The Books of My Numberless Dreams

Archive for the ‘Current Events’ Category

Holy disaster: Pope alienates indigenous peoples : ICT [2007/05/17]

In a speech at the Conference of the Latin American and Caribbean Episcopate, the pope characterized pre-contact Indians as ”silently longing” for Christianity and stated that ”the proclamation of Jesus and of his Gospel did not at any point involve an alienation of the pre-Columbus cultures, nor was it the imposition of a foreign culture.”

I’m not sure how to express my opinion on this matter without using anymore expletives. Maybe he should take a break from stirring anti-gay sentiment and read some history books.

The latest ripple going through book blogs at the moment is the NBCC’s campaign to save the book review spaces in newspapers. I’ve read about the demise of all the newspaper book reviews, except the NYTBR so seems the general consensus, accompanied with sour predictions on what this will mean for everyone who loves and profits from books.

I’m a very bad reader. I can never muster any significant sympathy for this decline. I don’t read any of the newspaper book reviews except for The Guardian. I’ve never tried the Globe & Mail’s, except for one lame mystery round-up. Literary journals I can get behind, sob over, picket at corporate towers, you name it, I would probably do it. Newspaper coverage? Not so much. The sort of reviewing they offer doesn’t interest me. Bloggers pretty much have me covered with the synopsis + concise commentary reviews, the book round-ups, even the casual mention of what’s on their bedside table. With the diversity of books covered among them all, and the wide taste of some readers, I can read their thoughts on romances, fantasies, mystery and literary fiction, all in one place.

What’s left? Author profiles and gossip. Hmm. I could live without those.

The point can be made that litbloggers point me to newspaper articles and this is true, in many cases, but why is it that I’m more willing to get it second hand than directly from the source? It’s not that I’m an unwilling free loader: bloggers have piqued my interest in a number of print periodicals, all of which I regularly post about here. They offer me something I can’t get on blogs. I got into The Guardian because the links I came across were consistently good or at least interesting, and it wasn’t simply the centre of another ruckus. (If I could I’d read the print version, because I always prefer the tangible version of anything if it’s available.)

Umm…what do I need the others for again? I know how much they mean to writers, publishers and other readers but I cannot muster much if any personal despair.

This link round-up starts with this increasingly relevant LA Times article by Sarah Miller on all you noisy people who choose the public library as your meeting ground! (Via Ed Rants.) Yes, you people doing your ESL lesson right by the study carrel, yes you old person who should know better answering your cell phone, and yes YOU the librarian who apparently needs to TALK AT THE TOP OF HER VOICE to show someone where some government publications are. For heaven’s sake. Is there no sacred quiet space left? (No, I’m not taking my backpack and laptop into a church, even if it does have wireless.)

Although I think Miller’s friend has it worse–they keep drum lessons at his library. Wtf. (Coffee shops?? Huh??) Don’t even get me started about the ones on-campus. I swear they make the frosh dumber every year. (Entrance English exams bear this out, I’m not being mean. Ok, maybe I am.)

Here’s something you’re allowed to shout about (in an appropriate venue) an interview with everyone’s favourite Paris Review fiction contributor: Mohsin Hamid. His latest book The Reluctant Fundamentalist is out and if the NYT Besteller’s list rank doesn’t sway you (it shouldn’t), an enthusiastic recommendation from David Treuer should. He wrote the ridiculously, I mean ridiculously good The Translation of Dr. Apelles. And if that’s still not enough (it should be) just check it out at the local book store (I’m sure it will be there if it was at my local chain, it’s getting a big push it seems) and read the first page. That’s what made me buy it. (Despite the loud, hot pink book jacket on the Canadian edition.)

The London Review of Books proves again and again the importance of literary journals as newspapers serve information in smaller, over-simplified bite-sizes. Mahmood Mamdani wrote The Politics of Naming: Genocide, Civil War, Insurgency for the March 8th issue. The dangers of de-politicising Darfur, the contradictory positions of those who wish to pull out of Iraq but march in to “rescue” those in Sudan, and the culturally and politically important ambiguities in the terms’ “African” and “Arab”as they are used in Sudan, are written with a clarity that never betrays the complexity of the issues being addressed. The LRB has been doing the best coverage of Sudan of all the periodicals that I’ve read, save perhaps The Economist which covered the situation long before it became a Western cause. I’ll be doing a post on the LRB but the article was so good I had to link to it now.

The Valve is holding another book event this time on The Novel of Purpose by Amanda Claybaugh. If you’re interested in authors like George Eliot, Charles Dickens and Henry James the posts are worth a look. Considering that Claybaugh is “historicizing” the selected 19th century Anglo-American fiction it isn’t exactly my cup of tea, it’s an interesting one and The Valve typically has good writing.

Then finish it all with Geoffrey Philp’s insightful reading of Olive Senior’s popular poem Colonial Girls School, one of my favourite poems. (It’s listed along with others on my Assortments page.) She’s an alma mater, former head girl too, I’m sure, of my high school in Montego Bay.

