Na na na na na na na na na na na BATBEAR! (see below)
No this isn’t one of those Sci-Fi channel made-for-tv movies in which a hybrid man-bear (pig?) monster terrorizes people. I don’t know about you, but personally my favorite types of documentaries are slightly kooky and a little quirky. Which is why I could hardly resist when I stumbled across Grizzly Man in the documentaries section on Netflix. A movie about a guy who yearly goes to the northern wilderness in order to “protect” the local population of grizzly bears? Sign me up!
The movie is directed and narrated by Werner Herzog, who edited over 100 hours of footage shot by one Timothy Treadwell, the founder of the nature preservationist group Grizzly People. The movie showcases a good deal of Treadwell’s footage of the bears that he captured over the summer months that he had spent out in the wild over the course of the past 13 years. Of course, Treadwell often features prominently in a lot of the footage, so rather than an eye-opening exploration of the ursine community, this is more the examination of the man himself. Within the first half hour of the doc, you learn that Treadwell and his girlfriend wound up perishing in Alaska, ironically mauled and devoured by an ornery grizzly.
Better than sitting on a cloud!
It is probably no surprise that Tony and I have a shortage of book storage space in our current apartment. Our shelves overfloweth, and we have books unconventionally wedged in every which way in order to keep them off the floor. Because we rent, we can’t put up wall-mounted shelves, and unfortunately we have used up all available space to place larger bookshelves.
So really, the Bibliochaise (pictured right) is the PERFECT solution to our problems. Apparently you can store up to five meters of books in this thing (an interesting way of quantifying books, to be sure), and it also doubles as seating, which we always need more of! Can you imagine how great it would be to snuggle up in a chair to read, finish your book, only to grab a new one without even having to get up? This is the stuff that dreams are made of. My dream version would be the white wood pink leather combo (chocolate brown wood with lime green leather seating comes a close second). What about you? (You can permute and combine colors by clicking this link.)
Alas, it appears the Bibliochaise is only available in Europe, and with a hefty £3,500 pricetag, it’s probably just as well and will have to remain a dream. Tony claims he could construct such a chair of wonder for me, but for now I’ll mentally tuck it away with all the other things with which to furnish my dream home. How great will this look in my home library replete with built-in bookcases (also courtesy of Tony, naturally)?
Since delving into the online book reading community, I’ve come across a few sites that offer members the opportunity to read and review “Advance Reader Copies” (ARC). I figured what could be better than having free books shipped to my door, and eagerly signed up for the titles that looked interesting. Eve is the second such book that I’ve actually snagged in such a way, and is due out in bookstores on Jan 27, 2009.
Eve is a retelling of the story of Adam & Eve, tracing their time together in the Garden, their fall, and their life thereafter. It is told through the eyes of Eve, as well as her three daughters, Naava, Aya, and Dara. Eve’s story is told largely in retrospect, while her daughters collectively tell the family’s story beginning at a later date, beginning around the time the family encounters an encroaching civilization, one that is polytheistic at that.
Let me be your messenger of truth: this novel is not very good!
Splat. That pretty much sums up Messenger of Truth, the fourth entry in the Maisie Dobbs series. Normally these books are innocuous comfort reads that are pretty much guaranteed to satisfy me, and are a pretty safe bet if I’m not sure what I really want to read next. Not so this time.
Messenger of Truth sees Maisie called on to investigate the death of artist Nicholas Bassington-Hope, who by the looks of it, plummeted off of his scaffolding in what the police have concluded was an unfortunate accident. As is par for the Maisie Dobbs course, along the way she winds up with a few intertwined mysteries (this time involving coastline smugglers) on her hands, but in the end she cracks all of the cases. I don’t know what it was about this novel, but I found it really hard to read because the story just didn’t grab me this time. I didn’t really care how things turned out this time, and even though art deaths sound all sexy and intrepid, I was seriously bored. At one point I almost considered just skimming to the end or seeing if this book was written about on Wikipedia to find out what had happened, because I was that uninterested. Then again, part of the thing about series is that the continuity that flows from one book to the next is rarely due to the outcome of cases, but rather what happens to the recurring characters throughout the novel. So I stuck with it, but if it hadn’t been part of a series I was already enjoying, I would have likely stopped. So unless you’re already a fan of this series, you might want to steer clear of this one. Because seriously: Snoozefest 2009.
This just in: The Morning News has revealed the contenders for the 2009 Tournament of Books. For those of you not in the know, this is an annual tournament held by TMN in which some of the year’s “best” books compete in a March Madness NCAA type fashion. Two books face off each week, with the winner of that bout proceeding to the next round. How do these battles go down? Each week has a designated reader (generally an author or writer) who reads both books (in theory), and then declares a winner based on his or her own personal set of criteria. Other than a penultimate Zombie round (in which previously voted fan favorites get a chance to rise again and do battle once more), in order to make it to the final round, a given book must beat each of its adversaries in each round in order to win the prize. And what is the prize? Well, the author of the winning novel is sent a live rooster, so there’s that. But for you the reader, the whole tournament is a prize, because not only are the weekly commentaries both amusing and informative, but you get a fancy new reading list! Past winners have been The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz, The Road by Cormac McCarthy, The Accidental by Ali Smith (just barely…), and Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell.
As I said though, it’s not just the overall winner of the tournament that necessarily shines in a contest such as this. Indeed, one of my favourite reads of last year, Then We Came To The End by Joshua Ferris, was an entry (but not winner) in the tournament. I came to the tourney late last year, and read about most of the books after their rounds had come and gone. By the end, I read two of the books on the list, and I still enjoyed the whole thing. But this year, I want to play along! And I encourage you to do so too! Here’s the list of books that will duke it out:
I picked up this book on my first trip to Chicago, back in May. Tony was at a conference, and I spent a couple of hours in this wonderful used bookstore that had an amazing selection. Crow Lake had been on their shelves for over a year, so I wound up getting an additional discount off of the price. It isn’t the type of book I would normally see myself picking up and reading, but the description on the back struck me and I decided to give it a whirl.
Crow Lake is about the Morrison family hailing from rural, northern Ontario, Canada, and is told from the perspective of Kate, the third child. She has two older brothers, Luke and Matt, and a younger sister named Bo. The tale is told both in the present day (which I feel was really the 1980s), predominantly focusing on Kate’s current relationship with a fellow faculty member in the Zoology department, as well as in retrospect. Specifically, Kate focuses on the time in her childhood when her parents are killed in a car crash, and how this tragedy ripples through the family and affects herself and her siblings. The back cover of the book also ominously hints at an imbroglio that ties the Morrison and neighboring troubled Pye family together, and Kate dutifully mentions a dovetailing of the two families is impending through much of her narrative.