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surreysmum

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  1. [Short version: Project Gutenberg Canada is likely to be gutted within a very short time] Thought I'd add a "word to the wise" here, for those who enjoy acquiring and reading Project Gutenberg books (i.e. free text-only or html-only digitizations of books in the public domain). Although not beautiful in font or layout, these digital copies are generally very well-edited and read easily on e-readers. You may not have been aware, after the US drastically changed its copyright law to basically freeze the US public domain for decades, that other Project Gutenberg sites (such as PG Australia and PG Canada) continued to provide PG files for some works that have come into public domain in their particular countries, mostly English-language authors from not just their country, but Britain and US as well. Legally, of course, only people whose home country has a similar term of copyright can download and use these files, and there is a warning to that effect in each file. (As far as I can tell, there is no technical impediment for anyone to download). The new North American Free Trade Agreement has unfortunately seen Canada collapse on the subject of copyright terms, which will be brought into alignment with those of the US. This means that as soon as the agreement is passed in Canadian parliament (it's already passed in US and Mexico), a lot of the files on Project Gutenberg Canada will by law have to be removed. http://gutenberg.ca/index.html Scroll past the political indignation to reach the main index to their rich holdings. As a Canadian, knowing that the legislation will pass soon, I am busily downloading items of interest to me while it is still legal to do so (and while the files are still up). Any Canadians interested in acquiring basic free copies of authors - chiefly novelists, short story writers, essayists, and some historians - who died in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s are advised to go and look for themselves. I am duty-bound to remind everybody here that this note should only be of interest to Canadians and citizens of countries where the copyright term remains death of author+50 years.
  2. It's been 32 years since I read it! So I'll refer you to my 1988 review (now dumped into Goodreads) for the details. https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/103848380 But in general, yes, I think Ackroyd caught both the facts and the personality in a way that seemed consistent with what I've read in biographies and Wilde's letters. Another fictionalized Wilde is the one in Gyles Brandreth's "Oscar Wilde and..." murder mystery series. That one's intriguing because the basic premise (Wilde and Arthur Conan Doyle as a sleuthing partnership) is obviously fictional, but it is grounded in an absolutely encyclopedic knowledge of Wilde and his works that shines through with every piece of (fictional) action and dialogue. Making Wilde straight (or straight-ish) is daft, but I think possibly in our day he might have self-identified as bi, since he maintained an affectionate relationship with his wife (until all hell broke loose), and they produced two sons together. Don't you think?
  3. I just (accidentally) started two literary biographies at the same time. One is Joanne Drayton's biography of Ngaio Marsh (Ngaio Marsh: Her Life in Crime). Drayton, a New Zealander herself, also and a bit more controversially, wrote a biography of Anne Perry. I'm not expecting this one to be controversial, but I'm looking forward to getting a bit of theatre history, since theatre was a large part of Marsh's life, and I'll also probably have to end up dipping back in to some favourite Marsh mysteries - oh, the pain of it! The other is Peter Ackroyd's biography of Wilkie Collins for the "Brief Lives" series. Brief they may be, but Ackroyd's contributions to that series aren't dumbed down, and they leave a vivid impression, at least for me. I've read his Shakespeare, Chatterton and Poe. Still on my shelf, Chaucer, and the very un-brief biography, "Dickens", which is a doorstop of a thing that I plan to linger happily over. Ackroyd also has a good line in fiction based on writers' lives (I loved his "Last Testament of Oscar Wilde") so you have to keep that distinction firmly in mind when buying something with his name on it! I'm reading the Collins biography because I've been reading a lot of Collins himself. Just the other day I finished Blind Love, his very last novel; he died two-thirds of the way through the writing of it - and the serialization had already started in a magazine! - but fortunately he left very detailed notes for his friend and fellow author, Walter Besant, so the conclusion makes sense despite being in Besant's noticeably different style. Also just finished, and still buzzing around in my brain, the complex and poetical novel about class warfare and public architecture (among other things) in 1920s and 30s Toronto, In The Skin of a Lion, by Michael Ondaatje. So many pictures left in the mind: a nun falling off a half-finished bridge in the darkness; a convict escaping jail by being painted bright blue all over; subterranean tunnels below a marbled palace that is actually a water treatment plant - yes, that last one existed, still exists and is still very much in use. A massively nebulous, dreamlike plot, each element of which is firmly nailed down to actual physical places and actual historical dates. I think more Ondaatje has to be in my future, though not till I've puzzled over this one some more.
