On a Monday!

No one expects a fabulous evening of words and music on a Monday. I certainly do not. But I like to go out to the book readings that Words Worth Books publicises even if they are on a Monday night. I rarely know the authors that will be reading since they usually come from small presses. But I consistently find at least one or two that warrant further scrutiny. Tonight, however, the three authors from Blaurock Press would have each individually made any normal set of readings worthwhile. Collectively, they turned the Starlight Lounge into a literary event, a mini-happening, a pleasant surprise, and a fun night out. On a Monday!

The three authors were: S.K. Johannesen reading from The Yellow Room, Andrew Hunt reading from Dahlia Boyz, and Antonio Michael Downing reading from Molasses.

S.K. Johannesen’s hauntingly introspective novella established the level for the night. I was captured by his protagonist’s two encounters as he lives (hides?) in a yellow room in Denmark sometime toward the end of WWII. Even with such a brief reading you could tell this was highly accomplished writing. Very impressive.

Next up was Andrew Hunt who vividly read from his novella set in L.A. with loud, large characters that leapt off the page. He had the sizeable audience in stitches as one character, Skip, disrupted a reading at a bookstore of a newly published book on the infamous Dahlia murders.

The final set for the evening was indeed a ‘set’.  Antonio Michael Downing both read from his novella, Molasses, and accompanied his reading with music and song, with the help of a percussionist and singer. I’m sorry I don’t know the names of his singer or drummer – they were excellent, especially the almost ethereal singer. This was much more than just a reading. It was a full artistic performance. I only wish there had been cds available to purchase.

All this on a Monday.  Makes you wonder how the other days of the week are going to live up to the new standard.

Running – a year in review, 2010

I don’t just read books and attempt to write them. I also run. Not especially well or fast. But I do run. I have been doing so since at least 2002. Rather late in life to take up such exercise, but not too late. I have run every year since and kept a record of my efforts. 2010 marks a new personal best. I track total minutes running rather than distance. In 2010 I surpassed my previous best year, 2004, by 8.6 %.

Here are how the years rank. I won’t bother sharing the total minutes because those might not reflect terribly well upon me.

  1. 2010
  2. 2004
  3. 2006
  4. 2003
  5. 2008
  6. 2009
  7. 2002
  8. 2005
  9. 2007

2007 was an injury plagued year. Here’s hoping that 2011 will be injury free and full of good runs.

Reading – a year in review, 2010

2010 was a good year for reading. I discovered new authors whose work I enjoyed: Hyland, St. John Mandel, Zusak, Sawyer, Toole. I participated in a book club whose meetings were always vibrant and whose selections surprised me. I touched base with some old favourites. And I had my eyes opened by one of the greatest literary achievements, Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway. As per usual, I have compiled a list of statistics for 2010.  See below for comparable stats and the full list of books read in 2009.

Stats from my 2010 reading list:

  • 23 were borrowed from our public library
  • 24 have Canadian authors
  • 4 were chosen due to personal recommendations from friends
  • 27 are by authors who appear more than once on the 2010 list
  • 3 were being reread
  • 1 was read aloud by my wife and me
  • 8 are non-fiction

Books read in 2010 (67):

  • Silber, Joan. The Art of Time in Fiction
  • Fforde, Jasper. First Among Sequels
  • Swan, Mary. The Boys in the Trees
  • Wood, James. How Fiction Works
  • Prachett, Terry. Unseen Academicals
  • Wood, James. The Irresponsible Self
  • Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway
  • Skelton, Matthew. The Story of Cirrus Flux
  • Stewart, Trenton Lee. The Mysterious Benedict Society
  • Ransome, Arthur. Swallowdale
  • Cunningham, Michael. The Hours
  • Handler, Daniel. Adverbs
  • Munroe, David. The Unexpected and Fictional Career Change of Jim Kearns
  • Hyland, M.J. This Is How
  • Stewart, Trenton Lee. The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey
  • Hayder, Mo. Birdman
  • Patchett, Ann. Bel Canto
  • Crummey, Michael. Galore
  • Patchett, Ann. Run
  • Oe, Kenzaburo. Nip the buds, Shoot the kids
  • DeLillo, Don. Falling Man
  • Small, David. Stitches
  • Munce, Alayna. When I Was Young & In My Prime
  • St. John Mandel, Emily. Last Night in Montreal
  • St. John Mandel, Emily. The Singer’s Gun
  • Richards, David Adams. Mercy Among the Children
  • Huston, Nancy. Losing North
  • Zusak, Markus. The Book Thief
  • Wright, Richard B. Adultery
  • Clowes, Daniel. Wilson
  • Bennett, Alan. The Uncommon Reader
  • Gopnik, Adam. Through The Children’s Gate
  • Wray, John. Lowboy
  • DeLillo, Don. The Body Artist
  • Swift, Graham. Making an Elephant: Writing From Within
  • Coleman, Reed Farrel. Walking The Perfect Square
  • Stewart, Trenton Lee. The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner’s Dilemma
  • DeLillo, Don. Point Omega
  • Tyler, Anne. Noah’s Compass
  • Chabon, Michael (ed.). McSweeney’s Enchanted Chamber of Astonishing Stories
  • Proust, Marcel. In Search of Lost Time: volume 1, Swann’s Way
  • Sawyer, Robert J. Wake
  • Sawyer, Robert J. Watch
  • Stern, Sheila. Proust: Swann’s Way
  • Sawyer, Robert J. Identity Theft and other stories
  • Lehrer, Jonah. Proust was a Neuroscientist
  • Pick, Alison. Far to Go
  • Heti, Sheila. The Middle Stories
  • Gibson, William. Zero History
  • Heti, Sheila. Ticknor
  • Pick, Alison. The Sweet Edge
  • Sawyer, Robert J. Flash Forward
  • Toole, John Kennedy. A Confederacy of Dunces
  • Baker, Nicholson. The Size of Thoughts
  • Tyler, Anne. The Accidental Tourist
  • Baker, Nicholson. The Fermata
  • Baker, Nicholson. The Anthologist
  • Simmonds, Posy. Tamara Drewe
  • Palmer, Dorothy Ellen. When Fenelon Falls
  • Pym, Barbara. Excellent Women
  • Etienne, Doris. The Jewels of Sofia Tate
  • Bellow, Saul. Herzog
  • Pym, Barbara. Quartet in Autumn
  • Heti, Sheila. How Should A Person Be?
  • Ferguson, Will. Coal Dust Kisses
  • Pym, Barbara. Jane & Prudence
  • Toole, John Kennedy. The Neon Bible

