Apr 21, 2018


Baffling Poetic Dream

By James Joyce
Irish, 1922 
Random House/Bodley Head Text
Philosophy, Modernist, Avant Garde

Main Attractions

Penguin Modern Classics1.  A simple story that’s outlandishly complicated       
2.  Invented words nestled into perfectly formed sentences
3.  More language jokes than can ever be interpreted
4.  Only two main characters & the lady who outshines
5.  Perhaps a wildly Irish satirical adaptation of The Odyssey 
6.  Set on a single day & takes a full single day to read through
7.  Each episode reveals a different narrative structure
8.  Humanity’s 3-D consciousness compressed onto a flat page
9.  Loaded with puns, bawdy humour & mundane moments 
10.  Painstaking, attention to finite details of Dublin & humanity


These quotes are only from Episodes 1-5:

Cuisine & Delicacies

Ranked as: Han Jeong Shik
Without question, this book presents a major learning curve for readers of Joyce or for any new to avant-garde literature.  Careful readers are heavily rewarded each time they return to its pages.  It’s packed with allusions and references to literature, puns between different languages, poetic lines and sheer moments of wisdom.  None of these are clearly laid out for us, it takes a bit of curiosity to really dig in and discover them.  In this way, the book comes alive because it’s a concentrated dialogue between the text and the reader.  Or would it be a dialogue between the author and the reader?  Naturally, this complexity will give itself to a variety of interpretations which makes it a great work for conversing with other readers over.  In this way, the sheer variety offered merits it the designation of Han Jeong Shik.

Why Visit Here

It's just a party for language.  Imagine all the letters on a dance floor having a good time with freedom to let their 'phonemes' out!  It doesn't have to make sense for it to be a good time.  St. Patrick’s Day is well known all over the world and is widely celebrated.  There is another Irish holiday worthy of celebration and is devoted entirely to Ulysses.  It’s called Bloomsday and occurs every June 16th.  It’s a day when everyone takes to the streets with public readings of Ulysses, which conveniently takes about 30 hours to complete.  This is just enough time for a full day of partying that drifts long into the night.  Reading Ulysses is a way to embrace this literary holiday that’s becoming a world wide event.  Recently, Ulysses was translated into Korean and more languages are accessing Ulysses each year.

Here’s a great video by Ted-Ed that gives a great overview for why we should read Ulysses:

Destination Summary

This video has many spoilers because it shows just how simple the plot really is: Mr. Bloom & Dedalus wander around Dublin for the day and end the night at a bar before going home.  Knowing the very ending really is a spoiler but it won’t ruin the whole experience of reading Ulysses.  When you do begin to drown in the language, (everyone does at some point) this video can help by reminding you of the basic plot so you can get your bearings again.  It’s a great reference point & is oh so sweet!

Ulysses to Go by Sommer’s World Literature to go:

Travel Advisory

It faced obscenity trials in USA when it was first published.  Ironically, these obscene scenes are exceedingly difficult to fully interpret so how obscene are they actually?  If one puts in the time and pays careful attention, some snippets of an exposed ankle will reveal itself.  Be warned, there are far more obscene moments than mere ankles.  But nothing that a raging hormonal teen of today wouldn’t be able to come up with on their own.

While Ulysses is loosely based on The Odyssey, it’s not necessary to read Homer’s epic to understand Ulysses.  Perhaps, it could help.  The best advice is to begin with Joyce’s earlier works listed below because you can see him develop his thoughts and build upon earlier ideas.  Reading Hamlet or knowing the basic story could help also because it’s mentioned many times throughout Ulysses.

Packing List

✓ Every highly academic work written on the subject of Ulysses
✓ A fireplace or matches & a safe place to build a fire
✓ Will power to toss the academia into the flames
✓ Courage to brave these waters alone for the first time
✓ Money to replace the burnt academic works

Recommended Resources
Alternate Books
✓ Dubliners By James Joyce (1914) - Many of these characters also show up in Ulysses
✓ The Dead By James Joyce (1914) -  This story is briefly touched on in Ulysses, moreso in Finnegans Wake.  It’s part of the Dubliners collection.
✓ A Portrait of an Artist as a young Man By James Joyce (1916) - Stephen Dedalus is the main character for both Portrait & Ulysses
✓ Finnegans Wake By James Joyce (1939) - If you enjoyed Ulysses, plunge into Joyce’s book of the night

