2009-02-28

on a winter's Saturday

Setting: The Chapters on Whyte Avenue.
me: I think I'm going to get this. It seems to make a good argument.
Andy: A Vindication of the Rights of Woman? Uh.... You're not going to go throwing that in (politician's name)'s face, are you?
me: No, no. This was written in the 1700s. It would put things in perspective, right? Like Jane Austen?
Andy: You would stalk her if she were alive, wouldn't you?
me: No. Because if she were alive she wouldn't have written all six books by now.
Andy: That is your reason?

On the topic of Austen, Marvel is unveiling a Pride and Prejudice comic this spring. I applaud anything that gets children reading, but object to the cartoony hotness of the Bennet girls. The only one who's supposed to be obviously pretty is Jane, and possibly Lydia. (Fact.)

In other news.... A Toronto school is debating the appropriateness of reading The Handmaid's Tale in classrooms. This is old news, of course, but I for one believe there is nothing inappropriate about the book. (Shocking, I know.) It's clearly a better thought-out argument and less vulgar show of sexuality than anything a teenager will catch on Gossip Girl. (No offence to B or S.)

While we're talking about the Centre of the Universe, this story found its way into the front section of The Globe and Mail's national edition today. Strange, eh? An interesting read, though.

On a totally different topic, in London a crew of romantic authors have started a collective. I don't know why I find this cool, except that I hope there will be writing workshops and coffee sessions this summer. Imagine? Talking romance novels along the Thames? (And I'm a geek.)

Last of all, another Lost in Austen moment for you. (Before Sam Mendes works his hopefully-British-not-Hollywood magic on the storyline, you can pre-order the DVD of the original series.)

another snippet of Alias Grace... and Mr. Darcy isn't real

I haven't really gotten going on Oscar Wao yet, because I've been locked into Alias Grace for weeks now.

(Ok, I admit I took a wee break from Atwood last night to re-read favourite bits of Pride and Prejudice. I couldn't help myself. I had just watched the Keira Knightley version, and was all loving Matthew Macfadyen even though I fell asleep in the middle and then woke up at the end when he's all, "Mrs. Darcy, Mrs. Darcy, Mrs. Darcy." Sigh. He's imaginary, Trish. Imaginary.)

Anyway, I love how Margaret Atwood manages to weave a murder mystery into 19th century class struggles.

You know from the start Grace will go to prison in connection to the deaths of Nancy Montgomery and Thomas Kinnear. Montgomery being her coworker, if you will, and Kinnear being her boss. But this is the early 1800s, and really Kinnear is everyone's master and they all share a single roof.

"Mr. Kinnear said I was very inquisitive for such a young person, and soon he would have the most learned maidservant in Richmond Hill, and he would have to put me on display, and charge money for me, like the mathematical pig in Toronto." (p. 267)

2009-02-24

2009-02-23

"becoming the Dominican J.R.R. Tolkien...."

"No matter what its name or provenance, it is believed that the arrival of Europeans on Hispaniola unleashed the fuku on the world, and we've all been in the shit ever since." -- p. 1

So, friends have selected the new book club book, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which I keep mistaking for a book about a long-dead and hilarious poet, but which is actually, apparently, the tale of Oscar, "a sweet but disastrously overweight ghetto nerd, a New Jersey romantic who dreams of becoming the Dominican J.R.R. Tolkien and, most of all, of finding love." (Says Time magazine. And we all know Time magazine is always right.)

Or, as my friend describes it: It's a fictional account of a sad-sack Dominican-American boy named Oscar that traces his family's path through the history of the Dominican Republic. It's also a love story. Furthermore, it won a Pulitzer Prize, so if you find yourself not liking it and want to quit, say to yourself "Self, have I ever won a Pulitzer Prize?" and the answer, I think, will be no, so soldier on.

2009-02-18

I almost forgot!

I almost forgot to tell you about Pride and Prejudice and Zombies!

Seriously!

Knowing nothing about storyline, I am torn. On one hand, while I love a good Buffy the Vampire Slayer just as much as the next girl, I'm unsure about introducing monsters to Austen.

On the other hand, I feel Austen had just the right touch of sense of humour to, well, kind of get it. Maybe even embrace it. A little.

being Peg

I've been stressing a bit about the future of newspapers.

Not, like, end-of-the-world stressing, or anything. I mean, democracy needs newspapers. (No seriously, stop laughing. You! Go pick up a paper! Get your hands dirty!)

But a friend of mine keeps asking me what my back-up plan is. And I keep making stuff up. Stewardess? That'll include lots of travel. Or, Official Lost Fan? I think that involves spending lots of time in Hawaii and stalking the actors and actresses who comprise Lost's cast. There has to be money in hanging out with Naveen Andrews.

Okay, okay. Time to get serious.

My backup plan is.... *drum roll*.... to become the next Margaret Atwood.

You're laughing again, aren't you?

But I've got it all planned out. See, I have a Canadian history minor. But I'll go back to school and get my Master's and then I'll do lots of fascinating research, and then I'll write a book nearly as good as Alias Grace.

It probably won't be quite as good, because I am not as brilliant as this:

"As one season's crop of girls proceeds into engagement and marriage, younger ones keep sprouting up, like tulips in May. They are now so young in relation to Simon that he has trouble conversing with them; it's like talking to a basketful of kittens.
"But his mother has always confused youth with malleability." (p. 106)

Or, this:

"You may think a bed is a peaceful thing, Sir, and to you it may mean rest and comfort and a good night's sleep. But it isn't so for everyone; and there are many dangerous things that may take place in a bed. It is where we are born, and it is our first peril in life; and it is where the women give birth, which is often their last. And it is where the act takes place between men and women that I will not mention to you, Sir, but I suppose you know what it is; and some call it love, and others despair, or else merely an indignity which they must suffer through. And finally beds are what we sleep in, and where we dream, and often where we die." (p. 192)

It's a great plan, no? I just have to work on being brilliant and curling my hair. Ooh, and being witty. I definitely must increase my witty-factor.

2009-02-03

ladies in peach (go crazy)

"I entered the relationship world thinking it was all based on how loudly those butterflies were beating their wings in my tummy. I could have used some warning at twenty-one when I met Adam and began my first serious relationship, a relationship that would last ten years and bring me to where I am now, consulting self-help books and consoling myself with cheap Merlot."

And so begins -- more or less -- the tale of The Prairie Bridesmaid.

But where should I begin....

Yeah, I did not really enjoy Daria Salamon's debut. I tried, though. I mean, Chantal Kreviazuk likes it, according to the cover. And I often find myself singing Kreviazuk songs in the shower, so clearly.... Also, Nia Vardalos. Who doesn't love My Big Fat Greek Wedding?

But the thing is, the main character's voice is too much. She's too ironic. She's too punchy with the jokes as she's gazing at her navel. She's too separated from herself as everything falls to pieces around her.

It gets hard to believe she has a single feeling that's real. Especially when she starts talking to a friendly neighbourhood rodent.

Meanwhile, if the storyline of Bridezillas gone pure evil weren't too much, Salamon suddenly got a case of the Days of Our Lives. When things started to slow down, she threw in an adoption storyline. And a childhood abuse storyline. And a scary pregnancy storyline. And a religious cult storyline.

I am actually not ruining the book for you, because none of those storylines have anything of any substance to do with the actual narrative.

Hm. I should stop ranting. You should skim the book. While standing in Chapters. And don't believe Steven Galloway when he says, "Every bit as entertaining as A Complicated Kindness...." This is a falsehood.

Ok. Calming down. Back to Margaret Atwood, who never lets me down.