Monday, November 27, 2006

*insert usual comment about how I haven't updated this blog in awhile...*

Since last update, G and I went on a trip to England, London specifically, and it was wonderful and perfect and everything I could ever have wanted it to be and of course I bought books over there :)

But what have I read since I last updated?

All My Friends are Superheroes by Andrew Kaufman. G lent me this book and it was a fun, quick, little read written by Canadian author Andrew Kaufman. Its a funny little book where the main character is about to loose his wife forever, because she cannot see him since he was made invisible on their wedding day by a rival for his wife's affections. Everyone in the book has a 'superpower' based on the most outstanding aspect of their personalities (i.e. the wife is the Perfectionist) and I found myself wondering what my personality-related-superpower would be and strangely enough, I couldn't come up with one. But anyway, it was a fun book and really enjoyed all the different superheroes (as I also found myself going 'Oh yeah, I know someone like that') and it was a satisfying, happy ending.

Arthur and George by Julian Barnes. Believe it or not, this is NOT an Arthurian-themed book that I picked up in London. This book is about a case of a wrongfully accused and convicted man (one George Edalji) who's cause renowned author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle comes to champion. The book is a very, very interesting look at the lives of two very different men, and infact, it isn't till about 2/3s of the way through that Arthur and George finally meet. I admit, I kept wondering if the crimes George was accused of would end up being linked to the crimes of Jack the Ripper, but that was never done, and I actually found myself happy that they weren't. Its funny though, while I have read some Sherlock Holmes stories and liked them well enough, I've found that I enjoy books where Holmes' creator is a main character very enjoyable (like in the List of Seven) Sir Arthur seemed to be an extremely fascinating character all of himself as well.

I just began Alice Munro's latest offering The View from Castle Rock, which I hope to have finished fairly soon.

Rereads of late includes lots of Anne McCaffery books; Dragonflight, Dragonquest and the MasterHarper of Pern.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Oh my goodness I have been neglecting this thing. Not neglecting reading though of course, I could never do that. But I also do know I haven't been reading as much as I used to. Not replacing it with watching TV though (even though hockey has of course returned to the airwaves now), but the problem with dating someone who has a larger comic book collection than you do, is that there are more comics to read. So yeah, reading a lot of comics, no so much books.

But, books I HAVE finished in the last while... Bad Dirt: Wyoming Stories II by Annie Prouxl and The Last Knight: The Twilight of the Middle Ages and the Birth of the Modern Era by Norman F. Cantor. Both of these books were purchased in Stratford when I went to see Coriolanus with G, and that was in July. Tells you how busy my summer was, huh?

I enjoyed Bad Dirt as much as I liked Prouxl's first short story collection. Many of these stories took place in the same towns as other stories, and that gives them a nice homey (read: claustrophobic) feeling to what is a very large state. I thought it was a nice touch. Some of them had a bit more of a supernatural element to them, which was definitely interesting, and there was still a lot of despicable people getting their comeuppances. And in one story I was tickled to see one of the characters spell his name the same way that G spell's his :)

The Last Knight was a wonderful look at the end of the Middle Ages mainly focused through the life of John of Gaunt, one of the very wealthy, very powerful sons of Edward III. Gaunt was brother to Edward, Prince of Wales (the Black Prince) and one of England's ruling Plantagenet family. He became, through marriage, the Duke of Lancaster, and so became the patriarch of the Lancastrian branch of the Plantagenets, one of the two families who would later become embroiled in the War of the Roses. Anyway, in modern terms, Gaunt would be considered a billionaire, that's how wealthy he was at the time, and like any member of the ruling class, being it part of a medival society or a capitalist one, he was pretty fond of the status quo. That's not to say he didn't also sometimes flirt with progressive thinking, in fact, Gaunt was a patron for quite some time of Chaucer's, so he did promote the arts. But overall, Gaunt was a product of the 1300s and was not quite ready to move into a more modern era, Not that the 1400s were all that modern mind you, but medieval society was definitely changing during the end of Gaunt's era. Anyway yeah, very interesting, historical read. Cantor also has a book out about the Black Plague, which also sound neat, I may have to check it out as well.