Other Sources:
Yeats bought a signed 1st edition:
When Yeats & Joyce met:

Some articles on translations of Ulysses

Graphic Novel Format

How to Read Review:

Free Audiobooks:

Jim Norton is excellent, but it's not free (that I can find)

Apr 5, 2018

Seven Fallen Feathers

An Invitation to Walk a Mile

By Tanya Talaga
Canadian, 2017
Non-Fiction, Biography, Indigenous Issues

Main Attractions

1.  Finding the Story to Tell
2.  This Happened Before
3.  Some Culture Shock
4.  Past Hurts
5.  Hollowness Remains
6.  How can we Protect the Youth?
7.  They were Brothers
8.  A Desperate Plea
9.  They Matter, Too
10.  Seven Fallen Feathers


Cuisine & Delicacies
Ranked as: Hearty Veggie Burger
This non-fiction book tells the story of so much more than the seven students who were found.  It goes through the lives of each student, their community & family.  Once their passing occurs,    Talaga gives over the details from when the child went missing, to how the police responded any follow up or lack of.  Finally, she concludes with an overview of the inquest that happened in Thunder Bay as part of why so many are dying while attending school.    

Why Visit Here

This 5 minute video is a woman sharing her experiences with racism in Thunder Bay, part of a series of interviews by TVO. 

Destination Summary

Talaga begins the book with the layout of Thunder Bay & it’s historical roots.  She goes into the colonial history of Canada with very personal details and is told from a storyteller’s point of view.  She crafts her narrative very carefully so we can discover pieces of the story, bit by bit.  Then she begins to tell the story of each child and concludes with the court cases & unanswered questions.  

Off the Beaten Path

This 10 Min. video is of the artist who created the painting on the book’s cover.  He explains the inspiration & story behind this painting.

Travel Advisory

The author is a journalist with the Toronto Star and much of her book  is well written with a very human voice.  She gives resonating descriptions for many scenes.  The subject matter deals with high school students who have died with no explanations or closure for anyone.  The result is understandably grieving parents, peers and their community.  She does go into detail of where the children were found, when and how.  

She addresses each story with journalistic details while not being too graphic for the general public. It’s a very difficult subject to read about but one that’s important for Canadians to begin a dialogue about.  She’s telling this story with a clear agenda, to raise questions about Canada’s social systems and how our Indigenous people exist within them.  I recommend it for people who know all about ‘the issues’ surrounding native people, for those who don’t and could be afraid to learn.  It’s a book that condenses wider issues into a smaller scope that’s biased towards saying: ‘there is a problem & we all have to fix it.’  Working towards understanding and conversations is great first step.   

Packing List

✓ Map of Thunder Bay provided in the book
✓ Box of Tissues & Someone to Vent To
✓ Courage to Explore the Darker Chapters in Canada’s History

Alternate Videos
✓ Racism and Death in Thunder Bay, The Agenda, TVO (2017) - An interview with the author that covers the details & story behind the book.


✓ Stories from the River’s Edge, Fifth Estate, CBC News () - A news special on the same subject as Seven Fallen Feathers, but includes the voices of those affected with scenes of the school & the city of Thunder Bay. 


✓ Interview with Tanya Talaga, Face to Face (APTN) - Tanya answers questions about the book on an Native Canadian News platform. 

✓ RBC Taylor Prize Shortlist Announcement (2018), Seven Fallen Feathers won for 2018 - the lady who gives an introduction for each book almost cries, it’s so charming to see @ 6:22


✓ Canada Reads Longlist Announcement (2018), Seven Fallen Feathers made the long list 

Alternate Books
✓ Indian Residential Schools in Ontario By Donald Auger (2005) - It’s mentioned in Talaga’s book where she explains, it’s a history of the residential schools in Ontario published by NAN (Nishnawbe Aski Nation - a governing body for the native people in Northern Ontario)

Mar 22, 2018

The 2 Classes of Writers

Campers, ready your teams!

There's really only 2 options for writers to drift into.  Nano says there's 3: Planners, Pantsers & most of us are the combinational Plantsers.

This post is all about quantity because, let's be honest ... if you Wrimo you're all about numbers & sprints.  

