Shelf Life: April 2013

Shelf Life: April 2013

April was Poetry Month, and I did get in some poetry, but also quiet a few graphic novels.

The Metaphysician in the Dark, by Charles Simic42. The Metaphysician in the Dark, by Charles Simic
(University of Michigan Press, 2003)

43. Far to Go, by Alison Pick
(House of Anansi, 2010)

44. In Reliquary, by Daryl Hine
(Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2013)

45. Are You My Mother?, by Alison Bechdel
(Mariner Books, 2012)

I loved Fun Home, but the pacing in Are You My Mother? seemed off, and oddly circular. Perhaps that’s the difficulty in writing about a parent who’s still alive, and suggested input from the side, however indirectly.

Angel: After the Fall, Vol. 1, by Joss Whedon46. Angel: After the Fall, Vol. 1, by Joss Whedon
(IDW Publishing, 2009)

47. Angel: After the Fall, Vol. 2, by Joss Whedon
(IDW Publishing, 2009)

48. Angel: After the Fall, Vol. 3, by Joss Whedon
(IDW Publishing, 2011)

49. Angel: After the fall, Vol. 4, by Joss Whedon
(IDW Publishing, 2011)

The very definition of “guilty pleasure.”

These take place after the events in in the final season of the television series Angel, which only began to get good in the last season. The comics continue from the last episode, where Los Angeles has literally gone to hell. It’s fun.

50. The Essential PK Page, by PK Page
(Porcupine’s Quill, 2008)

The Painted Girls, by Cathy Marie Buchanon51. The Painted Girls, by Cathy Marie Buchanan
(Penguin, 2013)

Our book club’s pick for April, and the most gorgeous cover of any book from 2013 to day. Love it.

52. The Gourmet Vegetarian Slow Cooker, by Lynn Alley
(Ten Speed Press, 2010)

Working two jobs and going to university part time means that I don’t have a lot of time to cook. Enter the slow cooker – huge meals that I can cook in advance and parcel out in Tupperware and consume over the week.

The previous book I bought was a huge disappointment (see Shelf Life: March 2013), but I’ve made more than a dozen recipes from this book, and each has been excellent. Cooking times are spot on, and the recipes are flavourful and varied – I can’t see myself getting bored with them any time soon.

If you’re going to buy one slow cooker cookbook – make this it.

Unleashed, by Sina Queyras53. Unleashed, by Sina Queyras
(BookThug 2009)

I’ve enjoyed Sina Queyras’s blog, Lemon Hound, on a causal basis for a few years now, keeping up via Twitter and RSS, but this collection of essays from its earliest days in 2004, through to the end of 2008. Queyras offers interviews, informal art, photography and poetry reviews, as well as wider discussions about culture and gender studies, with an open, and questioning approach. It’s refreshing and encouraging to read her thoughts about the process of writing and blogging and the psychic landscape it inhabits, and her sense of direction for the project, as it evolved. Wonderfully inspiring and excellent stuff.

54. Angel & Faith: Season 9, Vol. 1: Live Through This, by Christos Gage
(Dark Horse, 2012)

55. Angel & Faith: Season 9, Vol 2: Daddy Issues, by Christos Gage
(Dark Horse, 2012)

More on the theme of guilty pleasures, these comics take place concurrent with the season 9 Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics, and are generally stronger written than those in “After the Fall.”

Crafting the Personal Essay, by Dinty Moore56. Crafting the Personal Essay, by Dinty W Moore
(Writers Digest Books, 2010)

The  trumpeting white rabbit on the cover charmed me instantly. Alice in Wonderland remains my favourite book, and I assumed that anything which so prominently displays an affinity for it must be right up my alley. That, and I’d like to deeper explore essay writing, something I haven’t formally looked at in a while.

Unfortunately, Crafting the Personal Essay is one of those dumbed down, formulaic writing manuals that ceases to provide anything useful or even novel. When citing exemplary essayists from the days of yore, Moore repeatedly apologizes for their antiquated modes of discourse, even as he uses them, and offers inferior paraphrases or translations into contemporary English. It negates the entire purpose of quoting them, and it drove me mad within two chapters. And not in a fun, Wonderland way.

Worse, there are embarrassingly trite exercises (more than a hundred!, he exclaims) that the reader is expected to work through, and they’re obviously and viciously gender biased. It’s infuriating.

57. O Resplandor, by Erin Moure
(House of Anansi Press, 2010)

Subverting the Lyric, by Rob McLennan58. subverting the lyric, by rob mclennan
(ECW Press, 2010)

I interviewed rob for Broken Pencil (I think my piece should run in the next issue), and I was intrigued by how he’d managed to accomplish so much – founding a chapbook press when he was 23, co-founding a publishing company, co-founding the ottawa small press book fair, writing dozens of poetry books and chapbooks, and writing, what, hundreds? of reviews for various publications, and his blog. It’s incredible.

This collection of essays and reviews is absorbing, and often takes unusual forms, like travel essay, interspersed with poetry. It’s a neat approach. Particularly insightful, to me anyway, was rob’s unit of composition. For him, a completed work isn’t a single poem, it’s a book. That’s an expansive way of looking at composition – one I can only hope to aspire to.

59. Yesno, by Dennis Lee
(House of Anansi Press, 2007)

60. Angel: After the Fall, Vol. 5, by Kelly Armstrong
(IDW Publishing, 2009)

I had a difficult time locating this volume. It looks like it’s out of print, or on its way, and after reading it, no big loss.

An incoherent and unnecessary distraction from the final conclusion reached in volume 4. Wholly disappointing and easily done without.

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