During the Renaissance, cabinet of curiosities came into fashion as a collection of objects that would often defy classification. As a precursor to the modern museum, the cabinet referred to room(s), not actual furniture, of things that piqued the owners interest and would be collected and displayed in an aesthetically pleasing manner. Collectioun of Cunnynge Curioustes is my 21st century interpretation of that idea.
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Mistress of the Art of Death #1 by Ariana Franklin
(Amazon | WorldCat | GoodReads)
An intriguing (though short lived) series about a 12th century female forensic doctor who is removed from her beloved Salerno, Italy to Cambridge, UK to help catch a child killer. The dead speak to her and they have a lot to say.
The plot was well developed and the characters were fully realised. Franklin does well in keeping with the time and place (12th century England) though she sometimes cheats with patrois and language, by having a character comment they could not understand what was being said between two other characters speaking the local tongue. Well, maybe cheating is not the right word but it is a clever device to get a better feel for the period.
The mystery itself was difficult enough to suss out who the killer(s) were, which is why this book endears itself to me and shows the author was skillful enough to drop hints but not so obvious as you figure out the entire thing in the first 50 pages but keeps you turning until the end.
Bear by Marian Engel
(Amazon | WorldCat | GoodReads)
A month or so ago, someone posted on Imgur screenshot of the cover of Bear along with photos of the racier bits and titled it, “What the actual fuck, Canada?”. Since the crux of the story concerned a Canadian librarian who goes into the woods to find herself, I knew I had to read it.
And so did everyone else.
Random House Canada recently wrote a blog piece that discussed not only the new spike in sales of the book based on the Imgur posting but also Bear was much more than a woman getting it on with a grizzly. It is a deep exploration of a woman wondering how she got to where she was at, a sexual awakening of sorts, and a wake-up call to take charge of her own life.
It should be said Bear was written while Engel was going through her own divorce, and while I kept pointing out to people the sex scenes in Bear were not projections, metaphors, or similes, there is an undercurrent of exploration of those things that parallel the dissolution of Engel’s own marriage. The Random House piece also points out that Bear digs deep past the stereotypes of CanLit, a world that is typically imagined as rural romantics and pastoral cleverness, by really giving you the true worth of nature.
I was recently asked to compile a list of top 10s of various media that I thought made the difference to humanity, not just because I loved it or it was good, but it changed something inside. Bear is definitely on that list now — it’s brave, and weirdly wonderful; written like a prose poem rather than a story. It challenges us and by doing so, it enlightens us by giving us back our own humanity.
- The Leftovers
Good premise, bad timing. As we’re already watching a show that is depressing and slow paced (Rectify), having two shows in the same week was just too much. We felt Rectify was better developed and written, so au revoir The Leftovers, sorry it didn’t work out.
- Halt and Catch Fire
A strange little show built on the premise of what the heyday of the early ’80s computer wars were like — and it worked. Lee Pace and his eyebrows kept us guessing each week if he was going to have an American Pyscho moment, which hasn’t happened. YET, and all the drama that occurred surrounding him and his world. Word on the street is that it is unknown if this is going to be renewed for season two, but I hope it does.
Weekly watching: The Bridge, Project Runway, The Almighty Johnsons, True Blood, Rectify, A Place To Call Home, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey, Elementary
- There’s More to ‘Bear’ Than Bear Sex
- Amanda Palmer: If You’re Asking ‘What’s In It for Me?’ Then You’re In the Wrong Business…
- 15 Million Pages of Medical History Are Going Online
- Smiling Young White People Make App for Avoiding Black Neighborhoods
- Generation X Is Sick of Your Bullshit
- The Pickpocket’s Tale
- Inventories of war: soldiers’ kit from 1066 to 2014
- Runner uses Nike+ app to draw penises
What have you read/watched/listened to this week?
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