Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Stephen King: On Writing

On Writing is part memoir and part advice on writing (and reading).

This is a short book because most books about writing are filled with bullshit. 
- Second Foreward

I've gained a better appreciation for King over the years as I've heard of his support and advice to young writers.

His popular success has also been a bit of a curse, as critics dismiss his work from the category of 'literature". I love his short stories and ability to hold a reader's attention.

The memoir portions of the book come across as honest. He makes no apologies about his working class background, or about his struggles with alcohol and addiction. He also cautions against deliberately turning toward a genre simply to make money. "It's morally wonky, for one thing - the job of fiction is to find the truth inside the story's web of lies, not to commit intellectual dishonesty in the hunt for the buck. Also, brothers and sisters, it doesn't work."

Stephen King recounts in vivid detail when he was struck by a car in '99 and seriously injured. "It occurs to me that I have very nearly been killed by a character right out of one of my own novels. It is almost funny."

Frank, direct, and full of great advice.

One of his first editors advised, "When you write a story, you're telling yourself the story... When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story." Or, as King rephrased, "write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open."

King says he takes a book with him wherever he goes, "The trick is to teach yourself to read in small sips as well as in long swallows. Waiting rooms are made for books - of course! But so are theatre lobbies before the show, long and boring checkout lines, and everyone's favourite, the john."

The first edition ended with a recommendation of 100 books, the second edition with another 80. I was pleased to see Margaret Atwood (Oryx and Crake), Sara Gruen (Water for Elephants) and Yann Martel (Life of Pi).

Last Days of Ptolemy Grey

Last Days of Ptolemny Grey, by Walter Mosley is told from the perspective of an old black man suffering Alzheimer's, fading in and out of memory and consciousness.

Ptolemny is given drugs to help him recover memory, with the foreknowledge the gift will likely shorten his life. Still, he makes his deal with the Devil. The altered consciousness doesn't change who Ptolemny is at his core, but his improved mental capabilities help him execute his sense of justice.

Characters from Ptolemny's past become visions and in lucid sdreams he rewrites history. Waking life becomes dreamlike, an odyssey where he uncovers fragments as though a detective in his own life. It is a treasure hunt that will benefit future generations.

It is also a love story, told with a yearning that he was forty years younger and Robyn twenty years older.

Samuel Jackson is working to help bring the book to screen through HBO, but there's nothing on imdb just yet.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Zen in Frenchman's Bay

What a great day! This was Wendy's first trip as skipper to Frenchman's Bay and Grace and I were more than happy to crew. I was both honoured and inspired to be part of the 'maiden' voyage.

We set sail a little after 9:30 to arrive at noon. Ports was a great restaurant with an unobstructed view of the bay - and of Zen, perfectly tied to the floating dock and waiting our return. Hard not to love the view! The fish and chips were tasty, too.

We motored home. Wendy clearly loving the action at the helm, calm and confident in waves between 2-3 meters. Conditions were rough enough to bounce one of the shrouds from the forestay, but the bimini and dodger helped keep us dry from the frequent spray.

Zen is a beautiful boat! It was fun crewing a vessel that was so different from Yondering. Zen is much younger, a 2014 Bavaria. She's a bit bigger, has more horsepower in the engine, and a main with auto-furling. No traveler meant that to do wing-on-wing the main was actually unclipped and positioned to the starboard side of the ship for the desired angle. It was interesting to experience all the differences under both power and sail.

It didn't seem long before we docked at about 4:45 to toast the day with a glass of wine.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

What are you reading?

Summer time.... and what are you reading? 

It has become somewhat of a tradition to get together with fellow book lovers on the deck at BPYC to chat about some of our favourite reads of the season. It was a perfect evening, with boats coming in and out of the gap as the sun set and the lighthouse blinked on.

Annika  suggested we co-host a raclette party, and everyone brought treats. Sausage, shrimp, fresh veggies.... One of my favourites on the grill was scallops and asparagus. Sides were quiche and salad. Cheeses included gruyere, swiss, and different types of raclette. Everything delicious!

It was a real pleasure hearing about everyone's summer reading. I especially want to pick up the bilingual edition of Neruda's book of poetry, Ode to Common Things.

Here is the list of books with links to details.

Laura B.

Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan

Anne S.
My Secret Sister, by Helen Edwards and  Jenny Lee Smith

The Madonnas of Leningrad, by  Debra Dean

Lisa S.
The Danish Girl,  by  David Ebershoff

The Ghost Bride, by Yangsze Chu 


Odes to Common Things, Bilingual Edition, by  Pablo Neruda /  Ferris Cook, Ken Krabbenhoft

The Opposite of Me by Sarah Pekkanen
These Girls by Sarah Pekkanen

Winter of the World by Ken Follett