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Cover Image of Web Database Applications with PHP & MySQL by David Lane, Hugh E. Williams published by O'Reilly & Associates
Cover Image of The Scarlet Letter by NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE published by Bantam
Cover Image of Fear and Trembling by Sören Kierkegaard published by CreateSpace
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Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Copy This: How to Succeed in Business Without Really Reading (Feature Articles)

Every now and then Bookbuffet revisits past articles we posted. This one dating back to 2006 was brought to our attention when a new online magazine asked us to replace a broken Fortune Magazine link with their own feature. We checked them out and agreed --it's a great article and so is our original. How interesting that material over 13 years ago remains interesting, simply because the subject of the feature has continued to evolve. Meet Paul Orfalea and find out what he's done in this interim.

Growing up with Dyslexia and ADHD, Kinko's founder Paul Orfalea learned to become an expert at reading people.  He used these skills, 'learning opportunities' as he calls them, to build a $2 billion dollar empire.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Alchemist Author Says Giving Away His Books Increases Sales (Feature Articles)

This article was first published in 2009. Our reason for re-publishing it is at the very bottom. That plus the ability to see spelling mistakes and grammar that needed corrections! So thanks.
Brazilian author, Paul Coelho of The Alchemist gave a keynote address at the Digital Life Design 08 conference in Munich, Germany (watch the video). Why would a Portuguese author with an entry in the Guinness World Record Book as the most successful living author in book sales worldwide (150M copies sold in 150 countries) be a guest at a digital conference? Because he has embraced the digital era like no other writer. Coelho spoke about his experiences using peer to peer file sharing and social networking, and he gave the three conclusions he has come to as a consequence of this activity. The first was the surprising realization that by giving away his books for free via digital downloads on the internet, his printed book sales have increased remarkably.* This has led him to challenge his publisher's protectionism and claim that current copyright laws are outdated. I will get to the history of copyright laws later. For now, check out Pirate Coelho. The second of his observations is how rapidly world languages are evolving with the common use of internet slang, SMS and so forth to communicate. People use "u" for "you", and "4" for "for" in French, German, Spanish—in all languages, not just English, and Coelho predicts that in 20 years our languages will be very different as a consequence. The third experience is an enriched connectedness to his readers around the world through the internet. This point he finds the most rewarding aspect of all. Coelho is a man who has embraced new technology and recognizes its power to connect people the world over. He has been named "the Googliest author"—a reference to Google's ongoing attempts to digitize the world libraries, which has posed a perceived threat to publishers and adherents to copyright laws. Listen to his story of a party invitation...

Saturday, September 08, 2018

What do Darwin and Lincoln have in common? (Book Reviews)

Check out Vancouver's Capture [Photography]Festival Turns Five (Feature Articles)

Kim Spencer-Nairn is interviewed here by CBS journalist Gloria Macarenko about her idea to found CAPTURE a photography festival in Vancouver now in its fifth year. The idea in 2013 was to highlight, not just our uber stars, the likes of Jeff Wall, Ian Wallas, Vikkie Alexander and Stan Douglas, but emerging artists and the medium as contemporary art.

Emerging artists are featured alongside established ones at Capture via a combination of curated, juried and open installations. Close to 100 locations are participating in and around the metro area and along Canada Way, the Arbutus Greenway corridor via Jimmy Pattison billboards and metro sign installations. Congratulations Kim!

Photography Books You Need

Jeff Wall: Complete Edition
Fred Herzog: Modern Color
Stan Douglas: Abbott and Cordova

Sunday, April 08, 2018

That Aussie Who Is Making Waves (Author Interviews)

As April is poetry month, and also the month of my birth which happens to mark a doozy this year, I've always tried to incorporate a new poet into my world by learning by heart one of their pieces of work; if not the whole poem, at least a favourite stanza.

So much has been in the news of writer, poet and outback reclusive genius, Gerald Murnane these days. Once again, he is listed as a possible favourite for the Nobel Prize for literature. He is the antipodean author of 8 books (three of which were--no kidding--written on an ironing board), including his classic, The Plains (1982), and essays, and poetry. I learned a whack about him from the excellent feature article in this month's New York Times by Mark Binelli. You might also enjoy Blaire Mahoney's feature.

