About Me

My photo
Niagara on the Lake, Ontario, Canada
My virtue is that I say what I think, my vice that what I think doesn't amount to much.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

'I am dying but you are already a corpse': the 100-year-old multiple sclerosis diary that became a classic


"One hundred years ago today, WNP Barbellion scrawled his final diary entry. “Self-disgust,” he wrote. Ravaged by multiple sclerosis at just 28, this one word was all he could manage, before his hand was too unsteady to go on. He had been recording his daily life – and, latterly, the daily encroachment of death – since his first entry when he was 15: “Am writing an essay on the life-history of insects and have abandoned for the time being the idea of writing on ‘How Cats Spend their Time’.” His diary would be published in 1919 as The Journal of a Disappointed Man, to wide acclaim but it is sadly little known nowadays."

Read more 

Follow WNP Barbellion on twitter @WNP_Barbellion

The complete works of Barbellion online

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Top-Drawer Comedy of Kingsley Amis' Lucky Jim


A 1954 New York Times review of Kingsley Amis'  hilarious Lucky Jim. I could use a good laugh right now - it might be time for a re-read.

More: Literary Hub

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

My 12-Hour Lunch Date with Joni Mitchell




Albums are like novels or poems except that you can listen to them in the dark. You can always flip the record, put in another CD, reset the iPod. Close your eyes. Joni Mitchell will be there waiting for you.

 Read an excerpt from Reckless Daughter here

One Poem by Molly Brodak

 The Cipher

A nonbeliever accepts
a kind of fog around facts—

believers demand meaning.

Beloved fog forms a tissue between them, like love.
Burns off in bald light, like love.

Nonbelievers just put on their war wigs
and their war gloves
and pick

from a fanned deck of brute facts.
To prove nothingness exists

you’d need just one thing that was not itself,
one x that did not equal x.

One copse of alders in one dim dusk
that was none of the above.
Souls are made up
of such obstacles.

And a nonbeliever accepts
that God is very, very likely.

Because
nothingness is just not
how brute facts work.

A rainstorm, brute fact, shuttles brainlessly towards us,

and our evening is overtaken in rain,
rain and fog, infinity, the opposite of engineering.

I listened to some invisible bird
rattling off the facts of consciousness.

He used that exact word,
cipher.

Via 

Molly Brodak is the author of A Little Middle of the Night (University of Iowa Press, 2010) and Bandit: A Daughter’s Memoir (Grove Atlantic, 2016) along with three chapbooks of poetry.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Cooking with Ivan Doig


Ivan Doig (1939–2015) was a canonical writer of the American West. He extracts meaning from the simplest things—a teenage boy’s appetite, for example—and when pleasure comes along for his characters, he celebrates it fully. Cooking to keep up with Doig’s women, though, is a challenge. Here’s a description, through Jick’s hungry eyes, of a Fourth of July creek picnic prepared by his mother and a friend:
There were the chickens my mother spent part of the morning frying. Delectable young spring fries with drumsticks about the thickness of your thumb. This very morning, too, Toussaint had caught a batch of trout in the Two Medicine and now here they beckoned, fried up by Marie. Blue enamel broilers of fish and fowl, side by side. The gateposts of heaven. 
Marie’s special three bean salad, the pinnacle of how good beans can taste. My mother’s famous potato salad with little new green onions cut so fine they were like sparks of flavor. 
New radishes, sweet and about the size of a marble, first of Marie’s garden vegetables. A dozen and a half deviled eggs arrayed by my mother. 
A jar of home-canned pickled beets, a strong point of my mother’s. A companion jar of crabapple pickles, a distinction of Marie’s. 
A plate of my mother’s corn muffins. A loaf of Marie’s saffron bread. Between the two, a moon of Reese home-churned butter. 
An angelfood cake by Marie. A chocolate sour cream cake from my mother.

Valerie Stivers whips up the recipes from that fictional 1930s picnic

Great Writers Forgotten By History


Ever heard of Alexander Baron or Mary Elizabeth Braddon? They’re just some of the overlooked authors we need to rediscover, writes Hephzibah Anderson.

