
  • JRR Tolkien
  • Jasper Fforde
  • [This is all really quite random…there are 100s (10s?) of authors I would re-read again and again, I could continue this list on to the next page…]

Four authors I will never read again

I blank out the unpleasant in my life. I’ve not much interest in ever reading Dan Brown, Terry Pratchett (sorry az for putting those two in the same sentence), or Stephen King. Authors I don’t like, I just don’t remember. 😦

The first four books on my to-be-read list

  • Ulysses by James Joyce (az, alejna and I are threatening to read this together)
  • Dante’s Inferno
  • Plus a cast of 100s! Too many to list. (Wow. I’m being rather lazy with this one.)

The four books I would take to a desert island

  • LOTR
  • The complete Shakespeare
  • Norton Anthology of Poetry
  • a big blank book, with some pens

The last lines of one of my favourite books

  • I don’t have any. Sorry to disappoint. Although I may think on this one, and change this some random morning at 4 a.m. when a line pops into my head and won’t let me sleep until I’ve added it here.

Anyway — tag yourselves on this one!

Raincoaster was tagged for this meme (gads, I abhor how that word has been co-opted by the blogosphere!) by caveblogem, and she’s passed on the tag…sort of a tag-by-proxy.

Maybe she doesn’t read…?

So as caveblogem describes the rules:

It’s another book meme which lists books tagged as unread in Librarything. Bold what you have read, italicize your DNFs, strikethrough the ones you hated, and put *asterisks next to those you read more than once.

I want add a dimension — underline the books on your bookshelf (in your TBR pile).

Jonathan Strange & M. Norrell
Anna Karenina
Crime and Punishment
One hundred years of solitude
Wuthering Heights
The Silmarillion
Life of Pi: a novel
*The Name of the Rose

Don Quixote
Moby Dick
Madame Bovary
The Odyssey
*Pride and Prejudice
*Jane Eyre

A Tale of Two Cities
The Brothers Karamazov
Guns, Germs, and Steel: the fates of human societies
War and Peace
Vanity Fair
The Time Traveller’s Wife
The Iliad
The Blind Assassin
The Kite Runner
Mrs. Dalloway
Great Expectations
American Gods
A heartbreaking work of staggering genius
Atlas shrugged
Reading Lolita in Tehran
Memoirs of a Geisha
Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West
The Canterbury Tales
The Historian
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Love in the Time of Cholera
*Brave new world
The Fountainhead
* Foucault’s Pendulum
The Count of Monte Cristo
A Clockwork Orange
Anansi Boys
The Once and Future King
The Grapes of Wrath
The Poisonwood Bible
Angels & Demons
The Inferno
The Satanic Verses
*Sense and Sensibility
The Picture of Dorian Gray
*Mansfield Park
One flew over the cuckoo’s nest
To the Lighthouse
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Oliver Twist
Gulliver’s Travels
Les misérables
The Corrections
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
The curious incident of the dog in the night-time
* Dune
The Prince
The Sound and the Fury
Angela’s Ashes
The God of Small Things
A people’s history of the United States : 1492-present
A Confederacy of Dunces
A Short History of Nearly Everything
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
* Slaughterhouse-five
The Scarlet Letter
Eats, Shoots & Leaves
*The Mists of Avalon
Oryx and Crake : a novel
Collapse : how societies choose to fail or succeed
Cloud Atlas
The Confusion
*Northanger Abbey

The Catcher in the Rye
On the Road
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
The Aeneid
Watership Down
Gravity’s Rainbow
* The Hobbit
In Cold Blood
White Teeth
Treasure Island
David Copperfield
The Three Musketeers

So, now what? Oh, right. Tagging. I know better than that — I’ll tag all my readers, because I know you’re here because you’re booky, so you’ll be itching to try this one yourself. Please go ahead!


How can I resist an //engtech contest?!? Especially one where I can talk about my other favourite thing — movies!

Okay — on to the list. Let’s assume that LOTR is in the list somewhere, but that it’s been over-blogged in the last couple of years. And when I say ‘memorable‘, I mean my memory!

No. 1

I Capture the Castle. The Dodie Smith book of the same name is a delight. It’s in diary form, written by 17-year-old Cassandra, who lives with her rather eccentric family in a broken down old castle. The strength of this rather quiet movie lies in Smith’s background as a playright (and writer of The One Hundred and One Dalmations) — I’ve never seen a movie capture the characters, plot, setting, and essence of a book so well. At no point does it slap you in the face and say “hey! I’m literary! Can’t you tell?” (Unlike the first Harry Potter film…which I watched, anticipating each scene: “Ho hum…now we’re going to get ___ scene.”)

