Showing posts from April, 2016

Onley's Arctic: Diaries and Paintings of the High Arctic

April 22, 2016

Toni Onley's Onley's Arctic: Diaries and Paintings of the High Arctic

Whiteout: Can you believe that I found this book at a library book sale? Yet it is not defaced by stickers and barcodes, so it must have been a donation. Autographed by the painter/writer.

I've always loved Toni Onley's paintings, especially those of this province of British Columbia. A friend has a lithograph of his Montague Bay of which I am most jealous. But this book, Onley's Arctic: Diaries and Paintings of the High Arctic (Douglas & McIntyre, 1989) is even more special. This book links poetry and painting for me. The words Onley uses to describe his personal experience of the Arctic landscapes, and to describe his own artistic process, are some of the best poetry I have read recently. Reading his words helps me understand what I am seeing when I look at his paintings. Reading his words--manifestation, terror, chaos, profundity, divine plan, sublime--helps me understand how t…

Worth Dying For

April 19, 2016

Lee Child's Worth Dying For

Worth Dying For, #15 in the Jack Reacher series, is set in Nebraska. Dastardly deeds involving a community held hostage, a child missing for 25 years, organized crime including smuggling. I lost track of how many different ways people die. But it's usually the bad guys, so I guess that's supposed to be OK. 

I love this writer's style. So fast. Literally, a page turner. Short chapters. Multi points of view. Many characters in orbit around Reacher. Excessive detail. Good use of repetition.  Heavy on the action, especially hand-to-hand combat, weapons, and explosions. 

Love the Bryan Adams allusion in the title. Everything I do, I do it for you. Which includes the Robin Hood allusion, from the Kevin Costner movie. Reacher like Robin fights for the underdogs against abusive authority.



Sometimes I fear that reading for pleasure and the few short blurbs I write for this blog are ways for me to avoid my serious writing. So I've been attempting to establish a work routine. I've been forcing myself to sit down almost daily and work through 2 books of writing prompts I have recently acquired. Bonnie Neubauer's The Write-Brain Workbook: 366 Exercises to liberate your writing, found at Value Village. Laura Deutsch's Writing from the Senses: 59 Exercises to Ignite Creativity and Revitalize Your Writing, found at Baker's Books in Hope, BC.
One prompt involves attempting to incorporate condiments--ketchup, mayo, mustard, pepper, pickle, relish, soy. One never knows what will appear:
His taste in women was 'none of the above.' Or, rather, he had already moved through this American-diner smorg and on to miso & wasabi, salsa & couscous. Chilli, coriander, cumin, curry. Lemon grass & hoisin. Following the trends, which follow the pa…

The Book That Changed My Life

The Book That Changed My Life

The Book(s) That Changed My Life:

This recurring theme on CBC Radio's Weekend Morning Show North by Northwest (@nxnwcbc) inspired me, especially after hearing one of my favourite Canadian literary lights, Bill Richardson's choices on Easter Sunday. Because Bill used to work in a library in Winnipeg, I associate him with home. Hearing his hilarious choices made me think. What books would I list as "formative"? "Seminal," if it weren't so gender-laden? (Is there an egg-centric equivalent?) Anyway, my choice for the book which changed my life would be The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence and my favourite book of all time remains The Diviners, also by Laurence. Both these novels are set, to begin with, around Manawaka, Laurence's Neepawa home town, which is a short 50 miles east of the farm where I grew up outside the town of Oak River. Margaret Laurence in the brief ten years between 1964 and 1974 made me see "my people…

Bird Cloud

April 15, 2016

Annie Proulx' Bird Cloud

The Clue to Proulx:
I haven't read enough Annie Proulx. That Old Ace In the Hole at book club. The Shipping News is still waiting. Fearfully, perhaps, having loved the movie. And hesitating, perhaps, because, how could an American write such a Canadian novel? Now I know that she lived there, and cares about the place and the people. Well, I should have already divined that, knowing as I did that she had insisted, with the sale of movie rights, that it had to be set and filmed in situ.
In situ, in place. I think that's the clue to Proulx. She loves "place," and places, and even though her stories all have plots and characters and themes, it is often setting which dominates. Like the setting of Bird Cloud, the monster house she built overlooking a rock bluff along a river in Wyoming.
Reading Bird Cloud reminds me again how much I love creative non-fiction (as we call it here in Canada, hyphen included). CN-F assumes that we rea…

Sepass Poems: Ancient Songs of Y-Ail-Mihth

April 12, 2016

Chief William K'HHalserten Sepass Sepass Poems: Ancient Songs of Y-Ail-Mihth Commemorative Edition, Longhouse Publishing, Mission, BC, 2009. Translated by Chief Sepass and Sophia White Street. Illustrated by Lynne Grillmair.

Chief William K'HHalserten Sepass lived around what is now the British Columbia city of Chilliwack from 1841 to 1943. In 1911, when he was in his 70s, he arranged with a local settler woman, Sophia White Street, to translate the hereditary texts of his people's oral tradition --- Ancient Songs of Y-Ail-Mihth -- into English. The chief had worried that the teachings would be lost. He saw translation and publication as a way to preserve and to share what former Lieutenant Governor Steven Point describes as "a profound legacy to future Xwelmexw generations as they continue to seek meaning and stability in an ever-changing modern world."
But these stories which begin "Long, long ago, / Before anything was, . . . " are import…

Dead Cold

April 11, 2016
Louise Penny's Dead Cold

In the Midst of Winter, I picked up this paperback copy of Dead Cold at a library book sale, not recognizing the cover or the title. But, slowly, I realized that I have read it before. Although, confession, I remembered the recurring characters (Chief Inspector Gamache, Beauvoir, Nichol, painters Clara & Peter Morrow, the Three Graces, the mad poet Ruth, Myrna and the B&B owners, the town of Three Pines) but I had blanked out the evil characters - the self-help writer, the ineffectual husband, the damaged child - and some of the most important plot points including the murder scene and the fire and the denouement. Strange. I have read several other Louise Penny titles starting with her first, Still Life. I love her settings in Quebec, Montreal & the Eastern Townships, her details of the artists' points of view, the moral and ethical challenges of police work and workplace conflict. So much to grab on to, including suspen…

Sepass Tales: The Songs of Y-Ail-Mihth

April 6, 2016

Chief K'HHalserten Sepass' Sepass Tales: The Songs of Y-Ail-Mihth 
Sepass Trust, Chilliwack, BC. 1974 Edition. Recorded by Eloise Street Harries. Illustrated by George Clutesi. 

The volume I found is titled Sepass Tales although it has the same cover design. There is a very strange Preface by Shup-She whose connection to this text is unclear. See above, Sepass Poems.

The Brutal Heart

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Gail Bowen's The Brutal Heart

I found this Gail Bowen at my favourite bookstore, Baker's Books, in Hope, BC. I read every Bowen title I find. For the Regina setting, the Joanne Kilbourn Shreve recurring sleuth character, the insider info about television and legal career work. Sometimes I find the happy-family details a bit too cloying, but that's just me. This The Brutal Heart edition has an appealing cover image, black and white, shadows, stiletto heals suggesting prostitution to me, overlaid with yellow forsythia blossoms. Spring, and a clue. Clues.

I have noticed in the last week of so that "the word of the month" for me seems to be BRUTAL. It has appeared in the most unexpected places. Maybe I notice it because emotionally, in the erratic winter/spring/summer/winter days we get at this time of year, it fits the way I feel. Something about the heart too. Not very springy. Correspondences.