Thursday, 31 December 2009

And then a random recipe fell from the sky!

The following recipe is from Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz; I've altered it slightly according to my tastes.

I must say, I love this book. One of these days, I'll post Isa's recipe for Jerk Seitan and then you'll know what's what.

And now I'm hungry. Sigh.

Banana pancakes

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 1/4 cups well mashed bananas
1 1/2 cups soy milk + 1 tsp vinegar - I use apple cider vinegar (let sit for 5 minutes at least before using)
1 tbsp canola or olive oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup hemp seeds

Combine dry ingredients. Combine wet ingredients in a separate bowl and then combine the two. Mix well but don't over-mix (I'm not sure what this means, to be honest. However I mix it up, this recipe always works for me.)

Brush a large skillet with oil if it's not non-stick and heat to med-high. Pour 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake. Flip when the bubbles begin to appear in a definitive way; you know the deal. Serve with whatever pancake toppings you see fit. Rock on.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Curious/Creepy: is this really the most wonderful time of the year?

It's that time of the year, the time of the year during which you can't go anywhere without hearing that all Mariah Carey wants for Christmas is YOUUUUUUUUUUUUU!!!!!! I know. I just threw up in my mouth a little too. But don't worry, it's almost all over. And you got good books for Festivus, didn't you? I sure did! I got Orhan Pamuk's new novel, The Museum of Innocence from my seeester; Michael Slater's new Dickens bio from my bruther; hubby gave me Qian Zhongshu's Fortress Besieged for our wediversary, which is close enough to Festivus for the purposes of this braggy prelude; and then for Festivus proper hubby got me a lovely book about Japanese art. Woot! All these things made me do the opposite of throw up in my mouth.

But this isn't why I'm here. You see, the other thing about this time of the year is that people have other people over for festive festivities. And for me and hubby, this means taking public transit. Ah, love - nothing says peace on earth and good will towards men like spying on cranky readers, so here are the few books I managed to effectively ferret out yesterday on the west-bound Queen streetcar. (Sadly, I only managed to espy 5 books. The streetcar was a veritable cornucopia of reading crankies but the car was so crowded that I was forced directly to the back and couldn't make out even half of the books I saw. I waved my kerchief tragically at them as I went by, but because this is Toronto, the readers steadfastly avoided mine tear-filled eyen and sincere salutes.)

I'm honestly a bit surprised that every Curious/Creepy to date hasn't just been about the Harry Potter books. J.K. Rowling is so rich she's probably going to buy the British government and make herself queen soon.

Prophesying aside, this book was being perused by a very gangly teenage boyo who was wedged in against the window by a mysterious object with much shorter legs and no respect for the damage this kid's knees must have been suffering. This reader's wrists are the kind of wrists that stick out from all jacket and shirt sleeves because the arms are a shade too monkey-like in their excessive length. You know, the kind of teenage boy wrists that look like they'll snap under the weight of their idiot-string secured mittens, never mind the massive tome that is The Deathly Hallows installment of the Harry Potter racket.

God bless him, he was trying to get comfy so he could read like a good boy but there was simply no room. Looking at him, I remembered how I felt squished into a Korean Air flight for 15 hours of turbulence so bad we weren't allowed to get up, next to a snoring ajuma, and with less than the usual amount of leg room because of the wheel casing (or something) being underneath my seat; I ached inside for him but turned away looking indifferent because this is Toronto where being nice will get the cops called on ya.

But really, I had no choice. As mentioned above, I was being forced to the back of the streetcar, wading through a forest of trees made of puffy gortex angels. Ha. Next to be spotted was Lynn Coady's Saints of Big Harbour which I've never heard of but I'm guessing this Coady woman is Canadian because she's spelled "harbour" correctly in her book's title.

I have no idea about the reader of this book. Besides being bundled to the max, he/she/it was hunched over the book as though it were a crystal ball revealing dark things. If this book is from Canadia, as it appears to be, I'm going to guess, based on its title, that it features some hard-drinking men and some long-suffering women; a terrible life eked out on the rocky shores of the east coast where feeling good and making money means you've gotten above yerself; that reading this book will make you cold, so cold, because the damp atmospheric mood will be so intense that you'll have to wear a raincoat even if you're reading it on the beach in Florida, where east coasters go in January to escape the ever-living hell that is their lives, and also because going to Florida in January is super-cheap and there's Tom Collinses to be imbibed by the bucket-full.

