Lori's Book Nook

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

Every once in awhile someone hands me a book and says “Read this!” Sometimes it’s because (1) they’ve written it,  (2) they’ve tasked me with reviewing, (3) they think we have the same taste, or (4) they know we have the same taste….

The best is (4), of course. So when my friend handed me a book, saying “you must read this!” — I believed her.

Nick Harkaway’s The Gone-Away World (2008)….a book that blew me away as much as the original movie The Matrix. It’s speculative fiction from word ‘go’ — you know from the first that this is not our current reality (maybe it’s the pig-run generator?), and you also know right from the start that this will be an experience. The writing is fast, furious and delightfully…uh…fucked up.

Do not read any more reviews of this book: Reviewers are notoriously awful at keeping the best bits secret. Do not ask anyone else about this book:  They might let out a spoiler or two.

I will allow you a quote or two, because really, the writing it out-of-this-world. Here’s one of my favourites:

“You have to worry about someone even mimes find creepy.”

You get no more from me on this…find it. Read it.

Cheers,

Lori

…what my good friend Raincoaster said when I informed her that the most interesting link today to this blog was the result of a search for “dystopian poems for kids”.

Seriously, folks.  Children don’t want to read dystopian literature any more than they want to read poetry.

But I know I’m wrong. The Giver by Lois Lowry is unrelenting in its popularity, despite being a dystopia (and now they’re making a movie of it?)

What are your favourite dystopian novels?

So, yet again, the Internet has come through on its promise of connecting people. (It’s not all kittehs, bacon and jokes!)

Awhile back, I followed an incoming link to this blog to a literary publicist who it turns out represents a talented author, Cheryl Rainfield.  An email exchange resulted in me being sent a review copy of Rainfield’s new book Scars, undergoing its Canadian launch June 24th in Toronto.

First impression? The cover is striking, fraught even, featuring the author’s own arms. The audience? Ostensibly for the Young Adult set, but accessible to many. The subject matter? Not my usual fare, on the surface grimmer than I like…

But what a book!

I’m not going to go into a synopsis of the story here (check out the book link above for a review that does that job very well). I do want to say that once I started this book, I plowed through it quickly. During the last chapters, as the story reaches its crescendo of tension, I literally could not put it down. My husband had to serve me dinner on the sofa, where I was curled up reading.

The autobiographical element is evident in the ringing truth of the main character’s experiences, but the book is also clearly a novel. This is definitely not some maudlin woe-is-me semi-autobiographical work…instead, it’s a powerful, realistic and positive story of a young woman who finds her way out of her own little corner of hell. Once the story is done, and the main character Kendra has found her home in that corner of your mind reserved for the most real of heroines, the extensive collection of resources at the end of the book underline the seriousness of the issues raised. And those issues? Self-mutilation, rape, homophobia…a stew well-balanced with the love, support and clarity that the main character finds.

As I said earlier, this astounding book has its Canadian launch on June 24 in Toronto, at the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre (details on the author’s website).  I think a West Coast event should also be arranged…what do you think?

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!

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!