Father’s Day has come and gone and left me with lingering thoughts about a father’s role. Our individual conceptions of fatherhood are of course marked most profoundly by our personal experiences of life with or without our own fathers, but representations of fathers in our different cultures have also shaped our expectations of what a father should be. That got me thinking about the most memorable literary encounters I’ve had with fathers, both fictional and actual, and so I set about drawing up a list of fathers in literature who really stand out. I’m happy to say that most of … Continue reading MEMORABLE LITERARY FATHERS


The word Shakespeare entered my life fairly early on. It almost always sounded like it was spoken entirely in capital letters. No given name necessary. I was also under the impression that reading Shakespeare—which seemed about as amusing as climbing Mount Everest or perhaps getting your teeth pulled—separated the literary wheat from the chaff. When our high school teacher mentioned Shakespeare, he was usually met with eye rolls. We all preferred Dickens, and that’s what we got. Our teacher knew better than to try to force feed us the Bard.   And yet there was Romeo and Juliet ! And … Continue reading LIFE WITH SHAKESPEARE


All of the hours I spend listening to the radio (public radio that is) have led me to believe that it’s the closest thing to reading. It certainly seems to work similar channels of my brain, and feels as effortless. I can become engrossed in a great radio broadcast much the same way as I’m drawn into a book, with the added bonus that the radio allows me to cook or drive at the same time! Recently, however, a BOOK RIOT blog post reminded me that audiobooks are (of course) the closest thing to reading. Yes, I realize that’s about … Continue reading DO YOU LISTEN TO BOOKS?


If you google the words “pandemic novels”, you’ll get 336 000 results in 0.16 seconds. It isn’t surprising that Stephen King, Dan Brown, Michael Crichton or Guillermo Del Toro have been drawn to the challenge of plague fiction, but it’s probably less expected  that Daniel Defoe, Giovanni Boccaccio and two Nobel Prize winners, Albert Camus and Jose Saramago have also explored the theme in their work. But whether they’re works of popular or literary fiction, rich in action or in allegory, most of these tales are about dark and devastated places; about mob rule, violence and suffering; about finding reasons … Continue reading FINDING HOPE AT STATION ELEVEN