Fleming surprise

imageiSir Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, surprised me. His novel The Spy Who Loved Me is told not from the POV of James Bond but from the point of view of a young woman. And a Canadian woman at that. Bond does not appear for the first quarter of the story. He does arrive in the nick of time to save her but she is plucky, brave and clever. Before you award Fleming a posthumous badge of feminism be advised there are some horrendously misogynistic statements that made me cringe. The story was set in 1961 with President Kennedy in office. JFK helped Fleming immensely by telling the media that he was a fan of the books.Still a suspenseful story. This is a simple story, not a spy story. Really a story about a spy between spy jobs. I know there was a 007 movie with this title. I believe all they used was the title.

This story fired my interest so much that I stayed up till 3:30am to finish it.


Dialysis smooth this week, no word on kidney transplant.

Summer Reading

I am reading mostly Kindle books but on my iPad. My Kindle device has some too tiny font-ed menus, too tiny  for my bad eyes. It brilliantly permits me to increase book text. But I need to access  the menus and that is not easy. I did recently invest in a good magnifying glass. I intended it for print books.


  • A 99 cent Kindle anthology of 12 James Bond novels by Ian Fleming
  • 99 cent anthology of Raymond Chandler classic detective thrillers
  • Arturo Perez-Reverte The Club Dumas
  • Collected Poems of C.P. Kavafi
  • subscription to New York Times, how I start my day
  • New Yorker
  • Robert A. Caro The Power Broker (Robert Moses)

It is a good summer.


my Sony ereader and returning library books early

Got my Sony reader for Christmas and have added a number of books, newspapers and magazines to it.  Some from the Sony Reader Store, some from the Gutenberg Project, and some books from my public library.

I have read about 6 books so far and enjoy this book method.

I borrowed Dick Van Dyke‘s memoir from the Midland Public Library and their ebook cooperative, http://www.simcoe.pulse.ca and finished it in two days.  The book was borrowed for 14 days, the default loan period.  That was when the trouble started.  I dropped by at the library on the way home and spoke with one of the librarians who was knowledgeable about ebooks and readers but we could not work out how to return a book early.  I puzzled it out last night.

It may be in the user guide but I did not check there.  As an old tech writer, that was quite a sin.

With the Sony Reader running and a wi-fi connection, open the Books folder from the Home screen.  Change the view of books from cover icons to the text list of books.  Then press the options button and go to the second page of options for that screen and view.  Return library books is an option that you can select.  Only the library books show a check box for you to check to make your selecction of returns.  Press done, found at the top right of the screen.  And back they go.


Scheming and plotting

had a chat with an old friend who some years back did a low-residency MFA writing degree.  I am contemplating this pour moi.  I need to do some more research, but the initial impression is that Canadian universities do not seem to have embraced the low-residency approach which is widely available in the USA.

I don’t know that I need to adopt this idea since my primary goal is to work out of my current unfocused work and reading.

I wonder if I can’t create my own MFA curriculum with readings and writing assignments.

Over the past few years the Muse seems to have lost my address.   My reading is all over the place.  I have grown weary of reading fiction that is based in murder and other mayhem.  James Lee Burke, Don Wisnlow, and even Stephen White are great storytellers but the immersion in ultra-violence keeps haunting me as a bad place to wander with my imagination and soul.

I first encountered this concern on TV when I watched Homicide: Life on the Streets.  A brilliant show with great writing and acting. And death as a constant and not Agatha Christie deaths but harsh, awfull deaths.  I now watch NCIS and like the characters but wonder about the entertainment in gruesome violence and graphic autopsies.  I suppose one can toss into the argument the blood soaked stage of Hamlet or Macbeth.

Moreabout this after I muse more and mutter less to myself and develop a resolution.

Alan Furst – a must read

Just finished Kingdom of Shadows and Red Gold by Alan Furst, the master of historical spy fiction.  If you like espionage thrillers, you will love his novels.  One thing I cannot figure out is why none has been made into movies.  Maybe they are in the production pipeline.  Many of his spies are people caught up into the espionage game. They are not super heroes or James Bond-like.  That makes their situations and their responses to them all the more interesting.

John Graves, check him out

I bumped into a couple of his books a few years back when I stayed for about two months in Texas.  I hate to call him a reginal writer but that is the pigeonhole you might find him hiding in.  He deserves better treatment.  His classic, which I have recently acquired, is “Goodbye to a River” about a trip down the Brazos River.  I will write more about that one on another day.  The one that I have read and reread is “Hard Scrabble”  a detailed meditation and description of his property in the cedar hills country of central Texas.  The reason why I reread it is to savour his simple yet dazzling use of words, his description of the land and the effect of people on the land and the magic of the land on people.  He also reveals a great deal about himself.  And if books and their authors are a kind of friendship, I count myself lucky to have John Graves as a friend.

Vision and a Reading Life

My eyesight took a dip recently and my overdue eye examination is now scheduled. Makes me consider the possibility of blindness or at least reduced vision, reduced to the point where I would be unable to read. Reading books has been a life time pleasure. To lose it would be a terrible change. A quiet world. A narrowed world. A long time ago a woman I knew asked me if I really needed to read another book. I looked at her and realized how little she knew me and how much of a stranger she was to me. The answer then and now is yes, I need to read another book. The answer will always be that I need to read another book. It is not a retreat from experiencing real life, but another course in the meal. An extended reach.  An essential pleasure. Now and then I wonder if she ever figured out what she might be missing.