Sunday, January 31, 2010

Reading is Sexy XXXI

(image via the wit of the staircase archive)
4. The State of Constraint - New Work by Oulipo, by Paul Fournel, Harry Mathews, Jacques Jouet, Hervé Le Tellier, Ian Monk, Jacques Roubaud, Olivier Salon, Marcel Bénabou, Lynn Crawford, Frédéric Forte, Michelle Grangaud, François Caradec, Anne F. Garréta Oulipo is a name derived from Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle; it's a school of literature devoted to employing mathematics and science to develop new literary structures. It's not as deadly as that may sound. Think of the joy of reading Lewis Carroll, whose work could not have existed in the absence of mathematics. One of my favorite authors, Douglas R. Hofstadter argues in Le Ton Beau de Marot (a book, by the way, which is actually written in English) that constraints can inspire creativity. In it, Hofstader discusses (amongst many other things) Georges Perec's La disparition, a lipogram, written without ever using the letter "e". The pieces in this anthology include similar word games, stories with binary structures (the literary equivalent of a choose-your-own adventure book), variations on themes, works based on the structure of classical music forms, "shattered" limericks, folk songs written by selecting four words from ninety Tom Waits songs, univocalism written with a single vowel, and so forth. Some have the same effect as reading puzzles or mind games, and some have more literary merit above and beyond the structure of the medium.

5. The Poetry Chains of Dominic Luxford - Ten Poets Pick Ten More And So On I haven't the patience to list all the poets. It seems I simply forget to read poetry. I have some on my shelves, but I don't seek it out. I never understood why my fellow students in schools would complain that poetry was obscure in meaning; I always found the meaning transparent, though perhaps less so with the most contemporary work. Also, taking a poem apart to see how it works, was something which appealed to the reductionist scientific mind (in a way I did not find with the dissection of the novel*). The conceit of this volume is that the publishers begin with five (allegedly) familiar poets and a poem, then request that the poet choose a second poem of their own and a third by another poet. Then repeat, so they gathered a series of chains of poems. I confess, I had only heard of the Canadians (Michael Ondaatje and Lisa Robertson). I do like the poems about something (as opposed to nothing), with the unexpected but apt image, and unsurprisingly, the magical realism of a penguin made of cheese.

6. The Bad Girl by Mario Vargas Llosa The interesting thing about this novel is the clear challenge Vargas Llosa has set himself, with his titular anti-hero the bad girl. How do you make your readers care for a woman who is not nice? Patricia Highsmith does this in her Ripley novels by making anti-hero Ripley the narrator - pure adrenaline gets you caught up in his schemes. In The Bad Girl, our narrator is Peruvian Richardo, who starts his life in 1950s Miraflores as a young adolescent, obsessed with Lily, the glamorous Chilean girl, who repeatedly refuses to be his girlfriend, and turns out not to be Chilean at all. It is merely a means for a poor girl to fit in, despite being different, by lying to disguise her differences as something exotic. Bookish Ricardo's only goal in life is to life in Paris, which is where he next meets the bad girl, through his Peruvian friend Paúl, cook and revolutionary. Now, the Bad Girl is Comrade Arlette, who using a free Cuban scholarship to see the world. Cuba wants to train youth to bring revolution to Peru - the bad girl just wants to see the world. Ricardo courts her again, but not wanting to hurt Paúl, does not help her avoid going to Cuba. So, motivated always to find riches and comfort, she finds herself a French diplomat to marry and gets herself back to Paris. Ricardo has set himself up as a translator and interpreter for UNESCO, by the time he meets the bad girl again, now a sophisticated French diplomat's wife. She deigns to have an affair with him, before moving onward and upward with her world-traveling social climbing, through the horsey-set in England, to yakuza Japan. Our likable narrator is frankly, a bit of a sap. The bad girl repeatedly abuses him, lies to him, berates him, but he remains obsessed. You care about Ricardito because of the way he behaves and the full friendships he has with a series of people in different eras of his life. The history of Peru is woven into the background of the novel. Vargas Llosa slowly builds the reader's interest in the bad girl - she is, if nothing else, true to herself, strong in the face of adversity (which she cannot help but seek out) and ultimately a product of injustices in socially and racially stratified society.