It's no secret that writers are the most arrogant people around who also suffer from rampant insecurity.  So we may find comfort in the steadfast solidarity of numbers.  I reached 1k today is concrete proof that goals have been reached.  Shhh... editing & readers are considered profanities at this stage.  It's all about numbers today.

So, our neurotic selves will classify quantities into only 2 classes; lots and little.  The quality of writing within those numbers is up for debate.  Tiny means better quality and all that jazz.  But more means bountiful creativity boasts the tycoons.

In picture format, here's the heavy hitters.  The folks who boast bountiful numbers.  The over achievers that us small fries loath & admire: 

Us small fries bask in the long, menacing shadows of these tycoons.  We can only look up at them from our rickety computers or stack of notebook papers in a leaky basement.  

We consider our word count of 25 to be an achievement.  And for a poet, those are monumental words!  To reach 25, in their mind ... a poet is a tycoon for a day.  

Because tomorrow, there may be no words.  It happens.  

We've all had days where the words just don't flow.  They're all jammed up and only a single precious sentence pokes through, waiting for the waters of creativity.  That lone sentence or modest word count matters.  Those few, precious words worked hard to arrive at your writing space.

So keep in mind, feelings of tycoonery or  word shortages are nothing more than your own frame of mind.  

Embrace your words, all of them & keep writing.

Mar 20, 2018

April Camp Nanowrimo Calendar

Hi Wrimos!!

It's that time again ... where writers from all over the planet emerge from hibernation, take to the grocery stores' snack section & stock pile for the best writing event of the year!!!

* 3 Cheers!!!! *

There's only 1 thing better than the original Nano & that's Camp Nano: every April & July.  The biggest difference is the flexibility of the projects.  It's a time to revise your November project, beef up your blogs, complete some screenwriting or finish off your Thesis.

This year, I'll try --again-- to revise a previous nano.  Feel free to download this, share it and let it guide you through the messiness that is writing er, revising.

Feel free to leave a comment about future calendars you'd like to see for July's Camp.  (Revision, Word Trackers, Writing Prompts)

Jan 24, 2018

Annotations for Hymn to Intellectual Beauty



Note: These are just annotations from my first reading and are not recommended for use in school!

Dec 13, 2017

12 Drafts in 12 Months

#Year of Writing

2017 was such an awesome Year of Reading that when I discovered this project, I have to join in.  I’ll continue to read with a focus on re-reading in 2018 because as a writer, reading is critical for the development of our craft.  Much more on this later!!  So, I’m very proud and excited to announce THE project of 2018:

The Guidelines

12 Drafts in 12 Months!  Starting January 2018, I’ll begin writing a fresh, brand new draft for a novel each month.  It’ll be the bare bones beginning of a novel in any and all genres.  Knowing my glorious, chaotic mind, there will be no rhyme or reason to how these 12 drafts will take shape.   

The host of this project is Merflower on the NaNoWriMo site.  She set up a Facebook Group also.  She outlines the rules as, you can write in any genre and try to finish it in that month.  The goal at the end of 2018 is to have 12 finished 1st Drafts.  If you don’t finish the 12 Drafts, no worries because you’ve written more than you would have!  The reward and purpose is to actually develop the habit of writing each day.  The freedom... such bliss!  

The 12 Drafts in 12 Months project will loosely follow the structure of NaNoWriMo’s November Event by writing 50,000 words in 1 month.  There are 3 methods of achieving this: Planning, Pantsing or Planting.  Planning is beginning the month with a rough outline of the project in any format that works for you.  Pantsing is just going into it by the seat of your pants, no plan, no outlines, nothing except maybe an idea of what you’d like to write about.  Planting seems to be the most common, it’s any combination of the 2 methods.  Most folks begin with an idea and outline bits of it, leaving most of it unplanned and ready for inspiration to strike!  

My Rough Plan 

I’ve had fun and happily won NaNoWriMo by following all 3 methods.  Here’s a lovely photo of all my ‘winning Nano Manuscripts from over the years, more on these later: 

Back to the Year of Craziness!! So far, January’s draft is loosely arranged in my mind.  I’m beginning to see the outline and a common thread to follow along.  The rest is a glorious surprise, such fun is writing!  The other 11 drafts are not planned or even hatched yet.  I’m not sure how all of this will play out.  Will I get an idea for March early enough so I can plan out some prompts or even an outline for it?  What type of research will these new project require?  Most importantly, will any of them be any good?  So many mysterious, chaotic unknowns!  At least with reading, the book is already finished!  The dichotomy!  Oh the dichotomy of it all!!


