The View from Saturday

A heart full of love and a bookshelf full of hope and some books.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

So maybe for real this time.

Hey did you guys know they have the internet for your HOME now? I have undergone a bit of a technological renaissance and I think I might bring back the funk. Or maybe just bring back the blog and hope that the funk follows. Who knows? It's 2k9, guys. Anything is possible.

Whatever. I think this might be the return of my internet career. It's gonna be a little bit more bitter this round.

Monday, June 02, 2008

It's BACK.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

laaaaast christmas, i gave you my heaaart

Jane asked me to tell you about my top ten CanLit books, or maybe it was top five, I can't remember. Anyway, I'm not going to do that right now anyway because I don't feel like it. But I promise, at some point, some day, that list will exist, and it will not have any mention of Margaret Atwood on it, at least not for any of her novels (sorry Jon, that's how I roll). Instead, I'm going to tell you about Christmas books I like, because as anyone who has ever met me will know, I have a low-grade obsession with the birth of our Lord and Saviour, mostly just for the baking and the TV specials. And the amazing children's stories.

Father Christmas by Raymond Briggs is a wickedly funny story with a real comic book feel--it's a picture book but all the text is in dialogue bubbles, many of which are filled with Santa cursing and getting cranky as he gets ready for his Christmas Eve trip. Raymond Briggs does such wonderful figures, all rounded and cozy looking, and his take on Santa is curmudgeonly and dry. Kids' minds will be blown with the idea of Santa as more than just a one-dimensional toy factory. Raymond Briggs' other winter classic is The Snowman, a textless book that always makes me cry and wish for a huge fluffy blizzard.

On Christmas Eve by Peter Collington is another wordless book and probably one of my all-time favourite picture books. It follows a girl on Christmas Eve as she falls asleep and the amazing things that happen as Santa makes his way to her house. I won't give anything away but I will tell you that it involves little fairies bearing tiny candles and will make any 4 year old girl swoon with excitement. The illustrations all have a snowy muted quality and you'll want to read this one over and over to explore all the details and the stories going on in the background.

Morris' Disappearing Bag by Rosemary Wells is classic Wells. And if you know what that entails, you're as dorky as I am. Morris is a bunny who gets annoyed on Christmas morning when all his siblings get better presents than his lame teddy bear--till he discovers the extra package behind the tree. Rosemary Wells has a quirky, simple style that makes you laugh without quite knowing why, and her bunnies are always so incredibly human, especially in the complex and annoyed relationships between brothers and sisters. You'll never find a better illustrator of bunny facial expressions, I guarantee it.

Sweet lord, I could go on and on with this one. Look forward to more installments as the month wears on. And happy Santa Lucia...if there are any Swedish chicks reading this, be careful not to set fire to your hair.

Friday, December 01, 2006

East Side West Side: CAGE MATCH.

Dear Ottawa,

Why are you acting so messed up towards me? Is it something I said? My constant grousing that Vancouver is a way more hospitable place (well, maybe not during the last few weeks, but STILL)? Is that why I can't hear myself over the ice pellets pounding on the roof? Can I make it up to you or whatever?

How about if I tell you how much I love Ontario writers? Alice Munro? KILLER. Though I just couldn't get into her newest book, The View from Castle Rock. The general consensus seems to be that the first section is pretty dense, and I'm sorry, but if I don't love something within 50 pages, I move on. But I still remember reading Progress of Love when I was about 13 and pretty much losing it over her insight, her plainly descriptive language, the way she sees into the hearts of her characters in a way that makes you re-evaluate your life and your relationships through the reflections of these made-up people.

I've cheated on you, Ontario. I admit it. I got caught up in the granola-infused authors of the West Coast, and I'm sorry. But seriously, man, check them out. Carol Windley's amazing book Breathing Under Water and her new short story collection Home Schooling are addictive. She has this knack for the slightly supernatural, for sticking creepy ghosts and imaginary children in backyard corners and under the ocean, this way of describing the below-surface details of life on Vancouver Island that pull you right in. She juxtaposes her characters' somewhat depressing daily lives with the humbling, terrifying beauty of the mountains and the ocean and that green green landscape that's almost too much to handle.