7. Ingenious Pursuits by Lisa Jardine Once again Jardine mines the (non-existent) scientific revolution; here making the case that science is culture. Beautifully illustrated, though the illustrations could do with some proper documentation. What the historian and the scientist find important in the history of science are not always the same thing.

{Series so far: books read, more books read, books read, books read continues, more books read, I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII, XIII, XIV, XV, XVI, XVII, XVIII,XIX, XX, XXI, XXII, XXIII XXIV, XXV, XXVI, XXVII, XXVIII, XXIX, XXX}

*In Grade 9, I lost all respect for Miss F., English teacher, who thought it apposite to point out that when Atticus Finch shoots the mad dog in To Kill A Mockingbird, that 'dog' spelt backwards is 'God'. Just because it's true, doesn't make it worth observing.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Unicorn Amongst Umbrellas Raspberry Pillow Too

unicorn amongst umbrellas pillow detail
unicorn amongst umbrellas pillow back So I made another Unicorn Amongst Umbrellas pillow, cause I needed one. This one is all mine. :) I sold two of the Unicorn Amongst Umbrella multimedia (i.e. paper prints) and I have a mega-package for !
Next week, I start my Power Printmaking course at Open Studio. I'm looking forward to doing other forms of printmaking.
unicorn amongst umbrellas pillow

In other news, I got a lovely free French/Spanish dinner with our visiting scientist and several profs yesterday, and you will be amused to know, despite learning many things about what science tells us about worldviews* and how scientists can use this knowledge to better communicate with those who have other worldviews, and um, the history of computing**, even when you go to a fancy dinner, with distinguished scientists, the conversation still lead back to Star Trek.

I tell you, it's hopeless. I feel like Elena in Victoria, and her heroic attempt to teach the earth scientists to enjoy fashion and not to wear socks with sandals and polar fleece every. single. day. It's a loosing battle.

*Apparently, there's a link between dopamine receptors in the brain and voting tendancies. You can classify outlooks into two broad categories - and these are 60% hereditary. I find this amazing.

**My mind is still boggling over the cathode-ray-tube memory (think: oscilloscopes) in 1957 and the description of 'peering into the memory of the machine'.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Ada, Countess Lovelace, Best of 2009

Craftster Best of 2009 Winner
I'm a Craftster Best of 2009 Winner!

I'm a little slow on this one, having neglected craftster somewhat of late (what with the harddrive meltdown of January '10), but I'm flattered to say that Lady Lovelace has won in the "Other Image Reproduction Techniques: Completed Projects" category!

Ada Lovelace prints drying

Friday, January 22, 2010

serene screen

I thought I'd post my new screen, in its serenity, before I have a chance to litter my desktop with crap important stuff. I took that photo. That's why it's called the Pacific, but trust me, more often than not, it doesn't look that way. Though some days, it's August, are you are up at 5 am*, the boat smells like bacon and the sea and sky are a thing of beauty.

*That's the west coast of BC and Washington state in the distance, so that means this is a sunrise, not a sunset.

>600 Hearts

Thinking of You Valentine V detail Oh! Thanks to having a unicorn on the Front Page, I've now surpassed 600 Hearts for my etsy shop!

If you are in the east end of Toronto tomorrow, check out the "fashion market, jumble sale, silent auction and bake sale" fundraiser for Canadian Red Cross Haiti Earthquake Relief. Follow the link for details.

I had one of those, 'And where is the TTC going today?' type mornings. Considering I take a streetcar, confined to a finite amount of tracks, this is a surprisingly common reccurring event. There isn't even any snow and they still can't seem to keep the streetcars running. The College shuttle bus decided, mysteriously, to take us (the three people morosely staring at the streetcars piling up at the High Park turn-around and refusing to, well, turn around) along Dundas, so I ended up in Chinatown, but I got here eventually. They really need to keep the streetcars running after the recent fare hike, or they'll have rider insurrection on their hands.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

FP treasury

Unicorn on the Front Page!


