Nov 26, 2009

Local authors and new stuff in the store

I have mentioned my friend K.Linda Kivi before in the blog and I am finally reading a book I have wanted to dive into for a long time, a book she edited called The Purcell Suite: Upholding the Wild. The book is a compilation of essays by local Kootenay and BC biologists, naturalists, forest technicians, First Nations, adventurers, climbers, and outdoor, wilderness enthusiasts. They write about their experiences in the Purcell range of the Columbia mountains, why they love this range of territory and how they want it to stay protected. Within my intention to start a book club I wanted to spend some of it reading books by local writers. Unbelievably, I haven't read enough of them! So, we begin with The Purcell Suite.

On another note entirely, Jennie has been shopping in Vancouver recently and there are lots of fun new items to covet in the store including a sweet little cabinet, some beautiful linens, more gorgeous clothing (scarves, nighties, tops and skirts) and even some shiny, flashy new jewels in the case. Come and have a peak, get ready for Xmas and think about treating yourself!

Crime Spree

posted by Jennie

I just finished three crime novels in a row. The first was Siren of the Waters by Michael Genelin.
Jana Matinova entered the Czechoslovak police force as a young woman, married an actor, and became a mother. The regime destroyed her husband, their love for one another, and her daughter's respect for her. But she has never stopped being a seeker of justice. Now, as a commander in the Slovak police force, she liaises with colleagues across Europe as they track the mastermind of an international criminal operation involved in, among other crimes, human trafficking. Her investigation takes her from Ukraine to Strasbourg, from Vienna to Nice, in a hunt for a ruthless killer and the beautiful young Russian woman he is determined either to capture or destroy.
International criminal operations and human trafficking, these are important issues in International Crime Fiction.

The next was Arctic Chill by Arnaldur Indridason which takes place in Reykjavik, Iceland. This was the best story, most chilling in its representation of the difficult social issues created around immigration. This subject also comes up in almost all of the European Crime Fiction and usually makes a profound impression. The point of these stories is not really the crime, rather it is the author's effort to realistically describe our changing world. Crime is the stage and we are the people.

The last book was The Demon from Dakar by Kjell Eriksson, taking place in Mexico and Sweden. It is the third of Eriksson's mysteries featuring Inspector Ann Lindell of Sweden's Uppsala police force. And this one was the slowest and so the hardest to read. Not a thriller. Not until the very, very end. It wouldn't make any sense unless you have read all the rest, but it's the best ending I have seen in a long time.

I recommend all three of these stories and I'll let you know as soon as I finished the next three...

Nov 18, 2009

Murder in Quebec

posted by Josee Corrigan

I have completed another Louise Penny mystery based in the fictional village Three Pines, located outside Montreal. Dead Cold has everything I look for in crime fiction and more! I've mentioned the Three Pines series before when I was reading my first of her novels, Still Life. Since that time I've finished The Cruelest Month and Dead Cold, now I'm on to another, The Murder Stone - yum.

Inspector Armand Gamache is, much like my favorite old-time detectives Miss Marple and Monsieur Poirot, a searching character (an obvious quality in a detective you might think) with a compassionate eye and introspective nature that ensure you love him and wish he was your father, lover, husband, brother, or son, depending on the context of the book at the moment. Through Gamache, Louise Penny invites you into the idyllic town of Three Pines and an exploration of the human condition by way of murder. Gamache's observations of the other characters in Three Pines during each case brings into question one's own flawed existence. His zen-buddhist/lapsed-catholic approach to those living and dead instigates inquiry not only into each murder, but also the nature of the human mind - rational, insane, evil, joyful etc. These are gentle thinking novels. Perfect for sitting by the fire on a sleeting Sunday afternoon.

On another note, I just watched a great movie: Julie and Julia. It's a screenplay adapted from two books: My Life in France, Child's autobiography, written with Alex Prud'homme, and a memoir by Julie Powell. In August 2002, Powell started documenting online her daily experiences cooking each of the 524 recipes in Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and she later began reworking that blog, The Julie/Julia Project. The film is the first major motion picture based on a blog. The movie explores the life of American Chef Julia Child through the eyes of an aspiring writer and blogger. It's so lovely. It made me want to rush out and buy Julia's classic tome Mastering The Art Of French Cooking. Everytime I think of the movie I want Boeuf Bourguignonne.

Finally, the Tibetan Book Of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche. All I can say is everyone should read this. It's wonderful, inspirational and essential.

Nov 15, 2009

SIREN OF THE WATERS by Michael Genelin

posted by Jennie

I thought this was a good story and I liked learning about Communism in eastern Europe.

"This is an very interesting book as the author cleverly combines a story about Europe's current international criminal gangs with one about the communist past of Slovakia, one of Europe's newest countries, into a thought provoking thriller." - CRIME SCRAPS


posted by Noam

Once at a Bruce Cochrane workshop, a woman in the audience was compelled to recommend to anyone who throws clay on the potter's wheel A Potter's Workbook by Clary Illian. The next year I was fortunate enough to see Clary herself put on a wheel throwing clinic. There I learned about truth to process, the difference between shape and form as well as methods for complementing one with the other. If you're short on tuition monies, this book is a beginner/intermediate/advanced course all in 112 pages.

description by swaptree

In A Potter's Workbook, renowned studio potter and teacher Clary Illian presents a textbook for the hand and the mind. Her aim is to provide a way to see, to make, and to think about the forms of wheel-thrown vessels; her information and inspiration explain both the mechanics of throwing and finishing pots made simply on the wheel and the principles of truth and beauty arising from that traditional method. Each chapter begins with a series of exercises that introduce the principles of good form and good forming for pitchers, bowls, cylinders, lids, handles, and every other conceivable functional shape. Focusing on utilitarian pottery created on the wheel, Illian explores sound, lively, and economically produced pottery forms that combine an invitation to mindful appreciation with ease of use. Charles Metzger's striking photographs, taken under ideal studio conditions, perfectly complement her vigorous text. A Potter's Workbook is designed to help students who are just learning to throw pots, potters who know how to throw but who feel the need for greater understanding, and skilled craftspeople who enjoy thinking about the objects they love.

