Monday, December 09, 2013

Books I've Been Paid To Read Lately

Life is still elsewhere, but here are some recent reviews:

Of Chris Hadfield's A Guide to Life on Earth.

Of Bill Bryson's One Summer.

Of Eric Schlosser's terrifying Command and Control.

Of The Panopticon by Jenni Fagan.

Of Scatter, Adapt and Remember by Annalee Newitz.

Of Time Reborn by Lee Smolin.


As Daffy Duck might say if he reviewed books, it's not nearly a living.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Fetherling's footnotes

The best group of footnotes in George Fetherling's The Writing Life: Journals 1975 - 2005 (on p. 88):

17 Sarah Sheard (b. 1953), novelist, author of Almost Japanese
18 Douglas Gibson (b. 1943), McClelland & Stewart publisher
19 Lee Harvey Oswald (1939 - 1963), alleged assassin of John F. Kennedy

Monday, April 01, 2013

The Fun Parts by Sam Lipsyte

My review of Sam Lipsyte's latest in The Toronto Star:
There is a very good reason to read a book about unlikeable losers. Books like that can be very, very funny. And Lipsyte is a very funny writer. The one thing he is constantly doing — even when he maybe shouldn’t, at least not so much — is being funny.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

You Will Be To Blame

"I was tired from the drive - all the way up to Dalgleish, to get him, and back to Toronto since noon - and worried about getting the rented car back on time, and irritated by an article I had been reading in a magazine in the waiting room. It was about another writer, a woman younger, better-looking, probably more talented than I am. I had been in England for two months and so I had not seen this article before, but it crossed my mind while I was reading that my father would have. I could hear him saying, Well, I didn't see anything about you in Maclean's. And if he had read something about me he would say, Well, I didn't think too much of that write-up. His tone would be humorous and indulgent but would produce in me a familiar dreariness of spirit. The message I got from him was simple: Fame must be striven for, then apologized for. Getting or not getting it, you will be to blame." - from "The Moons of Jupiter"

If I were ever to start a tumblr, it'd be called "Alice Munro Just Killing It."

Monday, January 14, 2013

The new new escapism

The New York Times drops a bombshell:

"There is a reason for our attraction to these shows other than that they simply entertain us. 'Downton' and today’s other quality television series also promise a welcome escape from a muddled, technology-addled existence."

Also applies to movies, novels, poetry, music, friends, children, bike rides, food, alcohol, sex, masturbation, and sleep.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

J.K. Rowling's Casual Vacancy has much casual brutality

My review of a new novel by a promising up-and-comer in the Toronto Star.

A taste:
The obvious thing for [Rowling] to have done would have been to write a kind of methadone novel for Potter addicts, something that bridged the gap between the world of Hogwarts and our own. No one would’ve begrudged her writing a mystery story, or a work of castle-heavy historical fiction, or even a work of grown-up fantasy (i.e., wizards with sex lives and drinking problems). Instead, she has written a book that plants its flag right in the middle of some very dark territory, where curses abound, but spells are non-existent. Readers looking for a little of that old Potter magic will be shocked by the new novel’s numerous scenes of drug abuse, marital discord, domestic violence, and unbridled despair. It’s the equivalent of Raffi making a late-career swerve into death metal, or Mr. Dressup doing David Mamet.