From last week, this piece in the Guardian by Patrick Stewart (aka Captain Picard and Professor X) on domestic violence was quite staggering:
He was an angry, unhappy and frustrated man who was not able to control his emotions or his hands. As a child I witnessed his repeated violence against my mother, and the terror and misery he caused was such that, if I felt I could have succeeded, I would have killed him. If my mother had attempted it, I would have held him down.
Jenny D., has been reading Jo Walton's upcoming Among Others and gives us a hint or two : "...but is basically what you would get if you tailored Graham Joyce's The Tooth Fairy to be exactly the book that would most speak to me in the world, or at least to the grown-up version of my childhood self,..."
Approved by Jenny D., means a total must read for me but as it is Jo Walton we're talking about, it already was on my radar (along with the upcoming Connie Willis of course).
Brian aka Mr. Chompchomp had an interesting observation about the significance of books as magical objects in MG novels. As he has been reading a boatload of SFF for the Cybils I have to assume he knows what he's talking about which had me thinking all kinds of things about what this means about fantastic books or rings or wardrobes or, well, here's Brian's point:
But there is a general consensus among the nominees that the most powerful of magical items are books. Books as portals, books as secret codes, books simply emanating power, books offering either narrative or knowledge. This idea isn't new, but its omnipresence does seem a little, I dunno, prophetic? I struggle over what this elevation of the printed word means. Is it sign that books are growing in importance? Or that they are becoming rarer, less read, less comprehensible and therefore more dangerous.
Tom Spurgeon has a holiday gift guide for comics/graphic novel lovers that is a must read. It includes Joe Sacco's Footnotes In Gaza which is certainly on my list and I think will end up featured prominently when the award lists are put together next year.
I just finished The Firefly Letters and Surrender Tree by Margarita Engle (way way behind on that one) and it occurred to me first, that she is amazing, and second that with these two and with My Havana on the horizon (next summer) I could actually put together a column of Cuban stories at some point next year. (I'm thinking summerish.) And that would be fabulous, wouldn't it? Actually recommending books about real Cuban history as opposed to, well, dramarama Cuban history (there was a lot of dramarama on this subject when I was in school). It's something to think about.
As to the actual January column (which is looming large) that will include books I wish I read in school on Hemingway and Shakespeare and some WWI because I ended up with three books on WWI for MG/YA readers and how often does that happen??? So it's an English/History class mash-up. I know, it sounds weird but I promise I'll make it work (or the books will be so good that no one will care... :)
And, in case you are wondering, Lisa Klein's Lady MacBeth's Daughter just might make me care about MacBeth (lost in a high school haze I'm afraid), and Caitlin Kiernan's The Red Tree is scaring the crap out of me in the creepy, building tension, sinister way that I love but man - Kiernan is just a relentlessly brutal writer. Not brutal in a blood and gore kind of way, but harsh and intense and, well, brutal in a most human way. All those emotions just laid out bare and you have to read them and see them and know them because that's who we are and how we are and Kiernan gets that and insists on writing about it and, well, she kinda kills me.
More on that one later.
The best Thanksgiving movie ever made is Home For the Holidays and if you haven't seen it then you should because it is funny and sad and romantic and dramatic and just plain good. Plus it stars Holly Hunter and I adore her - I'd worship her if she started her own church. (Look at how easily I give up my devotion.) I'm watching it right now because I have virtuously been wrapping and packing this evening - and even writing Christmas cards which include actual snapshots of my kid. Tomorrow I will write a wee bit about Wallace Stegner and Chris McCandless (damn him) and Jack Kerouac and my father.
Because everything I write, at least a little bit, is about him.
Next week look for several days of recommendations from the What a Girl Wants crew on books for girls. And there will be running commentary from me all over the place because that's just what I do. But great book buying ideas for sure. Maybe I'll post some tomorrow so you can all shop now. Hmmm. First, more Holly Hunter and Robert Downey Jr and bonus - Dylan McDermott! (And Charles Durning and Anne Bancroft both of whom are divine.) Wrapping, movie and sleep and then Stegner and then books for girls. Sounds like a plan.