A kind etsian pointed out my typo. Of course.

Engelbert the seahorse

standing Engelbert seahorse standing Engelbert seahorse back

Engelbert the seahorse is a naturalist. He's fascinated by the ginkgo biloba tree. He considers it a living fossil and collects items ornamented with their fan-like leaves. He likes to imagine what it would be like to study these trees back in the Jurassic. He likes to share his wild ideas. Perhaps he would be a good fit in your home?

Engelbert is a hand-block printed seahorse in burgundy on mustard yellow cotton. The back of Engelbert the Seahorse pillow features a print fabric with ginkgo biloba leaves and dragonflies, in a patchwork with a burgundy fabric. He is stuffed with cotton/poly stuffing.

I love the French word for dragonfly, libellule.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Monday, January 18, 2010

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Reading is sexy XXX

(image Courtesan reading a love letter (Edo) via this site) It occurs to me that this is not a well-advised post title, but, c'est la vie.
1. A Whistling Woman by A.S. Byatt. This is the fourth and final (?) book in a cycle by Byatt, completing the quartet which began with The Virgin in the Garde, Still Life, and Babel Tower. This is a rich world Byatt has created, around the life of the North Yorkshire Potter family, and red-headed, independent, intellectual Frederica Potter in particular, during the 50s and 60s. The first novel is intertwined with a play about Queen Elizabeth I being performed for Elizabeth II's coronation. The second is intertwined with the story of Van Gogh. The third is intertwined with a battle over censorship, freedom and pornography with a character's novel Babeltower. The fourth is rich in symbolism, but does not have as much of a dualistic structure. The character Agatha's fairytale story Flight North begins the novel, and the story of its publication is a thread in the novel, but plays a far more subtle role than say, Babeltower in Babel Tower. Ironically, now that I've claimed the final novel is less dualistic, one of the major themes is the syzygy in the Gnostic sense (a male-female pair of aeons), in the Jungian sense of archetypal pairings, and in the zoological sense (and the discussion of sexual versus asexual reproduction) - not to omit, the on-going story of the twins John Ottokar and Paul/Zag (and his rock band Zag and th Syzygy Zy-goats) and the discussion of whether monozygotic twins are an example of asexual reproduction with the one twin as both mother and genetic pair of the other. Other major themes include blood, birds, mind & body, reproduction, mirrors and light, Manichaeism and the Biblical stories of Abraham and Issaac, and that of Joshua. The novel, as you may have gathered, takes on a lot: mental illness, religion and cults, psycotherapy, changing role of women in society and evolution of the actual family unit, duty, media and television in particular, love of knowledge, love, domestic violence and counter culture. Frederica and her son Leo are still living in South London with Agatha and her daughter Saskia. Byatt makes various allusions to The Golden Notebook and the concept of free women, or unmarried women with children sharing a home to share child-rearing duties. Frederica is still seeing computer scientist and Quaker John O., but soon he accepts a job at the University of North Yorkshire (where several characters from previous novels work including Marcus, Frederica's brother). Frederica is convinced by Edmund Wilkie to host a television show about ideas called Through the Looking glass. This is a way for Byatt to weave in all sorts of knowledge, whether it be neurology, sociology, art history to even things not found in universities, like astrology, along with the imagery of Lewis Caroll (not without its own binary pairs). Meanwhile, the Quaker Spirit's Tigers (including psychologist Elvet Gander from Babel Tower) merge with Gideon Farrar (Still Life)'s Children of Joy, and we watch in increasing dred as the budding cult falls under the sway of Manichaen Joshua Lamb (or Ramsden), a charismatic man whose mental health was shattered when his father acts on the belief he was commanded by God to sacrifice his family. Joshua survives, his family does not. The group contains other religious characters and one ethologist from the previous novels and centres around Lucy Nighby, a woman battered by her husband, who may, or may not have attacked both he and their children - again the bloody image of sacrifice of children. At UNY, biologist Luk Lysgaard-Peacock is in love with Jacqueline Winwar (who in turn loves Marcus, who may love Ruth, who is embedded in the Children of Joy). Gerard Wijnnobel is organizing a conference on Mind and Body (another means of Byatt to express her love of knowledge) while a growing encampment called the Anti-University of counter-culture student protesters, plans their response. Byatt deftly weaves all her strands together, making a strong argument for interdisciplinary, unfettered celebration of knowledge, for real people living true, if messy lives, and for independence.

One could easily write a doctorate on these books. Consider the symbolism of names alone (Marcus and his mystical, instinctive approach to mathematics, compassionate Ruth, Lady Wijnnobel is née Eva Selkett, Joshua Lamb, Elvet Gander, Daniel with his foresight and tests of faith, Lucy Nighby who makes a religion of light, Lyssgard-Peacock, and even Avram Snitkin). I'll refrain from attempting to summarize such a richly-woven a web with a few lines. The cycle as a whole is both long and heavy, but very rewarding, and I highly recommend them.

2. Noh - The Classical Theater. Performing Arts of Japan IV by Yasuo Nakamura, introduction by Earle Ernst. No one is going to read this post and then read this book, if for no other reason than its obscurity. I found it in a used bookstore, years ago. I would have prefered Bunraku: The Puppet Theater, but this is what I found, and I do have a thing about masks. The author varies between claims that the ancient theatre is in fact avant guarde or whether it is so slow and stylized to be undoubtedly boring. The history of Noh, in excruciating detail, is likewise a mix of the undoubtedly boring with some real gems of ideas and stories. The introduction vivdly presents Tokyo, immediately after WWII, where Prof. Ernst was ironically tasked with censorship in name of the democracy, to prevent the feudalistic from re-appearing. He recognizes art, rather than nostalgia for neofeudalism. The author, mathematician-Noh expert Nakamura, relates the history of Noh from 200 BC to (his) modern day, the training of actors, the masks, music, sets and costumes (down to the socks). Just when it might get boring, he explains the difference between dramatic and supernatural parts as akin to the difference between living in three and four dimensions (with a metaphor that could have be straight out of Flatland), or a juicy story about an emperor's advisor who became addicted to Noh, or a love affair between a shogun and young Noh apprentice.

3. From the Notebooks - The Unwritten Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald by Stephany Aulenback, John Beckman, Marc Bojanowski, Judy Budnitz, Ian Caldwell, Rachel Ingalls, Sam Lipsyte, Tom Lombardi, Carey Mercer, Lydia Miller, Sigrid Nunez, Michelle Orange, Salvador Plascencia, Matthew Sharpe, Miriam Toews, Jincy Willett, Diane Williams This is of course a McSweeney's project (issue 22). F. Scott Fitzgerald kept a notebook. It contained, amongst other things, 32 more-or-less wild story ideas. McSweeney's gathered authors together and asked them to select one. Everyone wanted "girl and giraffe" so they include two stories on that theme, and many others (i.e. "the man who killed the idea of tanks in England - his after life" or "Fairy who fell for a wax dummy"). I enjoyed these various stories very much, though some more than others. Stand-outs include Plascencia's "Returned" wherein the ocean follows a girl, Lombardi's "The Bear" ("Lois and the bear hiding in the Yellowstone") and Sharpe's "Bert as a Boy".

McSweeney's say they leave the unselected ideas as an exercise to the reader. So, I assign you the task of writing a story of what I deem the most promising, unselected Fitzgeraldian idea:
A tree, finding water, pierces a roof and solves a mystery

{Series so far: books read, more books read, books read, books read continues, more books read, I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII, XIII, XIV, XV, XVI, XVII, XVIII,XIX, XX, XXI, XXII, XXIII XXIV, XXV, XXVI, XXVII, XXVIII, XXIX}

Thursday, January 14, 2010

100 things from secret minouette places!

pistachio unicorn pillowRaspberry Unicorn pillow The one hundredth customer of things from secret minouette places is the one and only Gasolinequeen! She's snapped up the unicorn pillows in raspberry and pistachio flavours, chivalrously leaving the vanilla, in case Blythechild might want one too. It's great that the 100th customer is a friend, so I can happily finish the 100th customer loot, knowing it will be going to a good home. :)