Here, for comparison, is my list from 2009.

Stats from my 2009 reading list:

  • 11 were borrowed from our public library
  • 18 have Canadian authors
  • 3 were chosen due to personal recommendations from friends
  • 12 are by authors who appear more than once on the 2009 list
  • 1 was being reread
  • 6 were read aloud by my wife and me
  • 7 are non-fiction

Books read in 2009 (56):

  • Chabon, Michael. Wonder Boys
  • Bloom, Harold. How to Read and Why
  • Prose, Francine. Reading Like a Writer
  • Gaiman, Neil. American Gods
  • Gaiman, Neil and Terry Prachett. Good Omens
  • Horowitz, Anthony. Stormbreaker
  • Fforde, Jasper. The Eyre Affair
  • Moore, Christopher. A Dirty Job
  • Russo, Richard. Empire Falls
  • Vanderhaeghe, Guy. The Englishman’s Boy
  • Wright, Richard B. October
  • Prose, Francine. Goldengrove
  • Fforde, Jasper. Lost in a Good Book
  • Chabon, Michael. The Yiddish Policemen’s Union
  • Le Guin, Ursula K. Powers
  • Austen, Jane and Seth Grahame-Smith. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
  • Hill, Lawrence. The Book of Negroes
  • Gessen, Keith. All the Sad Young Literary Men
  • Fforde, Jasper. The Well of Lost Plots
  • Furey, Leo. The Long Run
  • Clarke, Brock. An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England
  • Wright, Richard B. Clara Callan
  • Gallant, Mavis. A Fairly Good Time
  • Foer, Jonathan Safran. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
  • Mosley, Walter. This Year You Write Your Novel
  • Russo, Richard. Bridge of Sighs
  • Montgomery, Lucy Maud. Anne of Green Gables
  • Chabon, Michael. The Mysteries of Pittsburgh
  • O’Neill, Heather. Lullabies for Little Criminals
  • Toews, Miriam. The Flying Troutmans
  • Prose, Francine. The Peaceable Kingdom
  • Robinson, Marilynne. Housekeeping
  • Fforde, Jasper. Something Rotten
  • Baker, Nicholson. The Anthologist
  • Chabon, Michael. Gentlemen of the Road
  • Chabon, Michael. A Model World and Other Stories
  • Baker, Nicholson. The Mezzanine
  • Saul, John Ralston. A Fair Country
  • Hay, Elizabeth. Late Nights on Air
  • Chabon, Michael. Maps and Legends
  • Barbery, Muriel. Gourmet Rhapsody
  • Baker, Nicholson. The Everlasting Story of Nory
  • McEwan, Ian. On Chesil Beach
  • Montgomery, Lucy Maud. Anne of Avonlea
  • Chabon, Michael. Manhood for Amateurs
  • Coupland, Douglas. Generation A
  • Barbery, Muriel. The Elegance of the Hedgehog
  • Bicknell, Jeanette. Why Music Moves Us
  • Crummey, Michael. Flesh and Blood
  • Strube, Cordelia. Lemon
  • Burnard, Bonnie. Casino & Other Stories
  • Gaiman, Neil. Stardust
  • Lamarque, Peter. The Philosophy of Literature
  • Tyler, Anne. Digging to America
  • Chabon, Michael. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
  • Crummey, Michael. River Thieves

First snow shovelling (2010)

It’s a new year for shovelling the walk in front of the house. Although we had only a mild snowfall last night (less than 2 cm), I got out the snow shovel for the first time this year and did my duty (as did my neighbours).

I see that I noted the first snow shovelling of 2009 on 9 December that year, so we are a few days early this time. Fortunately we are in a bit of a clear pocket at the moment. Just an hour’s drive west of here they received over 70 cm last night. Now that would be real shovelling!

Is music what we do best?

What a delight – three consecutive nights of great music courtesy of NUMUS‘ Late Night Series Indie Band Festival at the Starlight in Waterloo. With the likes of Drumheller, Snowblink, and Luxury Pond with the added goodness of The Penderecki String Quartet, how could it fail to impress. The added bonus, for me, was that this was my first chance to see these groups live (with the exception of The Penderecki String Quartet who featured in NUMUS’ fabulous 25th anniversary season last year). I wasn’t surprised when someone I was talking to during a break informed me that this – a wave of the arm to encompass innovative contemporary music unbounded by categories – is really what we do best. It would be hard to disagree. And what a treat to see Laurie Brown of CBC’s The Signal in person introducing the acts.

After three straight nights out, I think I’ll take a break for a bit. I’ve got a lot of new cds to keep me company. And there is always the two further NUMUS series in the new year to look forward to.