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, April 20, 2017

Of Cats And Men

Some of history’s greatest men have been cat lovers, and their cats have contributed to their genius and legacy. In his book Of Cats And Men Sam Kalda profiles thirty luminaries and visionaries who have one thing in common: a pure and enduring love of cats.

William S. Burroughs 
“In many ways, Burroughs connected with cats more than people…Burroughs was once asked by poet and fellow Beat Allen Ginsberg if he ever wanted to be loved. ‘It depends. By who or what,’ he said. ‘By my cats, certainly.’

Ernest Hemingway 
“While living in Key West, Hemingway was given a cat by a ship’s captain. Snow White was a six-toed feline, the first of Hemingway’s famous brood of polydactyl cats in Key West…As Papa Ernest not so famously said, ‘One cat just leads to another.’”


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Very Best Reading Propaganda

Literary Hub has posted a collection of 31 old posters that celebrate and promote literary causes and events.

Library Association Collection, c. 1921

Perhaps the most famous of the famous ALA READ posters, starring David Bowie, 1987

Keith Haring, 1985

More here

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

How David Bowie, Kurt Cobain & Thom Yorke Write Songs With William Burroughs' Cut-Up Technique

William S. Burroughs explains his surrealist cut-up technique as a “montage technique” from painting applied to “words on a page.” Words and phrases are cut from newspapers and magazines and the fragments re-arranged at random.

"David Bowie and Kurt Cobain are perhaps the two most prominent adopters of Burroughs’ technique, the Beat writer’s influence on pop music stretches back to the Beatles, who included him on the cover of Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, and extends through the work of artists like Joy Division, Iggy Pop, and, notably, Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, who supposedly drew cut-up phrases from a hat to write the lyrics for the band’s groundbreaking album Kid A."
More here

She Refused to Give Up: Vivian Gornick on Grace Paley’s Activism

Vietnam, nuclear weapons, civil rights for blacks, women, and gays—you name it, there was Grace, marching, leafleting, wise-cracking, instructing the novitiates on how to act when they were loaded, inert, into the paddy wagon.

I once said to her, “Grace, if you had one word of advice to give on doing politics, what would it be?”

She laughed and said, “That’s simple, darling. You sit down and you stay down.”

 More Here

Sunday, April 16, 2017

David Sedaris: The IHOP Years

The covers of two diaries from 1987, featuring (left) art work purchased at a thrift store
 and (right) art work by Sedaris.

David Sedaris has kept a diary for forty years, during which he has filled a hundred and fifty-three handmade notebooks. The following entries, which document Sedaris’s years in Chicago, have been taken from the forthcoming book “Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977–2002),” which is out on May 30th from Little, Brown. I can hardly wait!

Read the entries here

Friday, April 14, 2017

On the Fifth Day - Jane Hirshfield

On the Fifth Day

the scientists who studied the rivers

were forbidden to speak

or to study the rivers.

The scientists who studied the air

were told not to speak of the air,

and the ones who worked for the farmers

were silenced,

and the ones who worked for the bees.

Someone, from deep in the Badlands,

began posting facts.

The facts were told not to speak

and were taken away.

The facts, surprised to be taken, were silent.

Now it was only the rivers

that spoke of the rivers,

and only the wind that spoke of its bees,

while the unpausing factual buds of the fruit trees

continued to move toward their fruit.

The silence spoke loudly of silence,

and the rivers kept speaking,

of rivers, of boulders and air.

Bound to gravity, earless and tongueless,

the untested rivers kept speaking.

Bus drivers, shelf stockers,

code writers, machinists, accountants,

lab techs, cellists kept speaking.

They spoke, the fifth day,

of silence.

The Unemployed Actor Who Stalked Salinger

In the early sixties Bill Mahan, an unemployed former child star and devoted fan from Los Angeles, resolved to claim the film rights to The Catcher In The Rye, even if it meant disturbing Salinger at home.

More here 


Once there was a man with a big black moustache. His name was Mr. Gregory (the man and the moustache had the same name). Since his youth Mr. Gregory was bothered by a fly that used to enter his mouth when he spoke, and when somebody spoke to him, the fly would fly out of his ear. “This fly annoys me,” said Mr. Gregory to his wife, and she answered, “I understand, and it looks ugly. You ought to consult a doctor.” However no doctor was able to cure Mr. Gregory of his fly. Although he went to see several doctors, they always said that they had never heard of this disease...
Read More Of This Previously Unpublished Story By Leonora Carrington

Thursday, April 13, 2017

How to Draw Type and Influence People

How to Draw Type and Influence People is a new book by Sarah Hyndman, published by Laurence King, that shows how we use type to understand different messages. Each typeface is introduced and explained and then creative exercises show us how to draw each font and invites us to explore the associations evoked by the styles, to reveal why they have come about and how to create our own versions.


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Slightly Foxed

Receiving a new issue of Slightly Foxed is always a pleasure. Back issues like this one from 2011 also make good reading.

Sue Gee marvels at the magic of the Raj Quartet • Charles Elliott meets the good soldier Švejk • Ysenda Maxtone Graham goes to Vanity Fair • Henry Jeffreys raises a glass to wine books • Victoria Neumark falls in love with Lord Peter Wimsey • Antony Wood turns Pooterish • Valerie Grove celebrates Dodie Smith • Andrew Hall goes dictionary-hunting • Simon Brett climbs with Whymper • Sarah Crowden admits to a liking for smut . . .

'Exes,' By Max Winter

I'm looking forward to reading this:

Book Review: 'Exes,' By Max Winter : NPR

Herbal Remedies, from Ox Bile to Mandrake Root

The British Library owns the only extant illustrated Old English herbal, and it recently digitized the entire manuscript.


Unseen Sylvia Plath letters claim domestic abuse by Ted Hughes

Unpublished correspondence from poet Sylvia Plath to her former therapist allege her husband Ted Hughes beat her two days before she miscarried their second child and that he told her he wished she was dead. Written between 18 February 1960 and 4 February 1963, a week before her death, the letters cover a period in Plath’s life that has remained elusive to readers and scholars alike. Hughes has said he destroyed Plath's journals from that period to "protect their children".