About NaNoWriMo's Goal Trackers

I like that Merflower is encouraging the use of NaNoWriMo’s newly developed Goal Trackers.  You can get to these trackers once you have a Nano Profile set up, they’ll be on the drop down list from ‘My Nanowrimo’ in the brown Nano Menu Bar.  In short, click around until you see it ^.^  Here's a pic of the menu bar & drop down:


The Goal Trackers are customizable for each month and year, by hours or word counts.  This means you can have 1 Goal Tracker for the entire year or decade.  You could also have one for each month in 2018, they are completely flexible for dates.  Once it’s set up, you can’t go back and update the hours/word counts, so you’ll have to update them daily to keep the graph accurate for the project.  

It sounds confusing, but just check it out after a few minutes of clicking, it’ll make sense.  If I find a Goal Tracker How To video, I’ll link it here.  

Consider Yourself Invited!

If you’re reading this, consider yourself invited to come along!  If you plan to blog or vlog about it, feel free to link your announcement post in the comments here.  If you'd like to follow my journey, I'll use: #12in12Writing and #YearofWriting on Twitter and Instagram.  

Dec 12, 2017

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

Scent & Desire's Entanglements

By Patrick Suskind
Translated By John E. Woods
German, 1985
Horror, Mystery, Magical Realism, Absurdism

Main Attractions

1. Powerfully Descriptive Language   
2. Creepily Compelling Storyline
3. Memorable Main Character
4. Major Plot Twists & Events
5. Detailed Perfume Alchemy
6. Grisly Moments & Images
7. Filled with Villains
8. Evil Atmospheric Novel 
9. Eery, Tragic Consequences 
10. That ending though?!

Cuisine & Delicacies

Ranked as: Ghost Pepper BBQ Ribs
Immediately, this book heaps the reader one 1 of 2 piles.  Either the imagery draws you into the rotting food stalls at a back alley market or it straight up repulses you with the grotesque descriptions.  Like a Terry Gilliam film, I don’t think there’s headspace for being completely unaffected by this book.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not attracted to the scent of rotting fish and clearly it repulses me.  Yet, this story is crafted in such an artistic way.  

The main character isn’t a complete being, he is very dehumanized in so many of the descriptions and choices he makes.  For his human inadequacies, he’s blessed with an uncanny and sublime gift of noticing scent.  While there are many descriptions of unruly fragrances, there’s also intriguing characterization  and plot happening.  

Suskind fully showcases the realm of scent far beyond what we notice in the entire course of our lives into a mere, very short novel.  This twist of odours with fragrances into artistic descriptions makes this novel cringeworthy.

Why Visit Here

The artistry in Suskind’s descriptions is so incredibly powerful.  He weaves in the overlooked details of life and the details of some historically accurate methods with completely unexpected and surprising events.  All of this makes the novel tip in favour of being an artist view of the human condition rather than a mere story about repulsive odours and the perfumer who experiences them.

Destination Summary

In short, this novel is about an unwanted orphan with a phenomenal sense of smell.  His gift actually leads him through life and keeps him alive until he becomes a perfumer.  That’s when he takes command of his gift and the climactic conclusion happens.

Off the Beaten Path

Top 5 Perfume Facts You Never Knew By MsMojo a 6 Min. video

Travel Advisory

The violence in this book isn’t gratuitous or stomach turning which is a surprise.  I was expecting a gory, nasty book and it wasn’t at all.  The horror of this book truly lies in the descriptions of pungent orders of decay that’s all around us, hidden from every day life.  These descriptions are unsettling and clearly remind us why we don’t like flies in our home.

Packing List

✓ Your favourite bottle of perfume
✓ Overly burned candles with waxy buildups
✓ Images of a 17th  or 18th Century Town

Recommended Resources
Alternate Books
The Hunchback of Notre Dame By Victor Hugo (1831) - The treatment of the main characters  from both books would be interesting to compare and the descriptions of both books are outstanding but for wildly different reasons.

Movie Adaptations
✓ Perfume: The Story of a Murderer  (2006) Directed by Tom Tykwer - It’s the film adaptation which follows the book closely with some alterations to suit the screen.  The book is more detailed and the movie has great cinematography.