Sep 1, 2013

Miscellaneous Things Expressed By Way of Bullet Points

Full credit to Amy for the inspiration!

  • I was very sad to not have been able to make it to the Edinburgh Book Festival or the Fringe this year — especially over the past few weeks, when excited tweets from people who were there filled my timeline. At the risk of sounding dramatic, both last year and the year before those festivals were a much needed reminder of everything that makes life interesting, and I could have done with another dose of that this summer. I really want to make sure I go back next year.

  • However, I did my best to make up for not being there by filling late August and early September with exciting bookish events. I’ve already told you about Zadie Smith in a church; what I didn’t tell you about was Neil Gaiman in a cathedral (yes, again. Please don’t judge me). There are some lovely pictures of the event here. I didn’t stay for the signing this time around because I’d already had my book signed in June, but I really enjoyed his talk and the Q&A session. And the readings were perhaps the highlight — especially the one from Fortunately, the Milk, which made the book come to life for me in a way it hadn’t when I read it (more on this if I ever get around to writing about it). I think I’ve mentioned before that I haven’t had much luck with audiobooks to date; I suspect that picking up some one of the ones Neil Gaiman narrates would be a sure way of getting around that.


  • Then yesterday I went back to that very same cathedral to see Margaret Atwood celebrate the release of MaddAddam, with bats aplenty flying overhead. I’m going to spare you a full post about it for two reasons: one, much as I enjoyed it, the event was slightly wasted on me because I’ve yet to start the Oryx and Crake trilogy (I know, I know); two, I feel that the way I do event recaps has become really repetitive and stale, and sadly I don’t yet have any bright ideas on how to make it less boring.

  • Having said that, here are some of the highlights: Atwood reading Seamus Heaney’s “Stern” as a tribute; Atwood singing (!) the hymn “We Praise the Tiny Perfect Moles” from the book; Atwood asking for a round of applause for public libraries; Atwood recommending Ursula Le Guin’s novels (“She writes the best dragons ever”); and Atwood being her wry, cheerfully sarcastic self when answering audience questions. Although she always remained friendly, she came across as someone who doesn’t suffer fools gladly. I love that she answered the question “What message do you want readers to take away from your books?” in a way that gentle deconstructs the assumptions behind it (as some of you might remember, this is a huge pet peeve of mine). She said that if she was interested in messages, she’d hire a billboard instead of writing a whole novel. Books aren’t messages — they’re the experience of reading them. You can’t tell readers what to take away from a book because a reader is to a book what a violinist is to a music score. Both an unread book and an unperformed musical piece are merely marks on a page, until someone comes along and brings them to life through the collaborative act of interpretation. As a writer, you can’t expect to control that process.

  • Also, pictures!








  • To conclude my impromptu book festival, next week I’m going to London for an event celebrating the publication of Patrick Ness’ More Than This, where there will apparently be mini-cupcakes. I promise photographic evidence.

  • I never got around to reviewing Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ Saga, but I wanted you to know that I love it a lot. This piece explains some of the reasons why. (Also, I should go back to Y: The Last Man and actually finish the series, right?)

  • Speaking of awesome comics I never reviewed, are my fellow Avatar: The Last Airbender fans reading Gene Luen Yang’s The Search? It has all the Zuko and Aang fun times you could ever hope for, plus it reassures readers that Azula does not in fact remain tied in a patio to this very day.


    Be still my heart.

  • On a related note, I may or may not have celebrated getting my first full-time pay check by ordering this. Judge me not, Internet!

  • Is the approach of Autumn putting you in the mood for campus novels? If so, here’s a list for you. Seeing My Education in there reminded me that I really, really ought to write about it. It’s still going around in my head all these weeks later, and it would be a pity not to have a record of that.

  • Terry Pratchett’s The Carpet People is being published in the US for the first time, and to celebrate the publisher has put together a Terry Pratchett appreciation tumblr and is asking fans to submit their stories.

  • Also, how awesome are these Discworld themed Kindle covers? The signed one is way beyond my budget, but I’m tempted by the other one.

  • Lastly, here’s some library lego to improve your Sunday. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!
  • 23 comments:

    1. Hi Ana, I can't help but proselytize for audiobooks little bit. If you haven't already, you might want to try
      Sarah Grann's "Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead" narrated by Carol Monda. From what I know of your taste, I think you'd love it.

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    2. That all sounds lovely. It's such a pleasure to love books by writers who can also speak intelligently and inspiringly about their work.

      I had a mini-success on our recent trip, getting my spouse to read his first Neil Gaiman: American Gods. I kept glancing over on the flight home to marvel at how absorbed he was and how fast he was turning the pages. At one point, he looked at me and said, "this is REALLY good." Hooked!

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    3. That all sounds lovely. It's such a pleasure to love books by writers who can also speak intelligently and inspiringly about their work.

