About Me

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Niagara on the Lake, Ontario, Canada
My virtue is that I say what I think, my vice that what I think doesn't amount to much.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Etta or Bessie or Dora or Rose

From Elisa Albert’s acclaimed 2006 collection, the infamous short story that turned Philip Roth’s playbook inside out.
October 2004 
Dear Philip, 
You must be aware of the intimidation factor inherent in anyone’s writing to you, but I wonder if maybe the paradigm is similar to what happens when a stunning woman walks into a room: no one approaches her, she’s simply too beautiful; everyone assumes they have no shot. Maybe you don’t get many letters. Maybe you haven’t received a truly balls-out, bare-assed communiqué since 1959. 
You once signed a book for me. That’s the extent of our connection thus far, but it’s something, isn’t it? The book was The Counterlife, but I had yet to read it when I presented it to you for signature. You were unsure of the spelling of my name, and so there’s an endearing awkwardness, a lack of flow, to the inscription. For E, you wrote, and the pen held still too long on the page, leaving a mark at the point of the lowest horizontal’s completion while you waited for me to continue spelling. L, you continued on, and then, again, a spot of bleeding, hesitant ink before the i and the s and the a, which proceed as they should before your slanted, rote, wonderful autograph. I remember being all too aware of the impatient line behind me, people clutching their copies of Portnoy’s Complaint, Goodbye, Columbus, The Human Stain, the odd Zuckerman Unbound. I tried to meet your eye, I tried to communicate something meaningful. The others, of course, didn’t get it. I wanted you to know: I got it. Later, when I found my way to reading the book, I actually purchased a whole new copy so I wouldn’t sully my signed paperback. I cherish our moment of eye contact, your pen hovering over the title page, my name circulating in that colossal mind of yours. 
But wait. This is no mere fan letter; no mere exercise in soft-core intellectual erotica constructed for your amusement. I have an objective. Read more

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Polish author Olga Tokarczuk wins 2018 Man Booker International Prize

Olga Tokarczuk scooped the £50,000 prize for her novel, Flights, along with her translator, Jennifer Croft. More than 100 books were submitted for the 2018 prize, which celebrates the best in translated fiction from across the globe.

Read more:The Calvert Journal

Philip Roth dies at 85

The novelist Philip Roth, who explored America through the contradictions of his own character for more than six decades, died on Tuesday aged 85. Roth was the author of dozens of novels including Portnoy's Complaint, American Pastoral and Goodbye, Columbus. He won the Pulitzer, two National Book Critics Circle Awards, a Man Booker International Prize and three PEN/Faulkner awards. Read more 

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Marie Howe reads “Singularity” (after Stephen Hawking)

A poem inspired by Stephen Hawking's legacy, composed for and premiered at The Universe in Verse 2018.

The Universe in Verse: Marie Howe reads "Singularity" (after Stephen Hawking) from Maria Popova on Vimeo.


Walt Whitman's Brooklyn Heights Walking Tour

St. Francis College and The Walt Whitman Project sponsor a reception and free Brooklyn Height’s walking tour to celebrate the 199th anniversary of Walt Whitman’s birth. Walk in the steps of Brooklyn’s greatest poet and explore locations significant to Whitman’s life as you listen to readings of his poetry and prose.

More here

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Taking Mr Ravenswood

A short story from William Trevor's Last Stories:
Belonging to her time on the counters—before they moved her upstairs to Customer Care—Mr Ravenswood’s easy smile stirred in Rosanne’s memory, the paisley handkerchief tidily protruding from the top pocket of a softly checked jacket, the tweed hat on the counter for the duration of whatever transaction there was. Stylish in his manner, Mr Ravenswood was friendly in a way the other men who came to the counters never were, and always asked her how she was. The cheques he regularly lodged were dividends, unearned income from inherited means, and you could sense from his manner a faint disdain of money’s self–importance... Read more here

Evelyn Waugh’s Home On The Market

Evelyn Waugh’s magnificent home in Gloucestershire, UK could be yours if you had £3m.

Once the backdrop to Waugh’s literary scribblings, the eight-bedroom Piers Court is almost as grand as the buildings he wrote about.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Baby’s First Eames

Baby’s First Eames, an ABC of modern architecture and design by Julia Merberg, will gently push your child towards an early appreciation for design.

