Sunday 17 May 2015

Blog post for a long weekend...

I’m trying a new type of Chai Tea that I bought at Ten Thousand Villages yesterday.  I haven’t had a sip yet, but it smells a bit more peppery than my usual, with a hint of licorice.  I hope it’s good!

I read an interesting book last week that I can’t even describe in my own words, so I will insert the publisher’s description of the novel here:  “An unusual and remarkable dystopian novel  
A Free Man by Michel Basilieres is a satirical tall tale presented as the drug and alcohol-fuelled conversation of two old friends getting reacquainted over one night.  It’s also a boy-meets-girl story of the worst kind, and a time travel story about a future where the world is ruled by robots and humans are the vermin.  When timelines cross, the world as we know it bends… Skid Roe is completely self-absorbed and delusional.  His struggle to exercise free will is constantly hampered by the physical manifestation of his inner demons and by the norms and rules of contemporary life.  He’s both aided and hindered by Lem, a robot from the future whose good intentions leave Skid on the run from a shadowy state security agent.  A surreal, beautiful, and powerful mash-up, Basilieres’ long-awaited sophomore effort is inventive and darkly funny.   (  This is one of the most unusual books I’ve ever read, and it does not sound remotely like anything I would enjoy, and yet I couldn’t put it down!  It was absurd, but hilarious, and totally off-the-wall, but it also made me think (not too often, though!)  Imagine a cross between Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five (the time travel and “humans mating in captivity" parts) and Will Ferguson’s Happiness ™ .  I’m not sure if it was brilliant or just plain bizarre.  Either way, I enjoyed reading this very short book (except the parts that I found outright offensive), but I would probably not recommend it to anyone other than twenty-something bookstore clerks living in Toronto.  Hmmm… maybe that’s why it appealed to me, as that is what I used to be in my past life.  Anyway, I don’t recommend it, so read at our own discretion.

I’m now attempting to read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig for my Friends’ Book Club meeting on Thursday.  About six months ago, when we were trying to get some ideas together for book club choices, I put it forth as a title we might consider reading because, as I told the group, I’ve had a copy of this book on my shelf, unread, since I worked at the World’s Biggest Bookstore (now sadly demolished), and would likely never read it unless I had to do so for a discussion.  Well, somehow it became our choice for the May meeting, for which I feel somehow responsible.  I don’t think I’ll have time to read it all by Thursday, but I started it last night and it seems OK, just a guy talking about what it means to be on a motorcycle (in the scene) as opposed to driving in a car (watching the scene).  I can appreciate that.  I don’t really know what it’s about, but I’ll be happy to have at least made an attempt to read it - it’s definitely one of the books on my list of “books I have always wanted to read but have never made the time to do so”.  I’m not quite sure why we decided to read this one, and I’m thinking not everyone is overjoyed at the selection, so I’ll let you know next time what the response at the meeting is.

And, in honour of Victoria Day, I have a few titles about royalty and the royal life to recommend (not a very informed list, as it’s not generally the type of book I like to read):

Nicholas and Alexandra by Robert K Massie (also The Romanovs)
Famous Last Words by Timothy Findley
The Winter Palace: a novel of Catherine the Great by Eva Stachniak (also Empress of the Night)
The Kitchen Boy: a novel of the last Tsar by Robert Alexander (haven’t read it yet, but am looking forward to it)

That's all for today. Enjoy the long weekend!

Bye for now...

PS The tea is OK, but I think I'll stick with my original brand.

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