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Week 48: A Farewell to Arms

I always want to slap Hemingway's women. They never seem like fully realized characters. Unlike the men, who, while they may not always be admirable, at least are recognizably human. Hemingway believed that women, along with politics, drink, money and ambition, ruined a writer. So it's not surprising that his women tend to fall into [...]

By | 2018-05-15T15:22:51+00:00 May 15th, 2018|Uncategorized|4 Comments

The thing about Mother’s Day*

When I was 7, I got kicked out of Brownies. The reason, as I understood it then, was that I had gone to a special Brownie feast out of uniform. The thing is, I had been in a rush, as usual, and had simply gone in my school clothes. Brown Owl told me to sit [...]

By | 2018-05-12T22:13:52+00:00 May 12th, 2018|Uncategorized|7 Comments

Week 47: Fall on your knees

A few years ago, in an interview with Herizons magazine, Ann-Marie Macdonald had this to say about sexual abuse: "The act of abuse doesn't take very long. It's often a fleeting moment in one's life, but the ripple effects - the water table is poisoned from then on, the food chain is poisoned." She was [...]

By | 2018-05-08T04:40:44+00:00 May 8th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Week 46: The Great Gatsby

"Let me tell you about the very rich," Fitzgerald once wrote. "They are different from you and me." He wrote it in a short story, "The Rich Boy", while he was waiting for The Great Gatsby to be published. It's worth quoting in full because it's at the heart of the Gatsby narrative: “Let me tell you [...]

By | 2018-05-01T15:45:46+00:00 May 1st, 2018|Uncategorized|2 Comments

Week 45: Howards End

I've always had a fondness for books about houses. The Fall of the House of Usher is one of the scariest (and will be reviewed here once I get up the nerve to reread it), but there are others that come to mind: Brideshead Revisited, Bleak House, Wuthering Heights, A House for Mr. Biswas. Houses have personalities - what would Gone [...]

By | 2018-04-24T15:26:10+00:00 April 24th, 2018|Uncategorized|1 Comment

Week 44: The thoroughly modern Mrs. Bovary

Gustave Flaubert (1821 - 1880) came of age during a time of transition between the revolution of 1830 and that of 1848. It was an era of tremendous political and intellectual upheaval, a time when poets and writers like Wordsworth, Coleridge and Walter Scott denounced the rationalism of the Enlightenment, seeing themselves as champions of [...]

By | 2018-04-18T16:27:26+00:00 April 17th, 2018|Uncategorized|2 Comments

Week 43: Atonement

Who of us are so perfect that we've never wished we could go back and do something differently? Or simply not do it at all? Atonement, published in 2001 and filmed six years later, is generally believed to be one of Ian McEwan's best novels. It was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and made TIME [...]

By | 2018-04-10T15:12:39+00:00 April 10th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Week 42: The “other” Decline and Fall

This time last year BBC 2 brought to the screen a "ghastly gaggle of braying Oxford toffs", as one reviewer put it, in a delightfully-cast three-part adaptation of Decline and Fall, Evelyn Waugh's 1928 satire on the great and the good of England, between the wars. If you missed it, your public library will have [...]

By | 2018-04-03T15:27:11+00:00 April 3rd, 2018|Uncategorized|2 Comments

Week 41: 10 Reasons NOT to read Infinite Jest

It’s never a good sign, it seems to me, when you’d rather unload the dishwasher than continue reading a particular book. Or make that dentist appointment you’ve been putting off. Or cut your toenails. Which, by the way, happens a lot in Infinite Jest, the 1996 novel by the American writer David Foster Wallace. It [...]

By | 2018-03-27T15:36:52+00:00 March 27th, 2018|Uncategorized|5 Comments