Thirsty for more? Check out the excerpt of his work provided by his publisher Farer Straus and Giroux an imprint of MacMillan. It's , (lots of great photos too), which you can reference hereafter

Sunday, April 01, 2018

Capture Film Festival Vancouver Enters 5th Year (Events)

Vancouver had a history of producing world-renowned photographers like Jeff Wall. Yet there was nothing celebrating the local talent or encouraging new artists and educating the public. Enter Kim Kim Spencer-Nairn the founder and driving force of the festival. Kim is a dynamic woman with a background as a CPA who laughs when she says, "Yes, and I'm from Scottish heritage, so you know I'm going to find and keep every penny working for us." While traveling abroad she attended a photography festival in another city and determined to create something similar in her home town of Vancouver. At the time, the only other photography festival was in Toronto on the east coast.

Capture Photography Festival launched in April of 2013. The annual not-for-profit Festival "strives to nurture emerging talent, engage the community, and spark public dialogue about photography as an art form and a vessel for communication. Capture is devoted to exhibiting challenging and thought-provoking photography from local and international artists."

Each April, photography is presented at dozens of galleries and community spaces throughout Greater Vancouver as part of the Festival’s Selected and Open Exhibition Programs, alongside an extensive Public Art Program and an Events Program that spans tours, films, artist talks, and community events. This year's festival goes from April 3-30th. Check out all the offerings here -> <

Saturday, March 31, 2018

How to Make a French Fold Book (Feature Articles)

The French Fold book is a publishing technique well suited to DIY projects such as poetry chapbooks or other topics like a collection of writing, photography or art. Perhaps your writing group wants to commemorate the anniversary of your group's formation with a selection of each of your favourite works? Or someone you know is celebrating a special birthday and you want to make a custom gift of shared memories? Or your children's art has been sitting in a folder in a filing cabinet and you'd like to organize it into a lasting volume easily accessed on the bookshelf? The term "French Fold" is in reference to the pages of the book being joined together on the outward facing fore-edges, instead of the interior edges/folds at the spine.

Allison Holt has a cute blog called The Professor & Maryanne At Home where she has detailed instructions and sketches that make this project easy to follow. Your choice of materials can be any quality. Half the fun is in the maker-process itself. If you choose acid-free paper and archival glues your book will be a lasting artifact and heirloom.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Winner of the 2018 BC National Award for Canadian Nonfiction Goes To... (Feature Articles)

One of the highlights of the Canadian literary season lands each February. I am speaking of the annual BC Canadian Nonfiction Awards presented by the BC Achievement Foundation. The award, now in its 14th season, carries a prize of $40,000 and each finalist also receives a prize of $5,000. It is the only national award funded and hosted in BC. The rest (the Giller, the Governor General) derive from Toronto. This has two benefits: the West gets to meet authors from across the country and the east coast authors who make the grade get to come and enjoy West Coast hospitality, taste our local craft beers, and perhaps take a few turns on the local mountains --real mountains!

This year the ceremony was held at the Robert H. Lee Alumni Centre on the University of British Columbia campus.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Kazuo Ishiguro has won the Nobel Prize for Literature 2017 (Feature Articles)

Kazuo Ishiguro has won the Nobel Prize for Literature 2017. In their press release, the Nobel committee said, "Kazuo Ishiguro, who in novels of great emotional force, has uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world".

