Archive for the ‘wonderful things’ Category

The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

I have always preferred Atwood’s short fiction to her novels, but this is undoubtedly her masterpiece. Atwood tells the story of Iris Chase Griffen, who is coming to the end of her life and needs to set the record straight. Iris does this by telling the story of her early life, which is bound up in the story of her sister Laura who died at 25 and posthumously became a celebrated author. Iris’s tale is interspersed with Laura’s one novel, The Blind Assassin, which tells the story of a pair of secret lovers. When these lovers meet in squalid apartments, they tell each other the story of the planet Zycron and the fabled city of Sakiel-Norn, which exist in another dimension of space. As we move deeper into the tale, we understand that this is all one story, broken into facets. Atwood’s writing is exquisite throughout, but never more so than when constructing the pulp scifi story the lovers tell. Laura is one of the most fascinating characters I’ve ever come across and Iris is so complete that you almost forget she isn’t real. If you like Atwood, read this and enjoy. If you think you don’t like Atwood, read this and become a fan.


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The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

It’s New York in the 1870s and Archer Newland has just become engaged to May Welland, his ideal woman, when her cousin the Countess Olenska arrives in New york fleeing from a bad marriage. Meeting the Countess forces Archer to re-evaluate everything he believes about the rigid social rules of the New York aristocracy and the life he had intended for himself. A gorgeously written love story about what we owe to ourselves and what we owe to others, about loving the goodness of a person more than wanting them, and about the prisons we build for ourselves. The story is only outshone by the atmosphere – Wharton paints old New York like a canvas. Five Stars.

The 1993 Martin Scorsese directed movie is well worth a watch, too. He recreates the atmosphere perfectly.

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I recently discovered The Moth podcast. The Moth is a New York non-profit storytelling organization that puts on storytelling performances several times a year. The podcast features one story a week told live onstage, without scripts or notes. The stories range from hilarious to heartbreaking – Deborah Scaling Kiley’s Lost at Sea has to be heard to be believed. The Moth showcases not just stories, but the art of storytelling – something we just don’t appreciate enough. Want to be a master storyteller someday? Pull up a chair and this to this.

Also ridiculously cool is Librivox, which offers free audiobooks of public domain books read and recorded by volunteers. With almost 3000 titles in their catalogue there’s something for everyone. Is Tacitus easier to listen to than read?

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Why doesn’t Toronto have bookstores like this?

Librería El Ateneo Grand Splendid in Buenos Aires
image source: designtopnews.com

Bookstore Selexyz Dominicanen in Maastricht

image source: davereed

Livraria Lello in Porto

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I bought Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil years ago in Savannah, an incredibly beautiful city where almost everyone tells you about this book when they find out you’re a tourist. I put it on the shelf and forgot about it. In the fall I read Berendt’s second book City of Falling Angels, and loved it beyond reason. That induced me to go back to this one and I’m very glad I did. Berendt’s literary voice is perfection, the atmosphere is so thick you can breathe it in, the characters are really characters and the whole of it is the very best kind of literary non-fiction. Read it and be amazed. Suggested soundtrack: Ella Fitzgerald sing the Johnny Mercer Songbook.

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What is fifth business? The extra man in the story, neither hero nor villain. He is the man with no female counterpart, the one who moves the story along without it every really being his story. This is the life story of Dunstan Ramsey and his relationships with Mary Dempster, her son Paul, Boy Staunton and the mysterious Lisle. Starting in small town Ontario at the turn of the last century and spanning the world and seven decades, this is an amazing narrative experience. The characters are vivid, the prose is perfection and the story just evolved as I read. Fifth Business is a completely wonderful book. Five stars and a maple leaf.

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Check out Information Access: Commons, Control, Controversy (IA3C), the 2nd Annual U of T iSchool Student Conference!

Day One: Friday, March 19th

9.00 – 9.30 Registration (Bissell Building, 7th floor lobby) and coffee * sponsored by the Hart House Good Ideas Fund

9.30 – 10.00 Welcome from conference organizers and Dean Seamus Ross

10.00 – 11.15 Panel One


Brad Koegler (Toronto) – Babel 2.0: Delving the Linguistic Digital Divide

Glen Farrelly (Toronto) – Access Denied: Barriers to Adoption and Implementation of Web Accessibility

Marc-Andre Bernier (McGill) – Unequal Access: Sign Languages and Information

11.15-11.35 Coffee Break *Sponsored by the Toronto Association of Law Librarians

11.35 – 12.30 Panel Two


Rebecka Sheffield (Toronto) – “There’s a Gay Archives?”: Outreach and Advocacy at the Canadian Gay & Lesbian Archives

Mark Gelsomino (Toronto) – The Zapatista Effect: ICT Activism and Marginalised Communities

12.30 – 1.45 Lunch Break

1.45- 3.00 Panel Three


Erin Anderson and Jennifer Andreae (Toronto) – Re-conceptualizing Access: The New Role of Information Literacy in Post-Secondary Education

Eugenia Kim (Albany) – A Multipurpose System: the Development of the University at
Albany Library Systems Wiki

Jamon Camisso (Toronto) – Embedding Metadata: Exploring Material and Digital Proximity via RFID

3.00-3.30 Coffee Break *Sponsored by the Librarians Without Borders Student Committee

3.30 – 5.30 Keynote Address (Innis Town Hall)

Dr. Joseph Janes,

University of Washington

Day Two: Saturday, March 20th

10.00 – 10.30 Registration and Coffee *Sponsored by the Museum Studies Graduate Students’ Association (MSGSA)

10.30 – 11.45 Panel Four


Judith Cooperman (Toronto) – “A Clutch of Dreamers”: The Small Canadian Press in Canada’s Libraries

Marta Chudolinska (Toronto) – Information Access to Zine Libraries and Archives

Lucy Bungo (Albany) – Interlibrary Loan is Not Dead Yet (In Fact, It Feels Happy and Thinks It Will Go for a Walk)

11:45 – 12.00 Coffee Break *Sponsored by the Special Libraries Association

12.00 – 12.45 Panel Five


Amanda LeClerc (Toronto) – Accessing Inspiration

Marie-Eve Belanger (Toronto) – Annotation as scholarly primitive: traces of information access

12.45 – 1.45 Lunch Break

1.45 – 3.00 Panel Six


Valentine Moreno (Toronto) – The 28th Sao Paulo Biennial and the case of the empty second floor

Anna Dysert (McGill) – A Comparative History of Access: Models of Public Service and Custodial-based Archives

Ryan Nelson (McGill) – Defining the intellectual commons and public domain

3.00 – 3.30 Coffee Break * Sponsored by the CLA Student Chapter

3.30 – 5.30 Roundtable (Innis Town Hall)

Approaches to Access: Taking Stock of the Information Landscape

Moderator: Wendy Duff

5.30 – 7.00 Wine and Cheese (Innis Café)

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