Next on the whirlwind tour to the back of the car I noted Frank McCourt's 'Tis, the sequel to Angela's Ashes; if you somehow haven't read Angela's Ashes, it's like my plot summary of Saints of Big Harbour minus the happiness, money, and Florida bits.

I haven't read 'Tis. But really, I don't know why McCourt, gawd rest his soul, wrote this one - what, really, is there to say after you've described sexing up a girl dying of the consumption? That's straight gangsta.

Seriously, I enjoyed Angela's Ashes very much and think it makes perfect sense that everyone who's 1/32 Irish wants to go back to the motherland and get in touch with their roots.

In the back of the streetcar, where I quickly found myself trapped, I spotted 2 books being read. The first was being perused by a lady sitting directly across from me. She was deep into a library book, and it was a well-thumbed hardback copy of Kate Atkinson's Case Histories. For a change, I was actually able to see the person doing the reading and I have to say, I've never seen so many brown items of clothing on one person. Brown hat, coat, pants, boots, bag, glasses, mittens, scarf, EARRINGS!. All brown.

It takes a superfine glam diva who's about eight feet tall, possessing naturally red hair, and an attitude that would make Billy Bob Thornton whimper and lay down on the floor the minute she walked in the room to get away with that much brown and this lady weren't said diva. Not that the rest of us puffy angels in our sleeping bags with sleeves and hoods attached were looking any sexier.

And finally, there was Ken Follett's The Hammer of Eden. This one was in the hands of the most under-dressed person on the streetcar - while the rest of us were cursing the accident that placed us in Toronto and not Fiji (it was -25C with the wind last night! - the interwebs tell me this is about -13F), she was bare-headed, bare-handed, and indifferent and she plowed through her extremely abused paperback. I like me them abused paperbacks. There's something satisfying about being able to bend a book into unnatural shapes while you're reading it; it's just that I can't be the person to abuse it in the first place.

But about Follett: what's the deal with this guy anyway? If you went into a bookstore, would you expect to find his stuff in fiction or lit? Because this cover looks a lot like the kind of book that involves serial killers who cut people up and save their organs in their deepfreezers for special occasions. (Oh, with a little bit of religious horror a la The Seventh Sign or Legion thrown in, for good measure. Nothing says Festivus like body parts in the deep freeze and god breathing angrily down your neck!) But then hasn't he won some schmancy award for The Pillars of the Earth? And hasn't he been Chosen by Oprah who, while I don't like her taste generally, goes more for the lit than the mass markety fiction stuff?

Alright, so I didn't give you my best Curious/Creepy work for the holidays, what can I say? I'm going through sugar withdrawal and feel a leetel bit crazy right now. Also, I'm reading Dostoevsky which makes me want to throw myself on people's necks and be deep and dramatic and repentant, not witty and erudite and cutting. Maybe next time?

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Offended on Camus's behalf

I knew that whatever poor sucker of a book followed up David Copperfield was likely going to be a disappointment, but Michel Houellebecq's The Possibility of an Island greatly exceeded my expectations in this regard. God lord, I loathed this book by the end! I didn't loathe it at first; at first, I thought it quite promising but it turns out that extremely wordy and fairly repetitive cleverness parading as profound genius pretty quickly loses its appeal for me. Who'd a thunk it?

Houellebecq has been and continues to be praised to the stars for this novel; some people who don't read enough have even compared him to Albert Camus. I feel offended enough to roll over in my grave, which I don't have yet, on Camus's behalf! The nerve of some literary critics who want to appear well-read and thoughtful by invoking the names of properly classic authors but who can't discriminate between the likes of Houellebecq and Camus, or Dan Brown and Umberto Eco, or any such obscenely paired writers that strike your fancy in a gorge-raising sort of way.

The Possibility of an Island has been marketed as a modern-day dystopia, and that's why I read it. I love dystopias. Or at least I have in the past; lately (and by lately, I refer to this novel and The Road), I have been much, much less than impressed.

See, the thing about dystopias is that they work because they're scary, and they're scary because the futuristic hell they portray isn't so unthinkable in the here and now; indeed, it should be seen to be the natural culmination of the here and now, i.e., terrifyingly inevitable. Houellebecq clearly understood the formula for writing such books as created and perfected by Orwell, Wyndham, Zamyatin, and Huxley but...

