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I feel too much the harmonious nearness of home to be able to brood over any sorrow. In the past I wept. I was so far away from my native country… (Robert Walser, Little Snow Landscape, trans. Tom Whalen) “Home” was a word that had no personal meaning for me for a very long time….

Insomnia reading redux

I spent a goodly portion of the latter half of my PhD staying up all night, every night storming through books fully unrelated to my dissertation. I’ve been dancing a weary turn with insomnia since 1986 or so, when TV ended every night at 1am and the internets were barely a gleam in William Gibson’s…

Read as I say, don’t read as I read

I saw something somewhere, pretty recently I think, about how COVID-19 has changed and will continue to change our lives a lot, and that all the things people have lost are making them grieve. (My thesis supervisor, if she ever reads this, will die 17 times in succession and then come back from the dead…

Working out in the time of cholera

I saw on the news this morning that Ontario provincial parks are closing because of COVID-19…and I didn’t freak out at all. I got all my hysterical adjusting done in my previous post; but I think this is a good time to point out how wrong Thoreau was when he claimed, “The mass of men…

A “right good-will draught” to end the year

It was the best, most, and first of times. 2017 was other adjectival things too, but I’ll stick to the good bits. Best reads (in alphabetical order by author surname) Grand Hotel, Vicki Baum A Favourite of the Gods, Sybille Bedford Notes from a Dead House, Fyodor Dostoevsky Old Filth, Jane Gardam Hild, Nicola Griffith…

Love letters

About three years ago, one of my beloveds sent me this short email: I’m not sure if I’ve ever shared with you my creed, which was put into words for me by the considerate E.M. Forster. This is it: “I believe in aristocracy, though–if that is the right word, and if a democrat may use it….

Dear “Lucy”

Dear “Lucy,” I wanted to let you know that I received your comment on this old book review; you wrote: When stupid reviewers write crap reviews! Really–every comment elicits a face palm! Ever considered doing something else with your time? Having received death threats for a negative review of a Cormac McCarthy novel as well…

Hunkering down

I used to love a good winter hunker: curled up in a great armchair like Alice, but with a book rather than a ball of wool, tea and toast at hand, and in latter days, the fireplace channel roaring gaily on the TV. Hunkering was easier and could be continued almost indefinitely when I was…