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Archive for January, 2009

January 31st, 2009 • Posted in Authors and Books

Indie Dance Opera: The Descent of Inanna

My cousin Jenni Roditi is submitting her Indie Dance Opera: The Descent of Inanna to the Linbury Theatre (Royal Opera House Studio Theatre). It will be vying for attention with many other projects. Programming meeting is set for Feb. 5. Please lend your support by watching the trailer: httpv://

Go Jen!

January 31st, 2009 • Posted in Authors and Books

Yann Tiersen – Comptine d’un autre été L’après-midi


January 31st, 2009 • Posted in On Collecting

Bargains for Bibliophiles

While these days may be dark for the book publishing industry, damned if it isn’t a great time to be a consumer. Last night I picked up a copy of Jeremy Lewis’s Penguin Special, The Story of Allen Lane  for $4.70 something, at Chapters. Just look at these lovely endpapers: 

A year of two ago I bought a copy of Richard Flanagan’s Gould’s Book of Fish for about the same amount. One of the most beautifully designed

and produced ‘recent’ books I’ve ever seen. Each chapter has different coloured type

for crying out loud.

Last week I got a copy of How to Read a Novel by John Sutherland for under $5. I just saw Alberto Manguel’s The Library at Night for $6.99. These may be tough times, but never have they been so filled with bargains for the bibliophile. 

January 30th, 2009 • Posted in CITIES, Kingston, ON, Nigel Beale Bookstore Photos

Nigel Beale’s Bookstore Photo of the Week

On Princess Street in Kingston, Ontario. Want more? Check these out.

January 30th, 2009 • Posted in On Politics

Hitchens, Obama; and a President who can make fun of the media, not the other way around

Notes in Obama’s inaugural speech that Christopher Hitchens thinks deserve amplification

"We will restore science to its rightful place," is intended, I have some reason to believe, to reinforce or underline the president’s emphasis on religious pluralism and on the inclusion (with a few days to go before the Darwin-Lincoln bicentennial) of the fast-growing number of "nonbelievers." That this has already drawn fire from the vastly overrated black churches is a good sign in itself.

Then one can hardly overpraise the repudiation, annexed from Franklin even if he may not actually have said it, of "the false choice between our safety and our ideals." This acted as a curtain-raiser for the important restatement of the ideals themselves:

We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

The president has a better grip on the English language than any of his living-memory predecessors, and it seems certain that he wrote at least 80 percent of this address himself. It’s nice to be able to hold people to claims that they have written rather than read, and I look forward to doing so."


I look forward to a President who can make fun of the media, and not the other way around.

The subtlety with which Obama sheathed in such inspiring, positive language, his critical onslaught on George Bush’s tenure,  signals, one hopes, the beginning of a term in which words and rhetoric are used not to stir aggression but to bring peace; an era in which the President acts in a manner worthy of respect, rather than ridicule. 

January 30th, 2009 • Posted in Authors and Books

The Other Thackery


Move over William Makepeace…here’s Jimmy

January 29th, 2009 • Posted in Authors and Books

Future of the Book: Fractured and Unfixed or Convenient and Accessible?

Christine Rosen in her New Atlantis article People of the Screen refering to former Wired magazine editor Kevin Kelly’s  2006 article in the New York Times Magazine:

"This ode to gigajoy included the obligatory prediction that paper books would be replaced with handheld devices. “Just as the music audience now juggles and reorders songs into new albums,” Kelly writes, the universal digital library that Google is bringing into the world “will encourage the creation of virtual ‛bookshelves’—a collection of texts, some as short as a paragraph, others as long as entire books, that form a library shelf’s worth of specialized information.” Kelly anticipates the day when authors will “write books to be read as snippets or to be remixed as pages.” But what would a mash-up of George Eliot’s Middlemarch and the latest best-selling mystery look like? There are some extraordinary lines in Eliot’s novel. Writing of Lydgate and Rosamond, for example, Eliot says, “He once called her his basil plant; and when she asked for an explanation, said that basil was a plant which had flourished wonderfully on a murdered man’s brains.” But devoid of the complicated context of the rest of the novel, how can we understand why this observation is poignant, apt, and true?

Kelly’s hope for the book is to turn it into a kind of digital Frankenstein monster, a contextless “text” that is no more than the sum of its scattered and remixed parts: “What counts are the ways in which these common copies of a creative work can be linked, manipulated, annotated, tagged, highlighted, bookmarked, translated, enlivened by other media and sewn together into the universal library,” he writes. And he is confident that “in the clash between the conventions of the book and the protocols of the screen, the screen will prevail.” Perhaps it will, but Kelly might want to include in his own future e-book another snippet from Eliot’s masterpiece, one which might serve as a warning for us all: “We are on a perilous margin when we begin to look passively at our future selves, and see our own figures led with dull consent into insipid misdoing and shabby achievement.”

Rosen ends her article with this:

"Such is the end of the tragedy we are now witness to: Literacy, the most empowering achievement of our civilization, is to be replaced by a vague and ill-defined screen savvy. The paper book, the tool that built modernity, is to be phased out in favor of fractured, unfixed information. All in the name of progress."


I’m a little more sanguine. If the ebook replicates the paperback reading experience closely enough; if the new Kindle looks and feels as cool, and works as well as the iPod. If it holds 1000 books. If I can write notes in the margins, refer to other texts, and underline and more easily gather together, store and print-out significant passages…I say bring it on…Given that so many books are primarily about  content: If I can access it more easily; if the act of reading is as convenient and pleasurable as it is with the paper book, then by all means save the trees. Just publish hardcovers for those who want the ‘book’ experience, or who want to collect. Fewer printed volumes would be a good thing. It might also mean that existing editions (i.e. my collection) would assume prices more reflective of  their value.

