the bomb party

Last book club today before I leave for London, and we discussed Graham Greene's Dr. Fischer of Geneva or The Bomb Party.

Greene emphasizes, throughout, that this is a story of human greed. He argues, again and again, that rich people can be greedier than poor.

Leaving that book -- and I'm warning you now, I will spoil the ending, so stop reading this post if this is a book you want to read -- I feel like I forgot to ask why Fischer killed himself?

Can it have been so simple as loneliness? Or having seen proof of the power of human greed? I feel like there was no specific reason for Fischer to have ended his life, at least no specific reason that set apart that particular night from any other. Am I missing something?

In other book news, I also wrapped up The Third Angel this week. It's a lovely read, though not nearly as straight-forward as Greene's. Alice Hoffman's stories are like dreams -- ephemeral and, somehow, just out of reach.

One of the character's in the book is an author, who mentions again and again that her children's story can be read backwards to make for a happy ending. (Read straight-forward, it has a sad ending.) Similarly, one might consider taking a second stab at The Third Angel back-to-front, in the name of continuity and, indeed, a happier conclusion.

In other news:

If I were to look forward to one Fringe show, I think it might be "The Survival of Pigeons As Observed By Human Lovers" from Surreal SoReal Theatre. Or "Death: Live!" (Yes, there were previews of both Saturday night at the Roxy.)

Mad Men is back! I literally couldn't wait all day to watch tonight's episode and see the new set. Detailed recaps of Episode 1 here and here.

where are you reading?

Edmonton's river valley, near the Shaw Conference Centre.


but what happened to Lila?

From Trashionista: Francine Pascal is expected to release an adult Sweet Valley next spring.


Now with this striking new adult novel from author and creator Francine Pascal, millions of devoted fans can finally return to the idyllic Sweet Valley, home of the phenomenally successful book series and franchise. Iconic and beloved identical twins Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield are back and all grown up, dealing with the complicated adult world of love, careers, betrayal, and sisterhood.


third rock from the

Ok, so today's link is not brought to you by "books," per se.

Or, you know, at all.

And this is because -- like you, I imagine -- I have a bunch of things on my plate today. Like shopping and yoga and Street Performers' Festival. And, at some point this weekend, Much Ado About Nothing. Not to mention, I need to finish The Third Angel (it's bad that so far I love the drug-addicted rock star character more than the other characters, right? like another example of my bad taste in men? right...) so I can read Graham Greene ahead of next weekend's book club meeting.

So, the link: Choose-Your-Own Geek. I pick Joseph Gordon-Levitt, obviously. And, of course, got the link from the Fug Girls.


summer Sunday

Cups of coffee this morning: 2

Minutes into the Spain-Netherlands World Cup game: 86

Goals: Zero all.

Sense of stress even though I don't really care that much about soccer? 9/10

In other news, Hamish Bowles at Vogue offers a highly entertaining, entirely persnickety account of surfing. Having surfed only once in my entire life (if, in fact, one can have claimed to surf when one did not ever quite stand up on the board without falling down), I love, love, love the novelty with which Bowles treats the whole experience.

(Yes, I was already on about this on Twitter.)

Another summer read you just have to love, courtesy the great L.M. Montgomery:

'A tall, slim girl, "half-past sixteen," with serious gray eyes and hair which her friends called auburn, had sat down on the broad red sandstone doorstep of a Prince Edward Island farmhouse one ripe afternoon in August, firmly resolved to construe so many lines of Virgil.
'But an August afternoon, with blue hazes scarfing the harvest slopes, little winds whispering elfishly in the poplars, and a dancing splendor of red poppies outflaming against the dark coppice of young firs in a corner of the cherry orchard, was fitter for dreams than dead languages. The Virgil soon slipped unheeded to the ground, and Anne, her chin propped on her clasped hands, and her eyes on the splendid mass of fluffy clouds that were heaping up just over Mr. J. A. Harrison's house like a great white mountain, was far away in a delicious world where a certain schoolteacher was doing a wonderful work, shaping the destinies of future statesmen, and inspiring youthful minds and hearts with high and lofty ambitions.
'To be sure, if you came down to harsh facts ... which, it must be confessed, Anne seldom did until she had to ... it did not seem likely that there was much promising material for celebrities in Avonlea school; but you could never tell what might happen if a teacher used her influence for good. Anne had certain rosetinted ideals of what a teacher might accomplish if she only went the right way about it; and she was in the midst of a delightful scene, forty years hence, with a famous personage ... just exactly what he was to be famous for was left in convenient haziness, but Anne thought it would be rather nice to have him a college president or a Canadian premier ... bowing low over her wrinkled hand and assuring her that it was she who had first kindled his ambition, and that all his success in life was due to the lessons she had instilled so long ago in Avonlea school. This pleasant vision was shattered by a most unpleasant interruption.
'A demure little Jersey cow came scuttling down the lane and five seconds later Mr. Harrison arrived ... if "arrived" be not too mild a term to describe the manner of his irruption into the yard.
'He bounced over the fence without waiting to open the gate, and angrily confronted astonished Anne, who had risen to her feet and stood looking at him in some bewilderment....'


three down, like a million to go?

If I were to tell you about books today, here's what you would absolutely need to know:

1. It's summer, so I am reading an Alice Hoffman novel called The Third Angel. Some authors write characters you come to feel close to -- people you feel like you are actually getting to know. Others describe characters so steeped in mystery, so ultimately distant, you are only an observer. Hoffman happens to fall into the second category, and so the stories she weaves are fascinating and otherworldly, but nonetheless addictive. Here's a review.

2. Speaking of reviews, you have to read Michael Hingston's piece on Elliot Allagash here. He manages to bring the word "analogue" and a comparison of F. Scott Fitzgerald to the paper.

3. Also on reviews, Jennifer Weiner has another book out this summer. Which ushers in the necessary, well, whining about how serious book reviewers don't take chick lit seriously. What I think might be more interesting about this blog post, though, is the question about how much is too much self-promotion via Twitter and Facebook and social media. Is it gross that I think this is kind of a major dilemma for writers?

4. I managed to pack three boxes of books last night! Yeah, baby, I'm going to fight so hard to ensure packing up my life by mid-August is not a total freaking nightmare....

But to be totally honest, I did not start this blog post because I wanted to talk about books.

I started this particular post because I wanted to discuss how much I continue to love Ewan McGregor after all these years. Sigh.


recent birthday wishes

I've mentioned this before, but I really do think of TSS and Erin as sort of co-bloggers -- they regularly offer insightful comments at Brilliant title to go here, and frankly they make the experience of writing a blog about books very rewarding.

In honour of their very recent birthdays, I offer nods to two fantastic (male) authors.

For TSS, Haruki Murakami -- a lovely author TSS and A introduced me to when it was my birthday a few moons ago. I've never read What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, but I've heard it's very very good.

For Erin, Timothy Findley -- one of the great authors of 20th century Canadian literature. Obviously, I am in love with his fiction. But, I absolutely recommend his travel collection, Journeyman, for a snapshot of a very Canadian sort of life.


this post has nothing to do with Canada Day

Ok, this blog post, by memoir writer Jen Lancaster, cracks me up.
For a woman whose most recent memoir is about being lazy, she is dedicated to your entertainment. In fact, if you only read one thing about the movie Eclipse (which, frankly, I don't think is possible, since there is So Much Out There), you should read her summary blog post.

The woman uses dolls to explain!

Brilliant. Hilarious.