Ggrrrr! CATS vs DOGS, Part 2

In this great debate about CATS vs DOGS in literature (see CATS vs DOGS, Part 1, Miaow!), one thing is clear: humans have loved cats and dogs and lived side by side with them for more than 10 000 years. While we quickly learned that cats are only as tame as they choose to be (try keeping a cat inside a house with open doors), dogs and humans created their own, distinctive narrative. These cousins of wolves, jackals and foxes have evolved to become our inseparable companions, but I think they’re only truly happy when earning their keep. I think that … Continue reading Ggrrrr! CATS vs DOGS, Part 2

FINDING HOPE AT STATION ELEVEN

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

ARMCHAIR STORM CHASERS

(SHOULD I READ IT OR WATCH IT?) I was so relieved when I went to bed last Sunday (January 4th) and was able to turn the light off because there was no power failure!  I honestly don’t know how my family made it to Monday unscathed, but we did―sixty year-old maples and all. Still, I spent most of the day with a knot in my stomach, because I was having such feelings of déjà vu.  Did anyone notice that last Sunday’s freezing rain storm coincided with the date of the official first day of the 1998 Ice Storm? I couldn’t … Continue reading ARMCHAIR STORM CHASERS

IT’S DECEMBER: BE INSPIRED!

(SHOULD I READ IT OR WATCH IT?) This is the right time of year to write about books and movies that inspire, don’t you think? With the Holidays a few weeks away, we feel drawn to stories that remind us that though life may be tough, it’s also essentially wondrous, and change is always possible. In December, the first story of change and redemption that pops to mind is of course Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol that most of us know from having watched it rather than read it. No matter its flaws, I love the story and can’t help … Continue reading IT’S DECEMBER: BE INSPIRED!

VROOM! VROOM!

(from the SHOULD I READ IT OR WATCH IT? category) November seems to have settled over us like a cold damp blanket. Suddenly, driving a car is more complicated, more hazardous and a lot less fun. A hassle, plain and simple. Cars lose all their glamour and appeal in winter: they get crusted over with slush and salt, and they sound and feel arthritic when the deep cold causes them to groan and moan and creak. And yet, they’re such beautiful machines. Emblems of the 20th century. They’re about travel and speed and escape and human inventiveness and freedom. Cinema … Continue reading VROOM! VROOM!

TALES OF THE LIVING AND OF THE UNDEAD

Note to readers: This was first posted last year, but as the Online Book Club was very young, not many of you found it in time. So here it is, as relevant today (especially!) as it was then.  HAPPY HALLOWEEN!! It’s late October… We’re entering the final countdown to the darkest, creepiest, most exciting day of the year for children and adults alike. In North American culture, few celebrations stir the literary imagination the way Halloween does.  Although the original symbols and meanings of the Celtic feast of Samain that inspired Halloween have been diluted in a sea of Transformers, … Continue reading TALES OF THE LIVING AND OF THE UNDEAD

SUMMER FUN MEETS HARD BOILED CRIME

To my surprise, a birthday gift provided me with my most bittersweet reading this summer: Stephen King’s Joyland. Though I’m not a fan of his horror fiction, I am a huge admirer of the rest of King’s work.  The cover of Joyland, published by Titan Books as part of its wonderful HARD CASE CRIME series (can’t you just feel the hard-boiled pulpiness?) evokes the sounds, sights and smells of a second rate amusement park, of warm summer days and nights, as well as something dark and menacing. But I was pulled in by the tenderness at the story’s center, and … Continue reading SUMMER FUN MEETS HARD BOILED CRIME