Thank you, thank you, thank you, to Gasolinequeen and all my friends who have supported my art and my shop. It's real pleasure to create, and to find receptive homes, so I don't drown in my own creations! ;)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


So, I made some Valentines. This involved my "thinking of you" brain (lino) block, and my collection of papers (largely Japanese, with some Nepalese, and some unidentified) and envelopes. This forced me to look at the paper stash, which in turn, has caused a "I must use the washi" panic, cause frankly, there is no reason for any individual to be hoarding that much paper. I will not use my Paper Place gift certificate until I have reduced the size of the paper stash.

Thinking of You Valentine IV

Thinking of You Valentine V

Thinking of You Valentine VI

Thinking of You Valentine VII

I'm a little ambivalent about this holiday (in case you hadn't gathered from my Zombierrific choice of subject matter). I'm thinking about making some anti-valentines too. When I was a child, Mom was good at Valentine's. We always got heart-shaped boxes full of cinnamon hearts at breakfast. Mmmmmm.... cinnamon hearts. The point of cinnamon hearts is to eat them until your tongue goes radioactive red and you can't taste anything anymore. Cinnamon hearts are the best part of Valentine's.

This year, Chinese New Year falls on Valentine's Day and it will be the YEAR OF THE TIGER. I've decided to submit my Tiger print to the 9th International Print Exhibition and Exchange Celebrating The Chinese Year of the Tiger 2010. Roar!
Hu: The Tiger, limited edition linocut

Apart from that, I am trying to complete the book editing, simultaneous derive some equations regarding two different methods (oh, Hankel transforms!), considering New Zealand, thinking about earthquakes, instruments on the seafloor and an abstract.

Oh, and the relationship between Japanese Noh theatre and Minkowski spacetime diagrams.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Renaissance Polar Bear

Here's something I've been working on. I've had this polar bear wearing a ruff, in my head for two years. He needed out. So I put him on paper (variety of Japanese washi, pencil, pen and ink, acrylic ink, vintage geological map of the arctic with embroidery floss). I got interested in the possibilities of working just with texture and pattern making those monochromatic 'chunky pages' for swaps. Somehow, the aurora was nonetheless called for.... I've been hoarding vintage frames.

polar bear & aurora

The thing about bears is that they can stand on two legs, but they are not shaped like us. Their heads to not sit at the top, and as his back appears to hunch away from his ruff, I wonder in hindsight if people will misinterpret it as an anorak, though his coat is rather Henry VIII, so I hope it is clear.

polar bear multimedia

A lot of the Japanese papers have iridescence or gold or silver foil laminae (haha! there's a word) so it changes in the light.

aurora detail
renaissance polar bear

I like the reflections of the sky light.

I was going to have him more off to the side, to indicate the vast arctic emptiness, but I couldn't resist the 'Mackenzie King Island'.

William Lyon Mackenzie King
Sat in the middle and played with string
He loved his mother like anything
William Lyon Mackenzie King

Or at least, that's how I remember Dennis Lee's poem. I also recall visiting his home in Ottawa, with my family, when I was a child.* The guide told us that William Lyon Mackenzie King, who lead this country (successfully) through WWII, used to consult his mother about affairs of state. Which would not have been unreasonable, except, she was, um, deceased. Further, he apparently consulted his beloved dogs - also deceased. And, the position of the hands of the clock. But, you shouldn't quote me on that. This is what I recall from a tour guide's story, sometime in the 80's.** (Actually, I just checked the wikipedia entry and the 'Personal Life' section is far more salacious. Like something straight out of Gravity's Rainbow.)

