June 20, 2006

Amicus Curiae

A quick look at my reading list in the side bar and my reading post archive will indicate how far behind I am in blogging about my reading, so I’ll try to catch up a bit.

First of all, there are some new books on my bed-side reading pile. For my birthday, my wife gave me the three follow-up books to Thomas Cahill’s How the Irish Saved Civilization (about which I have yet to write): The Gifts of the Jews, Desire of the Everlasting Hills, and Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea. She also gave me Alton Brown’s Gear for Your Kitchen as a Father’s Day present. So I have a lot of reading to do!

Next up, Jeffrey Miller’s Murder’s Out of Tune, one in a series of mystery books about a crime-solving cat named Amicus Curiae (‘Friend of the Court’). Having the narrative centred around the cat was in interesting technique, though it seemed a bit precious at times. I’m not sure if Tigger was inspired to go around solving crimes with me either. The novel is set in Toronto, and while I at first found it fun to catch all the Toronto references, I think Miller overdid it a bit — he seemed to revel in the local detail. The plot revolved around the murder of a member of a jazz quartet obviously based on the Dave Brubeck Quartet. The fictional quartet was led by the piano player who received all the fame in spite of the fact that the alto sax player wrote their most famous number, a relationship clearly modelled on Dave Brubeck and Paul Desmond. I found the writing style a little distracting at times, a little too self-conscious. So all in all, I don’t know if this book is for everyone. If you like cats, if you live or have lived in Toronto (especially if you know the Toronto legal buildings), or if you’re a jazz fan, you might get a kick out of this book, but otherwise I don’t think it will change your life.

The next couple of books on the list, Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway and M.A.C. Farrant’s Altered Statements, were for one of the classes I was teaching this past term. I hadn’t actually read Mrs Dalloway before; as an undergrad I read To the Lighthouse and some of the Virginia Woolf selections in the Norton Anthology. And I had never heard of M.A.C. Farrant before. Though I didn’t find Mrs Dalloway personally resonant, it’s an excellent book for exemplifying early 20th century prose fiction style and stream of consciousness writing, and I certainly intend to continue to use it in survey classes. As for Farrant, she is a British Columbia-based post modernist writer. Altered Statements is a collection of short narrative pieces bordering on the surreal, sometimes funny, sometimes shocking. While it was an interesting example of post modernism, again I’m not sure that it resonated with me.

Well, that’s all for now. I’ll write more about my reading later.

Posted by Mark at 04:44 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 19, 2006

Fæder Dæg

As you may or may not already know, my wife and I are expecting our first child in October (here’s my wife’s announcement on her blog). I probably won’t be writing very much about this on my blog (partly for safety reasons), though we’re thinking of starting up a separate blog for the baby.

Yesterday was Father’s Day, which is obviously starting to have a new significance for me. This past weekend was also the first stretch of nice weather we’ve had in a little while, so we decided to take advantage of that as well as take advantage of living on the East Coast and see some of the sights around here.

On Saturday we drove along the Acadian coast, along the Northumberland Strait (separating New Brunswick from Prince Edward Island). In particular we were searching for sources of fresh seafood in order to make bouillabaisse. One of the places we stopped at, in addition to a fishmonger, featured a little restaurant which sells various seafood — we shared a platter of deepfried bar clams, shrimp, and scallops for lunch — and a nice little beach. We stopped at a number of little places along the coast buying various types of seafood — cod, scallops, mussels, soft-shell clams — and then on the way back stopped in Moncton to buy a few other things we needed (including some very large shrimp and some tilapia), before going home to construct the bouillabaisse. Not one of the shellfish was bad, which gives you an idea of how fresh it was (not to mention cheap).

On Sunday, we decided to return to the nice little beach to enjoy the nice weather. The ocean was cold, of course, but it was a nice hot day. Below is a picture from the beach, and here are two others (left and right).


And we brought home with us some lobsters and crab legs for dinner! We’ve certainly had our fill of seafood lately, and a very nice Father’s Day. Next year, our baby will be in more than embryonic form…

Posted by Mark at 02:36 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Silver bullets

Almost a month has gone by since my last post, so I’d better fill in some of the gaps. Here’s a quick run-down, some of which I’ll expand of later:

  • I’m not teaching this summer (the first time since graduating), so theoretically lots of time to get stuff done. But of course as is inevitable when you have so many things you’ve been putting off, progress is slow…
  • As mentioned in my last post, May was mostly taken up with conference going and the attendant conference paper writing. Both conferences went well.
  • I’ll be teaching at UTM next year, so at the moment we’re planning for our move back to Toronto.
  • I’ve been watching a lot of the FIFA World Cup recently. International tournaments are very addictive.
  • This past weekend we’ve finally started taking advantange of living on the East Coast. We drove along the coast, bought seafood for from little seafood shacks, and spent some time on the beach.

That’s all for now.

Posted by Mark at 10:32 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack