Posts Tagged ‘best literary fiction’
Right now, where I am, it’s about 2:30 in the afternoon on Christmas eve day. What I really like is the quiet which sometimes descends at this time after all the running around for food and gifts. Just a moment for quiet reflection before celebrations get going.
I’m going to start posting [today]some articles on writing and assorted topics and so, I hope you drop back in soon.
A quick Google of the title The Sun also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway, brings me pages upon pages of articles. With scads of information and opinion out there, what can I possibly add?
But before I answer that question, here is a photograph of the River Seine in Paris which I took in 2004–just to set the mood for the book set in Paris in the 1920’s
Most critics discuss at great length themes and characters of this novel. But my question is this: how does a writer create such a palpable, all pervasive mood in a novel.
What is that mood? (more…)
AUTOMAT, by Edward Hopper
I have a fascination with the paintings of the American artist, Edward Hopper. Somehow-whether by technique, imagination or subject matter-he is able to create the most compelling and evocative scenes, which stir my imagination.
One of my favourites is Automat an oil painted by him in 1927.
A young woman with a yellow felt hat sits absolutely alone in a barren restaurant drinking a cup of coffee. I look at this and immediately feel her isolation and loneliness as if it were my own. Is she running away? What thoughts are in her mind as she stares into the cup?
Right away, Hopper has got us speculating, as he does with all his paintings. Where did she come from? Where is she going? You’re caught right in the middle of a story which you can “read” backwards or forwards in time. I was so taken with this painting that the woman in it became the inspiration for a character in a short story, The Thief, and now a novel which I am writing. Struck by her isolation and self-containment, I called her Celia.
I search the painting to see what emotions Hopper creates and how he does it. Behind the solitary woman is a large window, blackened by an impenetrably gloomy night. The lights or reflections of lights recede into the background giving a murky, tunnel-like effect, leading to nowhere. The radiator, crouching at the left of the painting, seems just as isolated as the girl in the composition, but almost looks more communicative than her. The lonely,solitary moment is caught in time-permanently engraved on my mind.
Just think how many stories could grow from this one painting! Will someone, a boyfriend or family member enter that door, hoping to bring her back? If no one comes, where will she go as soon as she drinks her coffee? To a dingy hotel room? Onto a train to New York? That would be just like so many other Hopper paintings, which so often depict hotel lobbies, motels and railway cars. Or maybe she will change her mind and go back home.
Perhaps this painting speaks to me of the apprehension of the unknown as we proceed moment to moment through life. So often, we are unsure and tentative, fearing to venture out into the unfamiliar. Then again, maybe the girl is incapable of reaching out to others. After all, for me, Celia-the character in my story who was inspired by this painting- grew into a character that was desperate to get free of her self-imposed isolation from the world. And so, for me-art, painting, sculpture, and photography are so often an inspiration for writing. Of course, all art [whether it is painting or writing or music] speaks of its own time-that is, the time and place in which the artist lived.
Hopper painted much of his work in the twenties, thirties and forties of the last century, when rapid industrialization and urbanization were forcing people from their old dwellings and old ways of living. Consequently, so many people felt lost and displaced. And yet, the emotions evoked by his work are universal, whatever the time and place. Great art transcends time and place and touches a nerve in us all, which communicates those universal emotions and ideas to us. Just like a photograph, Automat is a permanent moment in time existing in a world which, at the same time, seems so transient.
And that is why such a painting as the Automat inspires me even today.
So says the book by John Gray, PhD.
But are they really from different planets-are they actually a different species?
How often have you heard this?
Oh God! Didn’t you know? Men and women are so different, it’s no wonder they can’t communicate. This is usually said out of hurt and anger when a relationship hits the inevitable bumps [crashes?] along the way mostly through poor communication.
Since I have never bought into this Mars vs. Venus notion, I have done an informal survey. Nothing scientific-just asking friends. (more…)
This is a review of the first in The Osgoode Trilogy, Conduct in Question. I hope you are sufficiently intrigued to read it yourself. Then, maybe I will have hooked you on the next two, Final Paradox and A Trial of One.
A fascinating legal thriller…
Harry Jenkins is an estate lawyer and partner of Crane, Crawford and Jenkins law firm. First, his partner, Crawford, dies on the floor in his office while remember the love he once had with one of their clients, Marjorie Deighton. For Harry, things go from bad to worse and rather quickly.