This is posted with the ulterior motive of inspiring F. in wrangling her former downstairs neighbour. There will be more of this sort of thing... for the art show, which will materialize. The bear says so.
polar bear with ruff

*I believe we visited every single historic site between here and Lunenberg, Nova Scotia. Sincere indoctrination - it was effective. See, I care about Canadian history.
**His grandfather was the revolutionary William Lyon Mackenzie, one-time mayor of Toronto, general shit-disturber, who donned three bulky overcoats In case the bullets flew.

evolving home

I have been nesting, in the cold. Also, I've been given, or indulged in, or made more artwork. This shows the Superpricess (flying fox) print given (by Joutomaa) to me by Lady Redjeep & consort, the ceramic and felt polar bear dreaming of snow by Nesting Emily, a Deth P. Sun postcard which are new.
wall, rearranged plus flying fox

This is my Alec Thibodeau 'Competition is Overrated' print:
framed apples & zebra print

There is more. This is just a first taste. It is so hard to get any decent photographs when there is so little natural light.

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Phylomon Project - Sneak Peak

foxcard mock-up If kids can learn 120 Pokémon 'species', why not their local flora and fauna? A study* showed that despite kids' staggering ability to learn to identify fictional critters on gaming cards, they could identify less than 50% of common wildlife. Next week, UBC's Science Creative Quarterly is launching a collaborative, interactive antidote to ignorance of our ecosystem called The Phylomon Project in honour of 2010, the International Year of Biodiversity.

The image is a sort of mock-up of how a Pokémon-type card might look, featuring my 'Vixen in the Snow' lino block print. Since I volunteered my image, you can have a sneak peak at the site and what is planned.

You can find out more about participation at this link** or in the flickr group. So, all you artists, people who care about biodiversity, people with kids, educators, people who like art, people who are kids, and people into gaming (have I got everyone yet?)- check it out!

*Balmford A, Clegg L, Coulson T, Taylor J., Why conservationists should heed Pokémon., Science. 2002 Mar 29;295(5564):2367.
** This includes an email address for comments and feedback to project creator Dave Ng, for anyone with comments and suggestions on gaming. Eventually they will set up a blog to facilitate discussion. They foresee a wiki-like process to determine the biodiversity content, and I suspect everything will come together in a similar community-driven way.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Reading is sexy XXIX

(Image: Man Reading in a Park by August Macke (1887-1914) via Guarda chi legge) 37. No One Writes to the Colonel - and other stories by Gabriel García Márquez. This book is really a novella, from whence comes the title, and several short stories (grouped together as Big Mama's Funeral) which appear to be set in the same Columbian port town. We know this town from In Evil Hour - in fact one of my favorite scenes, in which the half-shaved mayor visits the dentist (from opposing political faction) and demands at gunpoint to have his tooth extracted, reappears here as a story on its own. The Colonel is a vetran awaiting his pension, for thirty years, somehow living with his wife on nothing, but holding on to the fighting rooster, as all that remains of their son. With the exception of the final story, Big Mama's Funeral which in other parts of the world would be recognized as pure blarney, the stories are written in a simple, realistic manner, perhaps lyrical, or unexpected, but not magical realism. This is a realism we recognize, and I for one, am always happy to inhabit.

38. Gun, with occasional music by Jonathem Lethem. I guess this man has a thing about kangaroos. Several (apparently distinct) reviews on the jacket mention the same influences, as one-phrase summaries: Raymond Chandler meets Philip K. Dick. Now, I haven't actually read any Philip K. Dick, so I wouldn't know, but a hardboiled dectective story set in near-future, frankly dystopian, Oakland sounds like my sort of thing. This isn't like A Hardboiled Wonderland at the End of the World. Murakami's futuristic Wonderland remains my favorite heavily Chandler-influenced hardboiled detective novel. I do love that I can now name two novels in this chategory. Wonderland is more existential, remaining a Japanese I-novel, with the fantasy more in the mind, and about the individual, whereas this is more about society. It is also more true to Chandler - there was a time where I read a lot of mysteries, and this book isn't channelling the hardboiled in a generic sense - I know Philip Marlowe when I see him. I prefer Dashiell Hammett's more nuanced world with tighter plot lines, but appreciate that Lethem has imported Chandler's warts*, bizarre metaphors, and all into his brave new world. His protagonist, Conrad Metcalf (played in my mind by Bogart, of course) lives in a world where society's tendencies to treat problems (perceived or actual) with drugs, or to blindly trust authority and not think too hard about civil liberties has moved to the logical extreme. Almost everyone is snorting make, which they buy at the makery (or course) with their personal favorite blends of mind-numbing Forgettol, Acceptol or even Believol. Metcalf is hired by Dr. Stanhunt to trail his cheating wife Celeste. Maynard Stanhunt is so addicted to Forgettol, when Metcalf arrives unannounced Stanhunt doesn't know who he is. Then Stanhunt turns up dead and Metcalf finds himself in the thick of things. No only are people choosing to self-medicate through life, questions are taboo and require a license and the news is now largely musical if broadcast, or images only in print. The message is always the same: everything is okay and the Office are in control. The Office police society by monitoring karma levels. Step out of line, and they might deduct karma points until you are defunct and find yourself in the freezer. Metcalf's new client, accused of murdering Stanhunt, is due to be put in suspended animation at any moment. Meanwhile, a trigger-happy evolved kangaroo with a chip on his shoulder is determined to keep Metcalf out of his boss's business. What exactly is going on in the house with Celeste, Pansy Greenleaf**, the evolved kitten and the babyhead toddler with the artificially accelerated intellectual maturity? If maturity is a word you can use for a three-foot tall thug. This was a very enjoyable read - hardboiled detective fun with the grit and societal critique one would expect from a future dystopian novel.

