Showing posts from 2013

2013 - Another Very Good Year

2013 - Another Very Good Year

(work in progress)

What a great year it has been! I think I have been trying to fill it up with as many extras as possible in anticipation of my 65th, and the increase in health insurance costs which will likely mean no more crossing of borders for me. I have been blessed with out-of-town visitors--from cousin Carol and Skot, cousin Brad, Elsie and Alan, Uncle Maurice and Aunt Irene, friend Candace, and cousin Wilma and Gord. And enjoyed the opportunity to visit with Karen and Terry, Candace, and Marilyn in Vancouver, and John and Elizabeth in Glasgow. Most of my spring was busy with preparations for travelling to England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Ireland, and Wales. My 30 days was divided into a ten day guided bus tour. There were 52 travellers, only four of us travelling alone, and 48 who seemed to be senior citizens on their honeymoon. This proved to be a false impression once I got to know them as several couples were not married (although some othe…

Attacking MURDER as a FINE ART

Attacking MURDER as a FINE ART - Part 1 - What is it?

Attacking Murder as a Fine Art 1 - What is it?

The Marble Arch was not there when De Quincey, a homeless teenager, begged on Oxford Street.

Ask seven readers and you get seven different answers. How would you describe David Morrell's latest, Murder as a Fine Art (MaaFA)? A nineteenth century Gothic novel. Detective story. Action adventure suspense thriller. Horror story. Historical fiction. A literary novel. A novel of ideas. So really, what is it? Would I like it? Or is it some confused offering, misbegotten? Where or how would a reader begin to attack such a multi-headed monster? Which heads pop up first?

(1) Whack at the head of "my nineteenth century novel," the out-of-fashion stylistic choices, the third person omniscient narrator, multiple points of view within long chapters. Keep the chapter titles. They often seem like clues. And the experiment with the first person diary excerpts from the female perspectiv…

Attacking MURDER as a FINE ART

Attacking MURDER as a FINE ART - Part 2 -

Attacking Murder as a Fine Art 2 - As Historical Fiction With Literary Pretensions?

The Wordsworth Family Graves in Grasmere. An alibi.

(5) Murder as a Fine Art is a novel in the style of the nineteenth century. And it is also an "historical novel," set in a specific historical time and place which is recreated for the reader. Could we not whack some of this history on the head? The tasty historical tidbits about architecture and construction, art, music and opera, medicine (chloroform, cholera, Florence Nightingale), politics (Lord Palmerston,1848, the Year of Revolutions, the Charge of the Light Brigade), economics (the British East India Company and the trade in tea and opium). Surely Morrell is not hinting at some connection between imperialism and wily politicians orchestrating empire in the service of evil capitalism? The scenes in Coldbath Fields Prison introduce historical details of prison design and Jeremy Bentham's i…

Attacking MURDER as a FINE ART

Attacking MURDER as a FINE ART - Part 3 - A Novel of Ideas

Attacking MURDER as a FINE ART - Part 3 - A Novel of  Ideas

Imagine it is dark, nighttime, in a close such as this one in Edinburgh where De Quincey lived and is buried. Imagine access to a nether world, to an underground culture of beggars and street people.

(7) And whack again. There's one last head. Murder as a Fine Art is a novel of ideas. For beneath all the blood and gore, beneath the horror, Morrell's London of 1854 is a labyrinth and the quest for "the artist of death" is a hunt for a minotaur, that misbegotten creature born of human failures, demanding a tribute of blood sacrifice. Evil with a beating heart. And the green maze within London's two thousand miles of dark streets constitute one big labyrinth. This is a story about the reality of evil in the world, and our attempts to contain it. About the relationship between evil and crime. Maybe even about the role of the artist in confronting the …

Work In Progress - St. Kevin's Kitchen, Glendalough

This Work In Progress - St. Kevin's Kitchen, Glendalough - was published by in October.

Glendalough Round Tower and moss-munched gravestones.
St. Kevin's Kitchen

St. Kevin's Cross

The double-arched gateway with vendors beyond. Gorse in bloom.

Ruins from  the parking lot, Wicklow Mountains beyond.

Literary Lyme

I made it. I made it back to the beautiful little seaside village of Lyme Regis which has inspired so many writers. Jane Austen. John Fowles. Tracy Chevalier. Joan Thomas. Ian MacEwan. (See my original musings, 5/1/11.)

The Literary Lyme Jane Austen Walking Tour was a highlight of my June tour of the UK. Natalie Manifold escorted us through the narrow tilting streets, to the mailbox, the guest houses, up steps and down, along the beachfront promenade, and on to the Cobb. With her visual aids stitching the past to the present, she set the Austen visits into the context of the Napoleonic era. She outlined the conflicting opinions about where Louisa actually jumped (Persuasion) and what really she was trying to do. Is "pull" an expression which Jane Austen would recognize?

I also enjoyed Natalie's Mary Anning walk coordinated through the Lyme Regis Museum. The town is different when explored through the eyes of its residents, the Anning family. Two hundred years ago, fisherm…

Spring 2013

For those friends who are not on Facebook.

Here's the Flower of the Week--Magnolia in bloom on Raab Street, Hope, on April 2, 2013, inspiring my new Words to Live by, in Life as in Art: to focus on the positives, on what is here--the graceful white lines; the contrast of black, white, and grey; the blush of colour in bud and flower bowl; the branch as a slash between past and future; the texture of the velvet budcaps (calyxes); the way the flower shivers at the wind's caress. (You can tell I am reading Hardy again.)

New Reviews

New Reviews

Happy to announce that four new reviews are posted at the Prairie Fire Review of Books page on the University of Manitoba Open Journal site: Click on Current Issue and then on the PDF beside each review.
Sad to report that these are likely to be the last reviews. Something about funding? Funding no longer available?

Let us continue to read, and continue to think of reading as a subversive activity.

Ivan E. Coyote

Sinclair Ross

Mitch Spray