I'm also nearly finished One Knight Only, the second of Peter David's Arthurian themed books. Rather less humourous than the first one, this one seems to be David's rather visceral reaction to 9-11. Arthur is now President of the United States, and not only has his administration had to weather an extremely brutal terrorist attack on US soil (David doesn't go into details about the kind of attack, but the 9-11 parallels are inescapable), but also, after the US retaliates against the terrorists, they then make it personal by having Gwen (the First Lady, natch) assasinated. Well, almost assasinated. So of course, Gwen, hovering near death necessitates the need for a Grail Quest. I'm always up for a good Grail Quest, but this one is made quite interesting in that the Grail's new keeper (and I use 'new' in a very loose sense here) is someone who is quite possibly the first 'hero'. And he makes for a very good contrast to Arthur's more modern hero. All in all, its a good read so far, a little bombastic and rah rah America, but overall, its also a good treatise on free will and human rights against dictatorships and whatnot and I am very interested in seeing how it gets all played out.

Also recently, did a comfort rereading of Pamela Dean's Tamlin for the umpteenth time.

Next up on the bedside table is Neil Gaiman's Anasasi Boys.

Monday, August 14, 2006

I'm really not getting much reading done these days, due to a myriad of reasons. Well, ok, really only one reason, but he's a good one :) However, on my week long holiday spent at the parents' and the cottage, I did manage to read The Devil Wears Prada. I saw the movie a few weeks ago and really, really enjoyed it, so when I saw the book at my parents' place, I dived in. Took me all of a day and a half to read it. It has now been added to my official "The Movie is Better than the Book List". It's actually rare that I find a movie better than a book, I usually always like the book better, but not in the case. I liked the ending of the movie much better and I actually found the main characters of Andy and Miranda much more sympathetic in the movie. Also, the author's (whose name I don't even remember) writing style left me a little cold in places. She definitely went for some rather overly complicated sentences a little too often. Overall, the characters in the movie felt far more fleshed out and I agreed with their decision to amalgamate about 3 separate characters into the one of Nigel, so brilliantly played by Stanely Tucci. The movie also left out a huge subplot about an alcoholic roommate, which, while I understand its importance in the book of displaying how Andy's job was consuming her life to the point where she wasn't there to help her friend, I thought was demonstrated just as ably in the movie through a stronger plotline concerning Andy's boyfriend. Anyway yeah, movie, great, book, not so much.

I also started The Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson. I really enjoyed Bryson's book "A Brief History of Nearly Everything", so when I saw he had written about the beginnings of the English language, I thought I just had to pick it up. Of course, I'm not really learning anything new, most of what he talks about here was covered during my Old English course at university, but Bryson definitley has an easier way of explaining things than good ol' Professor John Chamberlain did. But of course, Bryson isn't also trying to teach a bunch of second year students how to speak and read Old English :)

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

I went to Stratford (Ontario) last Sunday to get my Shakespeare on and it was a fabulous time. My main reason for going was because Colm Feore, undoubtedly my favourite Canadian actor, was back at Stratford after an absence of some years, and I was determined to see him in something. He's playing the lead in one of the Bard's lesser known plays, Coriolanus, and he was magnificent as always.

So, what does this have to do with what I'm reading? Simple, I'm now reading Coriolanus. I read it once, years ago, in university, but I wanted to read it again. The main character, Caius Martius, is unabashedly a great warrior. His entire being, his entire raison d'etre, is tied to him being a soldier. It is what he is good at, and he knows this and is secure in this. He has nothing but disdain for the common populace of Rome (mainly because they do not fight) and it is because of this that he gets into deep trouble when he attempts to become a politician. It is often said that this is Shakespeare's most political of plays, even more so than Julius Ceasar or Henry V, and I have to agree. Rome as a city, as a political entity in herself, is just as much of a character as anyone else.

And Martius himself is a very interesting character. I just finished the first true battle scene with him in it, and the way he rallies his troops, by almost shaming them into being brave, is just so different from Henry V (who is probably my favourite Shakespearean soldier) who's St. Crispian's Day speech spurs on his hopelessly outnumbered army by stressing brotherhood and the honour of fighting alongside one another. Not so Martius, while he does lead by example, he sees very little brotherhood amongst his own army, in fact, he feels closest comradeship with his greatest enemy, Aufidius. He and Martius have an intense, love/hate relationship that one could easily make a case for becoming sexual by the play's third act. It's fascinating.

I also picked up a couple of other books, Wyoming Stories, another collection of short stories by Annie Proulx, and a book called The Last Knight, which is about the end of the 14th century. I look forward to getting to both of those.

