Good morrow, my nicely toasted crumpets! How goes it with this thing we call life? I’m currently camped out in the eye of a personal tornado of ADVANCEMENTS, UPHEAVALS, and GENERAL STURM UND DRANG. Mum’s the word for the moment, moppets, but I will tantalize you with a riddle hinting at things to come: Where is the last place on this vast and marvellous planet that a girl who despises sun and spiders and surfers would go? (I am the girl, and I am indeed going to the last place on this blue dot that I would ever go, BECAUSE REASONS.)
And so, sorrynotsorry for the lack of posts recently. The life tornado, you see. Also I’ve been reading a lot of smut and what is there to say about smut, really? “Five out of five Apollo’s Belts, this book made me think deliciously naughty thoughts, CENSORED etc.” Boring, and also ew.
On a less, ahem, salacious note, I have also been silent on the blog front because I am currently knee-deep in Susanna Clarke’s colossal Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrel, which I’m enjoying so much that I’m not even going to spellcheck this post so I can get back to it, #rebel.
There will be a review, but I’m only 357 pages in… which leaves 649 pages more for me to savor like a fine Lake-town wine. (Great Odin’s ravens, don’t you guys just love big books?)
Before I rejoin Jonathan Strange in the Peninsula, permit me to share something that has been occupying a great deal of my mind: #ChildermassThirst. In case you haven’t read the book or watched the recent BBC adaptation, Childermass is the servant/right-hand man of Mr. Norrell, and guys, he is BAE. Like, hot. HAWT, even. Observe:
(You only get the finest intellectual discourse with me, guys. GET ON MY LEVEL.)
Oh, hey, Titus. ‘Sup?
PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE CAT WITH THE QUIZZICAL BROW. ADIEU!
Yes, today is the day we traditionally celebrate the birth of the greatest English writer, William Shakespeare – the Bard of Avon, “not of an age, but for all time.” Happy 451st, Will!
Do you have a favourite play, or a favourite quotation? I love “Boldness be my friend! / Arm me, Audacity, from head to foot!” from Cymbeline (I, vi), but I think my most beloved lines come from Sonnet 29, “When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes”:
When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself and curse my fate
I don’t know what it says about the state of my life that I often find myself muttering those words to myself without even realizing it.
As you all probably know by now, our favourite Book Cat is named after one of ole Shakey’s characters, one horrifically creative and rightfully vengeful Roman general, Titus Andronicus (seen below planning to serve his enemy a pie made of her own sons).
To honour the great Bard and celebrate this monumental day in literary history, me and my boy T are spending the evening curled up in matching chicken suits (DON’T ASK) to eat some none-people-containing pie and watch the amazing film adaptation of Titus, with intermittent bouts of competitive recitations. He’ll probably win, the furry little nerd.
TITUS! YOU ADORABLE CURMUDGEON! I KNEW YOU CARED!
To Shakespeare – thanks for all the words! Enjoy your cakes and ale, you poor players –
Ugh, guys. I am in such a rut. Not my usual sort of rut (creative, romantic, professional, existential, homicidal, etc etc) but the absolute WORST kind of rut known to man… the loathed and dreaded reading rut. I’m blaming stupid, seeming-to-move-backward Mercury, which is retrograde right now. Stupid tiny, fast, extreme-weather-having, heavily-cratered planet.
So the sad fact is that I am without a book to review for you this week. A string of DNFs (it means ‘did not finish,’ Mom) have left me feeling rather disheartened. I kind of just want to burn the TBR pile (‘to be read’ pile, Mom, jeezus) and hurl myself into Tolkien for a self-indulgent re-read. My Goodreads challenge will suffer. The looming biblio-Big Brother already judges me for my multitude of reading sins – book adultery, DNFs, way too much smut – so what the hell, might as well add indulgent re-reads to the list, right? TO THE TOLKIEN!
I know you want to know. Should I tell you? Hmmm, maybe I shouldn’t. It’s not really professional… OKAY FINE you twisted my arm, I’ll dish the dirt. The books I DID NOT FINISH were: Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, and The Magicians by Lev Grossman. Why? The first was unoriginal, the second I wasn’t interested in (seriously, you guys, THIS was what you were all freaking out about?) and the last I hated hated HATED. So bloody slow. So joyless. So studied and tedious and careful. I don’t want to see how hard you’re trying, mate. I’m not talking about difficult books – some of the best books are difficult books, aren’t they (cough TOLSTOY cough). I’m talking about the actual writing, the construction and word choice and hundreds of other things, nameable and otherwise, that all fit together in that amazing, magical puzzle to create the Book. Your writing should always seem like it took as much effort as blinking, even if you slaved over a single sentence for 32.5 hours before deciding to change one word and then scrapping the whole thing and writing something else and then going back to that first one after all. Writing should seem easy. If it doesn’t, no one will want to read it. Or at least, this lady won’t.
Ugh. I *hate* not finishing a book. I hardly ever do it, since I’m as stubborn as stone, but when I actually dread picking up a book because I find it formulaic or boring or outright repulsive, I have to remind myself that there aren’t any Reading Police lurking in the shadow of my bookshelf, waiting to haul me in for the crime of Failure to Finish a Well-Reviewed Book. Everyone knows there’s no such thing as Book Police.
Only Library Cops.
Mr. Bookman. Hero.
Until next week, you freaky cats. I hope you like hobbits because that’s what I’ll be Tolkien about.
