Tuesday, March 27, 2007


In my post a month ago I discussed 3 Day Road and my sense or suspicion that the author had got much of the colour and imagery and even little vignettes for his book from other sources which he had not acknowledged. Bernice Morgan in comparison was assiduous in recognising the material that influenced her writing.

In the back of Waiting for Time in her acknowledgements the author writes: "The following is a very incomplete list of books by writers living and dead to whom I am deeply indebted." A list of 18 books and their authors follows. She also specifically adds this thanks: "I want to especially thank Paul O'Neill who kindly gave me permission to use the maid's whipping as described in his book The Oldest City and Isobel Brown for her stories about women who crossed the Atlantic as war brides."

I applaud and respect Bernice for these tips of the hat although one would hope it is the least to be expected of a responsible writer. This has been an issue with me before. I remember particularly John Ralston Saul's book The Unconscious Civilization, a non-fiction effort which made many claims which were unsupported by even minimal references.

Saturday, March 24, 2007


Waiting for Time was our last book circle book and it was not at all a bad read. This book was a sequel to Random Passage which had been used as a base of the mini series. What came across most clearly in our discussion was the strength and determination given by the author to her character Mary Bundle which was in some contrast, we thought, to the character of Lav who seemed to drift into situations without much direction .

I have been thinking about this, trying to think about what the author was trying to say. Perhaps she meant to contrast the change in times, how we as a culture have become soft and self indulgent? This fits. Think of the scene on the beach near the end where poor Lav was terrorised by yahoo type young folk on their morotcycles and ATVs. And yet she was also trying to indicate -perhaps- that while times change the strength of the people to adapt is still there? There is the character of Alf in support of that. Or is the determination and strength of Mary a mirage? Was she and her life - as Ned said- just a product of fate and not really in her control at all?

The best part of the book was definitely the central story of Mary and her life on Cape Random with all its hardships and clashes of personality. The contemporary first and end chapters didn't have the same impact.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Watching writing

Would that be interesting? Somehow I don't think so but someone does and if you do then you should attend this event.

Word nerds, bring your pyjamas and your procrastination. And don’t forget your thesaurus.

Dalhousie University embarks on a unique experiment today designed to expose the usually solitary act of writing.

The event, called Write Here in Plain Sight (the apt acronym is WHIPS), is meant to help students and others witness the actual writing process.

Five professors from Dal will engage in academic writing and one other writer, Chronicle Herald columnist Gail Lethbridge, will exercise her creative writing powers.

"You will see among the six people some very different approaches, and I hope that might encourage students to think through the question of what processes work for them and which ones don’t . . . so they can modify their own writing behaviours to get better outcomes," organizer Sunny Marche, associate dean of graduate studies and a professor of management, said in an interview.

The event, which is open to the general public and goes from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., will happen in the Scotiabank Auditorium at the Marion McCain Arts and Social Sciences Building on University Avenue and at the Kenneth C. Rowe Management Building up the street.

Each writer will be in one room all day, while onlookers will be free to float among the six rooms. The writer’s words, warts and all, will be displayed on a large screen for the audience. They’re also being asked to do the things they normally would while writing. That includes bringing any accoutrements or items of comfort they usually have at their disposal.

I won't be going. I just don't think I would learn much. I would be better off staying at home and trying to write myself which is something I have had great trouble doing lately.

Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song,
A medley of extemporanea;
And love is a thing that can never go wrong;
And I am Marie of Romania.
Dorothy Parker, Not So Deep as a Well (1937)