I'm also re-reading The Mirror of her Dreams by Stephen Donaldson, mainly as research as I get back to writing my novel. I had always seen my heroine as slightly... reactionary at the beginning, but I don't want her to be completely passive, because I find that unlikeable. Terisa, in these books, is completely passive at the start, and quite unlikeable, I've always found I wanted to give her a good shake. But eventually, she does find her talent and is able to break out of her passivity, so I find she's not a bad model to look at. But I don't want quite her extreme, so she's also a good example of what I don't want to do.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


Not much new I realize. I'm still slogging through A Year in the Life of Shakespeare: 1599. Well, not really slogging, it is a good read, but I've found I havent' wanted to lug the big hardcover on the subway, so I'm doing a lot of re-reading too. I had wanted to finish A Year... when I was at my aunt's farm for a week, but I just never managed to find the time to read, we were just always doing things.

I've re-read the entire 'Kelts in Space' trilogy (the Silver Branch, the Copper Crown, the Throne of Scone), which, despite how the main character is disgustedly good at EVERYTHING, I still enjoy. Patricia Keneally may be a bit loopy, but I think she did manage to craft an interesting world overall.

I also read the first trade of a zombie comic called The Walking Dead. I'm not a huge zombie fan or anything, but I really enjoy Robert Kirkman's other comic book, Invincible, so I thought I'd give this one a try too. I have this vague feeling it gave me nightmares (I don't remember my dreams often), so I'm not sure I'll be going much farther than the first trade.

I was also given a very funny book, the Batman Handbook: The Ultimate Training Guide, by Scott Beatty, which is basically a very fun book that teaches you how to be Batman. And yes, I have always wanted to be Batman.

Yup, that's all for now.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Been awhile since I've posted anything here I see. I have been reading quite a bit in the meantime, but a lot of it has been the 'comfort food' of re-reads.

I've burned my way through five Outsider trades. Not bad, not great, not inspired enough to pick up the series regularly, that's for sure.

Re-read all of Byron's Don Juan; a whack of Shakespeare's Sonnets and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Of course I read that Potter book when it came out a few years back, and I remember it immediately becoming my least favourite of the bunch. But upon re-read, I found it wasn't that bad. If you go into it knowing that Harry is a pratt throughout, I found I was more able to see WHY Harry was a pratt throughout. Everything was just finally getting to him, and he IS only a 16 year-old-boy. The shit that kid's gone through, I think I can excuse his pratiness. And man, Delores Umbridge was a pretty good villian.

I did finally pick up a new book yesterday, which I started this morning; A Year in the Life of Shakespeare: 1599, by James Shapiro. Its fictionalized history, which I've always had a fondness for, and its about Shakespeare, so how can I go wrong? Shapiro has decided to focus on this year in Shakespeare's life because this is the year he writes Henry V (which is one of my very favourite plays), Julius Ceasar, As You Like It, and his masterpiece, Hamlet. It is a year of incredible creative growth for Shakespeare, and Shapiro wants to examine the history of the year in which Shakespeare was living and see if he can find a clue as to why this became an almost seminal year in Shakespeare's writing. I thought this was an admirable thesis, and so I'm very interested in reading it.

Speaking of a thesis, I started my hypothetical one as well. That's right, my 'prove Lancelot was indeed the best knight ever by doing a sports-like statistical analysis of all tournaments and battles the knights were in.' I'm about half way through the first volume, and right now, my poor, tattered Penguin editions of Le Morte D'Arthur are now furiously scribbled in all over as well. But I'm having a great time, and at some point, I'm going to talk to one of the mathematitians I work with about how to go about the actual statistical side of things. I also told Nat about this entire endevour of mine, and she thought it was a great idea. Nice to hear that from a fellow academic :)

Monday, June 05, 2006

Ok, since last post I have indeed finished Bury the Chains. VERY good book. Has made me want to swear off eating sugar for good, but I know that's damned near impossible these days. Funny thing is, while reading the book, the CBC rebroadcast their 'Big Sugar' documentary, which looked at modern day sugar-cane plantations, and all the ways sugar is a very big problem in our world. Those who harvest sugar-cane on modern day plantations are living a life of slavery in all but name. Its like nothing really changed over the past two hundred years, and Bury the Chains have said that many of the Caribbean nations (like Haiti) have never really recovered from the slave rebellions that destroyed much of the island's wealth. The show Big Sugar also heavily referenced Bury the Chains, as they showed the abolitionist movement was very directly tied to sugar. They also mentioned how WHO had been trying to get a bill tabled at the United Nations about sanctioning big sugar, in order to protect children from the growing obesity problem, but the US refused to sign it and threatened to withdraw funding from WHO should anyone mention it again. Guess who is a large contributer to the Republicans? Yeah, sugar companies...

