Tuesday, January 19, 2010


You can see the mountains of the Highlands just off the point. They're streaked with vibrant white snow giving them a beauty that's almost indescribable. You can see them quite clearly all the way to Smokey Mountain. This sight is not always possible because of fog, mist, or just poor environmental conditions, but the thing is you can see them now with absolute clarity. My wife mentioned it to me the other day, and pointed out that in all the time we have lived here, she has never seen them in such detail. Maybe it was just that week, but this is a few times now that we've witnessed this awe-inspiring vista. Perhaps the atmosphere is clearing up, don't know, but It's quite beautiful.

I like winter. I don't think I'm alone in this. I like the cool, crisp air; the crunch of snow under foot; the snugginess at home on a blustery night watching a movie or reading a good book; the sense of survival or hibernation or shelter from the fierce elements. You don't want to go out in that, skin can freeze quickly. What I don't like is the wind---the Nor'easter. God, it blows; it blows hard making a groaning noise that no matter what I do, I can still hear it. As the saying goes, that wind will blow right through you. My wife knows of my uneasiness with this wicked wind, but doesn't bring it up as an issue. Sometimes, when she decides to go to bed early, leaving me quietly puttering around the house, and the Nor'easter arrives and announces its presence with a soulful groan and a threatening moan, I will join her, usually waking her up. "The wind", I'll say, in a distracted way. "I know, dear", she'll reply putting her arms around me. Hey, we all have our weaknesses. Mine's the North East wind.

My wife finished reading Stephen King's UNDER THE DOME---all 12 hundred pages of it---and I can't seem to get a decent response form her about this novel. I read a review saying that this novel was the absolute best book King has ever written. I wanted to know if she agreed, but all I get is that it was good and entertaining but definitely not his best. So I guess that's all I can offer on it. I don't think I will read it---I'll wait for the movie.
I'm now reading BEFORE THE BIG BAND by Brian Clegg. I'm beginning to believe, from reading this book, that scientists, especially cosmologists, astrophysicists, etc, are a strange lot. More about that in another post.

I read GALORE by Michael Crummey, and I must say I really enjoyed it, overall. Michael Crummey is a Newfoundland writer whose first novel THE RIVER THIEVES almost won the Giller last year( Did I ever tell you that I don't like that prize?). Crummey is an excellent writer. I was amazed at his writing skill, and his imagination. Outlandish, vibrant characters; fantastical, unreal world; unworldly events make up this amazing novel which all takes place in a small rural village in Newfoundland. The humour is actually laugh out loud.

The novel spans over four generations of families in this area, and details all their relationships and foibles. Amazing! But(You knew it was coming, didn't you?) I rarely read novels of family generations spanning hundreds of years. I just don't like them, usually. My wife loves these kinds of novels, though, and wants to read it next. I find I get a bit confused about who is who and who belongs to who and who did what to who in such novels. But Crummey actually has a diagram/family tree at the front of the book where you can check to see where all the characters belong in this story. I checked it often. Good novel, check it out.

Next: The universe and everything

Thursday, January 7, 2010


My wife and I spent the Christmas holidays in Halifax. I love Halifax; it's a cool city. We dined with family at somewhat fancy restaurants, shopped (she did, I don't like shopping) at fancy shoppes(fancy spelling there), visited a really packed Mall where my wife's coat almost got eaten by an escalator---by the way, that could have been bad since she was still in her coat at the time. It stopped the escalator dead despite the instant grumbling of those ascending people on the stairs. My wife, in her usual fashion, strode along head held high as if nothing uncommon had happened, carrying her now crumpled and dirty coat in her arms. I suggested that maybe she should report it, to which she replied that she wouldn't be able to devote the time to all the paper work involved. She had a point. We(whole family) ended the holidays at the IMax watching AVATAR. Absolutely fantastic movie!

And my wife and I spent a cold rainy afternoon at Chapters.

I must admit, Chapters is a great store, and on that day it was just filled with people buying books. Heather Reisman would be pleased, she's the CEO of Chapters/Indigo. Yes, and I would like to thank Ms. Reisman for this excellent bookstore, and the many discounts on books, but I still won't read her "Picks". Sorry. BY the way, there should be a Chapters in Sydney, Cape Breton! I've been saying that for years now, obviously to deaf ears because there seems to be no response. So here's my pitch: Hey Heather(if I may be so bold), call, email, text, tweet, me, and I'll fill you in on the details about said Chapters bookstore in Sydney. OK?

My wife and I spent around two hundred dollars on books that day---it was a delight.
MY wife got Linden MacIntyre's THE BISHOP'S MAN. I knew she would. She asked me if I would read it and I said no, don't think so. To be noncommittal about it, I'll just say that I grew up at a time heavily influenced by priests and nuns, and have had my fill with those people.
She also bought SOUTH OF BROAD, by Pat Conroy. He also wrote THE PRINCE OF TIDES a while back, a novel my wife greatly admired.
THE LITTLE FRIEND by Donna Tartt was acquired by her also. The author also wrote THE SECRET HISTORY. An interesting writer.

While we were perusing the racks, laden down with our selected books, a very amiable young woman who is employed at the store came over to us with a rather neat carrying bag we could use while shopping. The bag was brightly coloured, and very handy. We liked it. I asked this astute, helpful young woman if we could keep the bag, to which she replied---all the time with that winning smile---indeed no, you give it back at checkout. I thought, we'll see. At checkout, I informed the cashier that that this young employee told me I could keep the bag. The cashier said, "No, she didn't.", and she took the bag and threw it in a box on the floor. Well, that didn't work. Bright people these Chapter's employees.

Oh, oh, by the way, I neglected to inform you about an overt omission on my wife's part regarding the purchasing of new novels. It is this: She did NOT get Margaret Atwood's new novel BEFORE THE FLOOD. Aha. I see this novel actually went nowhere on the charts. So much for speculative literature, Margaret. Try Science Fiction. I actually brought this apparent oversight up to my wife when we were in the store. She said that she thinks she'll pass on it for now, and that she doesn't want to discuss it right now. OK. Fine with me, I responded.

I bought Kurt Vonnegut posthumously published book LOOK AT THE BIRDIE. It's a book of short stories. I read them all over the holidays. I must say, they were a little disappointing. These stories were not ready for publication, and I think they were written many years ago, probably when he was honing his skills at the craft. Every once in a while you could get a glimpse of his sharp, comic, wit--- a taste of what was to come. But I enjoyed them, nevertheless; It was just good to be reading his stuff again.
I also bought Carlos Ruiz Zafon's THE SHADOW OF THE WIND. I wonder if this book will put me in a spin like ANGEL'S GAME did in the summer on that hot August day. I like this author.
Also got BEFORE THE BIG BANG: THE PREHISTORY OF OUR UNIVERSE, by Brian Clegg. A science book. I know, I know, but I'm really interested in what the big brains are finding out about our universe. It could be useful. I've long ago expunged the word "heaven" from my vocabulary; maybe one could boot it to another dimension. My wife gives me that look when I read it. I say, "It's my never ending search for our rightful spot in this our universe". "Cute", she says.

Hey! this is my 50th blog! Thank you, thank you, I don't deserve it...really. I want to thank God...ah, no I don't, I want to thank my wife---my raison d'etre---
for all the anecdotes and silliness I retell constantly---life shouldn't be taken too seriously, we're just passing through, and after I read that book I'll let you know why we are here. I'm sure they know---that's sarcasm, of course.

Can...er...shall I do another 50? You bet.