Monthly Archives: September 2013

New Video?

Yes, indeed there is. New “Book Talk” just went up, this one about Margaret Atwood’s enigmatic collection of short pieces, “Good Bones and Simple Murders.” Check it out!

-B

The Short Story pt. 1 – Revenge

Recently and with mixed feelings I finished reading Yoko Ogawa’s “Revenge,” a collection of somewhat macabre short stories (billed as “eleven dark tales”). This was one of those random reads for me; without prior knowledge of the author or her work, I picked it up on the strength of a colleague’s recommendation.

The reason this is “The Short Story pt. 1″ is that I have a somewhat complicated love/hate relationship with short stories. As a writer, there are times when I enjoy writing them, but more often than not I find that they quickly become either over-wrought, or they “disappear up their own asshole,” as Kurt Vonnegut would say. As far as short fiction goes, I most enjoy writing so-called “flash” fiction (ie <1000 words). And as a reader, short story collections definitely have a habit of disappointing me, with notable exceptions, and I think it will take more than one blog post to untangle my feelings.

Ogawa’s collection was a bit of both – excitement and disappointment. Let me say first that I was entranced throughout by her gentle, honest writing style. Her prose felt very natural, and was quick and easy to read. It belied the dark elements of the stories that often came right at the end; sometimes this “shock-ending” device worked, and sometimes it didn’t. My favourite example of this sort of ending is still Roald Dahl’s “The Landlady.”

The neat thing about this collection is that all of the stories were somehow interconnected. Generally this meant that the major plot element in one story would appear as a minor but scintillating detail in the next. At first I very much enjoyed the way Ogawa did this, but towards the end it grew tiresome, felt somewhat like a gimmick. Of course I started trying to think of ways that… someone… might do it better, without any notable epiphanies. By the last story it was just a bit too cute.

Regardless, despite its flaws, this little book is one of the best short story collections I’ve read recently. It’s certainly not a terribly involved read, and there are some occurrences that might prove disturbing for the faint of heart, but overall it was entirely enjoyable.

Revenge_cover

 

-B

Youtube?

So you may have heard about this neato website called YouTube. Relatively recently, I was made aware of the fact that nestled in among the cute pet videos and AFV-style home movie disasters and questionable pop music videos and viral oddities is some real content. By which I mean, regularly-updated channels supplying shows of a specific kind, i.e. news, or style, or inebriated cooking. And search as I might, I came up with very few book-related channels, in terms of shows that reviewed books or talked about literature.

One of the most frequently viewed book review channels features a young lady who reviews books while stripping. Makes me think of the infamous Lingerie Football League (recently, it was quaintly rebranded the “Legends Football League,” in an attempt to boost its credibility), which we (Winnipeg) narrowly avoided featuring in our very own city. Because the only way women can play pro football is if they do it naked. The main argument for its legitimacy, it seems, is  “hey, ya gotta *burp* start somewhere.”

I digress. You might notice my proclivity for devolving into rants, I’m afraid.

Long story short: I started a book-review-centric youtube channel. There’s only one video up there now, but I’ve got a few more in the works. I actually had a really good time learning the ropes in terms of recording and editing, and i’ll be the first to admit that it’s pretty daunting to watch and listen to yourself like that. There are definitely a few lessons I learned from the first video, and things that I’ll change in subsequent episodes, but I’m also pretty proud of it, so you should give it a go:

If you’ve got a YouTube account, and you enjoy the video, do me a big favour and go “like” it. They tell me that’s important.

Till later!

-B

Welcome to my Blog!

Let’s start things off on the right foot, shall we?

 

I do feel that I’ve managed to make something I could maybe call my world…over time…little by little. And when I’m inside it, to some extent, I feel kind of relieved. But the very fact I felt I had to make such a world probably means that I’m a weak person, that I bruise easily, don’t you think? And in the eyes of society at large, that world of mine is a puny little thing. It’s like a cardboard house: a puff of wind might carry it off somewhere.

-Murakami

You will become way less concerned with what other people think of you when you realize how seldom they do.

-Wallace

I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.’

-Vonnegut

The beauty and mystery of this world only emerges through affection, attention, interest and compassion . . . open your eyes wide and actually see this world by attending to its colours, details and irony.

-Pamuk

Fiction is one of the few experiences where loneliness can be both confronted and relieved. Drugs, movies where stuff blows up, loud parties — all these chase away loneliness by making me forget my name’s Dave and I live in a one-by-one box of bone no other party can penetrate or know. Fiction, poetry, music, really deep serious sex, and, in various ways, religion — these are the places (for me) where loneliness is countenanced, stared down, transfigured, treated.

-Wallace

I probably should not have done what I did, and yet I believe that it was all I could do.

-Murakami