Weekly Churn 002: Comics

Ahoy! This is the Weekly Churn, where every Sunday I post about what I’ve been reading, watching, and thinking about over the previous week. This week I thought a lot about comic books. I swear most Weekly Churn posts aren’t going to be as long as this one. I’ve been a comics nerd for as long as I can remember. I don’t know what my first books were; likely some Garfield collections. I have a distinct memory of asking my father for one at Harley’s grocery store and him telling me that I could get colouring books cheaper somewhere else. I was an Archie fiend for years, first glomming on to Dan DeCarlo’s depictions of Betty and Veronica, and then slowly acknowledging that Harry Lucey’s work was superior, although there have been a number of other fine artists to work on Archie over the years. I can’t say I’ve ever… Continue Reading

Weekly Churn 001: Television and Tattoos

Yonge Dundas Square

Ahoy! Welcome to the Weekly Churn, a regular series of posts about what I’ve been reading, watching, and thinking about over the previous week. This is sort of my response to the whole newsletter phenomenon, but mostly it’s about getting me back into a headspace where writing is a habit rather than an event. So here goes. The big news for this week is that Tim Maughan’s book Infinite Detail finally dropped. I’ve been a fan of Tim’s work for quite some time—somebody recommended Paintwork, his self-published collection of short fiction, and I was hooked right from page one. It took Infinite Detail almost a year longer to come out than expected, but it’s well worth the wait. I’ve been re-reading Bragi Ólafsson’s work as prep for my review of Narrator, his latest book to be translated into English, but I was so excited about Tim’s novel that I set… Continue Reading

On Bookmarks

Various objects used for bookmarks.

Since moving back to Toronto in 2017 I’ve been thinking very carefully about the things that I own and why I own them. I don’t mean in a Marie Kondo sort of way, although space is definitely a driving force, but more in terms of how the things I own help me understand myself. My interest in this way of understanding stems in part from my first reading, as an undergraduate, of Robertson Davies’ What’s Bred in the Bone, the book that introduced me to the concept of “personal mythology.” Our personal mythologies are the stories, symbols, and events that make up our understanding of our lives and selves. Those stories, symbols, and events are often—though not always—real people and objects in our lives, and events that actually happened to us. Our personal myths are what help us making meaning and see structure in our lives. It should be no… Continue Reading

2018: Year in Review

My mother

Normally at the beginning of every year I post a breakdown of all the reading I’d done the previous year. I won’t be doing that this year. I’ll include some recommendations at the end of this post, but I’m having a hard time worrying about how many books I read by certain authors, or books of a certain kind, or whatever categories interest you, or have interested me in the past. Today, I don’t care. 2018 was not a good year. I’ve already written about my cat dying, but my mother also passed away in September, following complications from what is generally routine day surgery. I’ve had great difficulty reading, since then. In the four months since my mother died I’ve read seventeen books, which is roughly the count I normally have for December alone. My concentration is shot, my motivation is shot, and my investment in the world around… Continue Reading

Molly’s Last Day

Molly laying on the grass

My cat Molly died on June 8, 2018. She had been suffering from some minor health issues for several months, but two weeks before she died things got a bit worse, and then dramatically so. On June 6th we thought we had a handle on things; we knew she was diabetic and that she would need special care going forward, but she also hadn’t been eating or drinking very much and was losing weight. I asked the vet to monitor her blood glucose for the first day of her treatment so that we would be guaranteed to get her requirements right. The insulin worked, but the vet was concerned that Molly didn’t appear to be doing well otherwise, and asked to keep her overnight. On the morning of June 7th I got called to the vet’s office. Around noon we were told that Molly’s condition had worsened significantly despite her… Continue Reading

Reading Breakdown for 2015

I hope to get back to reviewing books again in the next couple of months, but as I didn’t get much of that done at all in 2015, I thought I’d do another breakdown of my year in reading. This year I did not read to a program as I did in 2014. I decided to just let my spur-of-the-moment impulses guide my reading, and see how things compared to last year. I read a total of 78 books in 2015, up by 6 from 72. Unfortunately, some of my other statistics, specifically those showing writer diversity, did not improve. In fact, they generally got worse: 51 books/65% by men, up from 30 books/42% in 2014 25 books/32% by women, down from 39 books/54% in 2014 2 books/3% by both men and women, down from 3 books/4% in 2014 4 books/5% by people of colour, down from 7 books/10% in… Continue Reading

Reading Breakdown for 2014

So apparently my only blog post for all of 2014 was a breakdown of my reading statistics for 2013 and a plan for how I was going to improve those statistics (specifically in terms of gender) for 2014. I had planned to write a few reviews—and those reviews will still be written and posted—but when you work between 70 and 90 hours a week thousands of kilometres from home, things like that fall by the wayside. I did, however, actually follow through with the changes to my reading program. Specifically, I tried to reach gender parity in my reading for 2014 after realizing that I wasn’t as close as I thought I was when I looked at what I’d read in 2013. I thought I was pretty close to 50/50 men/women, but it turns out I was more like 63/37, and my numbers on writers of colour were even worse.… Continue Reading

2013 Reading Summary and the Plan for 2014

I don’t generally keep track of my reading on any sort of statistical level. I read what I read for reasons that are as much about the mood I’m in when it comes time to start a new book as anything else (probably more than any other reason, to be honest). This means that my reading choices over the course of a year tend to be not particularly considered. But this year everything I read got logged into Goodreads, and for the first time in a while I wasn’t actually paid to read anything, so I thought I’d take a look at what I read in the absence of any direction (beyond a handful of books that were for my steampunk book club). Here’s the breakdown: I read 65 books in 2013; 39 of them were written or edited* by men, 24 were written or edited by women, and 2… Continue Reading

A Bit of News

It’s been a long time since I’ve updated. Some things have happened that have kept this blog a low priority: I did some freelance work, switched jobs a couple of times, and have gone through some personal issues. I’ve taken on a new job in northern Saskatchewan, where I will potentially be without regular Internet access three weeks out of every month, for non-business related things, anyway. The job is set to last about two years, so vestige.org will be quiet for most of that time. I’m going to try and update once a month or so, mostly with quick personal notes or nature photos and stuff (there will be lots of nature to photograph), just to let everyone know I’m alive and still reading, but the silence that has become usual around these parts is probably going to continue. The job is a good opportunity, for a whole bunch… Continue Reading

Music to Read By

So last night’s post about the blues was sort of accidental. I had intended to write about what I listen to when I read. For years I was the sort of person who could read anywhere, regardless of what was going on around me. In university, when reading suddenly became important to my future (in terms of my career, I mean; I’m a book critic—as in, reviewer—now, but I once wanted to teach university-level English Literature and work as an academic critic/theorist), I lost the ability to read in the same room as someone watching television. And then I couldn’t read while listening to music with lyrics. And then I couldn’t read while listening to any sort of music. Most of that has passed, and I can once again listen to music while I read, although anything too heavy or uptempo, or with complicated lyrics I like to get lost… Continue Reading