literary event

The Event: Emma Donoghue at Toronto Reference Library’s Appel Salon

Emma Donoghue © Nina Subin, 2010. Image from EmmaDonoghue.com

Book season has officially kicked off in Toronto. With Tuesday night’s fabulous Bookstravaganza, the Eden Mills Writers’ Festival, Word on the Street, and the International Festival of Authors, we also have the always incredible (and incredibly free) Bram & Bluma Appel Salon programs at the Toronto Reference Library.

Several hundred fans came out on September 19th for an evening with Emma Donoghue, who is known as much for her vivid, meticulous historical fiction (Slammerkin, The Sealed Letter) as she is her 2010 blockbuster success Room, a contemporary novel told from the point of view of a precocious five year old whose whole, mostly happy, world, Room, is actually the prison he and his mother are kept in by her kidnapper and serial rapist. With her new historical fiction short story collection, Astray, arriving on shelves at the end of October, I was eager to hear what an author of such diverse genres and forms had to say.

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literary event, Uncategorized

The Event: BOOKSTRAVAGANZA, presented by Random House of Canada and Chatelaine Magazine

Last night was a first for the Toronto book scene: Bookstravangza, a Fashion-Week-inspired celebration of Random House’s new fall line-up. A fun, fanciful evening that hit just the right level of sweetness and decadence, the night was as much about the joy of reading as it was about unveiling Random House’s hot fall titles.

Staged at the Ritz-Carlton in Toronto, the setting was lush and enhanced by books on every shelf and table, which guests were encouraged to take home with them. Along with some mingling and seeing many familiar book-loving faces, I was also delighted by the candy bar—literally a bar at which we could help ourselves to candy, just down the way from the drinks. A pink, lemony vodka drink was the signature cocktail of the evening, and the wine flowed generously, too. Tasty and chocolaty petits fours graced our tables so that we could nibble throughout the program, which promised talks from top editors and as well as authors Annabel Lyon and Shauna Singh Baldwin.

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Cloud Atlas Readalong

Cloud Atlas Readalong Part 6: Sloosha’s Crossin’ an’ Ev’rythin’ After

Introduction
Part 1: The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing (first half)
Part 2: Letters from Zedelghem (first half)
Part 3: Half-Lives: The First Luisa Rey Mystery (first half)
Part 4: The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish (first half)
Part 5: An Orison of Sonmi~451 (first half)

Part 6: Sloosha’s Crossin’ an’ Ev’rythin’ After

The Story So Far . . .
Sloosha’s Crossin’ really is a crossing, the point at which we move out of the first halves of the six narratives and cross over to the second halves. Sloosha’s is presented in its entirety, in the first person, as an older Zachry tells the tale of his life, presumably to a group of children gathered ’round. The first thing you’ll notice is the dialect: it’s written in English, but a corrupted (or evolved) form of English that is as foreign to modern ears as Adam Ewing’s 19th-century English is.

Zachry’s tale begins on Big I, in the Hawaiian islands, long after The Fall of humankind. When he is 9 years old, he, his brother Adam, and their pa are on their way back from Honokaa Market, when Zachry goes into the bush after a bird. He hears the voice of Old Georgie (the Devil) whispering to him, and becomes aware that Kona raiders are about. He accidentally leads the Kona back to where his family is, and then hides while the Kona butcher his father and take his brother as a slave. Horrified, he returns to the Valley where he lives, reporting the Kona attack but never telling anyone that he led the warriors to Sloosha’s Crossin’.

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book review, graphic novel, Multimedia Mondays

Multimedia Monday: Goliath, by Tom Gauld, a graphic novel review

In this spare, moving graphic novel, Tom Gauld approaches the familiar tale of David and Goliath from an unfamiliar point of view: Goliath’s. Playing with the idea that we only know the victor’s side of history, Gauld creates a deeply human Goliath who is sweet, quiet, and unassuming. Goliath just happens to be quite a bit bigger than the average soldier.

Multimedia Mondays is a new feature on EditorialEyes Book Blog, including reviews of graphic novels, theatre, ballet, movies based on books, and all things book-related in other media.

In this spare, moving graphic novel, Tom Gauld approaches the familiar tale of David and Goliath from an unfamiliar point of view: Goliath’s. Playing with the idea that we only know the victor’s side of history, Gauld creates a deeply human Goliath who is sweet, quiet, and unassuming. Goliath just happens to be quite a bit bigger than the average soldier. He’s not a monster, a warrior, or even an expert fighter. He’s the “fifth worst swordsman” in his unit. But visually, he’s intimidating.