      I had a mini-success on our recent trip, getting my spouse to read his first Neil Gaiman: American Gods. I kept glancing over on the flight home to marvel at how absorbed he was and how fast he was turning the pages. At one point, he looked at me and said, "this is REALLY good." Hooked!

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    4. You get to attend awesome author events! Congratulations on your first full time paycheck!

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    5. The Carpet People has never been published in the US?! That's the one that dragged me into Pratchett land.

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    6. So much to comment on! I'm awestruck by that gorgeous cathedral though. What an amazing venue.

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    7. Laura Miller: Proselytize away! I really appreciate the recommendation. I'm not anti audiobooks or anything silly like that; it's just that the few times I tried them I couldn't find one that didn't cause my attention to wander. But I always thought it was either bad timing or a matter of not having found the right one for me. I know how much other readers enjoy them and I always feel like I'm missing out.

      Jessica: Yes, exactly - it always makes me appreciate them a little more. And that story about American Gods made me smile :)

      Kathy: Thank you! It had been almost three years since my last one, so it was about time :P

      Bookgazing: It seems not!

      Sandy: Isn't it gorgeous? I love going to events there. Bill Bryson is coming in November, and although it's a train ride away for me I'm mightily tempted.

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    8. WE CAN STILL REVIEW SAGA. I just need to not be ill/overworked. XD

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    9. WE TOTALLY CAN. Just ping me whenever *hug*

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    10. "I feel that the way I do event recaps has become really repetitive and stale"<--Okay, you may feel that way, but I disagree.

      And "Judge me not, Internet!"<--Oh, but I do judge you--as amazing awesome and cool!!! LOVE that bag!

      Miss you, dear friend!!! Will email tomorrow. Love you!

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    11. :O So many awesome things!!! I love that you met Atwood and I love what she had to say about books containing messages :) I actually just read Gaiman's post on his event in the church!!! Glad you got to go to it :D And Patrick Ness and mini cupcakes!!!!! Tell him I said hello :D Surely he'll know who I am :p I can't wait to read that book! *hugs*

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    12. Just reading about your bookish activities made me feel really excited about the world :) And Patrick Ness! I'm so desperate to meet him that I'm going to (fruitlessly, no doubt) badger a certain local lit festival to maybe try to invite him over if he wants to come.

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    13. Loved Atwood's comment about messages. I loved Saga and now much get the second book. Congrats on the paycheck. :)

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    14. I never get tired of hearing about these author events.

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    15. You are ridiculous, Ana! Your recaps of author events are never at all boring. That is a crazy thing to say. The Margaret Atwood event sounds really good, although she is, I admit, not my favorite person. I remain cross at her about the space squids snideness (or whatever it was she said about science fiction that was so snotty).

      I never reviewed Saga either, but I want to catch myself up on it -- so far I've only read the first volume. But I'm happy to hear that it stays good as it goes along.

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    16. Hearing Neil Gaiman read Fortunately, the Milk was one of the highlights for me when he came to Toronto. It's now become my goal to listen to every book of his that he's narrated.

      I really like what Margaret Atwood said about the unread book being just marks on a page, that reading is a collaborative experience. I wish my high school English teachers had known she felt that way about the messages in her books!

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    17. Margaret Atwood is awesome, but I will admit she also scares me just the tiniest bit. The "not suffering fools" thing. She is daunting. I find her fiction as daunting as I find her in person (even from the back of an audience hearing her speak) but I revere her.

      Also, she was absolutely astounding when a certain Toronto mayor and his brother decided they wanted to shut down well-used and highly necessary library branches in the city some time ago. She went public with her disdain (in a very funny, very effective way.) She remains every Ontario librarian's hero.

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    18. I should say: I revere her, but I still have a lot of trouble swallowing her snobbery about genre, and would sit front and centre for a knock-out round between Margaret Atwood and China Mieville. With a bag of popcorn. Wearing a pair of safety goggles.

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    19. I am definitely jealous of all the fun literary events you get to attend!

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    20. I want to sit next to Kiirsten to watch Atwood vs Mieville!

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    21. Wow, have you ever been busy! I do love Margaret Atwood. I agree that while she always seems so pleasant she also seems like she does not put up with fools. I love her answer to the question. And really, you need to get to the trilogy. MaddAdam isn't out here for another couple weeks. I have it pre-ordered and am very much looking forward to it. Would love to hear what you make of the books!

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    22. Congratulations on your first full-time paycheck!!! that is an awesome feeling, isn't it?

      Bullet points are fine for posts, really, just so long as you post. And I post. *hangs head sadly* I don't have any cool things like you have had, to post about! Neil Gaiman, twice!!!!! Margaret Atwood, live, in a church! simply awesome I was going to say divine, but then she is not one of my favourite writers, but to have an author reading in a church is divine!!

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    23. I'm in the middle of reading Maddadam and am a bit jealous of your live Margaret Atwood experience because I'm a huge fan!

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    Thank you so much for taking the time to comment - interaction is one of my favourite things about blogging and a huge part of what keeps me going.