No. 2

A Little Princess (the 1995 version). From the book by Frances Hodges Burnett. Okay, so they added a little dramatic ‘hanging-from-the-eaves’ scene — I don’t mind. At that point in the movie, you’re really in the mood for it. The Miss Minchin character is wonderfully done by the great actor Eleanor Brun. You feel for her and hate her at the same time — brilliant! The story-telling, the ‘magic’, and the relationship between all the girls is beautifully represented. And the colours…each scene is shot with either a dark, earthy green that menaces, or a sunny golden glow that, well, glows.

No. 3

The Power of One. Is this a great movie? No. It’s got some brilliant moments, but overall, I wish it had been more…meaty. Gutsy. Longer. The treatment of the material was sketchy — it’s obvious that Bryce Courtney’s greatest book needs to be made into a BBC mini-series (a la Dune or Gormenghast), not relegated to a shortish Hollywood film. But, they manage to get some of the best bits right in this one — it definitely captures the feel of the book, even though they totally botched the story.

No. 4

Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle. Is this movie based on the biography Dorothy Parker: Oh What Fresh Hell Is This? by Marion Meade? [ooo…a triple whammy. A movie based on a biography of a famous writer!] It doesn’t say that the movie’s writers used the book, but it is the most common biography on Parker, and many of the anecdotes from the book are reproduced verbatim in the movie. (Of course, that means nothing, as all of her friends were literary, everyone in that crowd wrote everything down…) Anyway, it’s a great film, representing the life and times of a great if tragic woman, played with utter perfection by the indomitable Jennifer Jason Leigh!

No. 5

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. Okay, I’m cheating on this one. In a sense, the movie came first. But, the author of the movie (and the supposed file cabinets full of material on this character), Earl Mac Rauch wrote a ‘novelization’ of the movie, like no other I’ve ever seen! Usually, a book-from-a-movie is a scene-by-scene rehash of the action. Cheesy. Badly written. Who reads them??? (Okay, I admit, the first book I read in Portuguese when I was living in Brasil was the novelization of ET…and I highly recommend them to language learners because of their screen-to-print regularity.) But this one is different — written from the point of view of one of the main characters, it’s his version of events. And, it’s as wonderful as the film. (If I have to convince you, you’re really not a geek.)

What are your movies?

I found this link ages ago, put it in my blogworthy list, and there it has sat, to wait for a day, like today, when I should be outside, enjoying the sun.

[Living life to the fullest. Thinking new thoughts, maybe even writing some poetry, instead of rehashing other people’s ideas. It’s Easter Sunday…if nothing else, for this atheist, a day to signal the true beginning of Spring. So, a quick blog post, and then I’m outta here!]

Ginsberg’s Celestial Homework — Your site of the day…essentially a:

Specialized Reading List for “Literary History of the Beat Generation,”
a course taught by Allen Ginsberg at Naropa Institute during the summer of 1977.

This “celestial homework” is the reading list that Ginsberg handed out on the first day of his course as “suggestions for a quick check-out & taste of ancient scriveners whose works were reflected in Beat literary style as well as specific beat pages to dig into.”

This is a very great list…with some rather nepotistic choices — many of his contemporaries, like Neal Cassady‘s autobiography The First Third. (Cassady had died almost 10 years before, tragically young, so I’m not really surprised by Ginsberg’s choice.)

I think I’m going to grab some poetry and a beer, and sit on the grass to read aloud.


Inspired by a comment left yesterday by Sulz, over at Bloggerdybooks — to go with the dark chocolate hopefully someone gave you on Valentine’s Day.

Also continuing in the list-genre to annoy engtech for his lovely little contest.

Only 1 rule: No fair citing books that are supposed to be erotic.

  • The first really substantial sex scene I ever encountered in a book was a Harold Robbins, when I was about 13. (Oh, he died in 1997!) Anyway, I think it was “The Pirate”…wow. Poppers and threesomes. Yippee!
  • I then moved on to bodice-rippers, or as the neighbour I babysat for called them (the 30-something woman who lent my impressionable teen self the books) , HHRs (Horny Historical Romances). Whowee!
  • Roots had some eye-opening moments, to my 11-year-old eyes.
  • Of course, Wifey, by Judy Bloom.
  • I must admit, Anne Rice’s vampire books have their incredibly sensual moments.

Okay, this was harder than I thought. I found I had to dredge my teen (and pre-teen) memory for titles. I think now, as an adult, I’m turned off books whose sex scenes don’t fit into the narrative flow, and I don’t really remember scenes in books where they do.


Okay folks — what about you? You don’t have to think of 5 if you can’t…(except Sulz!)

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!