Watch as I suck blood from blogs and other sites. Don’t show this to your children, pets or spouse!

Geoffrey Philp had been accepting submissions for the Top Caribbean Novel and now has twelve works up for voting. If you’re interested in fiction from the English-speaking Caribbean it’s a great list to choose from, including authors like Earl Lovelace, George Lamming and Nalo Hopkinson. The only book from the list that I’ve read is Brother Man by Roger Mais, of course. Check here for the complete list of submissions.

Sylvia at Classical Bookworm is endeavouring to get the word out on the reprehensible closing of the B.C. Legislature library and encourages everyone, in and out of B.C. to e-mail the province Premier Gordon Campbell to prevent the government from turning this important historical and educational institution into a ceremony room for 2010 Winter Olympic VIPs…or an office.

Though the surface excuse for the closure is “seismic upgrades,” the fact that half of the librarians have already been laid off and the irreplaceable collection is on its way to a warehouse in the hinterlands reveals the government’s true intentions. There is talk of turning the space into office and/or ceremonial space. Just the thought of turning that magnificent structure into offices is repulsive. And anyone living in B.C. should be able to interpret the supposed need for ceremonial space as code for “we want a fancy place, away from the rabble, where we can show off for all the foreign dignitaires who will be visiting B.C. during the 2010 Winter Olympics, at taxpayers expense of course.” The 2010 Olympics are the big prestige project for this government and they are ramming it through against vigorous community opposition while ignoring alarming social issues such as rising poverty and homelessness and overflowing hospitals.

After you’ve helped to deal a blow to governmental idiocy, reward yourself with an artistic rendering of Robert Frost’s Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening at Japonisme.

All the fuss about the precious children reading about scrotums–such eeeevil, dirty, dangerous things–reminded me of a catchy Layton poem.

LETTER TO A LIBRARIAN

Mr. P.–I have heard it rumoured
That you, humanist, librarian with a license,
In the shady privacy of your glassed room
Tore up my book of poems.

Sir, a word in your ear. Others
Have tried that game: burned Mann
And my immortal kinsman Heine.
Idiots! What act could be vainer?

For this act of yours, the ligatures
Pest-corroded, your eyes shall fall
From their sockets; drop on your lacquered desk
With the dull weight of pinballs.

And brighter than the sapless vine
Your hands shall flare;
To the murkiest kimbos of the library
Flashing my name like a neon sign.

And the candid great
Of whom not one was ever an Australian
Cry dustily from their shelves,
“Imposter! False custodian!”

Till a stunned derelict
You fall down blind, ear-beleaguered,
While Rabelais pipes you to a wished-for death
On a kazoo quaint and silvered.

Irving Layton

Suspicious devices part of marketing plan – U.S. Security – MSNBC.com

It’s good to know that these days in the USA a prank is automatically labelled a hoax if the police are stupid enough to fall for it. (Nine other cities survived this attempted assault although I’m sure this  can be explained as a lack of vigilance.) This reminds me of that COPS episode where the border police guy was convinced that terrorists were trying to get into his country from the Mexican border. That’s right, Al Qaeda units are scrambling over wire fences to get into the USA with their bombs and stuff.

Really now? Blinky lights in the shape of cartoon characters flipping the bird are suspicious? Oh that’s right it was attached to some cardboard (black! the colour of eeeeeeevil) and a set of triple D batteries.

The British arrest suspected terrorists. The Americans? They boost the profile of a late night adult cartoon. You guys are fucked.

Oh no!

Posted on: January 30, 2007

I read on Sophinette that Sidney Sheldon died today. His books provided hours of reading pleasures when I was young, from the age of 11 to 15. All the ones I read were once my mother’s. I must have re-read Rage of Angels a million times. The mafia intrigue, the sex, the violence, every page Sheldon wrote was meant to excite our most basic senses. I loved it. My pre-teen heart broke as the heroine bowed out from fighting the good fight even as I understood that circumstances dictated no other probable outcome.

I still remember that last scene in Book one: Jennifer Parker stands in the room with Michael Moretti after he saved her only son from certain death. Her acquitted client, an infamous murderer, had kidnapped her child and taken him to a motel room (had it been a motel room?), piercing the young boys hands in a mock crucifixion. The police, the good guys, were handicapped by their rules (somehow, I don’t remember what, specifically) and would not find the killer in time. Parker knew only one person with the means to save her child’s life.

That man was Michael Moretti: a bad ass, sexy mafia head honcho…thing.

Why could she expect his help? He wanted her. In his bed and on his side, defending his goons in court. Jennifer Parker was one of the top criminal defense lawyers in the country.

So there they are at her home (I think it was her home). Her son is safe in his bed, hands treated by the doctor Moretti brought (I think he did anyway). Her relief and gratitude is as palpable as the knowledge that at this point her life that everything is about to change, has already changed.

I could never pick a book that crappy now but back then, man, it was the good stuff, right up there with Nicholas Nickelby. I’m sorry to see Sheldon go but he had a long life and it seems to have been a good one.


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