  4. Bisexuality exists. But as far as I can remember, the possibility of same-sex attraction for Saanvi hasn't come up in any way before this. Mostly she's just been dodging (male) creepers and exchanging ambiguous looks with Ben. The actor who played her Dad looked awfully familiar, but I'm not placing him.
  5. Kirriemuir. Sorry to nitpick, but that's close to home turf for me (born & raised in Dundee, formerly capital of the county of Angus, though since changed to Tayside). When I was growing up, the best ice cream shop in the county was in Kirriemuir.
  6. Thank you for this - it worked for me and it was completely worth messing with the rather clunky interface to finally see Jason Brown's performance.
  7. This comment arises from the "glitter" episode, but putting it here for safety (even though I think mentioning Amy is fair game for that episode, given that she got a shoutout in the voiceover). So lucky for Sheldon that he has found in Dr. Sturgis someone he obviously thinks of as a touchstone and source of advice in difficult social situations. Did it occur to anyone else, watching that scene, that Sheldon eventually married another (more stable) version of Dr. Sturgis? 😉
  8. I rarely make an outright decision not to finish a book. Instead, I just... drift away, with good intentions to finish later. (Since I got my Kindle, and started making tbr lists, I've become aware that I do this more often than I believed). My record "drift" is for Dorothy Richardson's stream-of-consciousness "Pilgrimage" series, which was assigned reading in my undergraduate women's literature course, some 41 years ago. I picked it up again the other day (yet again) saying "I really should finish this up." When I make the rare conscious decision not to finish a book, it will likely be due to some combination of (a) language abuse, (b) gratuitous gore for titillation purposes (gore doesn't titillate me), and (c) inordinate length that defeats even my determination to finish. Generally at least 2 of the 3.
  9. I was pleasantly surprised to be somewhat moved by the ending - it's not super-dramatic, but there are definitely developments. I think you'll enjoy it if you decide to go ahead.
  10. I'm currently reading books by two Julies: Home Work: A Memoir of my Hollywood Years, by Julie Andrews. Andrews writes the way she sings, in a very precise, very modulated way that can leave you feeling a little distanced from the underlying emotion. But she has had a fascinating career, and I had no idea that she and Blake Edwards had made such a remarkable blended family, including two adopted orphans from Vietnam. And I'm grateful to have youtube so that I can find concerts, TV shows and lesser-known movies to enjoy as I'm reading about the making of them. Dear Committee Members, by Julie Schumacher. Light, funny and very clever. I come from an academic family, and it was my brother (who is a senior academic and administrator at an American university) who gave me this novel for Christmas. It's written all in the form of recommendation letters from a professor of creative writing and literature (but because he writes extremely snarky and sometimes personal letters, you learn a great deal about his own life and views). I'm still only half-way through, so I'm not sure how much plot development there will be, but honestly I don't care much as long as I continue to giggle at Professor Fitger's oh-too-true and oh-too-inappropriate letters.