After finishing Bury the Chains, I started Knight Life by Peter David. Not bad at all and a fun little read as a re-awakened Arthur runs for mayor of New York City. I did have a slight panic attack worrying that perhaps this book might be too close to what I've come up with for the plot of my romance novel, but fortunately PAD's Lancelot is a non-factor in the book, and although Gwen might have some characteristics in common with my heroine, I think they're still different enough. The Arthur in this book was pretty good, and came off as very charismatic. Morgan was an ehn villainess, but I loved that Mordred was a top PR man. He was great. So yeah, overall, a nice book, I'll probably end up picking up the sequal, One Knight Only.

I've also been re-reading Byron's Don Juan (don't ask; personal reasons). I read this originally in second-year university, I had to do my Romantics seminar on it. I had an episode of Cheers taped where Diane was doing her psychology thesis on why Sam was a text-book case of Don Juan syndrome. Sam was a compulsive womanizer, and so yes, was a perfect example of the psychological Don Juan. However, as I read through Byron's poem, I realized that his Don Juan was not the compulsive womanizer that Sam was, rather Byron's Don Juan was more of a romantic, and it was usually always the women who pursued him. Byron's Don Juan was almost a niaf, and I found that rather fascinating, given the almost negative connotations being called a 'Don Juan' has in modern society. Byron's Don Juan isn't really what we think of as a stereotypical Don Juan. It is a lovely poem, full of romantic imagery, but also quite humourous as well. I'm having fun re-reading it. Oh, and way back when, I got an A on that Romantics seminar. Thanks Cheers :)

Monday, May 15, 2006

I started Bury the Chains, by Adam Hochschild this weekend. I'd heard about this book quite some time ago, meant to pick it up, but then completely forgot about it until I saw Hochschild interviewed on the CBC last week. Then I remembered I wanted to read this book and picked it up on Friday.

Bury the Chains looks at what was probably the world's first organized social campaign, the campaign to abolish the slave trade in Britian during the late 1700s. What is so amazing about this is that nothing like this movement had ever happened before, and those who started it were moved to do so because of the suffering of people half a world away from them. It is a remarkable thing that we, in this modern day and age, supposedly take for granted, but when we allow things like the genocides in Rwanda and Darfur to occur, well, it seems like things haven't changed all that much.

But so far, its a fascinating book. We've met some of the major players in the movement, men who were moved by the hardships and brutality suffered by slaves, some of whom had been involved in the slave trade themselves. But most interesting of all, was that the movement was really started by, and organized by, Quakers. I had never known this and found it fascinating. These men started just about every practice we take for granted today as being part of a social, reform movement; petitions, letter-writing campaigns, fund-raising, even the forerunner to political slogan-type campaign buttons.

Anyway, I'm only about half way through it, and the main players are still organizing themselves and are gathering amunition to use against the slave trade (they found huge support in the pre-Industrial Revolution city of Manchester, one of the few cities in England whose economy was not dependent upon the slave trade) and in trying to win over all-important Anglicans (for only Anglicans could vote and be Members of Parliament) to their cause.

The sections about the treatment of the slaves and what they went through is particularly horrifying, but well balanced with the more uplifting sections about the successes the abolitionists were having. It is a good strategy in the narrative, for the brutality does not become too much that it just makes you simply want to stop reading. You experience outrage, but you want to continue to see what happens and how the inevitable end, the abolition of slavery in the British Empire, comes about.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Whew, I was right, hockey playoffs have completely screwed up my reading time. Even with my favourite teams out, I'm still watching hockey. I'm so weak :)

Plus, I've finally been able to start riding my bike into work again, so no subway to read on.

