Finally read this, about the ongoing enigma of Dave Chappelle, 10 years after his $50 million walkout. What an ending.Jul 24, 2014
So this went pretty much the way I thought it would. Fellow Edmonton book blogger Laura inspired me with her contribution to the elegantly titled Top Ten Authors You Own The Most Books Of prompt. As someone who relishes any and every chance to air his bookshelves’ dirty laundry in public, this was too good to pass up. (Who says I’m supposed to be packing for a vacation tomorrow?)
PROGRAMMING NOTE: These are all dudes because for a long time I defaulted to reading dude writers, and libraries are slow to show progress. If we’re drawing lines, at least two of them are in translation.
PROGRAMMING NOTE #2: I couldn’t be bothered to get all the way to 10. Here are the standouts.
1. Herman Melville (20): C’mon. I’ve got 15 editions of Moby-Dick alone, pal (as well as a t-shirt and a poster that’s staring me down as I type this). It’s my favourite book on this green (mostly blue) Earth and I love it more than just about anything. Plus today is Melville’s 195th birthday. Plus he wrote “Bartleby” and “Benito Cereno” and Typee and the epigraph of my next novel and so many other books I haven’t even gotten to yet. He’s not going anywhere.
2. Martin Amis (12): Also not a surprise. Money is the first novel I ever read that blew the doors off of what I thought fiction was capable of. I’ve read others that I’ve since discarded, too—excellent sentences weren’t enough to save that 9/11 book of his, oh just for instance. That number includes a galley of his new novel, which is a love story set in a concentration camp. I am nervous.
3 (tie). César Aira (9): A surprise appearance on the podium! In the last couple of years I’ve been rapidly buying up every one of Aira’s translations, and am now officially caught up—which means that a new one just came out and I’m behind again. Once I get Conversations, though, Aira’ll be taking the home bronze all by himself.
3 (tie). José Saramago (9): Man, I love this guy. Lunatic premises, entire pages without periods or quotation marks, and no damn fear of looking like the romantic sap he really was. It’s actually been a few years since I’ve read one of Saramago’s books. Luckily, there are a couple of unread ones up there, ready to go. The Stone Raft is looking mighty tempting from where I’m sitting.
3 (tie). Nicholson Baker (9): Like all of these photos, you’re only seeing the fiction—and where Baker is concerned, I love his book about Updike, his chopped-and-screwed take on World War II, and his magpie-minded essay collection The Meaning of Everything just as much as his novels. Most of them, anyway: I hated House of Holes (especially disappointing after Vox and The Fermata) and thought Travelling Sprinkler was so-so. Find me a copy of his book about paper, however, and I will be unsuitable for human interactions for the next 12-36 hours.Aug 1, 2014
Reading Jules Renard’s Nature Stories, from nyrbclassics. An expanded, sillier, Frencher version of Lydia Davis’s The Cows. You might like it.Jul 30, 2014
Jul 29, 2014
Please keep in mind that I work for a NATIONAL newspaper. And yet they still find the time and space to keep me humble. Thanks, guys!
One month until The Dilettantes is published in German. Are you cold? Would you like a jacket?Jul 27, 2014
And there’s the rub. As Fitzgerald makes clear in the book, the old-fashioned chemical photobooth is an endangered species, either being covertly replaced by digital lookalikes or else junked entirely. In fact, they’re already living on borrowed time: only one company on the planet still produces paper for the black-and-white machines, while the paper for colour photos stopped being made seven years ago. Current stocks are expected to run out for good by summer 2015.
That’s right: chemical photobooths will soon be a thing of the past. Luckily there’s Meags Fitzgerald, an Edmonton-bred illustrator whose new graphic novel, Photobooth: A Biography, will make you want to find your local booth and pose for one last strip. (I did.)
I interviewed Fitzgerald for this week’s books column. Read it here.Jul 25, 2014