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.