So, I haven't really started anything new since finishing Mad Merlin. In fact, I went back for a re-read on two of my favourite Arthurian books, The Child Queen and The High Queen. They're told from Guinevere's perspective, and she's not bad in these books. A little drama-queenesque, but definitely not as completely unsympathetic as she is often portrayed. And the Lancelot in these books is a hot-head, and I like that about him. These books also have a GREAT Arthur. He's definitely one of my favourite Arthur's ever; very real, very personable, very... Arthur.

But yes, I still have to launch myself into Peter David's Knight Life. That will be next.

I've also started the painstaking process of carefully re-reading (and taking notes) Le Morte D'Arthur. I've recently had this wild idea that I would like to 'prove' that Lancelot was the best knight, statistically speaking. I mean, Malory is great with listing off EVERYONE who fought in tournaments; who unhorsed who, who fought who on the ground, etc., and I thought it would be fun to go through Le Morte D'Arthur and actually do sports like stats for the various knights. If I ever did get the opportunity to go and do my Master's Degree, this is completely what my thesis would be. Yes, I'm weird :)

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

It's the time of year again when my reading time will seriously suffer because the Stanley Cup playoffs have started and there is MUCH hockey to be watched. This year isn't as bad as the past few, since the Leafs didn't make the playoffs, I'm only having to pay attention to my beloved Wings. But since Detroit is playing a Canadian team in the first round, I'm actually getting to see the games. Which is awesome. But as I said, my reading suffers in the Spring.

But despite the distraction the playoffs present, I did manage to finish Mad Merlin by J. Robert King. It wasn't bad, but it is the first time that I actually felt like... yeah yeah, I know what's going to happen, Arthur beats the Saxons at Badon Hill, blah, blah. I never usually feel like that with an Arthurian book, I mean face it, I ALWAYS know what's going to happen with an Arthur book. Depending on when in his life they're focusing, I know that he becomes King, marries Guinevere, founds the Round Table, fights a lot of Saxons, defeats the Saxons, has years of security, the knights go off to find the Holy Grail, gets killed by Mordred. End of story (unless you're doing the once and FUTURE king side of his story). But this book is obviously ending early in Arthur's reign, and is going to be using the victory at Badon over the Saxons as the climax, but I'm just kinda... ehn about it.

It's not that I'm not enjoying the book, it has some neat ideas, like Merlin being the fallen ex-god Jupiter and Excalibur forged from the actual word of the Christian God, but I've found the characters rather hard to enage in because there's SO much focus on the magic and the clash of religions. Wow, I cannot believe I'm actually complaining that there might've been too much magic in this Arthurian telling, but I think I am.

I did like that the conflict with the Saxons was also them bringing their gods with them to conquor Britannia, but we all know that didn't work. The Saxon people might've eventually won, but it was the Christian God who won the religious wars, stamping out or appropriating the gods of the Saxons, the Celts, the Romans, etc. So yeah, that aspect I did find interesting, but I did think there was a little too much focus on such things.

Still have to finish Dave Gorman's Googlewhack Adventure though. But I also started re-reading my run of Y: The Last Man, since I just got all my trades back from a friend who had borrowed them.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

I'm still only about half way through Dave Gorman's Googlewhack Adventure. Its not bad, but it hasn't really grabbed me much. I like it, its still amusing, but I find that Dave and Danny are not quite as funny apart as they are together. But, with Dave's book its quite interesting to find out that he still keeps in close contact with a few of the other Dave Gorman's he met, just as Danny made some good freinds out of Join Me. I liked that :)

Last Monday (not the one yesterday), I had forgotten my book at home and so had nothing to read AT THAT MOMENT, and so decided to go to the World's Biggest Bookstore. I love that place. It truly has the best selection of Fantasy/Sci-Fi books out there. Now, if I want just normal mainstream, popular fiction, then a Chapters or Indigo will do, but for fantasy? Nothing but World's Biggest. Lately, they've taken to having displays of 'theme' books, i.e. all humourous fantasy (Tom Holt, Robert Aspirin, Terry Pratchett, etc.) or all books prominently featuring Dragons, or all Canadian fantasy (Guy Kay, Michelle West, Charles De Lint etc.) or all Arthurian themed books. Squee! So yeah, saw that and had to pick up a couple I hadn't read yet. And its acutally been a few months since I've read any Arthurian and the withdrawl was starting to set in, so I picked up Mad Merlin by J. Robert King and Knight Life by Peter David.