January 29th, 2009 • Posted in Authors and Books

Time to let it roll all night Long

John Lee Hooker & Jim Morrison ( The Doors )- Roadhouse Blues

January 28th, 2009 • Posted in Authors and Books

From John Updike’s ‘Writers as Progenitors and Offspring’


"The writing enterprise seemed to me self-evidently a desperate one, and though my mother and I - both only children – had been desperate enough to undertake it, I thought my children, raised in a gentler, undepressed, gregarious world, would seek out less chancy and more orthodox professions. But I under estimated, it would seem, the appeal of the mise-en-scene, the matrix, that had charmed me – the clean paper, the pregnant silences, the typewriter keyboard with its scrambled alphabet. We are drawn toward our parents’ occupations, I have concluded, because we can see the equipment and size up the effort; it is like a suit of clothes we try on for size and then discover ourselves to have bought and to be wearing for good."

Watch Ian McEwan on John Updike here.

January 28th, 2009 • Posted in Authors and Books

Robert Beard’s 100 most beautiful words in English

1 adroit Dexterous, agile.
2 adumbrate To very gently suggest.
3 aestivate To summer, to spend the summer.
4 ailurophile A cat-lover.
5 beatific Befitting an angel or saint.
6 beleaguer To exhaust with attacks.
7 blandiloquent Beautiful and flattering.
8 caliginous Dark and misty.
9 champagne An effervescent wine.
10 chatoyant Like a cat’s eye.
11 chiaroscuro The arrangement of dark and light elements in a picture.
12 cockle A heart-shaped bivalve or a garden flower.
13 colporteur A book peddlar.
14 conflate To blend together, to combine different things.
15 cynosure A focal point of admiration.
16 desuetude Disuse.
17 diaphanous Filmy.
18 diffuse Spread out, not focused or concentrated.
19 dulcet Sweet, sugary.
20 ebullient Bubbling with enthusiasm.
21 effervescent Bubbly.
22 efflorescence Flowering, the opening of buds or a bloom.
23 elixir A good potion.
24 emollient A softener.
25 encomium A spoken or written work in praise of someone.
26 ephemeral Short-lived.
27 epicure A person who enjoys fine living, especially food and drink.
28 epiphany A sudden revelation.
29 erstwhile At one time, for a time.
30 eschew To reject or avoid.
31 esculent Edible.
32 esoteric Understood only by a small group of specialists.
33 ethereal Gaseous, invisible but detectable.
34 etiolate White from no contact with light.
35 evanescent Vanishing quickly, lasting a very short time.
36 exuberant Enthusiastic, excited.
37 felicitous Pleasing.
38 fescue A variety of grass favored for pastures.
39 foudroyant Dazzling.
40 fragile Very, very delicate.
41 fugacioius Running, escaping.
42 gambol To skip or leap about joyfully.
43 glamour Beauty.
44 gossamer The finest piece of thread, a spider’s silk.
45 halcyon Happy, sunny, care-free.
46 hymeneal Having to do with a wedding.
47 imbricate To overlap to form a regular pattern.
48 imbroglio An altercation or complicated situation.
49 imbue To infuse, instill.
50 incipient Beginning, in an early stage.
51 ingenue A naïve young woman.
52 inglenook The place beside the fireplace.
53 inspissate To thicken.
54 inure To jade.
55 jejune Dull; childish.
56 lagniappe A gift given to a customer for their patronage.
57 lagoon A small gulf or inlet in the sea.
58 languor Listlessness, inactivity.
59 lassitude Weariness, listlessness.
60 laughter The response to something funny.
61 lilt To move musically or lively, to have a lively sound.
62 lithe Slender and flexible.
63 loquacious Talkative.
64 luxuriant Thick, lavish.
65 mellifluous Sweet-sounding.
66 missive A message or letter.
67 moiety One of two equal parts, a half.
68 mondegreen A misanalyzed phrase.
69 nebulous Foggy.
70 niveous Snowy, snow-like.
71 obsequious Fawning, subservience.
72 odalisque A concubine in a harem.
73 oeuvre A work.
74 offing That part of the sea between the horizon and the offshore.
75 onomatopoeia The creation of words by imitating sound.
76 paean A formal expression of praise.
77 palimpsest A manuscript written over one or more earlier ones.
78 panacea A complete solution for all problems.
79 panoply A complete set.
80 pastiche A mixture of art work (art or music) from various sources.
81 peccadillo A peculiarity.
82 pelagic Related to the sea or ocean.
83 penumbra A half-shadow, the edge of a shadow.
84 peregrination Wandering, travels.
85 petrichor The smell of earth after a rain.
86 plethora A great excess, overabundance.
87 porcelain A fine white clay pottery.
88 potamophilous Loving rivers.
89 propinquity An inclination or preference.
90 Pyrrhic Victorious despite heavy losses.
91 quintessential The ultimate, the essence of the essence.
92 redolent Sweet-smelling.
93 rhapsody A beautiful musical piece.
94 riparian Having to do with the bank of a river or other body of water.
95 ripple A small, circular wave emanating from a central point.
96 scintillate To sparkle with brilliant light.
97 sempiternal Forever and ever.
98 seraglio Housing for a harem.
99 serendipity Finding something while looking for something else.
100 surreptitious Sneaky.

Source: alphaDictionary