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The Giller Prize Book Club: Book 4 and The End

imgresWell, I finished The Crooked Maid by Dan Vyleta even though we all know that Lynn Coady won it for Hell Going, which was the book I was going to read and didn’t.

Instead I read The Crooked Maid and I thought it was good. It was a very old-fashioned story about an old place and an old time.

I might have liked it more if it was shorter and more focused. As I write this review, though it has been a week since I finished, I find that I can’t really say what the story was.

It started on a train with a beautiful but slightly ruined young man and a woman who is on the precipice of a mystery. Their story lines, perhaps a little unrealistically, weave in and out of each other. While she tries to find out what happened to her soldier husband, the young man chases after a beautiful and slightly ruined young woman.
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Check out my first post on Desmog.ca

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This is What 400ppm Looks Like: CO2 Levels Highest in More Than 800,000 Years.

On Friday, scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, at the University of California, San Diego, recorded CO2 levels higher than the world has seen in over 800,000 years.

From atop the Mauna Loa volcano on the big island of Hawaii—the oldest continuous carbon dioxide measurement station in the world—a reading of just over 400 parts per million (ppm) was recorded this Friday. A similar measurement was made at the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) station, also in Hawaii. This reading pushes us well past the 350 ppm target scientists say we should stay below if a global temperature rise of 2 degrees Celsius is to be avoided.

Check out my first post on Desmog: “This is What 400ppm Looks Like: CO2 Levels Highest in More Than 800,000 Years.” http://ow.ly/l6tPi

E-Readers. Get used to it.

Remember when film cameras were being replaced with digital cameras? I distinctly recall feeling super uncomfortable about that. I’d had digital cameras in my house since they started (my mom worked for a dot-com before the bubble burst). Our first one was a bulky device that took giant photos and saved them directly to a floppy disc that I could then insert into my computer to upload six photos, which took twenty minutes. The idea that those intangible cumbersome ideas of pictures would replace the thrill of pointing, clicking and waiting for your film to develop was such a bummer.

That sickening bout of nostalgia was quickly relieved, however, as cameras got better rapidly and the making and sharing of photography became practically free. I can’t imagine that there are any practically minded people out there that are still mourning the reign of the film camera.

***Remember: there will always be purists and nothing is ever really gone forever.

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Un-Friend All of Your Writers

Don’t make friends with writers. I am a writer and I have a bunch of friends. I’m not bragging, I’m just telling it like it is. The fact is, I think I should have fewer friends.

My friends are nice friends. They love me and tell me that I am talented and they go to my readings and proofread my atrocious grammar and spelling. They are there for me when I need to quit my job, again and again. They validate my unjustifiable laziness and unsuccessfulness. They do this for me because I encourage it and I am entertainingly embarrassing at parties.

Little do they know that I’m a whining, way less than prolific, self-righteous, know-it-all with a Goddess-complex (maybe they do know this and wonder why I keep coming around).

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The Day Job vs. Bliss

It happens from time to time that a tortured artist toils and bleeds for her craft, only to die before it means anything to anyone. It also happens that an artist toils and bleeds for her craft and no one reads or cares about her work, dead or alive. But hopefully, the artist is dead by then and, presumably, doesn’t care.

No one likes to think about these things, but it’s true. Sometimes, the thing you love doesn’t love you back. Just like a girlfriend who doesn’t love you back, it so happens that, a person can follow his “bliss” (just as Joseph Campbell tells him to), and nothing comes of it. Sometimes people get hit by Mack trucks. It’s not personal, it’s physics.

So, in the mean time (the space between being a raging success and the Mack truck), you’ll probably need to get a job. You’ll want a job for the moneys that keep writers in mac laptops, gluten-free muffins and five-dollar lattes. But, what should a writer do? Isn’t a job selling out?

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Thank you, Science Fiction

Today I caught a Sunday matinée of Prometheus — a heavily criticized film that is meant to be something of a pre-Alien movie. I’m just going to come right out and say that I thought it was fine. I don’t know if I thought that because so many big block busting sci-fi films have let me down so spectacularly or because it actually was fine (please direct all of your well-composed thoughts to the contrary to someone who hasn’t thought of them already). It made me think about my beloved science fiction genre (or Speculative fiction, if you please) and I realized that I haven’t yet posted about my heart, my genre, my raison d’écrire.

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“I only read Non-Fiction” and other arbitrary dogmas

I’ve never understood why people feel better about themselves when they tell me that they only read non-fiction. It’s as if they think of themselves as less silly than the rest of us “dreamers” or “artists”. Whenever someone tells me that, I am immediately offended. It’s as if they’ve just told me to get a real job.

Much to the horror of some of my colleagues, I have been known to say that I don’t believe in Non-Fiction. And even though, all of my super serious, seriously funny, and extremely adventurous NF writer friends have already written me off, I have to say, I love Non-Fiction genre books. I do. Does that sound like a contradiction? No, I guess it doesn’t. It sounds like a semantics argument. It’s always about semantics, isn’t it?

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Originally posted on PRISM international:

Unraveling Isobel

By Elizabeth Hand

Unraveling Isobel is Eileen Cook’s fifth work of young-adult fiction to date, and if my reading the entire novel in one sitting is any indication of her aptitude for it, I’d say she’s got it. She is a talented writer with a clear and steady style. She is enticing and subtle. Her female characters are realistic, strong, and manage to avoid the usual pitfalls of teen protagonists by being totally honest.

Unraveling Isobel is the story of a quirky seventeen-year-old named Isobel. She’s a girl in the midst of more than her fair share of life-changing upheavals. Her mother is getting remarried which means that the family is moving her away from her school and her friends to a secluded island at the start of her senior year of high school. Her new stepfather seems to have it out for her, her stepbrother is a total babe…

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The CCWWP: What on Earth is a Writer’s Conference like?

 Before I left on my trip to the CCWWP in Toronto, people asked me, “What exactly do you do at a writer’s conference?” Though I made things up, I didn’t actually know.

I figured we’d talk about the state of the publishing industry or the fate of the Creative Writing Program in Canada. There would definitely be lots of talk about the frontiers of poetry. Believe me, no one really wants to hear about the theoretical frontiers of poetry (even poetry lovers, like me), but people love to tell you about them.

Here’s how it went:

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Things You should know about Stephen King and 11/22/63

I have planned on writing a review of Stephen King’s new book, 11/22/63, for a while now but I just haven’t been able to get around to it. I think what has been holding me back is the fact that I haven’t been in the mood to entertain snotty comments and harsh judgments about Stephen King. I didn’t want to hear about how people “don’t read horror”, “have books they have to get to before King” or whatever boring argument that people who have never read anything by King come up with. But, today, an article crossed my path (which you can find here) that put a fire under my tush and now I’m going to let you all have it

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