I'd read another Arthurian themed book by King, called Lancelot du Lethe, and I enjoyed it, so thought I'd give this one a try. Its not bad, it has all the magic left in and has to deal with Arthur's ascention to the throne. Its got some weird ideas in it (Merlin is actually a 'slain' Jupiter, he was cast out from being a god and made mortal when he lost his followers to Jehovah), but the characters are quite good and Arthur comes across as quite charming, which, for being such a great leader, isn't always the case. So yeah, so far, not bad. Oh, and B finds the author's name very amusing, since it is pretty much his name, just rearranged a little bit. So he keeps referring to it as 'the book he wrote' :)

The second book, Knight Life, I'd been meaning to pick up for awhile because Peter David is someone I'm very familiar with through comic books. He's written all kinds of stuff, from the only Hulk and X-Factor issues I've ever read (and rather enjoyed), so a fabulous retelling of Aquaman's origin to the very enjoyable first bunch of issues that was Young Justice (I will say that as the run of YJ went on, I did have some problems with it, but there was some comedic gold in those first few issues), so I'm curious to check out his take on a modern version of Arthur.

And that's where I am this week.

Monday, April 10, 2006

I loved Lamb: The Gospel according to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal. It was a tremendously funny, touching and deep book. It humanized Christ in a way that I, someone who doesn't really count themselves as a Christian, never thought was possible. And as I've always thought that Christ, despite his divine connections, was supposed to be the human side of God, he always felt so... untouchable to me in the Bible. There was never anything that made me want to follow his teachings in the Bible, but that may be because the Bible is presented as this 'authority', and I don't believe that anyone other than Christ himself could be the 'authority'. But anyway, I'm not about to run out and become a true believer, but I just really liked the way Christopher Moore characterized Christ, or Joshua as he is called throughout the book. Even just calling him Joshua instead of the more familiar, Jesus (which Moore has Biff point out to us is the Greek form of the name Joshua) goes so far in humanizing Christ. As does the first time we (and Biff) see him, in a scene that made me fall in love with the book nearly right away; Joshua is around nine years old and he has a squirming lizard in his mouth. He takes the lizard out of his mouth, hands it to his younger brother James, who proceeds to smash it with a rock and kill it. James then hands the lizard back to Joshua, who puts it in his mouth again, and brings it back to life. Biff cannot help but think there's something different about this kid.

The main crux of the story is that Joshua passes those 'missing' years, the ones none of the Gospels cover, but going to learn how to become the Messiah. He does so by finding the three men who believed he was the Messiah right from his birth; the Three Wise Men. He (and Biff) journey to China, India and what would be modern day Afghanistan to learn the ways of magic, the Buddha and some Hinduism/Yoga. Its fascinating and a wonderful idea.

But most importantly along the way to learning to become a Messiah, it is Joshua's best friend Biff (Levi who is called Biff, named so because the sound of him being repeatedly slapped upside the head by his parents is the sound 'Biff') who teaches Joshua to be human.

It is a wonderful book, and even though the ending is such a foregone conclusion, I couldn't help but be sad at the end because for the first time, I felt I connected to Christ not as the ideal, or the sacrifice or the martyr or what have you, but as a person.

So yeah, plowed through that one and now I'm onto Dave Gorman's Googlewhack Adventure.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Alrighty, I finished Danny Wallace's journey into culthood, er, sorry, collective-hood, Join Me.
It was a very good read, but not as side-splittingly funny as Are You Dave Gorman? Join Me was definitely more introspective, but still a journey about self discovery. Danny was inspired to create Joine Me when a Swiss great uncle of his passes away, and Danny is told by some family members, that at one point, this uncle had wanted to start a collective of people living on his farm, helping each other, living in harmony, etc. Basically a commune. Danny finds this wonderful and so places an ad in a newpaper, asking people to simply "Join Me". All they have to do is send him a passport photo. And from there it begins and it grows throughtout the UK to Belgium, Norway, and even the Far East.

I did find it sad that Danny and his girlfriend Hanne, who was such a wonderful character in Are You Dave Gorman?, eventually did break up over Join Me. To her, it was just 'another stupid boy-thing', whereas to Danny, it was an important meeting of minds, of people inspired to do good deeds, etc. It was sad that they couldn't agree on it (although Danny was a prat and hid his collective from her for most of it), although Hanne did eventually join him, but only as a member, not as his significant other again.

