Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Beauty of the Husband

Anne Carson. The Beauty of the Husband: A Fictional Essay in 29 Tangos. Knopf, 2002.

I picked this long poem to read today, honestly, to up my stats for November. I'm reading Louise Erdrich's Love Medicine but it is taking me much longer than expected. Partly the novel's style. Partly my overwhelming schedule these last few weeks, with the labour pains from my first novel, Embers.



Back to the Carson. This is the first of her work I have read, although she is already famous even beyond our borders. It would help to be more familiar with the work of John Keats than I am. The poem riffs on his Beauty/Truth remark, as an approach to a long love affair which ends in a failed marriage. There are also Greek words and references to ancient battles. There is much mystery and even more beauty. Beauty inflated by the unusual sensation for me that, even though I don't understand half of it, I see and feel the beauty.

I also love the cover, an image of a man's chin, with a Keats letter on the back, but my favourite thing about this book is A Note About the Author: Anne Carson lives in Canada. Perfect.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Never Go Back

Lee Child. Never Go Back. Delacorte, 2013.



Jack Reacher goes back to his old HQ, 110 MP in DC, and finds that the new CO has been arrested. Together they figure it out. From DC to Pittsburgh to LA and back again. 

Another three days glued to my reading chair. 

Friday, November 4, 2016

City of Glass

City of Glass: Douglas Coupland's Vancouver. Douglas and McIntyre, 2000.



Douglas Coupland's lovingly self-deprecating visitor's guide to Vancouver. 

I think I've shared in this blog before how I once sat in the same row as Coupland at a Vancouver Museum function and eavesdropped on his chatting to another artist. He sounded just like he does in this book. So artsy-cool. 

I remember once hearing him tell of a reader who actually asked why he had chosen the title he did for this book. I shake my head. Open your eyes. 




At first, I thought that this is a pretty masculine view of the city. I am more aware of the flowers, everywhere, especially hydrangea, along with the spring blossoms he does include. I was surprised at no mention of sports teams--Canucks, Lions, WhiteCaps--or to music, or shopping. And of suburbs other than North. And of course, since 2000, there have been a few memorable additions, such as the Olympics, and the Canada Line, and changes to BC ferries. I'm reaching here. It's still relevant and an amusing enjoyable read. 

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Irish Blessings

November 2, 2016

Ashley Shannon. Irish Blessings. Running Press, 1999.



I love these mini-books, and especially when they are gifts. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas

Hunter S. Thompson. Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas and Other American Stories. New York. Modern Library, 1996. [1971]



Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas was first published in 1971 in Rolling Stone magazine and reprinted to tie in with the release of the 1998 movie starring Johnny Depp as the Hunter S. Thompson-like protagonist, Raoul Duke. Although protagonist may be a bit of a stretch. For someone like me, not enamoured with the romance of substance use, abuse, and addiction. I accept that a journalist must be a contrary, willing to question the status quo. However, it seems to me that the grandiose description of psychedelic substance use distracts from, even undermines the themes of abuse of power, authorities out of touch with their communities/constituencies, corrupt lawyers, casual gun handling, the pervasiveness of organized crime. Not to mention the role of females in the story--a disturbed runaway artist drugged and raped, a retired stripper turned waitress insulted by customers, and an elderly hotel maid left to tidy up a room trashed by naked puking men. All in the name of fun.

Thompson is the preeminent Gonzo journalist, reporting as he does, in 1970, as a participant, from the inside of Sin City (a motorcycle race and a convention of District Attorneys, in Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas), horse racing (The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved), the Chicano community in California (Strange Rumblings In Aztlan). Thompson's reputation remains strong, based on his acute observations, his oh-so-readable style, and the laugh-out-loud descriptions of events, situations, which I'm glad I have never had to witness in person. I think what strikes me most is the depiction of the many layers and sub-cultures making up the supposedly greatest democracy, and the "bureaucratic fascism" [p. 214] of the way the so-called leaders and people in positions of power are so out of touch with and unconcerned about any layers other than their own. Or am I reading too much into this romp? Doesn't his subtitle say it all? A Savage Journey To the Heart Of the American Dream, by a writer who seems too cool to care.