I still can’t decide how much I like this book, although I finished it almost two weeks ago. It is written in an imitation of old-fashioned style, which I normally don’t like, but Harris makes it work really well. There’s a bunch of really stereotypical gender stuff in it, which normally irritates the crap out of me, but it’s not really presented as a war of the sexes; rather, pretty much nobody comes off looking particularly good. There are mystical aspects to the story, presented in a taken-for-granted fashion but still leaving room for doubt. I don’t know what I think of it. Basically, there are a bunch of elements here that would normally lead to a thumbs-down, but Harris manages to weave it all together beautifully.
The protagonist is an artist who marries one of his child models, expecting her to remain as compliant and biddable as she always was throughout her childhood. She grows up, he gets weirder, a ghost gets involved (or maybe not), and almost everyone seems addicted to laudanum or alcohol or chloral. There’s sex and adultery, murder and rape, magic and deception, paedophiles and prostitutes. The traumatic aspects of the story are not written in great detail but I still found some of them hard, so maybe a content warning for child abuse and sexual abuse, depending on what your threshold is. Mine’s pretty low.
I think I liked it, overall. But I didn’t like it enough to be sure that I like it. Weird?
Sleep, Pale Sister by Joanne Harris. 1994. ISBN 978-006-078711-0
This fast-paced documentary covers Banksy’s month of making a piece of public art every day in New York for the month of October 2013. It was kind of a NaBloPoMo / NaNoWriMo thing with street art; the film called it a residency. I watched it with my brother, and we kept pausing it to talk about who owns art, what is art, whose opinions about art matter, cultural appropriation, graffiti and vandalism and defacement, the concept of property, the concepts of public versus private, whether art has to have a meaning, and so forth. My brother and I occupy quite different places on the ideological map, so there were times when it was a relief to turn back to the TV with our mouths pressed thin, but at other times we both got really animated in our enthusiasm for the topic and managed to navigate our differences well. It’s a process, right?
The documentary interested me for a lot of reasons, not the least of which being that I recently made my first foray into public art-making. As time goes by, viewers have started to add to my art. Although I don’t think they have improved my piece aesthetically (puh-LEEZ), I am delighted that there is some conversation happening. Continue reading →
How I look when people don’t know how to talk on the phone at work.
I was so focused on writing about Poe today that I nearly forgot the Weekly Pet Peeve. My heart’s not in it 100% today, so I’ve hauled this one out of my drafts and tweaked it a bit:
You know what I hate? When people are making a work-related phone call and don’t bother to introduce themselves properly. If you are calling in an official capacity, you should at the very least state your first and last names, and preferably also what your organisation is.
I’ve had people call and not say their names at all, or just say “This is *Sarah” and then demand client information. And then I have to go through the whole interrogation to find out the relevant identification of Sarah, during which time Sarah is getting more and more irritated. Would this not be easier if she started out with”Hi, this is **Sarah Palin, I’m a social worker at XYZ Child and Family Services and I’m looking for information on Jane Doe who is a permanent ward of my agency”? Yes, it would indeed be easier. So, Sarah, when I point that out to you in the course of our phone conversation, there’s no need to get all hissy. Because the minute you raise your voice to me, I’m hanging up. Continue reading →
Poe’s eighth birthday. Taken at Urban Canine by photographer Amanda Borsa.
Remember how my post about Cookie’s death nearly went viral last weekend? That was because Cookie’s mom finally felt ready to read it, and she shared it on Facebook, prompting many of her friends to read and share it.
In a heartbreaking coincidence, another one of her dogs, Poe, died on Friday. Poe was only eight, but he had a haemangiosarcoma on his spleen which ruptured. Haemangiosarcoma is an aggressive cancer more common in dogs than cats or humans. From what I understand, this shitty cancer (aren’t they all) starts in the lining of the blood vessels and leads to large blood-filled tumours which can rupture. That’s what happened to Poe.
Poe comforting his sister Cookie after her diagnosis of osteosarcoma (with my Fluffy Dog in the background comforting Poe). Taken by photographer Amanda Borsa.
Poe was a well-known and much-loved dog, and people who knew him have been sharing their memories and pictures of him on Facebook. Poe was adopted by my friend when he was about eight months old. He and his brother Jack and four of their siblings were running wild down in Ohio, and were live-trapped. The person who caught them remembers that all six of them were so scared that they were piled onto each other in a corner. It seems that the shelter there found them too feral to adopt out, and wanted to euthanise them because it was felt they would never make good pets. Continue reading →
Happy Monday, everyone! That’s not my normal salutation (it’s more a sarcastic “Happy” Monday!), but after the weekend I had, I’m glad to get back to the work routine. I got some bad news on Friday (I’ll write about it soon) and that affected the rest of the weekend. On Sunday afternoon, I did go over to a good-acquaintance-maybe-becoming-a-friend’s place for a long- awaited tea-and-cookies visit (and cuddles with her fabulous Golden Retriever).
But on the way home, I got rear-ended. This is the third January in a row that I have been rear-ended by a white pickup truck while I was stopped at a red light. Continue reading →
This post is dedicated to Blair (The Shameful Sheep) in response to the post It All Makes Sense Now. If you read through the comments you’ll see a few references to dogs humping, which reminded me of this embarrassing story from my past. Continue reading →
This memoir of the author’s travels through Europe as a young woman is a well-written and pleasant read. The countries in which she describes her travels (primarily France, Spain, and Norway) are mere backgrounds, however, to her inner travels. Sjoholm is struggling to be a writer, to understand what being a writer means, to find the balance between writing and living. She is also coming to terms with her attraction for her friend Laura, and Laura’s attraction to her. Also, at the time she was traveling, there were great political changes happening in her home country (USA) with regard to gender and politics, and the book touches on her growing awareness of and interest in that. Continue reading →