"It is for my health," said Louisa gravely

You ask how I came here. There is no interesting story. My parents are both dead. My father worked for Eaton's in Toronto in the Furniture Department, and after his death my mother worked there too in Linens. And I also worked there for a while in Books. Perhaps you could say Eaton's was our Douds. I graduated from Jarvis Collegiate. I had some sickness which put me in hospital for a long time, but I am quite well now. I had a great deal of time to read and my favorite authors are Thomas Hardy, who is accused of being gloomy but I think is very true to life--and Willa Cather. I just happened to be in this town when I heard the Librarian had died and I thought, perhaps that is the job for me.
I'm nearly finished reading Alice Munro's story collection Open Secrets. It continues to be interesting from a story perspective and impressive from a technical perspective. The strong movement toward what strikes me (possibly because I am by nature a pessimist) as falsely positive brief endings also continues, but I am trying to learn forbearance and also Munro's intent (or at least build a pretense of understanding what she's doing, because Munro is clearly too good a writer to be doing anything in her stories without having thought it through).

Anyway, that's a side issue having to do with my own expectations of lit'rature. What I wanted to say is that it struck me, after reading about the first six of the stories, that they all involve someone disappearing, in one form or another. People walk out of their lives, or are taken forcibly out of their lives, or escape lives into which they were forced. Perhaps it's because I've been reading literary theory about postmodernism and detective literature that I see Munro's tales of individuals being sought out, or identities being revealed or concealed (or both), as a form of detective fiction. Possibly I'm just one of those people whose world view is entirely overwhelmed by whatever it is they've most recently read, like my mind is a canvas that anyone can repaint at whim, and everything will look like detective fiction of one form or another until I read the next literary criticism essay that falls under my fingers. Who can say? Again, another long digression into my self-doubt, of which I have enormous quantities these days.

I appear to be blogging again, despite my infinite depths of doubt and ignorance. Possibly that is a precursor to actually writing fiction again. It could happen. Maybe I'm just warming up. Surprisingly, I find that idea exciting, in a doubtful and ignorant sort of way.


  1. well, i hope you do start writing again... i recall reading one of yours about Tycho Brahe and it was pretty good... a little gory, but hey.... about the excerpt above: short sentences in a row make my head hurt... sort of like riding a sled over wheel ruts in the road... i guess it's done a lot now, but i still think a more musical style is better... with longer and shorter statements in a sort of mulligatawny soup...

    1. The excerpt is from a letter within the story. The sentences get longer as the writer becomes more comfortable and begins to write more directly about herself. It works really well within the context of the narrative. You'll just have to take my word on that!

      I've written about ten novels, though only the Brahe/Hamlet one has been published. I keep sending them out. It's those nine unpublished books that dampen my enthusiasm to write more, of course.

    2. self-publishing? i'd buy them... some of them, anyway... and i get it re Ms. Munro; i have read some good reviews of her work and i should try it... i just finished a long bio of Thoreau which i really liked; now i have to write a blog about it... tomorrow, maybe...

    3. Would you self-publish? I'm thinking of doing a few out-of-print books where I have rights reversion...

      If you keep talking about Munro, I might have to go read her again. I wasn't hugely swayed, as I recall, but maybe I was just the wrong age.

    4. If I had a longer publication history like yours, and a number of books still in print, I might self-publish something. But I don't have any real platform or audience right now, and so I would be spending money publishing a book that only a handful of people would buy and read, and I would probably never make back my investment, which all just seems like vanity to me. I would not do ebooks were I to self publish, so that limits the market even more. The Astrologer is close to being self-published (a friend of mine has a Lightning Source setup so she is the official publisher but I paid all of the production costs) and I make almost nothing off each sale as it is, and there are only a handful of sales each year unless Dr Burstein is teaching it, in which case I get a little bump. So I'm nobody to pattern oneself after.

      On the other hand, if you publish your OOP titles, I will buy and read them!

      There's much to admire in the Munro, but I still have reservations. I'll read something else from her, though, probably. I almost bought something today, but it was a big cloth edition and I was already heavily cumbered with merchandise (I bought a slim volume of Chinese poetry instead).

    5. Chinese poetry would tempt me as well!

      The way things are right now in the arts is just discouraging. My 14th book will be out next year, and I still don't feel that I have "any real platform or audience." I've never had a "push," never had a lead book. Everything falls prey to the Pareto principle, except it's not 80/20 but more like 97/3. And probably 2 of 3 is Stephen King! Don't let it stop you if you are insane, as I evidently am!

      I've had some requests to do reprints, but I'm really not sure why I should let another publisher have my OOP books. I mean, unless they give me enormous royalties. And most won't. Maybe if I sold a new book with the old and was promised some push. Maybe.

      Merriness to you!

  2. I hope and trust things will be better in the coming year... Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to both!