But. He takes too long to reveal what the scary future looks like, what with the primary narrator's story alternating with two of his future clones' stories. I've nothing against the slow reveal but this is much too slow; it's rather like a 4-hour striptease, by someone who's not so sexy under their clothes after all, and isn't even a very good dancer. You see, the writing was fine but in no way stellar; the plotting was fine, but also in no way compelling.

And anyway, this book is much less about a horrifying dystopic future than it is about how cults form and attract people; it's also about western culture's increasing obsessions with maintaining youth and beauty at all costs. It's not that these topics aren't timely and compelling, but that I just don't think Houellebecq does anything new or interesting with them.

The cult thing especially. The Possibility of an Island reminded me a fair bit of Kenzaburo Oe's Somersault, which I found disappointing for being all about cults but not, ultimately, either illuminating anything about cult psychology or making them appealing. The Possibility of an Island similarly failed in these regards, but somehow more so. I was just so bored. Oh wait, sometimes I was irritated too; you see, the narrator of Houellebecq's novel is a clone (ha, get the joke? Eh!) of any number of sex-obssessed, sexist, boring, misanthropic, self-absorbed narrators from novels writen by Roth or Richler in the 70s. Don't get me wrong, I love protagonists who happen also to be jerks - but only if they're either original or funny in their jerkiness, and Daniel1 doesn't have either going for him.

For the airing of the grievances aspect of Festivus, I think this blog fulfills that obligation. Tomorrow, some feats of strength, including bench-pressing my 20+-pound Jeoffy-cat. Also, I'm going to begin a good book, dammit. I don't know what it is yet, but dammit, it's going to be good! Happy holidays, all youse guys out in the etherwebs!

Saturday, 19 December 2009

The Sarazens head without New-gate: happy anniversary to me!

So, it's December 19, 2009, which means that hubby and I have been book-sellers in our very own store for exactly one year today. Let there be celebratory cake, for everyone!

(As well, it was our 4th wedding anniversary 2 days ago, so all in all, mid- to late December is both a busy and excellent time of year for us.)

As you know from previous editions of The Sarazens head, it's been a year filled with hilarity, terror, boredom, and pure awesomeness. I won't recap, in part because I see no need to tip your experience in favour of the boredom and in part because I'd rather relate to you a conversation I overheard here yesterday.

This conversation was so steeped in fearless intellectual inquiry and philosophical depth that I felt it was not only a sign of the central role bookstores can play in the life of the mind for the general mass of people, but also a portent about how our next year here will go.

Picture, if you will, two women, approximately 20 years old, lounging near the literature section.
A: So I went to this like potluck last night. And Andrew was there and he had a new girlfriend.
And she was like so ugghhh. And I was like unggg!! and aaah!!!*Sigh.*
You know?

B: Yeah, well, hmmm.
This Franz Kafka, do we know him?
The Trial
[To me] Is this a true story?
I couldn't answer in a properly illuminating way for I was too busy transcribing said Socratic dialogue. What a feather in the cap of a pretty successful first year! I am speechless with wonder and gratitude. (FYI: I say "pretty" successful because we did okay but the recession definitely got us like it got everyone else.)

The coming year in bookstoreland
Having, especially in the first few months, taken pretty much any book downsizing baby boomers were willing to throw at us, we're much more selective than we initially were and will continue to become even more so, and not just because we're seriously running out of space.

Our predecessors never got over this early inclination of fear and desperation and as a consequence we are currently saddled with no fewer than 15 hardcover copies of The Da Vinci Code, not to mention the Pulitzer Prize-winning smash hit Full House: Behind the Scenes.

You would think a book-seller being selective about what they acquire would be a pretty common sense thing, but people often become offended when I won't take their books - even though they don't want them anymore themselves! Ah, the peculiar psychology of those who secretly feel guilty about getting rid of their personal libraries and maybe shame that their personal libraries contained Full House: Behind the Scenes in the first place...

Also, I've been getting better at working steadily but with breaks as the year has worn on. My former practice had been to spend several days a week working maniacally and putting 150 books at a time into our catalogue and then spending the other days rocking back and forth with my thumb in my mouth, unable to talk. Balance is getting easier on the job and I think I'm getting more done because of it...The next frontier will be, in the spirit of Captain Picard, to find time between my incredibly important duties for working on my super-fine body at the gym (much) more often.

