Monday, May 13, 2019

Reader's Diary #2028- Vicky Daddo: Eye of the Beholder

I don't know if it's due to my cynicism, what I normally read, or the times we're living in but most of the time while reading Vicky Daddo's "The Eye of the Beholder" I was expecting the positive, happy story to take a dark turn.

A woman recalling her wedding day, with beautifully rich imagery, I thought it was bound to end with a divorce, death, or spousal abuse or something of that nature. Pleasantly it did not go in that direction. But that's not the only surprise...

Monday, May 06, 2019

Reader's Diary #2028- Kevin Spenst: Grotesqueries of the Gods

Kevin Spenst's flash fiction "Grotesqueries of the Gods" is a darkly funny tale of a serious man and his imaginative dog. It seems to support the old saying, "the more people I meet, the more I like my dog," even though it doesn't wind up making a whiff of difference to the dog in the end.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Reader's Diary #2027- Gary Newhook: How a Small Newfoundland Town is Saving Canada's Urban Middle Class

Gary Newhook's "How a Small Newfoundland Town is Saving Canada's Urban Middle Class"is a flash fiction story prompted by 1949 newspaper article titled, "How a Small Newfoundland Town is Saving Canada." However it's set in the current day.

Itself told as a newspaper article, it seems to present the situation of mainlanders snapping up cheap property on the island as a symbiotic relationship. However, as this is barely fiction, many real life Newfoundlanders today recognize the sly subtext in the story, subtle hints that the short term gains of locals may have dire consequences down the road. Not symbiotic, but parasitic.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Reader's Diary #2026- M. Shayne Bell: The Thing About Benny

M. Shayne Bell's "The Thing About Benny" is a short story with a bit of a science fiction edge, though it's hardly unfathomable. It deals with a world and time where the Earth's plant species are going extinct and two botanists are in search of plants that people are raising in their homes and offices but are no longer found in the wild.

Giving the story an extra quirky and interesting angle is that one of the botanists is named Benny (like Benny Andersson) and obsessed with Abba. He draws inspiration in his detective/science work from listening to their songs on repeat.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Reader's Diary #2025- Gail MacMillan: Ghost of Winters Past

I've not read a lot of romance, a few more lately perhaps, but still not a lot. So I'm still not in a place to really know: are romance books supposed to be cheesy? Are they usually? And if so, is that part of the fun? I can get behind that. Characters and situations in Gail MacMillan's Ghost of Winters Past are a little over the top. The villains are villains, plot contrivances abound,  the couple who disdain each other at first come to fall for each other by the end, and it's all rather soap operaish (if soap operas were set in the wilderness of New Brunswick). I can respect this being someone's thing. It's entertaining and there are even themes of higher significance if one cared to look (toxic masculinity, for example).

For the most part then, I went with the flow. But this is not to say I enjoyed everything. My largest issue was with the bizarre introduction of a helpful First Nations ghost at the beginning and end of the book. I say bizarre because it uses an unfortunate trope (the ancient, magical "Indian") and is wholly unnecessary to the plot.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Reader's Diary #2024- Konstantinos Poulis: The Leonardo DiCaprio of Exarcheia

While I'm not usually a fan of dream sequences in fiction, I think they were used to good effect in Konstantino Poulis's short story, "The Leonard DiCaprio of Exarcheia" as they really gave insight into the main character's psyche. They also lead to some provocative questions as to whether or not they are causing his unhappiness or rather a symptom. Questions about ambition and drive, while universal themes, are contrasted against the uniquely Greek setting.

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Reader's Diary #2023- David Byrne: How Music Works

I'd consider myself a part-time fan of David Byrne. Beyond a few singles (Talking Heads and solo work), I'm not overly familiar with his music and definitely not the man. For all that, I managed to have an idea of him that wasn't supported by reading his book How Music Works.

Not that the book is really an autobiography (he does, however, use anecdotes and examples from his own life and career to illustrate his points), but I'd pegged him as decidedly more avant-garde than he comes across in his writing style. He's certainly artistic but his ideas are expressed very lucidly and with scientific, economic, and historic support.

It's a fascinating book for both fans of music and musicians themselves delving into a whole slew of music related topics. On that note, I suppose the title doesn't exactly capture the theme of the book but nor is there a single theme besides music. It's really a series of essays each with their own angle, ranging from the business side to the cultural growth of music. I think one of my favourite takeaways from the whole book is the way we tend to create constraints for music, whether intentional or or not, and yet we find a way to create music despite it all and fitting for the various contexts.