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)

Tripping over the carpet

Days that feel like older days. Lazy suburban summer drives, windows open, listening to a short story read on the radio. Sitting by the lake for an interminable length of time. Browsing at the bookstore I used to spend so much time in, tripping over the carpet. While my mother looks at religion books, I turn around and consider the wicca books, the angel books, remember my teenage bedroom full of ornate candlesticks I imagined would fit in in an Anne Rice novel. A woman approaches and pulls… (READ MORE)

No shame in my video game-book-game.

I tried for a week and a half to get through 23 pages of an Ayelet Waldman novel I ended up abandoning, but have spent the past two hours completely engrossed in a book based on the Dragon Age video game series. Draw from that any conclusions you will. (I was surprised to find the Dragon Age novel has a higher average rating on Goodreads than the Waldman novel.)

Ethan Frome food

Reading descriptions of food in books is maybe one of my favourite things. I often read the descriptions two or three times, imagining how the combinations work and comparing the food to what I’m already familiar with. Recently I read a food description in Ethan Frome that was among the most unusual I’ve seen: She set the lamp on the table, and he saw that it was carefully laid for supper, with fresh doughnuts, stewed blueberries and his favourite pickles in a dish of gay red… (READ MORE)

Books and video games.

Books and video games.

Some of my fondest childhood memories are of playing Nintendo and Super Nintendo games with my brother, and making that long suburban walk to the arcade on summer vacations. In high school and my early twenties, I dropped the hobby for a while mainly due to lack of a console and a lack of funds (and discovering blogging probably helped), but I happily returned to it after a few years. I haven’t looked back since. I hesitate to call myself a “gamer,” mainly because I… (READ MORE)

A 1971 frenemy

One of Decca’s favourite words. In a 1977 essay in the London Daily Mail (reprinted in the New York Times and later in Poison Penmanship), she wrote that “frenemy” (which she sometimes spelled “frienemy”) was “an incredibly useful word that should be in every dictionary, coined by one of my sisters when she was a small child to describe a rather dull little girl who lived near us.” Her sister and the neighbor girl, she said, were “inseparable companions,all the time disliking each other heartily.” – From a footnote to… (READ MORE)

Decca and letters.

Arrived back at Joan’s just in time for dinner. To it came Doris Lessing (you know who she is, a best-selling English writer of the Angry Young school) . . . and, joy of joys, 12-year-old Peter Lessing, who had learned about Benjy’s arrival and has planned his whole Easter vacation around showing Benj London! Peter is a super-nice boy, and he and Benj became bosom friends immediately. He called for Benj early this morning, they got back at 6 p.m., having seen all the… (READ MORE)