2013 Reading Summary and the Plan for 2014

I don’t generally keep track of my reading on any sort of statistical level. I read what I read for reasons that are as much about the mood I’m in when it comes time to start a new book as anything else (probably more than any other reason, to be honest). This means that my reading choices over the course of a year tend to be not particularly considered. But this year everything I read got logged into Goodreads, and for the first time in a while I wasn’t actually paid to read anything, so I thought I’d take a look at what I read in the absence of any direction (beyond a handful of books that were for my steampunk book club). Here’s the breakdown: I read 65 books in 2013; 39 of them were written or edited* by men, 24 were written or edited by women, and 2… Continue Reading

William Gibson Interviews

I thought I’d bring a couple great interviews with William Gibson to your attention. The first is from the Vice blog, and the second (and better) one is in Wired. While I’m at it, I should let you know that my review of his latest novel, Zero History, appeared in the September issue of Quill & Quire (print only), which should still be available on select newsstands throughout the country.

An Open Letter to Councillor Adam Vaughan, Re: G20 Security and the Removal of Trees

Dear Councillor Vaughan, I am writing you to express my concern that trees may be torn up in the downtown core as part of the security measures for the upcoming G20 Summit taking place here in Toronto. I am writing to you, in particular, because I am a resident of Trinity-Spadina, and because you were quoted in the National Post piece that brought the issue of the trees to my attention. The removal of the trees is an unnecessary and disgraceful addition to what has already become a shameful display of security theatre. There are police officers in my family, and many close family friends are also officers, some serving as constables on the street, some in higher, supervisory or investigative roles at various police services across this country, including in the RCMP. I understand their professionalism, their commitment to public safety, and it is my most profound wish that… Continue Reading

Called It

Do you remember last year when I complained about the absolutely dismal coverage of Richard Flanagan’s speech (among other things), because I thought the Australian and Canadian markets had some things in common and maybe, just maybe, the things Flanagan was worried about might have implications for us here in Canada, and that maybe we should talk about what setting that kind of a precedent meant? You know, before it became so urgent that we might panic and do something stupid. Do you remember that? I remember that. Well, I fucking told you so. It’s still not too late to have the (public, reasoned, analytical) conversation we should have had a year ago, but it’s coming down to the wire. Any of you boys and girls in the press want to actually step the fuck up this time?

The National Post, Champions of Equality

This is the one post I never wanted to write. People who know me, and regular readers of this site, will already know that I am not a feminist. I am, in fact, quite critical of feminist theory at times. I resist making this a big issue on this site for two reasons: first, emotions can often run high when it comes to identity politics (of which feminism and feminist theory can play a significant part), making it very easy for a poorly-worded sentence to cause a colossal misunderstanding, and second, feminism remains a useful movement, and feminist theory a useful set of tools for a variety of fields; I don’t like limiting my tools, and criticizing something too much on the Internet can do that. But this thing, this stupid, stupid, embarrassing disgrace brought to us by the Editorial Board at the National Post has left me no choice… Continue Reading

Sundry Things Number Two

It’s been quite some time since I posted an entry; no doubt those of you who don’t follow me on Twitter will have simply assumed that I’ve been eaten by dragons, or abducted by aliens, or sequestered in some dungeon by shadowy men in black Ray-Bans. None of these things are true, but they’re rather more interesting than the truth, the truth being that I’ve been struggling with a pretty severe bout of depression for most of the last year and a half (for reasons I have more than once alluded to, but will not go deeper into today), and have done little more than stare glassy-eyed at television and video games. I don’t vilifiy these things the way some do, but I’ve certainly let them take up more of my free time than I should have. Well, to be fair, I’ve also taken up running, but that’s a far… Continue Reading

What. The. Fuck.

I wanted to write about something else today (maybe finish that Bad Behavior review, eh?), but I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore. Or whatever. The truth of the matter is that I saw something that pissed me off, maybe not a huge thing, but big enough, and I’m the kind of dude who likes to stomp around and make a fuss when I’m pissed off. So here’s my fuss. I learned today (and would have learned yesterday, if I hadn’t been ill and skipped some reading), that Penguin has struck a deal with W H Smith to be their sole supplier of travel books. This is a Big Deal. (Canadians might recognize the company from their old Canadian operation, called SmithBooks, which was bought by local owners and merged with Coles to become Chapters. So not small potatoes.) First, W H Smith has a… Continue Reading

The Decline and Fall of Western Civilization

So I was walking through the lunch room at work on Wednesday, and sitting on one of the tables was the Living section of the Toronto Star. The entire front page of the section, even below the fold, was taken up by colourful photos and sketches of pretty girls wearing short skirts, and the articles were all about how short skirts are the new big thing this year. The entire front page of a section was taken up by this revelation. No wonder people don’t buy the fucking newspaper anymore.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood

It’s not very literary, but I couldn’t resist passing this on. These last seven months or so have been extremely hard on me personally, and today was among the harder days. I’ve had a tough time believing in the existence of genuinely good people. Fred Rogers was a hero of mine when I was a small child (I wrote to him once, and he sent me back a signed photo that I still have somewhere), and I’m glad to see that he was the man we all thought he was. This made my day a little better.