Kelli Korducki recently posted an interesting essay on Thought Catalog, in which she opined if a relationship has to end, she would rather be the one dumped than be the one who ends it. Her chief argument seems to be that the person who ends it is deliberately taking on the role of the Bad Guy, which is the harder role to play because, in the absence of mitigating factors like abuse or deceit or what have you, it comes with no sympathy, no legitimate period of mourning, no way to acknowledge that it too might be painful. That got me thinking about how my own relationships have ended, and while I agree with some of her points, I think fundamentally her thesis is wrong. Before I get to that, there are two minor quibbles I’d like to deal with. First, there’s this paragraph about people behaving poorly when they… Continue Reading
My relationship with James Joyce has never been simple. I tried to read Ulysses in high school, knowing (though not really why; I don’t remember anyone ever actually introducing me to the book) that it was something great, something that as a lover of books I would have to come to terms with eventually. I found a much-abused copy at my local literacy centre, where they had a shelf of books that you could either use as a lending library, or just buy outright. I bought Ulysses, and that night sat down to read about stately, plump Buck Mulligan. Ulysses kicked my ass. I don’t think I made it more than ten pages in on that first attempt, nor on the five or six others I made in the two years before leaving for university (it was not one of the volumes to make the trek to Waterloo). In my… Continue Reading
I’m discontinuing my “Reading 20XX” series, starting immediately. It’s not because I agree with Mr. Beattie’s opinion on “challenges” and quantity tracking or what have you (though I very much do agree with his call to read better). I think that paying attention to the numbers, and participating in things like the Canadian Book Challenge simply appeals to a kind of quirk, a kind of geekiness, that Mr. Beattie doesn’t have. It’s much more prevalent in fans of science fiction, fantasy, video games, and so on (and I qualify, in a, er, qualified way), and I don’t think there’s a right or wrong in it. It’s an impulse to classify, to organize, to manage and compartmentalize. In my case it manifests temporally; even my bookshelves are organized (when they are organized) to reflect when a book came into my life, or when in that author’s career that book appeared. I… Continue Reading
Back in the fall of 2002, when I was an undergraduate going into my final year at the University of Waterloo, I realized that, while I was doing okay for money that term, things were going to be tight once Christmas was over. I’d worked two jobs in high school (at one point working sixty hours a week on top of being a full time student, and maintaining a solid B+ average) and had been so burnt out by the experience that there was no way I would be able to get a job and deal with the workload of being a fourth year university student. I saw an ad for a short story contest, and decided that I would get a little bit of cash by winning that. There’s no way I could manage that level of hubris today, but back then I was kind of like that sometimes.… Continue Reading
There are questionnaires that float around the Internet. I’m sure you’ve seen them. Facebook and Livejournal in particular are overrun with them. They are sometimes very, very long, and ostensibly reveal personal things about whoever has filled them out, but there’s also a distance implied. Most people fill them out, pass them on, and then later claim to hate them. I’m going to let you in on a little secret: if you catch me at just the right time, I kind of love them. Rebecca Rosenblum has recently filled one out, apparently based on a series of “getting to know you” emails that were passed around when she was in her first year of university (we didn’t do that at my school; we actually stood in the common area of our dorm and our don made us introduce ourselves and give a little spiel). Not long after, Amy Jones, who… Continue Reading
This is just a quick note to let you know that my review of Globe and Mail columnist Micah Toub’s memoir, Growing Up Jung: Coming of Age as the Son of Two Shrinks, appears in the October issue of Quill & Quire (print only), available on newsstands now.
I thought I’d bring a couple great interviews with William Gibson to your attention. The first is from the Vice blog, and the second (and better) one is in Wired. While I’m at it, I should let you know that my review of his latest novel, Zero History, appeared in the September issue of Quill & Quire (print only), which should still be available on select newsstands throughout the country.
This is just a quick note to let everyone know that I’ve neither died nor drifted off into space. I have been very busy reading and writing, sometimes even for money. Which means I’ve got a backlog of reviews for the blog, though some are already in early drafts (yeah, I’m even doing drafts now). Here’s what you can expect hopefully in the next few weeks: Pattern Recognition, by William Gibson Spook Country, by William Gibson What Boys Like, by Amy Jones Before I Wake, by Robert J. Wiersema The World More Full of Weeping, by Robert J. Wiersema The Lady in the Lake, by Raymond Chandler The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman Five Days Apart, by Chris Binchy I’ve also written some reviews for publication in the last few months, which has been really fun. I’ll let you know when those see print. Anyway, still here, still reading, still… Continue Reading
Dear Councillor Vaughan, I am writing you to express my concern that trees may be torn up in the downtown core as part of the security measures for the upcoming G20 Summit taking place here in Toronto. I am writing to you, in particular, because I am a resident of Trinity-Spadina, and because you were quoted in the National Post piece that brought the issue of the trees to my attention. The removal of the trees is an unnecessary and disgraceful addition to what has already become a shameful display of security theatre. There are police officers in my family, and many close family friends are also officers, some serving as constables on the street, some in higher, supervisory or investigative roles at various police services across this country, including in the RCMP. I understand their professionalism, their commitment to public safety, and it is my most profound wish that… Continue Reading
This past Saturday a bunch of local and not-so-local book folks got together for BookCamp Toronto 2010, an “unconference,” which I think is a buzzword for conferences that have seminars rather than lectures or presentations. Most of the sessions were like that: lots of conversation around a particular topic with a moderator (or moderators) keeping things moving. I was a little rusty, but felt at home in almost no time at all. Most of my university courses followed that format, and I was very, very good at university (much better than at this whole grown-up, working-for-a-living thing—that’s why I was so gung-ho about becoming a professor—some people can work a party, some people can work a phone line or a sales floor: I can work a classroom). But in all seriousness, I hope that I was able to add something to the discussion for others. I attended the following sessions:… Continue Reading