  11. I have at times been curious about what constitutes "Canadian" when the various big Canadian literary awards come around. My impression, growing up as a student of literature in the midst of a very real cultural inferiority complex (the country's, therefore mine), was that they often "reached" in order to claim an author as our own. So I wouldn't be surprised to find that national awards in other countries with a more established literary tradition might be a bit less generous (or a bit less grabby, depending on your point of view). Here is the relevant clause from the current qualifications for the Governor General's Literary Awards: Books must be written or translated by Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada as defined by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. They do not need to be living in Canada. For the Illustrated Books category and for graphic novels, both the author and the illustrator must be Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada. For the Translation category, the original work must also be a Canadian-authored title. All books must have an ISBN, be distributed in Canada and be available in Canadian bookstores. [Neither citizenship nor actual residence is required but official acknowledgment of a legal connection to Canada, as per Citizenship Canada is; setting and subject matter is irrelevant. Books can be submitted by either Canadian or foreign publishers] The eligibility requirements for the other high-profile English novel award, the Giller Prize, are pretty much identical (author must be Canadian citizen or have permanent resident status; publisher may be domestic or foreign), although there are some year-of-publication requirements that may be different for consideration. These are both major prizes for Canadian literature. The controversy, it seems to me, arises when a prize is given to an author with dual citizenship, especially if that author is largely associated with, and has as their principal subject matter, a different national literature. Both Canada (Governor General's award) and New Zealand claim Eleanor Catton's The Luminaries, for instance (Canada because she was born here; New Zealand because she lives there - but also because the novel is set in historical New Zealand). I don't know whether this will happen less and less as Canada's national literature grows more abundant and more self-confident, or more and more as our literary world becomes increasingly diverse and more authors acquire multiple passports and multiple national identities. Anyway, I'm not holding my breath for the day Jeopardy has a "Canadian Literature" category, given how poorly the contestants generally perform on Canadian topics in general. Who needs another "football"-style embarrassment? 🙂
  12. According to The Scarlett Letters (a collection of Mitchell's letters throughout the period of the production & release of the movie), there was a brief time where they thought he was out because MGM was asking too much to release him, and there was also a certain amount of backlash against his being cast as a Southerner (some articles are quoted), but there was never any real controversy or doubt the way there was over the role of Scarlett. Mitchell herself always flatly refused to express any opinion whatsoever on the casting of any of her characters, and, to be fair, I really don't get the impression she had any actors or actresses in mind when she was writing. Wild horses wouldn't have dragged that information from her, in any case - she made that perfectly clear.
  13. I'm re-reading Oliver Twist (it's been about 30 years...) and the grime and cruelty of the first chapters are hitting me hard. As a counterbalance, I have The Complete Father Brown loaded up on my Kindle. In my Canadian Lit bag that goes to work with me, I have just finished Miriam Toew's A Complicated Kindness (beautifully observed but in the end rather depressing story about a rebellious female teenager whose family is completely torn apart within the Manitoba Mennonite community she grows up in). Next up on that front: Nino Ricci's Lives of the Saints, which also looks to be about the effects of religiosity on everyday lives, although in a completely different context. Will know more once I read more than the title and the blurb! Just in on my e-Library account (why yes, I do read too many books at once) is the first in Anne Perry's new (and non-Victorian) mystery series, Death in Focus. I have hopes for this one, as I think the William Monk series has been showing signs of being tapped out for a while. About to be returned from that same e-Library account: The Scarlett Letters, an absolutely delightful collection of Margaret Mitchell's correspondence during the time that Gone With the Wind was being filmed, and then released. The subject matter of the letters gets a bit tedious, because Mitchell took a stance that she wished to leave the filming entirely in the hands of Selznick and his film-makers, and flatly refused to get involved in screenwriting, casting, etc. (and spent a lot of time scolding various PR people about the way she was misrepresented in the press). But she's a wonderfully verbose and witty correspondent, and the sheer variety of people she wrote to is a wonder to behold. Lots of good explanatory notes for context, too.
  14. I've lived and worked in plenty of buildings where the odd spaces, especially under staircases, are used for storage and have small doors. Haven't seen this episode, though, so can't comment on Sheldon's choice of hideouts.
  15. Well, not "currently reading" exactly, but I'm #927 for 100 copies of The Testaments at my library, so sometime in the next 6 months or so... I must admit I was wavering about putting it on hold - I felt that The Handmaid's Tale was a very good book, but too depressing to re-read. So I was pleased to see in recent reviews that it is lighter and more hopeful, and a real page-turner.
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