Sunday, April 30, 2006

The InterWeb as Delirium's Library

As an activist who worries about the amount of paper and shipping being a book lover involves (as well as being a shut-in who is scared of large amounts of people who gather at things like events and protests), I have to believe that reading is more than a solitary activity. Part of the idea behind this blog - and I think blogs in general - is that reading can be communitarian, generative, exciting and necessary to forging a future. Bloody ambitious for an activity that requires little more than turning pages and lifting a mug of tea. Which is (best case scenario) why I write about books here and in magazines... And the magic of the interweb is discovering that those words - selected to convey the power of a reading experience that is interior and silent - have circulated, have engaged, are in the process of helping to form that community of people who act with their eyes and minds. Also, it's an opportunity to go *squeal*, a review that I wrote has been cited somewhere! A lovely mixture of humility (ah, this is in the service of community and a wonderful, incredible writer) and arrogance. Anyway - check out Dragonfly Rising, the site of Qwo-Li Driskill, activist, poet & agitator. Zhe has been making community through reading and writing for several exciting, glowing years & I am utterly inspired by hir work. So it's very cool to think that my review might be leading others to discover Qwo-Li's wellspring of wonder.
And Delirium's Library (following the dragonfly, rising) spreads its rainbow wings.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

ten good unreasons

I haven't actually written about anything I've been reading (apart from my world wide webwanderings) for a while. Fear not, I am still a codex grrl, it's just that with cataloguing everything for Library Thing - didja see the neat widget to the *left*? - I haven't had much time to think about reading. Although I have been reading. Finished Leila Ahmed's A Border Passage a while back, very thought-provoking, and also Janet McNaughton's The Raintree Rebellion - completely different kind of book (teen SF rather than literary memoir) but equally engaged with individual identity as rooted in communities shaped by the social and political landscape. I also read Germaine Greer's translation of Lysistrata, which was Germy fun. There's also the proof of Empress by the woman who wrote the Go book that was much raved about. Don't know why. It's pretty much fashion porn à la Memoirs of a Geisha. Hum. I feel like I'm reading a thousand other things, but they are either a) a list of books on order or b) actually student papers. Or c) dreams. Very vivid dreams at the moment. Maybe cause I'm reading so many books.
Also, Julianna Pidduck's Contemporary Costume Drama, which is pretty bloody good. Robin Morgan's The Burning Time, which I finished a while a go but had to review for a new London magazine called (wait for it) Vagina. And a fantastic Frida Kahlo catalogue that I'm perusing for a new tattoo...

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Adaptation = Natural Selection?

So, I spent the last few years working for/with Professor Linda Hutcheon, whose new book A Theory of Adaptation contains a few juicy facts that I discovered amidst mounds of photocopying from bad books about film adaptations. I was therefore interested to see that, only a couple of weeks before the book is published, The Guardian and Waterstones are playing the adaptation game. If you live near a Borders or Waterstone's in the UK, this is a chance to vote for the best movie adaptation of all time. And vote strategically, given that...
There are only two films directed by women: Orlando and American Psycho (8 source texts are by women). Only three adaptations from novels not in English: Doctor Zhivago, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, and The Vanishing, which - presuming it is the German not the Hollywood version - is the only non-English film on the list.
Of course, this is a transparent marketing plan but it's still pretty shameful that none of Pasolini or Fellini's adaptations (Oedipus Rex, anyone?), or La Reine Margot, or even Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon made it.
Sin City rather than Ghost World? Who are these experts? And when did both Borders and Waterstone's give over their identities to,uk? There doesn't seem to be a way to vote online. If you can find one, post it here.
It's dumb, but I'm fascinated...

Friday, April 21, 2006

An Intimate Connection (Collection?)

Ah, to be in New York amidst the smell of book dust. Not that you or I could afford the kind of prices these books go for... And I do wonder about the first edition, signed copy blah blah thing.
OK, so there was this one time in Edinburgh when I was really miserable and I considered blowing a week's food money on a pristine first edition of the public printing of Seven Pillars of Wisdon (a great book about lostness and escape) - not the private printing, which runs in the £1000s (or even add a zero), but still rare enough and with all the fold-out maps intact.
I love books with fold-out maps. Or just maps. I've been reading Bettany Hughes' Helen of Troy, which has six or seven maps. And lots of endnotes. And appendices. It's almost Anne Carson, except it's archaeology.
And as with Anne Carson, lots of "distinguished" white male academics and writers are upset because she brings sex (sexuality as well as erotics) into the discipline, and makes the classical world accessible. Blah blah. Her book made me want to translate Greek again... Somewhere in my "other" library in London are a pile of Greek texts (mostly bilingual) from my schooldays in Ancient Greece (hehe).
Although what's left to translate? Carson's done Sappho, Catullus, Stesichoros, Mimnermos, bits of Alkman, Simonides, Euripides, Aeschylus (in the NYRB, but available to subscribers only so I won't post a link that will upset us poor non-subscribers -- but if anyone has a link to the excerpts on a blog or elsewhere, I'd be grateful for the post)...
There is something very tempting about the Iliad, although Christopher Logue kinda has that covered (Cold Calls is haunting me in a "Read me again!" way).
Maybe the antiquarian book fair could turn up something really antiquarian???