39. Changing My Mind by Zadie Smith This is a book of essays, covering Reading (Zora Neale Hursten, E. M. Forster, George Elliot, Barthes, Nabokov, Kafka, Joseph O'Neill, Tom McCarthy), Being (a writer, a visitor to Liberia, a person whose accent changed from North London to Cambridge and other in-between cultural experiences), Seeing (movies, especially classics), Feeling (her life) and Remembering ('Brief Interviews with Hideous Men'). You should all read Zadie Smith. She is whip-smart, and hysterically funny, and the sort of person you want to hang out with. She is as capable of combining Barthes and Nabokov, or Spinoza and Elliot, Pygmalion and Obama's memoir. Before I can think, 'But, I haven't even read Middlemarch, am I unlettered?' she explains how she went to see Date Movie because of Alysson Hannigan's role in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the only TV show she has truly loved. You (and, you know who you are) should forgive her her sheepishness for adoring V for Vendetta and feeling the need to say that after Date Movie it appears a masterpiece, because her review of V for Vendetta includes how it felt to read the graphic novel in Thatcher's Britain. I want more voices of my generation like this. I bet you do too.

*I took a Detective Fiction course as an undergrad. Our prof assigned Chandler's The Big Sleep. She was concerned that we wouldn't be able to cope with the racist language in Farewell, My Lovely (if I recall correctly). It is mercifully now shocking to read certain words, but I think we knew that US society in the 30s wasn't somewhere one might choose to grow up black. You know, if given a choice. Instead we got a book I found misogynistic and homophobic, with a pitiful plot line, but some excellent dialogue (which, amazingly, makes for an excellent movie, or three). I'm not sure why (or if) it was preferable for us to read misogynistic and homophobic over racist, but I wish that it was as shocking to us. Lethem has translated Marlowe's biases into Metcalf's lack of enthusiasm for evolved animal rights, which is very clever indeed.

**Who thinks this is a Patricia Highsmith allusion?

So I'm probably deranged, but I feel like I'm falling behind to have only read 39 books in 2009. I read 47 books in 2008. So I need to remind myself that I also finally finished co-editing a book this year, spent close to two months bookless, in the field, and some of the books I read (Gravity's Rainbow, Anna Karenina) would count as I don't know, four books and a platypus, if written by normal human beings.

Also, on the other extra-curricular front, I am glad to say my 2009 etsy goals are pretty well in-hand. I wanted to have 100 sales and 500 hearts. I have 98 sales (not including craft-shows and swaps, which really should count) and 585 hearts. Yay! and thank you!


{Series so far: books read, more books read, books read, books read continues, more books read, I, II, href="">III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII, XIII, XIV, XV, XVI, XVII, XVIII,XIX, XX, XXI, XXII, XXIII XXIV, XXV, XXVI, XXVII, XXVIII}