Showing posts from December, 2014

Book Review: Nora Bonesteel's Christmas Past

I'm pretty sure I've read - and really liked -  all of Sharyn McCrumb's Ballad novels , although it was quite a few years ago, so I was happy when Abingdon Press sent me t his novella . The character of Nora Bonesteel was always a fascinating aspect of the series; the unassuming but canny old woman with the gift of sight that blurs past and future, living and dead. The fact that McCrumb blended her so seamlessly into otherwise realistic stories was impressive, although the Appalachian landscape and folklore always lent themselves well to an ever-so-slightly magical 'realism'. It was this series that first introduced me to the intriguing concept of liminality - the vulnerabilities, powers and possibilities inherent in in-between states in time or space. This novella has the same shadings of history and lovingly detailed descriptions of the distinctive landscape that gave the novels such a vivid sense of place - you can practically smell woodsmoke and mountain air w

Mondays on the Margins: Paper Books vs. Digital

So Lynn asked whether I usually read paper books or ebooks. Everybody say "Hi, Lynn ", and then go over to her blog like I just did and get lost in a mini-wormhole of tiny potatoes and cool picture books (what's with all the hat-stealing animals, WHAT'S WITH THEM?). We all know what my principles are worth. I mean, odds are pretty good that I will stand staunchly by rules such as the No Drop-Kicking Babies Rule and the No Leaving Mean-Spirited Comments on Blog Posts or Online Articles Rule, and I'm pretty sure I'll never set anyone's house on fire ON PURPOSE (look, there was a lot of caramel spilled, it seemed reasonable to turn on the self-cleaning function and the flames were all out within ten minutes - fifteen, tops - the smoke detectors didn't even go off). But other than that, don't believe me. "I will never start a blog". "I will never join Twitter." "I will never speak in public unless my children are being held

Mondays on the Margins: Station Eleven

I'm sure it will come as no big surprise when I confess that I generally prefer my post-apocalyptic novels a little more science-fictiony than this one . But both the cover and the plot description lured me in, and once I picked it up it became part of a string of books that has made me feel like my bad reading patch was blessedly over. Admittedly, the cover kept luring me in initially because I kept confusing it with Adam Mansbach's Go the F*ck to Sleep (go on and look, tell me I'm wrong) but I eventually managed to address this book on its own merits. I can't quite articulate why this worked so much better for me than others of its ilk. There was something hypnotic about the way it veered from a panoramic view to a microscopic one. Some people find it contrived when a story is about a random assortment of people and their various interactions, glancing or intimate - and of course it is contrived, it's kind of supposed to be, so I've always found this

Pieces (Parts?)

In my university residence, there were two guys named Andrew. I knew one of them had a glass eye, but I could never keep straight which one it was, so whenever I was with one of them, especially if there was alcohol involved, I was always stealing surreptitious glances at their eyes trying to figure out if one was fake. In one of my Comp Lit seminars, there was a guy with one arm. When he wore a shirt with the guy from A Clockwork Orange on it to class one day, I realized he looked almost exactly like the guy from A Clockwork Orange. A few times the class went out for drinks, but I was always afraid to get drunk around him because I was terrified that I would blurt out an insensitive question about what happened to his arm. Which, in retrospect, probably wouldn't have been that big a deal and he probably got asked all the time. But back then, many things seemed like a big deal that probably weren't. Also, it's possible that I drank too much.

Where are the Barmaids of Yesteryear?*

Eight of us get together on Tuesdays every few weeks at a neighbourhood sports bar for beers on fifty-cent wing night. We have a waitress who knows what we all drink and brings us the right thing without asking, and it's a fun way to break up the weekly routine, and sometimes I don't feel like going out after dinner, but I make myself go and I'm always glad I did. Collette and I always drink Stella . Bridget always brings us a Stella. One Saturday night in October (ONE time, when we've gone to the bar for a couple of YEARS now), we went out for a friend's birthday to a restaurant that had Heineken, so we had a Heineken. The next time we were at Johnny Canuck's, Bridget came over and opened her mouth to ask Collette if she wanted a Stella and Collette said "can I have a Heineken?" Bridget looked confused, and said they didn't have Heineken, and Collette said "isn't that what I always drink here?" We all laughed and said she was adora

Mondays on the Margins Postponed Because Someone Pissed Me Off

How do you feel when someone says "I hate kids"? I just read a review on Goodreads, and admittedly I'm not predisposed to adore this reviewer because she's kind of arrogant and seems to really fancy herself as a force to be reckoned with, and her sycophantic followers just feed into this. She said she hates kids used as plot devices, which is fine, but the whole statement is "I hate kids, and I hate kids used as plot devices." Would you say "I hate Chinese people" or "I hate short people" the same way? Why is it acceptable for anyone to dismiss an entire segment of the population this way? It's not like kids can help the fact that they're kids. If we didn't keep making them, there would be no damned people left. I get that there can be a divide between parents and child-free people. I think it's valid for child-free people to express their opinions and concerns on how children behave in public spaces. But "I hate ki