Showing posts from June, 2014

Mondays on the Margins: Various Assorted

A couple of months back, I got wind of, a website through which publishers " provide digital review copies to professional readers, including booksellers, librarians, media, bloggers, reviewers and educators". I shouldn't visit that website, I thought. I'm drowning in books. Even though the review copy stream has slowed down since my original contacts at a few Canadian publishers have left, between library books, Kindle books (DAMN those daily deals, DAMN them!) and books I've bought, the stacks have grown, the queue is alarmingly long, and sometimes it makes me feel a little stressed. Not grateful and happy and excited, the way one SHOULD feel when blessed with this embarrassment of riches, but stressed. For no really good reason, because aside from a course or two, I'm free to read whatever the hell I want, but I definitely wasn't in need of a further source of books. Certainly not one where the requesting and delivering of said books is as

Everything's Coming Up Penises!

 You know when a common theme just keeps popping up (snicker) in every area of your life? Sometimes I'm reading two books that ostensibly have nothing to do with each other, and the same German philosopher is mentioned. Sometimes everyone I meet in a day has something wrong with their foot. It's a funny kind of synchronicity that means nothing but always amuses and delights me anyway. A couple of weeks ago, my personal zeitgeist went completely phallic. First, it was book club. My friend Sharon, a freelance writer, volunteered that she was doing some work involving the San Francisco  Healthy Penis Project , which is focused on raising awareness of syphilis and persuading gay and bisexual men to get tested. Along with lists of clinics and super-fun comic strip ads like these, there were also people wandering the streets of the Castro (SF's gay district) wearing seven-foot-tall penis costumes. Apparently the campaign has also been us

Blue Monday. And Tuesday. And all the other days.

So last week was tough. I was recovering from my second mysterious barfing plague in two weeks, my husband was in France, and Tuesday evening it started raining and didn't stop until Friday afternoon. It wasn't that there was so much to do - there were two baseball games and a school barbecue to deal with, but none of them actually ended up happening, because of illness (Angus's) or weather. It wasn't that I fed the kids leftover macaroni and bacon on Monday and ordered pizza on Tuesday and then made chicken souvlaki on Wednesday and made them eat it for the rest of the week. Photo credit John Beales It was that I was doing everything while dragging these shackles around. You know, the depression shackles, the ones that clank around behind you and make every step a huge effort, while hollering lie after lie. You're ugly . You're useless . Nobody loves you . Your kids wish they had a better mother . They also whisper a few things that are probably true. You

May I Have a Re-entry Permit?

A lot of things suck about being really sick and out of it for a few days. I staggered around with laundry a few times, because baseball, and Matt needed underwear to take to France, so the piles aren't as bad as they would normally be, but the back yard was supposed to be dug up and planted by now and instead it looks like Day of the Triffids meets The Lost World back there. Eve was left pretty much on her own with her giant project on Mesopotamia, although I did manage to slowly and laboriously reload a tape runner for her. The hanging baskets almost died. Photo from Flickr by Sean O'Neill But the worst, I find, is this creepy and unshakable sense of strangeness . Like you don't quite fit into the world any more. Like you've lost the knack of syncing your actions to the people around you, and you feel like everyone's staring if you go out, which you'd really rather not, because, weirdness. Me, looking in the mirror : Is that really what I look like? D

Book Review: A Beckoning War by Matthew Murphy

Full disclosure: I know Matt Murphy . I've known Matt Murphy since he was about ten, when I started hanging out with his sister Patti, one of my dearest friends. He was a writer then, too; his stories were most often accompanied by elaborate drawings of flying machines spewing bullets and dismembered, blood-jetting carcasses. This work, therefore, isn't a huge departure, although it adds a little more gravitas to the carnage. I was a fan of the horror genre as well, so we would discuss the relative merits of John Saul and Stephen King, until I realized we were talking about books that he had gazed adoringly on in the bookstore but wasn't actually allowed to read yet. I don't read a lot of war fiction. I don't have anything in particular against it, it just doesn't call to me the way young adult apocalyptic dystopias or adult mysteries do. I have read The Wars by Timothy Findley. While this book is not quite The Wars, considering that this is a first novel, I