So anyway, good read, quite thought provoking really.

And now I'm onto some Christopher Moore hilarity, reading one of his older books that I'd been meaning to read forever but haven't gotten around to, Lamb: The Gospel according to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal. It promises to delightfully irreverant, but with enough good punches to also make you think. Christopher Moore hasn't failed me yet.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

I've been sick for the last three days with the worst cold I've had in a very, very long time. Didn't feel like doing much reading because my head hurt, but I did manage to finish Close Range. Overall, I really enjoyed the stories. Her descriptions of Wyoming are beautiful and yet stark, and she never lets you forget how unforgiving the country can be, death is an everyday part of the lives of all the characters, and many meet unpleasant ends. Her characters are harsh, hard-living, sometimes noble, but often not types. There was one story that was only a page and a half long, but with the best 'makes you laugh in a VERY uncomfortable way' punchline ending ever. As I mentioned, also included in this collection is the story, Brokeback Mountain, which was the main reason I picked this up. The story is very similar to the movie, and its not very long, but there are chunks of dialogue in the movie straight out of the story, and I now realize that the screenwriters of the movie did a really fantastic job of filling in the details after Annie's wonderfully stark prose supplies you with the initial ideas. Plus, Ang Lee totally captured exactly how Annie sees Wyoming. I think it was a beautiful translation, and I was so happy to see that some of my favourite moments in the movie did indeed come right out of the story. Brokeback Mountain comes out on DVD on Tuesday, and I am definitely going to pick it up so I can watch it and then reread the story.

Next on the reading list is Join Me, where Dan Wallace, one of the co-writers of Are You Dave Gorman? inadvertantly starts a cult. Sounds amusing :)

But I am taking a brief time out to reread Watchmen, as I reread V for Vendetta this past weekend in what was supposed to be a warm up to go see the movie. Which I didn't go see, because I was sick. But somehow, a really bad cold and political unrest/anarchy seemed to go well together.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Gah, I've been so slow with reading things lately. Stems from two things: I'm able to get out more since I only have Jet part of the time (which has its bonuses and its disads), and I got a beautiful new TV at the beginning of the month and have found myself watching TV for simply the sake of watching my awesome new TV. I'm getting a handle on this though, and am slowly returning to my regular viewing habits of only watching the Amazing Race, Lost and some incarnation of Law & Order.

So, since I was last here though, I have indeed finished the Maltese Falcon. I think the ending of the movie is very different from the one in the novel. I seem to remember in the movie, Humphrey Bogart breaking open the Falcon and some ridiculously expensive jewel was inside it. Or am I making that up? Anyway, book was good, but because I seemed to have that ending fixed in my mind, I was quite surprised at the ending of the book and I'm not sure if I'm disappointed or not. Kinda like when I read Jaws finally and got to the end and said "That's it? Boring!" Say what you like about Speilberg these days, he definitely improved on the ending of Jaws.

Also finished Are You Dave Gorman. I got off to a slow start with it, but ended up loving it and laughing myself silly at parts of it. It really is a good thing the authors were able to parlay their silly bet into a book and a BBC series, I can only imagine how far in debt Dave Gorman was after travelling to places like NYC, Italy and Tel Aviv. Being of Norweigian decent myself, this was my very, very favourite passage in the book, said by Dan Wallace's Norweigian girlfriend:

"I am in charge on this trip," said Hanne sternly. "Nothing is going to go wrong. You two have been very sloppy so far. You need a Norweigian in charge. Or a woman. Or better still, a Norweigian woman."

And, as her boyfriend then states, there's not a lot you can say to that. LOL.

I also finished my rereading of the complete Chronicles of Narnia. And, as I'm trying to break out of a writer's block concerning the superhero game I run, I also re-read all the Warren Ellis written trades of StormWatch. Still not inspired though...

Last night, since I was so close to finishing Are You Dave Gorman, I picked up Close Range, the collection of short stories written by Annie Proulx that Brokeback Mountain is in. I've only read a couple of the stories so far, but I'm quite liking them. She's very Alice Munroesque by way of Wyoming. I'm looking forward to getting to the Brokeback story considering how much I adored the movie.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

No, I haven't finished the Maltese Falcon yet, I'm about 2/3 of the way through it. Very good, LOVED the scene where we first meet Cairo and he's holding the gun on Sam, so Sam (violently of course) takes the gun away from him, they talk, reach an agreement, Sam gives him the gun back, and Cairo immediately turns it on Sam again. Brilliant!

