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Summer reading 2013.
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Image by revbean
All of these books were originally published in 1975 (the year I was born). Curtain was written circa 1940 when Christie was afraid that she might die during World War II and leave Poirot’s life unfinished, but was then locked away in a vault until she was actually nearing the end of of her life and authorised its publication. The rest were (I believe) all written in the early ’70s.

There are 11 novels and one collection of short stories. They total 3902 pages.

Four authors are Brits, four Americans, one Finn, one Pole, one Argentine, and one Mexican. The books are organised here (and as of now, this is the order I intend to read them) alphabetically by the original title—it is merely an odd bit of chance that the four books in translation all fall at the end.

Four of the books are used copies, eight new. One used book and two new books were purchased at the Strand Bookstore in Manhattan. Four new books were purchased at the very local Greenlight Bookstore in Fort Green, Brooklyn. One new book was mail ordered direct from the publisher. One new book was mail ordered from the UK because I like the British cover better than the American one. The three remaining used books were ordered from used bookstores in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and England.

All books were purchased in the last six months, though one is a replacement for a book that I had previously owned (and before that had read the first few dozen pages in a library copy, some 10-15 years ago).

My final pre-summer reading was Agatha Christie’s The Curious affair at Styles, the first Poirot mystery, the setting of which is revisited in Curtain, the last.



Curtain. 3 June – 5 June
Dhalgren. 7 June – 25 June
Dead babies. 25 June – 29 June
The dead father. 29 June – 3 July
Galaxies. 12 July* – 22 July
[ Cats†. 13 July ]
Hello sailor. 22 July – 23 July
High-rise. 23 July – 29 July
JR. 29 July – 1 October
The year of the hare. 1 October – 9 October
The chain of chance. 9 October – 4 November
The book of sand. 4 November – 19 November
Terra nostra. 20 November –


Wrap up:

So this was more of late spring/summer/fall reading than simply summer, but I did make it through nearly the entire stack.§

I absolutely loved Dhalgren and JR. I thoroughly enjoyed Curtain, The dead father, and High-rise. I thought there was some good stuff in Galaxies, The chain of chance, and The book of sand. And I was disappointed with Dead babies, Hello sailor, and The year of the hare. My thoughts on Terra nostra will again have to wait.

In reading many of these books, as I am wont to do, I began making films of them in my head. Not simply seeing them acted out, but thinking about them technically: sets, camera shots, casting, abridging or adapting the text. By the fourth or fifth book I had concocted the idea of making a 5-10 minute short for each book, that could perhaps be strung together into a strange sort of anthology. Maybe that could be a summer project for some future year.


*I rushed through The dead father—a hardback book—perhaps a little quickly in order to pack the next three slim, softcover novels along with me to San Francisco for a week’s vacation. I made a stab at starting Galaxies on the plane out, but it was a 5AM flight, and I was too exhausted to retain much of what I read; and similarly with any downtime on the trip, or on the red-eye flight back east and so I began again upon our return.‡

†A short, silly, later addition to my summer reading. Bernard "Hap" Kliban’s Cats, a book of sketches and cartoons, which Megan had thought to maybe buy for me as a birthday gift, but then thought maybe it was too silly, was first published in 1975. (Aaron has given me a calendar of Kliban’s cat cartoons each of the last two years for Xmas.) Megan showed it to me as I was waiting for her to close up the toy store the other day, and I read through it in about half an hour, then purchased it.

‡Having now finished Galaxies it seems it might have been strangely more appropriate had I in fact been able to tackle it on the flight. The book is a postmodern meta-novel and discourse on the state of American sci-fi in the greater landscape of literary fiction of the 1970s disguised as a typical pulp sci-fi novel of the era. Toward the end of the book Malzberg creates and addresses a hypothetical "reader" who has chosen the book to read on a six-hour cross-country flight from New York to California.

§This was my second, or perhaps third, dive into Terra nostra, and although I made it further than previously, I did put it down toward the end of 2013 to move onto other things.

Botiga Xocolata
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Image by MayaMem
I had a "Chocolat" morning.

A beautiful stranger who makes and sells xocolata, from fancy little bonbons in lacy gift bags to dark-hearts of melting cocoa dusted in light brown castor sugar, lured me into her store and fed me chocolate.

