A baby, a novella

20140411-IMG_5769A second set of sticky notes about books is nearly ready to post, as promised, but I’m going to interrupt that brief series with two recent happenings in my life.

First was the birth of another granddaughter! I visited the family in B.C. for ten days, to help as best I could in a busy household with a new baby and returned with warm memories of the lovely child (who bears the distinguished name Honor) and many memories of the other children as well. Choice sayings by the nearly-three-year-old, for example, moments of closeness initiated by a child who tends to self-containment, and so on. Things a grandparent gathers and chuckles over or ponders upon.

Then there was the news from The Malahat Review. The novella contest this journal holds every other year gave me a deadline for my story “Mask”, and the entry fee was a year’s subscription to one of Canada’s finest literary magazines, so why not try. One never submits without hope, of course, and I worked like crazy on that story, feeling as thin and fragile as glass by the time I was finally done. Hope, I’ve discovered, is not necessarily the same as expectation, however. Submission, sometimes rejection, sometimes acceptance, that’s the way it rolls in the writing world.  But here it was, the letter said I’d won. I walked around the house for some time, shaking. (Since the official announcements were pending, I could tell only my nearest and dearest and he was out of reach, ice fishing on Lake Winnipeg!) Glad for myself, I’ll admit, but for the story too, getting its moment in print and some readers. I hope this isn’t too much crowing, especially in a week when one is cautious of crowing, roosters, etc., but I’m deeply grateful and also want to acknowledge the financial assistance provided by the City of Winnipeg through the Winnipeg Arts Council last fall to work on “Mask” and other stories.WAC-logo-thumbnail_144_131_70

Since many of you already know of these events via other venues and have responded (thank you!), I’ve disabled comments for this column. I wish you all a safe and blessed Holy Week and Easter.

Leave a comment

Filed under Personal, Writing

Sticky notes on six books

Since my blog posts so far this year have been about reading, I decided to list some books I’ve enjoyed the past half year or so, just in case some of you like that kind of thing (as I do). These aren’t reviews, as much as sticky notes, or cheers. If you’re interested, you can always google for more information. So, six today, six to follow.

DownloadedFileWe’re Flying (2012), short stories by Peter Stamm. I learned of Stamm, a Swiss writer, through one of Eleanor Wachtel’s “Writers and Co.” interviews. This is a large, wonderful collection, translated by Michael Hofmann. One reviewer has called Stamm’s stories “small canvases of precision as he maps the imprecision of human emotion.” I was beguiled by his style. This is the book on today’s list I want to re-read. Continue reading

4 Comments

Filed under Books

On Joseph Boyden’s The Orenda

61zg5MSMHkL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU15_Well, what does one say about Joseph Boyden’s The Orenda?

I read the book recently, after it won this year’s Canada Reads competition in which five books and their defenders faced off to eliminate and leave standing “one novel that could change Canada.” Reviews of The Orenda have been laudatory; apparently there was a “gasp” when it didn’t make the Giller Prize shortlist. It has received sharp criticism as well, especially from aborginal reviewers like Hayden King. Continue reading

9 Comments

Filed under Books, History

A hair shirt and more reflection

I’m thinking a lot about the act of reading these days. Thinking that it depends on the stage one’s in.

From childhood’s diving into whatever’s available, hour after hour of sheer delight, the world opening to me…  through the required reading of high school and post-secondary education, with extracurricular books riding waves of deep longing and the quest to figure life out…  through the busy middle years of children and work, when books seemed especially memorable and piercing, perhaps because time for them was rarer…  through the ravenous reading in an emptying nest, as if to finally catch up with the Great Unread, when I began a book log to keep track and push myself… Continue reading

8 Comments

Filed under Reading

How books get into my life

At lunch with three friends, the conversation turned to books. Sally proposed that what we read often comes to us serendipitously. Later, the four of us exchanged a string of emails. Sarah sent us an essay by Moyra Davey called “The Problem of Reading” which opens with the author’s confession that “what to read” is a “recurring dilemma” in her life. She pictures a woman moving about the house among shelves of books, many unread, picking up one for a few pages, then another.

IMG_4316“It is not just a question of which book will absorb her,” she writes, “but rather, which book, in a nearly cosmic sense, will choose her….” Continue reading

13 Comments

Filed under Books

Tis the season to be listing

That time again, lists taking over like dandelions. The best or most important in news, people, books, movies, fashion. Experts summoned for the top picks of whatever they’re experts about.

For the most part I enjoy reading these retrospectives, if only to refresh my memory or compare “their” favorites with mine or be alerted to all that I missed. I often feel somewhat lethargic and retrospective myself just before the new year breaks and find myself paging through the past year’s diary/journal.

For me, less voluminous note-keeping is definitely trending (one of the words I see on lists of words to abandon in 2014), so a year takes less time to review than it used to. 2013, in fact, has been quite nicely contained in one relatively thin Moleskin-knockoff, written on only one side of the page no less. Here’s a bit of a list of what I discovered when paging back. Continue reading

14 Comments

Filed under Personal

Delivered!

She was unloaded and delivered to us, glory be!
Unloaded from her mother, the little one, delivered,
And we all say Glory Be!
(Inuit birth song)

Good news early this morning! Our seventh grandchild — a girl — arrived safely into the world. And for the seventh time, my heart wells up in the words of the song above: Glory Be! So, I write her name in my journal, ponder who she is and will be, mull over the word delivered, which comes from Old French and Latin roots meaning “set free.” (Which reminds me of one fictional newly-hatched chick saying to another: “See, I told you there was life after birth!”) The meaning of the word developed through “set free” to “give up, surrender,” and finally “hand over to someone else.” All rich connotations for the delivery of a baby and the life ahead of her, and for the Christmas season, all about a baby’s birth as well. — Glory Be!

10 Comments

Filed under Personal