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, January 18, 2018

T.S. Eliot's Advice to a Sixteen-Year-Old Aspiring Writer


In February of 1952 a sixteen-year-old self-described “aspiring Young Writer” by the name of Alice Quinn reached out to famous author T.S. Eliot for advice on the creative process. Below is his response as published in Hockney’s Alphabet (public library) under the letter Q.

Dear Miss Alice Quinn,
I do not often answer letters, because I am too busy; but I liked your letter, and I am glad that you are at a Catholic school.
I cannot tell you how to concentrate, because that is something I have been trying to learn all my life. There are spiritual exercises in concentration, but I am not the person to teach what I am trying to learn. All I know is that if you are interested enough, and care enough, then you concentrate. But nobody can tell you how to start writing. The only good reason for writing is that one has to write. You ask seven questions. No one event in one’s childhood starts one writing: no doubt a number of “events” and other causes. That remains mysterious.

My advice to “up and coming writers” is, don’t write at first for anyone but yourself. It doesn’t matter how many or how few universities one goes to, what matters is what one learns, either at universities or by oneself. My favourite essay, I think, is my essay on Dante, not because I know much about Dante, but because I loved what I wrote about. The Waste Land is my most famous work, and therefore perhaps will prove the most important, but it is not my favourite.

I am interested to hear that Kunitz & Haycraft say that I prefer to associate with Nobility and Church Dignitaries, but I like to know every sort of person, including Nobility and Dignitaries. I also like to know Policemen, Plumbers and People.

One does not always need to know a subject very well in order to teach it: what one does need to know is How to Teach Anything. I went to a very good school (which no longer exists) in St. Louis, Missouri, where I was well taught in Latin, Greek, French and elementary Mathematics. Those are the chief subjects worth learning at school; and I am glad that I was well taught in these subjects, instead of having to study such subjects as T.S. Eliot. At the University I studied too many subjects, and mastered none. If you study Latin, Greek, French, Mathematics, and the essentials of the Christian Faith, that is the right beginning.
I like living in London, because it is my City, and I am happier there than anywhere else.
With best wishes,
T.S. Eliot
More: Brain Pickings

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Stick Your Nose in the Card Catalogue

In 1974, the public library in Upper Arlington, Ohio added scratch-and-sniff scents to its card catalog.  The idea was that the card in the catalog would have a scent, and then the book on the shelf would have a matching scent. So you could find your books by smell. There were about 60 scents in total, including apple, chocolate, garlic, lemon, roses, root beer, leather, pizza, orange, strawberry, candles, pine, cheddar cheese, clover, and smoke.



More here 

Via

Library of Abandoned Books

Sanitation workers in the Çankaya district of Ankara, Turkey collected books that were destined for the landfill and established a library to be used by themselves and their families.
The collection grew and locals began to donate books that they would have otherwise discarded. In September of last year, the Sanitation Department decided to open the library up for public use.



More here 

Philip Roth's Thoughts on Trump

Philip Roth describes the POTUS as "a massive fraud, the evil sum of his deficiencies, devoid of everything but the hollow ideology of a megalomaniac."

More here

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Postcard From The Past

In Postcard From The Past Tom Jackson has gathered a collection of the funniest, weirdest and most moving real messages from the backs of old postcards.

I also enjoy his tweets


Historical Words We Need to Bring Back

Apparently I'm a slugabed grumbletonian who spends too much time twattling.



Link

Friday, January 12, 2018

Raking Her Brains




Wednesday, January 10, 2018

On This Day In 1929


In 1929, the first appearance of Hergé‘s Belgian comic book hero Tintin as Tintin in the Land of the Soviets, begins serialization in children’s newspaper supplement, Le Petit Vingtième.

Via 

An Inspired Theft


A story about theft by Ann Beattie:
Long, long ago, in the faraway kingdom of Virginia, a tall, somewhat-handsome man came to town. He had a rather well-known art gallery for a time in New York City, though in those days the word gallerist had not yet been invented, so he was just thought of by name. This man had come with his daughter, an equestrian, to visit several artists who showed at his gallery. This was a time so distant that Banksy, while certainly more than a gleam in his father’s eye, was not yet a star.

Ann Beattie is the author, most recently, of The Accomplished Guest.

20 Author Photos: Then and Now


Donna Tarte
Toni Morrison, Donna Tarte, Margaret Atwood and more at Literary Hub

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

The Brontë sisters, a supermodel, and a mansplaining academic are in a marvelous brawl


For the 200th birthday celebration of Emily Brontë the Brontë Society asked 30-year-old English supermodel and actress Lily Cole to host the event. Cole is not just a model, she holds double first degree in history of art from the University of Cambridge and is known as an activist. She helped save a London bookstore from going out of business and stepped down from a lucrative De Beers campaign after finding out that the company was evicting people from their homes in Botswana. The Brontë sisters, were they alive today, would be perfectly comfortable with Cole as their party co-hosts. But someone else isn't pleased.

More here

Sunday, January 07, 2018

Bellevue Square

Michael Redhill's novel won the Giller prize so my expectations were high.The premise was intriguing: a woman discovers that she has a doppelganger and sets out to find her. Jean Mason, a married mother of two, begins hanging out in Bellevue Square, near the bookstore she owns, hoping to catch sight of her double. The square is a magnet for Toronto's mentally ill, drug addicted and homeless and Jean gets to know them all. It is revealed that she has a history of mental illness and we wonder if her doppelganger is a figment of her imagination. The story kept veering off in unexpected directions and I was drawn in, waiting for answers that never came. I finished the book wondering what I'd just read and why this novel won the Giller Prize.

Sorry for Your Troubles


The life that author Frank McCourt’s parents encountered in the New York of the thirties was so hard and painful that they went back home to Ireland, thinking that nothing as terrible could ever happen to them again.

Read more here

Saturday, January 06, 2018

The Magi by William Butler Yeats

Epiphany is upon us marking the official end of Christmas. January 6 marks the date the Magi, or the Three Wise Men, followed the Star of Bethlehem to visit the baby Jesus.

The Magi by William Butler Yeats 
Now as at all times I can see in the mind's eye,
In their stiff, painted clothes, the pale unsatisfied ones
Appear and disappear in the blue depths of the sky
With all their ancient faces like rain-beaten stones,
And all their helms of silver hovering side by side,
And all their eyes still fixed, hoping to find once more,
Being by Calvary's turbulence unsatisfied,
The uncontrollable mystery on the bestial floor.