It's a coastal cage match of epic proportions, I know. I don't know whose side I'm really on. The fact that Brian Doyle lives right here in Ottawa might be the tie-breaker; I was mildly obsessed with Angel Square and Up to Low as a kid, his dryly witty poetic language and his funny-sad stories. There's a tenderness in Doyle's writing that's all the more pronounced because it's found amid such weird, hilarious metaphors. I read Mary Ann Alice last year when I knew I was moving to Ottawa, and his description of the Ottawa Valley made me feel less sad to be leaving the mountains behind. Not to mention the way he captures the raw vulnerability of a teenage girl; Mary Ann Alice's voice is so earnest it almost embarrasses you to read it. In a good way.

There's beauty wherever you plant your roots in this vast country of ours. Except right now, in the parking lot of the Library of the Future, where my poor little car is slowly turning into an ice block. At least we can drink the tap water.

Friday, November 24, 2006


Best title pun found while weeding the romance section today: Tender is the Knight.

Even better: When I was searching amazon to find the cover image (which only helps increase the hilarity of the title) I found that there are actually 2 books with this title.

Here they are.

As you can see, I am getting a lot of reading done these days.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

November Resolutions.

Given my madcap sense of timelines and the fact that I am not bound by the traditional strictures of start-over periods like New Years and Back to School, I'm giving myself a November rebooting of epic proportions. Not really, though. But lately I have been reading all manner of crap, from Martha Stewart Living to cookbooks, instead of REAL BOOKS which are IMPORTANT for LITERACY. I have also been doing a lot of messing around, which is something that we do not usually do here in our nation's capital. So in the spirit of positive change, I give you...

November Resolutions for 2K6! (Tara, how scary is it that 2K6 is nearly done...remember when it was only 2K5? Where does our youth go?)

1. Find a better hobby than lying on the floor listening to You Never Give Me Your Money by the Beatles on repeat. Acknowledge that this is in fact the greatest song ever recorded, then move on.

2. Brush up my Shakespeare. Seriously, kids come in all the time asking for help and in spite of the fact that I took like a million drama classes in undergrad, all I can do is stand there and stick my finger in my nose and say "Sonnet? Whaaa?" I feel like I squandered a whole lot of knowledge there. BBC DVD production of King Lear, here I come!

3. Start living my life like the protagonist of The Wonder Spot by Melissa Bank, arguably the best literary chicklit ("relationship novel") I have read in the last few years. She also wrote The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing, which I adored when I read it a few years ago. Her style is dry and unbelievably funny, and she will totally make you feel like less of a singleton loser and give you an amazingly strong, self-deprecating heroine to emulate. Plus it takes place in New York City. The Wonder Spot follows Sophie from adolescence to her mid-30s and frames episodes of her life with her female friendships and her botched-up boyfriends, her bad apartments and weekend trips out of town, all anchored by her awesome brothers who are everything a brother should be--protective and funny and annoying and encouraging (just like mine). If you like family fiction or just a clever, thoughtful story about an average life, you will love this book.

4. Sleep more. Aaaaand, I'm done.

Friday, November 10, 2006

My brother's a rock star...does that make me cool?

Yup, the Ride Theory are on the road, and the People's Little Brother is kicking ass and taking names on the West Coast. I am so proud. Check out their kickass tour blog at

In honour of all things rock, here's my number one music-related book pick. On a Cold Road by Dave Bidini of the Rheostatics is by far the greatest of the road story/tourbus/poetic travel memoir genre. It's chock-full of Bidini's trademark deadpan writing and beautiful, troubadour-like storytelling about his life with the Rheos, all leading up to an amazing climax in his description of their opening show with the Tragically Hip at Maple Leaf Gardens. It's made people who were at that show CRY for god's sake (sorry to give you away, Freya, and also sorry for exagerating if you didn't actually cry, I just know you liked it). The book's also full of Hidden Track memories from other CanRock veterans, from Goddo to Trooper to that scourge upon humanity, the Guess Who (impeach Bachman). Try it. You'll rock it.