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Zine Shout-Out from Timisoara

If you're a grrrl zinester, then get in touch with Nita Mocanu of LADYFEST Romania - she is setting up a travelling zine library & would love copies of your deepest, darkest thoughts to share with the reader of Romania!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


So, just when I thought next Saturday (29th) couldn't get any than a workshop with ass-kicking poet and activist Chrystos, it turns out there's a doc about Sally Mann at Hot Docs (called "What Remains" for documentary/photography/art fans). And now... there's an opportunity to meet my creator (no, I don't believe in god) -- JILL THOMPSON (shouting, I know -- but have you read The Little Endless Storybook? She is a genius!) is going to be in town at the (ohmigod, can it really be happening?) Women of Comics event at the Toronto Comicon. Gasp! Also, Jessica Abel, Colleen Doran, Diana Tambly and Jen Van Meter. It's an overdose of grrrl goodness! It's also $18 - but you can get $3 with a lovely Fiona Smyth flyer (piles to be found at Toronto Women's Bookstore & Beguiling).

Sunday, April 16, 2006

New Obsession! Ultimate Happiness...

Caused by browsing del.ic.ious, which was my favourite timewaster this week, until I found... LibraryThing. It even sounds like something Dream dreamt up, hehe. A relation of the Fashion Thing? And a perfect way to keep track of all my books as I pack them, which will drive my mum NUTS!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Star-Crossed Book Lovers

There've been several articles in the Toronto Star of late about how the internet is helping people form live communities - MySpace, and now (finally) they have caught onto Bookcrossing. I've considered engaging in this form of aleatory reading for a while, but the website shows that the most left books are thrillers & romances. I prefer the chance meetings with strangers in the form of notes, postcards, lists that you find in secondhand books. My prize of this collection is a postcard from the nineteenth century that I found in a lovely edition of Sir Thomas Wyatt at G David in Cambridge. Usually it's just receipts or old bookmarks.
I use strange things as bookmarks - in my copy of War Variations right now is a very odd list that I found at Dupont station and think might be director's notes from a rehearsal. I should really send it to Found Magazine but I like it.
I sold some books last week (sob! mainly theory & Canadian poetry, interesting that they were the first to go -- or maybe the most saleable) at the secondhand bookstore across from where I work, and when I went in the next day with another bag of books, the clerk gave me an envelope that he had found in one of the books (he couldn't remember which, durn it). There's a photo of some orchids with a message to me on the back from someone called Paul...
Three days later, I found him in my badly-filed memory banks. Knowing which book the card was in would have helped. But it did make me wonder what else the book mountain holds?

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Blue Haired Librarians Unite!

Which means something completely different these days, at least according to the New York Times' article, Zines in the Library Catalogue? Of Course. Well, as blue-haired zinesters are wont to say, duh. Just as playbills and ballads of the Renaissance tell us about the material, aesthetic and political culture of a broad sector of non-aristo society, so zines are an insight into those who don't get to write for the NYT. They are records of the ephemeral - meetings, feelings, connections, encounters, protests - sometimes with a "this zine(ster) will self-destruct in 30 seconds" feel. And they're growing. There was a customer at the bookstore today whose 6 year old daughter wants to start zining -- how cool is that?! I remember writing and illustrating stories with a friend in tiny Victoria Plum notebooks that were given out in party bags. And using those weird carbon copy sheets to get high - er, to make copies of poems to give out to classmates.
The Toronto Public Library has had a zine library for a couple few years now, beating out Barnard both in the age of its collection and the fact that it's open to the public. The two cool librarians who run it are regularly found at small press and zine fairs, picking up goodies and befriending people.
This is how librarians should be, doncha think? We get a bad press - grumpy, shh-monsters. Even uber-librarian of cool Rupert Giles (many agree) is more scared of students touching his books than he is of giant blubberous demons. (Check out the collector's item American Library Association's "Ohmigod there's a librarian on TV & he's HOT!" poster. Also, the very sweet "Kids read those graphic novels, right?" poster of Dream sulking with a book). But then his (er, that could be Dream as well, but I mean Giles, although there are similarities) library is regularly subject to the ravages of evil.
Mine is currently being ravaged by something worse than vamps: moving! I am even selling books (piles & piles of them, many bought second-hand, several unread). In one of the first batch I sold, the diligent clerk found a postcard from someone I didn't even remember, providing me with a puzzle for half a day.
But more than who, I wanted to know which book it had been in. Diligent dude couldn't remember. Argh.
So, in summary: zines, libraries, memories, mysteries. Ann Cvetkovich calls zines "archives of feeling," part of a class of objects (live performances, meeting minutes, oral testimony, video art) that capture what's left out of the official archives. As Yvonne Rainer's new book (which seems to put difficult childhoods and club sandwiches on the same level) is called, Feelings are Facts. I don't know if she ever made a zine in reality, but in Delirium's Library, there's a whole box full of them.