No, I haven't finished the Maltese Falcon yet, but I did start another book last night, called Are You Dave Gorman? Its a strange little book lent to me by co-worker Graig, and so far, is quite amusing. Its written by two friends who embark on a journey to find 54 other men named Dave Gorman. As you may have concluded, one of the authors of the book is named Dave Gorman. This whole adventure comes 'round during a drunken bet, when the other author refuses to believe that there are other people around who are named Dave Gorman. So, that night, they find themselves on a train to Scotland to find the first of the other Dave Gorman's, a general manager of a Scottish soccer team. It's all quite amusing, very quirky and British, and despite the fact that it is written by two separate people, their writing styles mesh well without losing each distinct voice.

I've also made a promise that I will try and launch myself into Love in the Time of Cholera again. So yeah, after finishing my searches for falcons and Dave Gormans, I will go back to cholera. Maybe.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

I finished The Thin Man last night. Good book. I didn't guess who the killer was, so that usually makes a good detective novel in my book. My initial impressions of it held true, I liked Hammett's brief, economical word usage. Stylistically, it really shone when he was describing fights, it made the violence seem more brutal and fast. And it was a nice contrast with the more upper-class scenes. The characters for the most part were so quirky and set up nicely with multiple motives so that you really could keep guessing who dun it until the end. I definitely want to see the movie now.

I started Maltese Falcon, on the subway this morning. So far my impression is that Sam Spade looks nothing like Humphrey Bogart, and is not a terribly nice person. Awesome.

Still working my way through the Chronicles of Narnia. I haven't read any of it in over a week (mainly because I wasn't home this past weekend at all), but I'm close to finishing, I'm on the Silver Chair now. I still love these books so much.

Monday, February 06, 2006

I've been remiss in posting to this I see.

Let's see, what have I read (or re-read) since I was last here?

I'm half way through The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett. Despite my adoration for 80s detective shows (Magnum P.I., Simon & Simon, Remington Steele) and cop dramas, I have not read a lot of detective fiction. Not sure why, just haven't. But so far, I'm really enjoying Hammett. He has an economy of style that is great, especially given my other great reading love is fantasty lit, which is often overblown and over-descriptive. But reading Hammett is like being a detective yourself; he'll just suddenly drop something descriptive into the narrative out of nowhere and forces you to go back and figure out how this may or may not change what you've already found out. One of my favourite instances of this is, about 5 or 6 chapters in, well after we've met the main characters of Nick and Nora, Hammett just casually slips in that Nick is significantly older than Nora. I honestly had no idea, and suddenly, armed with this knowledge, I had to rethink their entire relationship. Did he marry her for her (family's) money? Did she marry him to rebel against her wealthy family? It was an awesome bomb Hammett dropped just matter of factly, the way he delivers all his words. Really enjoying it, and will give an update once I've reached the end.

I've been slightly distracted from the Thin Man because I've launched into a re-reading of the entire Chronicles of Narnia. It's actually been a few years since I re-read them, but I was inspired to after seeing The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I realized, as I watched the movie that I really missed a lot of Lewis' turns of phrases that just weren't in the movie much, so back I went to the books. I still love them and, no matter what some critics say, I'm still not hit over the head with the Christian allegory, even though I know its there now. I'm nearly finished Voyage of the Dawn Treader, so only two more to go. (I read the Chronicles in order of the internal, Narnian timeline, so I start with the Magician's Nephew). Funny, my favourite is still the Horse and His Boy. I'll always love poor, proud Bree the most.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Well, here it is, Jan 3, so let's make a first post!

I bought Harold Bloom's latest liteary opus, 'Where Shall We Find Wisdom' and am currently reading that. While I'm usually a fast reader, Bloom does slow me down somewhat as I have to continually go to the dictionary and research certain 'isms' he refers to which I've conviently forgotten over the years.

So far though, a very interesting book. He starts off talking about, what he calls, wisdom literature in the bible, so the Book of Job, Ecclesiastes, etc. Having never actually sat down and read the Bible (or had it read to me at church or anything), I was rather surprised at how lovely some of the language was.

Anyway, now I'm on the section where he talks about Plato exiling Homer from the Republic.

I love Harold Bloom.