"A POTTER'S WORKBOOK offers much for potters with varying degrees of experience, from the new student learning how to throw pots to potters well versed in traditional forms but searching for another vision or understanding. Illian provides a way to see, make, and think about the forms of wheel thrown vessels." - (Bloomsbury Review, 1/1/00)

Nov 11, 2009


posted by Jennie

Highly, highly
recommended by
Keiko Devaux.

description by Goodreads

Award-winning comics artist Alison Bechdel has been known for decades as "one of the best, one to watch out for," in the words of Harvey Pekar. Her latest work - the groundbreaking, genre-busting, best-selling graphic narrative Fun Home - has established her as one of Americas most gifted and extraordinary memoirists as well. With its stunning mix of graphic and literary forms, it has garnered exceptional acclaim, receiving exuberant reviews, winning placement on bestseller lists across the country, and claiming seven foreign publishing deals to date. In the wake of this tremendous critical success, Fun Home has also won new readers for Bechdel - on tour for the book she has been greeted by standing-room-only crowds - and the paperback publication will no doubt continue to expand her audience.

In Bechdels affecting account of her relationship with her late father, personal history becomes a work of amazing subtlety and power. Bechdel grew up in a small Pennsylvania town, in a Victorian house that her father was painstakingly restoring to its period glory. Distant and exacting, Bruce Bechdel was an English teacher and director of the town funeral home, which Alison and her family referred to as the "Fun Home." It was not until college that Alison, who had recently come out as a lesbian, discovered that her father was also gay. A few weeks after this revelation, he was dead, leaving a legacy of mystery for his daughter to resolve.

Nov 10, 2009

THE FIXER by Joe Sacco

posted by Noam

"It might be supposed that comics are, by their very nature, bound to be explicit and two-dimensional, but this is untrue. There are kinds of subtlety and metaphorical allusiveness that are easier to achieve in comics than in novels."

description by Michel Faber from The Guardian

When the war reporter Joe Sacco returned to Bosnia in 2001, he was looking for the only person who still seemed willing to talk frankly about the madness into which the country had descended a few years before. That person was a hard-drinking army veteran called Neven, nicknamed "The Fixer" for his ability to arrange anything - access to off-limits places, gang-bangs, a niche in a trench at the frontline - for the right price. When they met up again, Sacco and his frustratingly unreliable informant completed their harrowing journey through the Balkan nightmare. Why has this piece of journalism taken so long to reach us? Well, Sacco had to create each of the 105 pages with pencil and ink.

The Fixer is a comic. (Sacco, in common with most other outstanding comics artists, from Robert Crumb to Peter Pontiac, prefers that term to the over-dignified "graphic novel".) Sacco's drawings are monochrome, intricately cross-hatched and shaded, very much a product of the American underground scene that rejected the superhero ethos. Although the current glut of movies deriving from that ethos might tempt us to look down on comics, in truth the puerility of Spider-Man or The Incredible Hulk doesn't define the form any more than Mills & Boon defines literature. The Fixer is more morally complex and more artistically ambitious than many well-reviewed novels.

The Fixer chronicles the rise of the paramilitary warlords whose fanatical courage was harnessed to defend Bosnia against ethnic cleansing, but who inevitably became corrupted by power, bloodlust and factionalist delusions. Sacco (always a character in his own comics) plays the impressionable, weedy westerner, while Neven boozes, chain-smokes and reminisces about battles and betrayals. There is a fraternal, even homoerotic charge to Sacco's friendship with the man who "knows about muzzle velocity, rate of fire, the effect of over-water air currents on the trajectory of a bullet". Yet Sacco is wise enough to see through the self-mythologising that keeps mavericks like Neven from admitting their own role in a national disaster.

Apart from his gifts as an artist, Sacco has a growing talent as a writer. He handles the treacherously complex material with confidence, and just about pulls off some audacious metaphors, such as "the war pushing back from the table, belching, and motioning lazily for the final bill". The best things in The Fixer, though, are the juxtapositions made possible by the medium. It might be supposed that comics are, by their very nature, bound to be explicit and two-dimensional, but this is untrue. There are kinds of subtlety and metaphorical allusiveness that are easier to achieve in comics than in novels.

Nov 4, 2009


posted by Noam

This book is FUNNY. At least I thought so, but I'm already a big fan of Goldstein's radio program Wire Tap. An entertaining read for anyone wanting to brush up on that old tale.

description by goodreads

In the beginning...there was humor.

Sure, it’s the foundation for much of Western morality and the cornerstone of world literature. But let’s face it: the Bible always needed punching up. Plus, it raised quite a few questions that a modern world refuses to ignore any longer: wouldn’t it be boring to live inside a whale? How did Joseph explain Mary’s pregnancy to the guys at work? Who exactly was the megalomaniacal foreman who oversaw the construction of the Tower of Babel? And honestly, what was Cain’s problem?

In Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bible!, Jonathan Goldstein re-imagines and recasts the Bible’s greatest heroes with depth, wit, and snappy dialogue. This is the Bible populated by angry loners, hypochondriacs, and reluctant prophets who fear for their sanity. Basically, a Bible that readers can finally, genuinely relate to.