I hope all of you subscribe to PBS’s Idea Channel on YouTube, because not only is it awesome and insightful and brain-embiggening… but this week it featured Book cat in a Russian Hat!!! Yay! Yet another victory in Titus’s ongoing campaign to rule the world! Pause at 1:04 to witness the momentous occurrence.
AHHHHH! Kermit arm flail!
You guys remember the post, right? It was a filler post for when I was rereading Anna Karenina.
Well. Congratulations all around. I don’t know why but I’m in a good mood. Fun times, y’all.
Jerry: [crying] What is this salty discharge? Elaine: Oh, my God. You’re crying. Jerry: This is horrible! I care!
(Seriously though, doesn’t watching this make the cold chunk of igneous rock that’s lodged in your chest start to feel things again? Damn. Watch it on Vimeo here)
(FYI, igneous because it is the best kind of rock, and by best, I mean it’s made of LIQUID HOTMAGMA and also the most fun to say. IGneous. Iiiiiiiiiiiigneous. Igneouuuuus. Go on, say it. You know you want to. There. See what I mean? For some reason, saying it makes me feel like Gandalf.)
The Fluffington Post has joined the ranks of those who are powerless to resist the alarmingly potent cuteness and general fluffy awesomeness of 96eustonroad’s resident feline bibliophile, Titus, a.k.a. Book Cat.
When shown the website profiling his handsome expression of disdain (and uber-cool reading tastes) and asked to comment, Titus responded thusly:
I think he resents being labelled a hipster (it was the scarf that did it). Poor, misanthropic little scamp. He needs a cuddle.
It’s American Thanksgiving today. I think I prefer the American date; Canadian Thanksgiving is too early in the season. It’s not even really fall yet. Today was definitely an autumn day. Plus, American Thanksgiving is like a shot fired from a starting pistol, signalling the beginning of the most wonderful time of the year, Christmas. (Oh, Christmas, how I love you!)
Aside from making me feel all Matrix-y with Thanksgiving deja vu, the internet has totally made me crave my ideal Thanksgiving dinner: tofurkey slathered in mushroom gravy, cranberry sauce, mashed sweet potatoes, candied carrots, homemade perogis stuffed with sauerkraut and mushrooms, my mom’s terrible from-the-box stuffing (I’ll take my mom’s terrible stuffing over the proper stuff any time)… and pumpkin pie. Dear god, the pumpkin pie. The funny thing is… I don’t even really like it all that much. Once I’m two bites in, I have to force myself to finish it. Like Turkish delight and candy canes, the idea of pumpkin pie is far tastier than the actual dessert. In my mind, though, I always think of pumpkin pie as the most mouth-wateringly delicious food ever baked in a flaky pastry shell. Whatever the reality may be.
I’m also feeling a trifle maudlin, with all of the sweet, sentimental, and hilarious tributes to things people are thankful for today. There no such things as too much gratitude, right? Therefore, in honour of American Thanksgiving, I thought I’d write about something I’m (American) thankful for. What has America given me that I appreciate enough to honour with a blog post when I should be sleeping, reading, or actually doing homework?
I thought. I pondered. I puzzled. I watched some YouTube videos and then read another chapter of The Hammer and the Cross. I almost gave up. And then it hit me.
Eugene. Of course. I cannot have a blog and not devote at least one post to Eugene.
So today, on American Thanksgiving, I am (American) thankful for Eugene Hutz, lead singer of Gogol Bordello and King of the Gypsy Punks. Now, I hear a chorus of haters clamouring to point out that Eugene is a Ukrainian dude with Roma ancestry. Quiet, haters. America welcomed Eugene and his family into her flawed and complex embrace when they left Ukraine following the Chernobyl disaster, and Gogol Bordello might never have existed without the great city of New York to incubate and inspire its quick-witted, philosophical, brilliant and bacchant frontman.
And, wait for it – I can connect this to YA! I found Gogol when I was a young adult (there – connected!), and its impact on me was immeasurable. It’s hard being a half-Roma half-breed kid in the suburbs of White-by. Eugene was a hero, a role model (seriously), an inspiration, and damn fine to boot. His seemingly desultory catchphrase “Party!” is really a deliberate, meaningful exhortation to celebrate every moment in life, to be active rather than passive, to be the one to throw the party (and the after-party) instead of waiting for it to start.
The rest of the band is awesome. Especially Sergey (you’re brilliant and my violin idol), Yuri (you’re a doll), Tommy (sing more often, man), and Oren (you’re a man of mystery). But Eugene stands above them all. Eugene is, after all, the WonderLust King.
Thanks, Eugene. Thanks for making the greatest music being made today, quite literally the soundtrack of my life; for expecting people to be aware what’s going on in the world; for wearing the best outfits since David Bowie got classy; for having a mustache way before it was cool, because it’s a Roma cultural tradition (Eugene is the one who made it cool, believe it, bruv). Thanks for being a flippin’ awesome actor, too (is there anything you can’t do?); for giving me an excuse to shout “party!” fourteen times (followed by a bonus “after-party”); for hugging me, not once, but twice (twice!) on one of the greatest nights of my life (after-party!). Thanks for helping me become undestructable; for being a fire-brand rock-god poet rebel maniac; for inspiring me to pick up the violin at the ripe old age of 23. Oh, yeah, and thanks for introducing me to Gogol – Nikolai, that is, and his Overcoat, among others.
Thanks for nights like this:
Every GB concert is a transcendent experience, but that one was special. And man, that was a pit.
Happy American Thanksgiving. Wheel of Morality time (turn turn turn). Let’s appreciate how good we have it here in the true North strong and free, and spread the love.