The automatic doors to the store were very sensitive; anyone walking past could trigger the sensor, opening the doors and letting a breath of chilled conditioned air laden with chocolate out into the street. That’s how I got sucked in. Its interesting to be inside a chocolate shop and watch people on the street reacting to the doors opening, as if by magic, beckoning … In the few split seconds it takes to walk past the store, you can see people struggling with the decision to enter or not. A woman with squawking brats makes a mental note to buy birthday party favours shaped like fish, sea-horses, starfish. A young hipster looks longingly at the display as he struts by. The top half of his body suddenly seems to be moving more slowly than the bottom half; his eyes and heart and gut are drawn, in slo-mo, to the display, while his legs and feet seem to urge him to push on, carry on, not stop. A woman stops right in front of the display, looks in greedily, her eyes grow wider as she drinks in the different shapes, sizes, flavours. She is seven years old again, as she reaches for a tendril of hair and curls it around her finger, lost in some reverie involving chocolate.

It was my last day in Barcelona. I had nothing in particular to do. It was a very warm morning so when the doors opened and let out a gush of cold air and the smell of warm chocolate, I couldn’t but look inside. Montse is the fresh, delicate young woman who runs the store. I immediately asked if I could take photographs and buy some chocolate. Because I love the idea of a chocolate shop I said. What a great job to have.

Montse told me her story, how she has worked with chocolate for seven years and that she couldn’t sell something that she doesn’t believe in. She believes chocolate has been given a bad name by cheap, sugary snacks like xxxx and yyyy brands. She works with real chocolate, which is of course dark, medicinal, healing. It really makes people feel better about everything. You need to eat a small square of dark chocolate every day, just like you need a glass of red wine everyday.

Chocolate, without it, there is no life. It makes everyone happy and if you’re not made happy by chocolate its because you’re told it’s bad for you early in life. Or you’re denied it. Or you’re denying yourself something else. How repression (of anything) results in twisted desire.

She cocks her head and looks at me and says I think you get it. Come, lets try some chocolate. And so it begins.

After giving me pieces of local specialities, she sits me down at a table in the little cafe in the lower mezzanine and brings me a cup of hot chocolate. No milk. Just thick chocolate. And a light savoury choux-pastry shaped like a mini pretzel. You have to dip it in the chocolate. It has no good taste in itself, you have to put it in the chocolate and eat it. Now I am going upstairs to wrap some more boxes for a wedding this afternoon. You just sit here and drink your chocolate. And so there I was, a steaming cup of dark chocolate in front of me, slightly overwhelmed and getting high on chocolate and a chance encounter with a lovely stranger.

Montse and her chocolate shop feature in my 100 Strangers project. See the flickr group or online. Montse is not in this photograph because she didn’t want her images online.

Good day for practise leaning..
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Image by honor the gift
.. and practising for the 2010 Mobility Cup which happens in Vancouver, BC 13-17 of September 2010. I encourage folks to check out the races if you are in the area – especially if you are into competitive sports, watch the gold fleet! If you are into some really cool technology go check out the boats and equipment AND ask questions!!!! There is so much to learn .. intimidating, perhaps but so worth your time.

For those of you that have been asking:
Very similar photos to this one can now be purchased in my gallery shop.
Thank you! 🙂