We plan to spend likely a great deal of money on a new awning for above the outside door, if our accountant doesn't tell us, at the end of the tax year, that this is a losing game. You see, eight years or so ago, this used to be a bookstore and cafe. The second owners never bothered to get the awning changed and so every once in a while some tourist who doesn't know better comes in incredibly excited...only to have me break their hearts mercilessly by pityingly informing them that what was once the cafe is now a room full of children's books, parenting books, teaching resources books, porn books, and recovery books. A curious mixture of topics, yes, which I can't take credit for but am sort of shame-facedly proud of.

And now, having done a bunch of work AND blogged, I think it's time to turn to my current novel, The Possibility of an Island, which is turning out to be one of the most over-hyped books I've ever read. But I'm open to it still surprising and impressing me.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Sad and thoughtful

I finished this novel this morning and have been feeling rather sad and thoughtful ever since, in part because it's over and I really didn't want it to end. But the book itself feels sad and thoughtful, in spite of its mostly happy ending.

I was about to assert that this novel feels much different from any other Dickens book I've read but I realize that every Dickens book has felt different to me, in spite of all the clearly Dickensian characters and moments and observations they all boast. I think with David Copperfield I'm beginning to see just how varied Dickens could be within the (imagined? by modern readers?) confines of his very recognizable writing style.

This will be news to no one, likely, but my understanding of the Victorians is fuzzy and warm and quite vague. I've always imagined that as in no other era, the authors of the Victorian period were simultaneously for the "feeling" readers and the "thinking" readers; both for the common, minimally educated folk and the privileged owners of libraries, etc. (to break Victorian England, quite erroneously, into only two distinct social classes). Based on this likely ludicrous construction of the period, I thought Dickens was rather more for the touchy-feely types - which with him, I had/have absolutely no problem with, no matter how much I mock such tendencies in contemporary fiction writers.

David Copperfield was written in the first person, as the memoir of an established novelist, and apparently presents a number of parallels to Dickens's own life. If ever an emotional gush-fest were likely to occur, this would be the novel for it; and yet, this book is much, much quieter than the last Dickensian emotional explosion I read (A Tale of Two Cities) and is indeed, very pensive and introspective.

Not that there weren't happenings, and pain, and love, and death, and disaster! everywhere in David Copperfield, because of course there were. But this novel looked not so much at a specific social problem rooted in some form of injustice, but rather at what may be the most pressing social problem going: how to create family, both filial and friendly, out of nothing. The difficulties and pitfalls of the attempt, the ongoing heartaches, the mis-steps, the losses - but also the surprising things that become possible when you start at zero and have nothing left to lose.

Speaking of starting at zero so that the impossible might become less so, here's a drawing (by Phiz, of course) showing young Davey presenting himself to his Aunt Betsey Trotwood for the first time.

For a real review of the book, check out what Tony has to say here.

Monday, 14 December 2009


Check out the alternative blog banner my friend Darren made for me:

I would like to have the traditional and the newfangled banners alternating continually for my own shits and giggles, but making a .gif file is infinitely too schmancy for me. So this one will be the official footer of Bookphilia from now on, reminding everyone that pumpkin pie recipes could begin falling from the sky at any moment.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Throwing your body at the mark

Amateur Reader has been, via Emerson and Thoreau, discussing the issue of writing and what a trial it can be. The quotation at the centre of his most recent post on this topic is worth repeating:
"The way to write is to throw your body at the mark when your arrows are spent."
That's precisely how I finished my thesis - and I frankly enjoyed it. Did I ever tell you about the conclusion of my thesis? How it was exhausting and landed me briefly in hospital but was the best fun I'd had with the damned thing in years? Apologies if I'm like your grand-dad, ponderously telling you the same tale you've heard 547 times before.

