a short meditation on Birds of America

I don't hate short stories at all.

In fact, Lorrie Moore's collection, Birds of America, is pretty much a perfect collection of tales that range from stories of forgiveness to experimentation to, simply, life.

My problem with short stories, however, is that I don't necessarily get what binds them.

I know, that sounds dreadfully stupid. But without, for example, a single character or place or time popping in and out of the separate stories, I don't necessarily get what connects them. Now, I see that in Moore's book, birds appear again and again. But I don't get what that's supposed to mean.


Perhaps age is killing my brain. Or, "As a vacuum cleaner can start to pull up the actual thread of a carpet, her brains had been sucked dry by too much yoga." (p. 81)


September 1st round-up

It's been gorgeous the last few days in Edmonton, almost completely unlike the rest of the summer.

Still, there's something about knowing it's September that makes me uneasy. I wonder if people were happier before calendars.

Anyway. Books.

From my friend T. and his coworkers, suggestions of other new ways to pillage Jane Austen's work:

"Given the runaway success of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters will arrive shortly, the inevitable, ahem, modification of Austen' much-loved (definitely by you) canon is at hand. My co-workers and I started throwing around titles. What do you think?

The Vampire of Mansfield Park (thematic too!)
Emma and Mr. Hyde
Northanger Abbey's Alien Invasion (sort of thematic?)
Haunting Persuasion"

I personally love the idea of vampires overtaking Mansfield Park. Especially if that means Fanny becomes some sort of Buffy-esque vampire slayer, which would mean she has a personality and new toughness. But T.'s suggestion Capt. Wentworth get the chance to exorcise a ghost-like Anne Elliot.... why, that's just blasphemy for a girl whose favourite Austen is Persuasion.

This, on the other hand -- Darcy gone vampire -- is not?

On another note, what are you reading these days?

If you're in book club, hopefully you've started reading Lorrie Moore's collection, Birds of America.

I'm really digging it so far -- I know this is a strange line to pull out of the story, "Which is More Than I Can Say About Some People," but here goes nonetheless:

"It was really the world that was one's brutal mother, the one that nursed and neglected you, and your own mother was only your sibling in that world." p. 46

I'm also half-reading Vanity Fair. And have decided to give my first child the middle name Makepeace. No matter gender.

Becky Sharp is, obviously, hateful in a Scarlett O'Hara kind of way. But you kind of have to appreciate a 19th century girl who realizes she has to get married to net income to survive. And so she goes about making it happen.... or trying to make it happen.... without romantic aspirations. (I'm less than 100 pages in, I realize that.)

This is kind of funny:

"If a person is too poor to keep a servant, though ever so elegant, he must sweep his own rooms: if a dear girl has no dear Mamma to settle matters with the young man, she must do it for herself. And oh, what a mercy it is that these women do not exercise their powers oftener! We can't resist them, if they do. Let them show ever so little inclination, and men go down on their knees at once: old or ugly, it is all the same. And this I set down as a positive truth. A woman with fair opportunities, and without an absolute hump, may marry WHOM SHE LIKES. Only let us be thankful that the darlings are like the beasts of the field, and don't know their own power. They would overcome us entirely if they did." (p. 40)

My my, what power I must have at my fingertips....

Last of all, how gorgeous is this bookshelf?