1. I am thankful for the people that were so kind and thoughtful and answered the questions I posed to them. I find it fascinating and awesome that even though in hind sight it didn’t feel like I worded the questions correctly the people still answered the question I was trying to ask. Hooray for Naomi, Tracy, Joyce (half tater) and Paulette! 🙂
2. I am so very thankful for asking Leah for help on Tuesday. I am still learning how to ask for and receive help.
3. I am thankful for finally letting someone (Leah) see some of the art I have been up to lately, it too was difficult but Leah was very kind and surprisingly curious .. I didn’t expect her to be interested in all the text work I have been doing lately. Every time someone says something kind and helpful about my work I find it surprising and am still learning how to receive people’s kind words. In hind sight I believe it is good to be humble in receiving praise for one’s work (my work) but it is still equally important to receive the gift the person offers in response to how the work that came from me made them feel. To value the gift of words and appreciation values the person who offers them. When I sit to work I have an idea in my head but I am learning that the more I try to control how the idea comes out of my hands the more frustrated and full of crap I feel but when I let the pen in my hand do what it needs to the work seems to magically get done. I show up, do the work and it seems to take care of itself, almost like all these hundreds of thousands of words have built up over the years and are now bursting out of me. At this rate purple monkeys may not have to fly out of my butt for me to be a successful professional artist.
4. I am thankful for chasing a lady with a Saskatchewan Roughrider jersey with “1/2 Tater” on the back down the street. I had a lovely visit and am working on an article and photo mosaic about my visit with her. This lady, Joyce,…. oh my goodness, such a wonderful lady, deserves her own day to have her article published. Hello to her sons Dean and Mark.
5. I am thankful for the stories Joyce told me. 🙂
6. I am thankful for Glenn S. who first convinced me to pick up a camera over five years ago. I am thankful for how a camera connects me to such wonderful people like Joyce and Russ and whom I would not have met if it weren’t for my social object known as a camera! 🙂
7. I am thankful that this Saturday 11 September 2010 will be the sixth year anniversary of this kidney transplant. Wow! Six years! Before this transplant I used to fantasize about how amazing it would be to live with a healthy transplanted kidney .. even with some of the unexpected ‘surprises’ this gift of life is still so much more amazing that I ever dreamt of. :’) Many happy tears. I also wanted to send another thank you out to folks that donate blood, tissues and organs – Thank you so much! It has meant so very much to the quality of my life over the years and it continues to make a huge difference to a heck of a lot of people all over the world – Thank you so much! 🙂
8. I am thankful for the fresh fruits and vegetables that I am now able to eat and be healthy because of this transplant! I am thankful for the seriously awesome borscht and tomato bean soup I made this week. Mmmm potassium! 🙂
9. I am thankful for Zee-Bee honey and especially Ally’s Specialty Baking at the farmer’s market! Ally makes the best dang pie crust ever AND I don’t have to clean up the mess after! 🙂 Try her pie! Doo eeet! 🙂 She does gluten free, diabetic and regular baking. I didn’t care for her diabetic chocolate chip cookies but her pb ones were pretty good and the oatmeal raisin ones were okay too. Oh, did I mention .. her pies are phenomenal! Seriously, Ally’s Specialty Baking, get some! 🙂 I haven’t tried Zee-Bee honey, I just thought the lady was nice, so I thought I would try her honey and she was kind enough to email me so we could coordinate the picking up of her honey in the size I was looking for. 🙂
10. I am thankful for working through some gunk this week. Gunk in my art practise and gunk in some health (non-transplant related, relax carers of Monique, I am okay) areas.
11. I am thankful for how inspiring my favourite nephew Camden is. He is a feel the fear and get it done anyway kind of young man. He inspires me to work harder and smarter at my art practise – if it weren’t for him I would probably be frustrating myself doing some computer science stuff that was making me miserable. If you know him, remind him that he is inspiring. I feel so lucky to have him in my life .. even if he is pretty busy making his way in the world I am very thankful to have him in my life. 🙂 He is also UBER charismatic and he got me to stop hating on the rap music – come to think of it, he may be a miracle worker?!! I’m just saying! 🙂
12. I am thankful for practising writing because it makes the thought of writing an article about Half Tater not quite as scary. Who knows I might even get a proper article written about how remarkable Russ is too! 🙂 I am thankful for doing more outlines. Doing the outlines is coming in handy for my bigger projects.
13. I am thankful for getting much better at saying no to what I don’t want so that I can say yes to what I do want! 🙂
14. I am thankful for being able to look back in my journal and see that I have gotten a lot of seed work done this week. I am also thankful to be just about done another 22×30 text piece called “sit lizard brain SIT!” This is nice because I have been feeling like a total lazy-butt this week, aka “not professional!”
15. I am thankful for having nice phone conversations with both my favourite niece, Emilea-G, and my favourite sister AND for getting my favourite niece’s birthday present sent her way! Hopefully it will arrive on time and I will get the card I have the sketches for done and on its way in time for her birthday.
16. I am thankful for my little garden! It really brightens my days with all this cold and overcast.
17. I am thankful for doing more sketching this week. My sketching could use practise! I am also thankful for coming across the work of other artists that do well with sort of similar work as myself. I am not ready to share the links on these artists yet.
18. I am thankful to have heard from Tracy and Paulette this week, I know they are really busy with their stuff so it was nice to hear from them. This also reminds me that I could be a little more generous with the email .. even to say, “howdy, you’re on my mind, hope you are well?”
19. I am thankful for the people that help me to not be such a recluse by commenting on the photos here .. I am working toward a turn around time of under 48 hours while still adhering to my don’t reply when I am tired rule .. because tired and writing anything doesn’t generally go well.
20. Thank you for reading, enjoy your week .. unless you have other plans of course!? 😉

Oh, have you heard, Art of Non-Conformity has a book!? 🙂

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