Hubby and I had bought a bookstore and all of a sudden, there was a deadline for me getting the hell out of grad school Dodge, a real deadline. There would be no time for anything but figuring out how to be a bookseller come Dec 19 2008. So in August 2008, knowing what was to come, I put the pedal to the metal, my nose to the grindstone, I turned the volume up to 11, and with the help of my supportive cliches, got 'er done. It took about 2 or 2.5 months to get 'er done and what was required to do so was:
  • get up very early with my hubby and cycle to work with him. Upon arrival, I planted myself in a coffee shop or the Toronto Reference Library and worked like a fiend until lunch;
  • had lunch and pep talks with dear, perfect hubby;
  • went back to work at library or coffee shop;
  • went home for dinner;
  • repeated on the morrow.
Increasingly, my place of work was a coffee shop at the corner of Bloor and Sherbourne where they came to know my name and what drink I wanted (soy matcha latte with lavender or Irish cream coffee with soy) and became part of the pep talk team in between other customers.

I read and took notes and wrote desperately and on full-adrenaline mode at all times. My eyes hurt. I took frequent bathroom breaks, but drank almost no water in order to take fewer for they were getting in the way of my work - which is what landed me in the hospital, Toronto East General, in fact, which is about as high-tech and up-to-date as Pacman for Atari.

I loved reading Pamela, which I realize complicates my clear-cut distinctions between desperate and non-desperate reading in my previous post. What can I say? I'm like Whitman, save for the talent, in that I contradict myself and contain multitudes. And I found myself loving writing my conclusion when gawd struck me down. Quite literally, in the middle of writing what would turn out to be a 20-page conclusion, having just hit the page 10 mark and thinking "My goodness, what good times this is turning out to be!", I found myself lying on the floor in front of my computer and shaking my fist at the sky yelling "FUCK YOU, YOU FUCKING FUCK!! WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME NOW!!!!"

And so I went to the hospital and after 8 hours of waiting to see a doctor discovered that while I am not a cheese-eating old man, I had a kidney stone, which can also be caused by extreme dehydration. (Coffee, how can you taste so good and be so evil?) The first thing I asked the tired and impatient and over-worked doctor was, of course, could she give me pain pills that would allow me to go back to working on my thesis conclusion the next day. After having spent hours in the waiting room clutching the chair arms so much I was beginning to tear them off. Yeah. That may be considered throwing my body at the mark, arrows spent; or it could be insane. Maybe they're the same.

It took weeks to recover for I had the 1973 operation for the problem and not the 2008 procedure which is much more humane and not at all invasive or requiring of general anesthetic. I spent a lot of time sleeping and not eating and trying to feel better and getting nothing done when my supervisor reminded me on a Friday afternoon at 5 that I needed to submit by 9 am on Tuesday or I'd have to wait until the new year. I did sort of know this but was hoping for a reprieve, a magical one.

Again, dear hubby took me to work, but instead of leaving me in a coffee shop to self-destruct further, he took me to his office and set me up with my computer and brought me water and restorative soups and walked me around when I was having trouble staying awake. I wrote the final ten pages over 2 days and in a complete fog and managed to say everything I'd planned to say. And defended on Dec 10 and took over our store 9 days later.

What a bunch of bloody drama! I don't think I could ever write or read that way again for nothing similar or so much, at least as far as I can imagine, could ever be at stake. I doubt that when the Russian mafia takes my cats hostage that they'll demand I write them a 500-page novel with the breadth and scope of Dostoevsky, the gentle humour of Wodehouse, and the post-modern genius of David Mitchell. In a post-modern world, I suppose, nothing's impossible. It does seem more likely though that the pressure I feel in my professional life will continue to be about recommending books to customers based on insufficient information and my blog pressure, internal of course, will continue to be alleviated, at least in part, by your general awesomeness.

So maybe I'll figuratively throw my body at the mark sometimes, but not from such a long distance, or over hot coals, or at a mark with spikes pointing out. Which means, really, that I should stopping being such a whiner.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Pre- and post-desperation reading

I haven't been here in a while; it's good to see you. I deleted my blog for a little while to give myself real space to think; about what I want/need/expect to get out of book blogging now that it's no longer a refuge from anything; what I owe to the people who read this blog, whether or no they remain "silent"; just how much, and what kind of, consideration I owe to readers; whether or not I should take Celine's advice and turn Bookphilia into Pumpkin Pie Recipe-philia, with Stuff About Books Sometimes, Maybe.

I haven't actually come up with any definitive answers. I have had some revelatory (or almost so) moments, that may lead to something eventually.

1) I am reading David Copperfield, and have been doing so for a couple of weeks now. I'm taking it slowly, often on purpose. I freaked out a little a few days ago when I realized this is the first book in approximately 10 years that I haven't read desperately. And I mean real, sickening desperation.