More: PLAIN Magazine

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Nabokov’s Synesthetic Alphabet

The synesthete experiences a transliteration of the senses — a number or letter or music note or day of the week are rendered in color in their mind’s eye. The writings of Virginia Woolf, Dylan Thomas, James Joyce, William Faulkner, and Charles Baudelaire embodied synesthesia.

Vladimir Nabokov writes of his “fine case of colored hearing” and describes his own Moses Harris color wheel of the alphabet:
Perhaps “hearing” is not quite accurate, since the color sensation seems to be produced by the very act of my orally forming a given letter while I imagine its outline. The long a of the English alphabet (and it is this alphabet I have in mind farther on unless otherwise stated) has for me the tint of weathered wood, but a French a evokes polished ebony. This black group also includes hard g(vulcanized rubber) and r (a sooty rag being ripped)...  Read more 

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Tom Wolfe, Pyrotechnic ‘New Journalist’ and Novelist, Dies at 88

Tom Wolfe, an innovative journalist and novelist whose technicolor, wildly punctuated prose brought to life the worlds of California surfers, car customizers, astronauts and Manhattans moneyed status-seekers in works like “The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby,” “The Right Stuff” and “Bonfire of the Vanities,” died on Monday in a Manhattan hospital. He was 88.

More here

The Manuscript Forms Of Emily Dickinson

Mike Kelly, curator at the Archives and Special Collections of Amherst College, explores highlights from their Emily Dickinson collection which includes a variety of manuscript forms. They were written on envelopes, concert programmes, and even chocolate wrappers. Dickinson died on this day in 1886.

“Necessitates celerity”, Amherst Manuscript # 540 – Source.

“The way hope builds his house”, Amherst Manuscript # 450 – Source.

Read more

Monday, May 14, 2018

The House Of Bernarda Alba

"A domineering, reclusive, and ostentatiously pious widow in a small Spanish town keeps such close watch on her daughters that they are unable to have normal social lives. However, the eldest is allowed to become engaged to an unprincipled young man, primarily for the financial advantages it will bring the mother, Bernarda. Jealousy and envy ensues among the other daughters."

The House Of Bernarda Alba from Dant B. Hat on Vimeo.

This Yoda bookend, strong the Force is

Buy this Yoda bookend for $19.95


Saturday, May 12, 2018

We had seen the world dead. This was within the power of nature - Virginia Woolf’s Account of a Total Solar Eclipse

On June 29, 1927 the Moon’s shadow swallowed the sun in southwest England. Virginia Woolf was traveling by train with family and friends when the eclipse occurred and recorded what she saw and felt in vivid detail.
We had fallen. It was extinct. There was no colour. The earth was dead. That was the astonishing moment; and the next when as if a ball had rebounded the cloud took colour on itself again, only a sparky ethereal colour and so the light came back. I had very strongly the feeling as the light went out of some vast obeisance; something kneeling down and suddenly raised up when the colours came. They came back astonishingly lightly and quickly and beautifully in the valley and over the hills — at first with a miraculous glittering and ethereality, later normally almost, but with a great sense of relief. It was like recovery. We had been much worse than we had expected. We had seen the world dead. This was within the power of nature.
Read more

Friday, May 11, 2018

One For Old Snaggletooth

I know a woman
who keeps buying puzzles
pieces that finally fit
into some order.
she works it out
she solves all her
lives down by the sea
puts sugar out for the ants
and believes
in a better world.
her hair is white
she seldom combs it
her teeth are snaggled
and she wears loose shapeless
coveralls over a body most
women would wish they had.
for many years she irritated me
with what I considered her
like soaking eggshells in water
(to feed the plants so that
they’d get calcium).
but finally when I think of her
and compare it to other lives
more dazzling, original
and beautiful
I realize that she has hurt fewer
people than anybody I know
(and by hurt I simply mean hurt).
and she has had some terrible times,
times when maybe I should have
helped her more
for she is the mother of my only
and we were once great lovers,
but she has come through
like I said
she has hurt fewer people than
anybody I know,
and if you look at it like that,
she has created a better world.
she has won.

Francis, this poem is for you.

From: Love Is A Dog From Hell
by Charles Bukowski