Meanwhile, the king of the Philistines is presented with an idea, a way to end the stalemate wih the Israelites at a cost of only one or two Philistine lives. The king okays it without a second thought, and before poor Goliath knows it, he’s being measured for impressive-looking but shoddily made armour and is pulled off admin duty, which he quite enjoys. He’s sent into a valley and given a script to shout out to the opposing army.

Continue reading “Multimedia Monday: Goliath, by Tom Gauld, a graphic novel review”

Cloud Atlas Readalong

Cloud Atlas Readalong Part 5: An Orison of Sonmi~451 (first half)

Introduction
Part 1: The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing (first half)
Part 2: Letters from Zedelghem (first half)
Part 3: Half-Lives: The First Luisa Rey Mystery (first half)
Part 4: The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish (first half)

Part 5: An Orison of Sonmi~451 (first half)

The Story So Far . . .
Of all the stories in Cloud Atlas, this one is my favourite. So much is going on in terms of history, context, politics, and society, and it’s set against a highly believable futuristic backdrop and told in a modified form of evolved English. (For example, with the politcal prevalence of corporations in this “corpocracy,” many everyday objects are referred to by their once-trademarked names: people drive fords, download information on their sonys, wear nikes on their feet, watch disneys, and so forth.)

This section occurs as a dialogue, the recorded final interview of an imprisoned clone, or “fabricant,” conducted by a government archivist. It takes place in a futuristic Korea now known as Nea So Copros,which is governed by a political party/doctrine known as Unanimity. Though much of the world is “deadlanded,” technology in this world far exceeds our own. The main character, Sonmi~451, is fabricant who is being asked for her version of the truth in this final interview, before she is sent “to the litehouse.” She begins by talking about her life as a server at a fast-food franchise called Papa Song’s. Sonmi would awaken with her cloned sisters, recite the Six Catechisms at Matins, work 19-hour days serving and cleaning up after “pureblood” consumers, end the day with Vespers, consume something called Soap, which contains nutrients as well as amnesiads that deaden curiosity, and go back to sleep. Fabricants have limited IQ and vocabulary, but know that after twelve years of service, they are sent to a place called Xultation, their “debt” fulfilled to the corporation that owns them. At this point, they become consumers just like purebloods: the ultimate afterlife for a server.

Consumerism, from http://www.becomingminimalist.com/

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Cloud Atlas Readalong, Multimedia Mondays, Uncategorized

A watchable, beautiful failure: Review of Cloud Atlas, the movie

Starring Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Doona Bae, Ben Wishaw, James D’arcy, Xun Zhou, Keith David, David Gyasi, Susan Sarandon, and Hugh Grant.

Opening October 26th, 2012

Cloud Atlas, the film, is a sprawling, stunning, ambitious effort that manages to impress and disappoint by turns. Because the film is based on the novel by David Mitchell, one of my all-time favourite books (so much so that you can read along section by section with me here), I made sure to be in attendance for an advance screening at the Toronto International Film Festival this weekend.

Cloud Atlas has been consistently referred to as one of the most unadaptable-to-the-big-screen books out there. How, then, to adapt it? Continue reading “A watchable, beautiful failure: Review of Cloud Atlas, the movie”

Cloud Atlas Readalong

Cloud Atlas Readalong Part 4: The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish (first half)

Introduction
Part 1: The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing (first half)
Part 2: Letters from Zedelghem (first half)
Part 3: Half-Lives: The First Luisa Rey Mystery (first half)

Part 4: The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish

The Story So Far . . .
Cloud Atlas’ fourth part takes us back to a first person point of view as Timothy Cavendish writes his memoirs. Tim wants to tell the story of an ordeal that happened to him six years earlier. A sixtysomething, barely solvent vanity publisher in London, Tim starts his story by remembering an event he wasn’t planning to talk about, the time he was mugged by a trio of teenaged girls. Though this has little to do with the tale of his ordeal, it sets up two major components of this narrative: that Tim is old and is therefore treated poorly, and that he has a somewhat wandering style of remembrance.

Moving on to the story at hand, what he refers to as The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish, he prefaces the tale, by claiming that he had no idea what Dermot “Duster” Hoggins would do. Hoggins, a petty thug from a family of petty thugs, had hired Tim as his editor and vanity publisher of his fictionalized memoir, Knuckle Sandwich. On the night of the giant literary “Lemon Prize” announcement, Hoggins finds Tim in a pub with everyone else in British publishing, sees a critic who unmercifully butchered Knuckle Sandwich in a scathing review, and tosses the unsuspecting intellectual over the balcony to his death.

Image found on http://bikesnobnyc.blogspot.ca

Continue reading “Cloud Atlas Readalong Part 4: The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish (first half)”