I read Big Magic.

I’d been hearing about Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic for a long time, about how wonderful and inspiring it was for creatively-driven people. I’d even heard that it was life-changing. And, I admit, when I hear something is life-changing, I tend to shy away. I have a natural distrust of things that make that claim*. However, I was talking with an artist and photographer friend of mine, who had recently read the book, and told me the exact ways in which it had helped her. I paid… (READ MORE)

Food in writing

As I wrote about last year when I read Ethan Frome, descriptions of meals in books are one of the things that really catch my attention when I’m reading. I like to imagine how all the elements of the meal work together. I read this description recently in Margaret Drabble’s The Ice Age: Sadie brought her a tray full of chicken soup and chopped liver and cold chicken and cold salmon and salad and fruit and gherkins and water biscuits… What I love about this is… (READ MORE)

Nothing and everything

Nothing changes, maybe even me. I wrap my scarf around my neck three times and nestle in. I drive my father’s car in the dark, in the rain, winding my way around random streets, wandering until I run out of coffee. Or I’m an early morning passenger with a bagel in my hand, passing my husband his coffee as we wander together, wondering how our lives will be next year. He drops me off at the station and the sun is bright. On the train it’s quiet and outside it’s warm… (READ MORE)

The Outward Room

I wondered how it was that I had never heard of this book and its extraordinarily promising young author. I asked around, but no one seemed to know or remember Millen Brand, or his books. It’s somewhat frightening to learn that good books – even books heralded in their time – can disappear so quickly and completely. [. . .] All of Brand’s work is modest and sincere, two qualities that are undervalued, if not dismissed, in modern fiction . . . Despite the titillating… (READ MORE)

Writing and Filipinos.

My friend Teri has an article in the latest Ricepaper, titled Between Representations: Filipinos in Canadian Literature. Teri’s one of my favourite writers so I am always eager to read anything she writes, but I was especially excited to read this. She and I are both half-Filipino, and have talked in the past about how we express that in our writing. For my part, I’d say about half of my stories have either fully Filipino or half-Filipino characters in them, but for the most part they’re… (READ MORE)

Another IFOA

Every year it feels like the last IFOA (International Festival of Authors) was just two weeks ago. Admittedly, I got an earlier than usual start this year. Yesterday, Teri and I went to a reading and interview with Ben Lerner and Ian McEwan, and it seemed to go by in a blink. Right near the end, the two authors were asked what they were working on. I can’t remember McEwan’s exact answer, but it was along the lines of, “I’m very good at not writing.” And… (READ MORE)


INTERVIEWER What was going on with your writing then? ISHIGURO At the time, people weren’t talking about books. They were talking about TV plays, fringe theater, cinema, rock music. Then I read Jerusalem the Golden by Margaret Drabble. By this time I’d begun reading the big nineteenth-century novels, so it came as an absolute revelation to me that the same techniques could be applied to tell a story of modern life. You didn’t have to write about Raskolnikov murdering an old lady, or the Napoleonic… (READ MORE)