Sunday, October 10, 2010



 So, for whatever reason I haven't been blogging but that hasn't stopped visitors coming over to see what I'm up to. What have I been up to? Why haven't I been blogging? If I had easy answers to these questions you'd be the first to know, after me. No good reason. No family crisis, no broken fingers, nothing like that. As Wordsworth reminds me, The world is too much with us. The Internet is so vast, there are so many words floating about in cyberspace, never mind all the ones that live in books on my shelves, transported all over the place by fibre optics and who-knows-what and I question, and not for the first time, the value of me adding words to this already impossibly overpopulated world of them.

I last posted in April, half a year ago. Summer came and went, and with it a steady stream of visitors—in the flesh as opposed to virtual. It was, in fact, a lovely summer.

That being said, I'm back, playing with a slightly different look to my blog. (This is akin to my apparent need to change rooms around every year or so!) My intentions, as they say, are good.

But for all I haven't been writing much, at least here, I have been reading, and oh, what a lot of good words!

Today, for example, I read The Crazy Man by Pamela Porter. The story, written in free verse—and what a spare, precise, beautiful way to tell one—is aimed at young readers (grades 4-6, according to the publisher), but as is the case with any enduring story, readers of any age can enjoy it. I certainly did. It's about Em, a 12-year-old girl who lives on a Saskatchewan farm. She suffers a life-altering accident to which her father reacts by leaving her and her mother to fend for themselves. Her mother hires Angus, a man who's been a patient at the local mental hospital, to help with the farm work. Because of the all-to-prevalent attitude of the times towards mental illness, conflicts arise, but Angus proves to be a good  man who helps Em  deal with her disability, both practically, as when he designs a lift for the shoe for the foot on her damaged leg and even more importantly, psychologically.

Last week I devoured Ayelet Waldman's Red Hook Road. It begins with a horrific accident—a bride and groom are killed in a car accident while on their way to the reception—and investigates the way the two families deal with their loss over the next four years. I particularly enjoyed the story of the deceased bride's grandfather, a world-class violinist now stricken with Parkinson's Disease, who recognizes a kindred talent in a young girl from the late groom's family.

And sometime between Ayelet's book and Pam's, I snorted, yes, LOL'd through The Lateral Truth: An Apostate's Bible Stories by Rebecca Bradley. I have to admit that had I come across this book in a store with its bleak and busy Doré illustration on the cover, to say nothing of the reference to Bible stories in the title, I probably wouldn't have picked it up.  But last Sunday there was a knock on the door and our new neighbour, Rebecca, was standing there with a dozen eggs. She came in and I managed to disappear long enough to at least get dressed before we got into some coffee and a chat. When she left I got to googling, and after I read her take on the writing of The Lateral Truth I ordered it. What a find! It's probing and irreverent and funny all at once, and beautifully written.

And then, of course, there were poetry books. Sandra Ridley's Fallout is a searing collection of poems that explore, among other things, a disappointing segment of our history as humans—the nuclear testing that went on in the 50's, even after the devastation wrought by the bombs that exploded over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Sandra's a poet to watch. Try these ones, in This Magazine last fall, for example. 

Former Kootenay writer, Caroline Woodward has escaped the clutches of her island home (she and her husband look after the lighthouse on Lennard Island) and is touring with her new book,  Penny Loves Wade, Wade Loves Penny. Starting October 12, she's doing two dozen readings before the end of the month (bet she'll be glad to get back to the island after that!) She's reading in Nakusp, New Denver, Vallican Thursday night and Nelson on Friday, but if you're not in one of those check her touring schedule here as she'll likely be reading near you, too!

There. It's a start. Over and out for this time.


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