Read more here

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Dictionary Stories

From illustrator, designer, and writer Jez Burrows comes a book called Dictionary Stories, a collection of illustrated short stories that are composed entirely of example sentences from the dictionary.



Via 

Henry Darger left a legacy of brilliant if disturbing art


Henry Darger  was a reclusive loner who worked as a janitor at a Christian hospital in Chicago from 1908 until his retirement in 1963. He was also an artist and writer whose entire oeuvre was discovered posthumously. From 1930 until his death in 1973 he resided in a room on the second floor near Lincoln Park. His landlord was Nathan Lerner, a Chicago photographer. When Darger died, Lerner ventured into his room to clear the space for future tenants and was surprised to discover things he didn’t expect to find in the old loner’s room, including several manuscripts, each thousands of pages long.

More here

Virginia Woolf's Epic Insults


Virginia Woolf wrote savage, and sometimes horrible and classist, insults. Here are some examples of Woolf at her most scathing:

On E.M. Forster: “[His mother is slowly dispatching him, I think—He is limp and damp and milder than the breath of a cow.” From a May 1926 letter to Vanessa Bell
“I have read 200 pages [of Ulysses] so far—not a third; and have been amused, stimulated, charmed, interested, by the first 2 or 3 chapters—to the end of the cemetery scene; and then puzzled, bored, irritated and disillusioned by a queasy undergraduate scratching his pimples. And Tom, great Tom, thinks this is on par with War and Peace! An illiterate, underbred book it seems to me; the book of a self taught working man, and we all know how distressing they are, how egotistic, insistent, raw, striking, and ultimately nauseating. When one can have the cooked flesh, why have the raw? But I think if you are anaemic, as Tom is, there is a glory in blood. Being fairly normal myself I am soon ready for the classics again.” From a diary entry, August 16th, 1922

“We could both wish that one’s first impression of [Katherine Mansfield] was not that she stinks like a—well civet cat that had taken to street walking. In truth I’m a little shocked by her commonness at first sight; lines so hard & cheap.” From a diary entry, 1917

More: Literary Hub

101st km Further Everywhere



London’s Pushkin House is launching an exhibition about Russian poets-in-exile as part of its commemoration of this year’s centenary of the Russian Revolution.

The centrepiece of the project will be a pavilion, resembling a railway carriage, that has been designed by artist and architect Alexander Brodsky on Bloomsbury Square. The pavilion will be officially opened on 18 October and the art object-cum-exhibition space can be visited by the public between 11am and dusk until 10 November.
More here

An Even Dozen from Uncle Walt




“As for me, I know nothing else but miracles,
Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,
Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky,
Or wade with naked feet along the beach just in the edge of the water,
Or stand under the trees in the woods,
Or talk by day with anyone I love,
Or sleep in bed at night with anyone I love,
Or watch honey bees busy around the hive of a summer forenoon…
Or the wonderfulness of the sundown,
Or of stars shining so quiet and bright,
Or the exquisite delicate thin curve of the new moon in spring…
What stranger miracles are there?”
Paul Overton uses Walt Whitman's words to explain why the poet means so much to him.


More here

Monday, October 09, 2017

The Keys to the Kingdom

I enjoy Elliott Downing's wry tweets on Twitter and became curious about The Keys to the Kingdom. A young woman is killed by a stray bullet while walking down the street. Her bereaved partner becomes obsessed with a security surveillance film he finds online, watching it over and over in an attempt to make sense out of a senseless murder. It takes over his life. Can he change the past or is he simply mad? I was drawn in and read this small strange ebook in one sitting. I'd like to read more of Downing's work.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Every British Underground Paper That Launched in the 1960s


This catalogue displays the covers of every British underground paper that launched in the 1960s: International Times, Oz, Friends/Frendz, Gandalf’s Garden, Black Dwarf and Ink. It also includes the comic books that grew out of the papers, and various examples of the graphics, ads, posters and flyers produced by each publication.


More here 

Flannery O'Connor With Peacocks


Flannery O’Connor in the driveway of her Andalusia Farm estate. 1962

Via Semiotic apocalypse