In grad school (yes, I'll stop blaming everything on that soon, very soon, I promise!), I read desperately both microcosmically and macrocosmically, and in both my work and leisure reading experiences. For school, I read desperately quickly, in order to get things done; for example, I recall reading Wuthering Heights in one very long and excruciating day because I had so many other things to do; during that day, I neither left my house, nor washed, nor ate anything that didn't come out of a box. While studying for my comprehensive exams, I read two plays every day, and took extensive notes on them.

When I read for leisure, which I did in a manic attempt to not feel too defined by my studies, I read with all the desperation of the drowning; reading for pleasure only was, for me, evidence that I wasn't lost yet. But I read with so much fear in my heart - the fear of individual books being interrupted and the general fear of running out of time before I got to everything I wanted to get to that in the end, these experiences weren't really so different. I just didn't realize this until recently, when I noticed I was magically back to reading in pre-desperation mode.

Pre-desperation mode involved lingering over books to make them last as long as possible, purposefully not reading at all some days so my immersion in the artistic world of Dickens or Boccaccio or whomever could be prolonged in my deeply satisfied brain. Apparently, just 2 weeks away and an impossibly lengthy Dickens novel have taken me back there.

The question is, can I blog without that desperation? I honestly don't know. The last time I was accustomed to reading this way, my email was in Pine, more than half my professors (and I) didn't know how to send attachments over the email, and Blogger didn't even exist! Maybe that's where the pumpkin pie recipes come in, hey? I hope you like pumpkin pie.

2) Substance has gotten lost in style here somehow. I like to be funny. Sometimes, I think I succeed. I must succeed sometimes; otherwise, Tina Fey wouldn't have created an entire tv show based on the crazy hi jinx of my awkward social life and professional gaffs. But I was positively ashamed of myself today when I saw my flip and shallow interview about Shakespeare bumping up against an interview with David Mitchell on Between the Lines.

Also, I can be dismissive. Admittedly, this is my blog and I should without shame state my opinions but this is where I get confused - at what point does the blog stop being about the individual and become about the community? And how does one maintain the individual (which in my case is allergic to sugar-coating anything) without alienating the community? I honestly don't know, and this is why I'm not certain this return of mine will last.

3) I'm not sure I can write without desperation, but just as importantly, I'm not sure I want to. That's not a rhetorical way of saying I don't want to; I really don't know if I want to! To try to answer this, I'm going to list what I've consistently enjoyed about working on this here bloggy:
  • Curious/Creepy: Besides just loving to find out what people are reading, I like the venue for creative but relatively harmless bitchiness this allows for. But I rarely take transit so this is a difficult one to do often.
  • The Sarazens head: It's good to point out that all the crazy people that come in here aren't just fictions of my disordered brain. Ditto for the super-nice and interesting people.
  • I enjoy writing about books I really love and books I really hate. Both inspire passion, and it's satisfying to engage with that passion. Unfortunately, my passionate responses to books I hate have elicited death threats and illiterate abuse, e.g., "Your a stupid cunt faced bitch go fuck yourselv" [sic], and that's frankly rather tiring now that I've grown Kevlar skin and it doesn't hurt me anymore. Also, it's hard to read only books that inspire an excessive use of superlatives; there's just so much middling stuff out there.
And now for what I don't like (anymore):
  • I used to love The Reading Lamp but that's on the chopping block if Bookphilia stays alive for it's SO FREAKIN' HARD to get people to participate. I find this surprising. But I guess I imagine everyone will be as much of an egomaniac as I am and want to spout their blah blahs all over the place as much as I do.
  • Book challenges. Granted, I'm only currently involved in two - one of my own devising (talk about commitment-phobia!) and the other which requires only one book in six months, which I've fulfilled - but I somehow can't deal with the pressure. But I'm not blaming things on grad school anymore so this is an entirely mysterious ailment that cannot be diagnosed!
  • I don't know if I can actually do things any differently, no matter how much I analyze myself and tire you by treating you like my father confessor/shrink/bartender/sympathetic looking but quietly uncomfortable guy at the bus stop. Er, yeah, sorry.
I guess all I know at this point is that reading has suddenly become entirely magical again. And laid back. And much more deeply satisfying. And slooooow.

And I'm out of steam. More later, maybe.