Harry is asked to meet at Marjorie’s home; her intent is to review her will and consult with him about a meeting she is supposed to have earlier in the day. Along with his secretary, Harry visits the home of Ms. Deighton in late afternoon, only to find Ms. Deighton dead, lying on her bed. Harry believes that she must have died peacefully, but he is suspicious; there are just too many things going on that could make her passing a coincidence.
A mysterious man, Albert Chin, is referred to Harry for property acquisitions. Only, the properties are those surrounding the Marjorie’s estate. Plus, the names of the parties acquiring the properties seems fishy to him, as they are all numbered accounts. Money laundering? Harry allows himself to be blinded by the money, believing he may just live up to his wife’s expectations. But he knows the marriage is dead. Both have changed during their 20-year marriage; they no longer talk, nor are they in love. He also believes that his wife, Laura, is having an affair, mostly likely with her boss. Meanwhile, he fantasizes about the beautiful Natasha. And when he tries to deposit the checks from Chin into the trust, Mr. Mudhali, the manager of the bank, brings him to the office. It seems that Crawford had taken out a loan against the firm’s account. However, Harry believes that this is just as fishy as Mr. Chin’s acquisitions; it takes all the partners signatures for that loan, and Harry knows he’s never signed it.
And all the while, the serial killer, The Florist, is going around Toronto, judging and murdering women, using a knife to cut floral designs in their skin.
Harry believes that, somehow, they are all connected, even when he hopes they are not. But are they?
An incredible first novel by Canadian author, Mary E. Martin. Using her knowledge of the field, she writes an incredible novel filled with twists and coincidences. While the main character, Harry, goes through the motions of day-to-day life, he wishes his life were more exciting, more freedom, more love. And while I’m used to reading murder mysteries through the eyes of the detective, a criminal lawyer, this time, it’s through the eyes of an estate lawyer, one who usually deals with the passing of his clients, the grieving family and friends, wills, and estates. Not criminal. I liked the difference, and can’t wait to see what else Harry gets into. Also, I like how the author touched base on more than murder, money laundering, estates and wills. She adds abusive bullies, abused women, and very manipulative people. A fascinating combination. On to Book #2, Final Paradox.
Do you know the great novella by Thomas Mann, Death in Venice? If you haven’t read it, you may well have seen the movie. When I was in Venice, I was haunted by this story as I wandered through the narrow, twisting calles on my last trip more than seven years ago. In fact, I entitled the photograph below Death in Venice, which I took of a cafe on San Marco.
Venice is filled with canals and Squares surrounded by ancient palazzos-perfect places to linger and reflect. Narrow fog-ridden calles run like silken spider-webs connecting the Squares and taking me ever onward in exploration of the city and myself. I am a writer and a photographer and I am in love with Venice. I walk through an archway from which blind gargoyles stare down upon me. (more…)
This is the second article in the Writing and Travelling series. Is there any difference between the traveller’s and the writer’s mind set?
Things to Think About Before Leaving-Still in Toronto.
I am a great fan of the writer and thinker Alain De Botton, and particularly of his book The Art of Travel.
In that book, he makes an excellent point which is relevant to my musings. Why is it that when we’re on a trip, we take such keen interest in everything we see. Our senses become acute and we photograph and take notes with great enthusiasm. (more…)
I’m planning to write a series of articles about writing and the love of travel–which I do love. The first couple of articles start at home. All of us are affected by where we grew up and where we presently live. If we try, we can use that sense of place in our writing. Here’s the first article. Please come back soon for more.
DOES YOUR HOME TOWN AFFECT YOUR WRITING
Starting Out At Home
Before I launch on travels to “foreign” parts of the world, I want to think about what I am leaving behind-Toronto, Canada-and how it, my hometown has affected me as an individual and a writer.
I’m one of those people who, for the most part, has lived in one city, Toronto, all my life. Definitely, Toronto, of today, is not the city of my early days in the 1950’s where most of the population was descended from immigrants from the British Isles. In the intervening years, Toronto has benefitted hugely from the influx of immigrants from every country on earth so that now it is full of life enhancing, vibrant contrasts. And still, it remains a pretty peaceful place. In my lifetime, the city has changed dramatically. (more…)