Ishiguro was born in Nagasaki Japan in 1954 and moved with his family to Surry England where he would study American literature and philosophy at the University of Kent. He obtained his MFA in Literature at the University of East Anglia but went on to work briefly as a social worker, but has been a fully committed writer since the publication of his first novel, A Pale View of the Hills. In 1983 he was anointed by the British Council as one of the talented young British writers and his work appeared in the literary publication Granta along with Rushdie, McEwen, Julian Barnes,

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Dr James Maskalyk: Life On The Ground Floor (Whistler Reads)

Please join Whistler Reads in welcoming Canadian humanitarian, physican and two-book author, Dr. James Maskalyk from Toronto who is here to speak about his latest book, Life on the Ground Floor: Letters From The Edge of Emergency Medicine on October 19th from 6:30-8:30 pm at the beautiful Audain Art Museum. Eventbrite Tickets

Dr. Maskalyk (that's pronounced Mah-ska-lick) divides his time between Saint Michael's Hospital in Toronto where he works as an emerg doc and award-winning teacher in the emergency and trauma unit, contrasted with a life abroad working for Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in places like the Sudan, Kenya, and Myanmar.

His first book Six Months in Sudan: A Young Doctor in a War-torn Village was a gripping account of conditions told from his sensitive and humane perspective. This was where one is not only dealing with the life and death situations of your patients but where ones' own safety is at stake. Described as "piercingly authentic" is was a best-seller.

In Life On The Ground Floor Maskalyk delves further, providing "deeply personal insights into modern-day medical practice with all of its paradoxes, ambiguities, and uncertainties."

Your host will be Whistler Reads program administrator, Leanne Hutchins, who herself has had incredible experiences in Africa working with the Red Cross. This will prove to be a compelling and thought-provoking evening as we compare what it means to provide health care in such contrasting circumstances and still maintain one's clarity and compassion.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Ian McEwan on Writing Love (Author Interviews)

McEwen waited 20 years to write his first sex scene (the library scene in Atonement). Here he discusses the challenges of writing about relationships in novels and particularly the variations found throughout. Enjoy his fluency and insights with references to a variety of his own novels and also people like Tolstoy. The point that the form of the novel has evolved, is a good one. The novel (and poetry) remain resilient because "we have not yet invented an art form that allows us such access to the minds of others."

Ken Burns & Lynn Novik Talk Vietnam (WGBH Boston)

In anticipation of this epic 10-year exploration of the Vietnam War by award-winning documentary producers Ken Burns and Lynn Novik, this interview reveals their motivation, methods, and dedication to encapsulating this divisive and painful period of history, which some say, America has never fully recovered from. PBS and the sponsoring foundations and charitable entities are to be congratulated for their support of this project. It will undoubtedly impact those who participated in the era and those who come after, as we try to understand the nature of war and the dark side propelling us toward it that exists within our very selves.

Here is a short list of some of the source material, fictional and nonfiction books by authors on both sides, as mentioned by the team:

  • Tim O'Brien, The Things They Carried

    Monday, September 11, 2017

    Stephen King Has One of the Top Books On Writing: Read It (Book Reviews)

    Notes on “Stephen King's "On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft”

    There are plenty of books on writing, but few are any good. Stephen King may not write the genre of book you like to read, but his success at selling books and having several of those books adapted to feature films that have been box office success is a powerful reason to explore his book on the writing craft as worthy a peek.

    Stephen King's On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (published by Random House) begins with a history of his childhood, his family background, his high school mishaps, his first jobs, his college experience, how he met his future wife, his first years of marriage and as a parent, his work as a teacher while writing fiction in his spare time, his first published work and his first big payment from his publisher. This is the memoir part of the book, and there are lots of insights embedded inside which will resonate with readers, particularly people who enjoy his books. This is what makes Stephen King tick. The second half is all about Stephen's rules of writing - the meat of it.

    It slams you with a confession

    Wednesday, August 30, 2017

    Whistler Reads: Author and Cooking Demonstration, The Preservatory (Whistler Reads)

    Hey all you avid foodies! Whistler Reads invites you to meet chef, farm owner, and cook book author, Lee Murphy who will be giving a cooking demonstration and discussing her new cookbook The Preservatory: Seasonally Inspired Recipes for Creating and Cooking with Artisanal Preserves (published by Random House CA $28.99 online here; $35 in stores;or the if you've gone electronic... Kindle version is $15.99.) The program takes place at the Weston Hotel in Whistler, BC on September 29th from 7pm-9pm. Tickets via our Eventbrite Channel.

    Lee, a passionate and knowledgeable jam master and owner of Vista D'oro Farms & Winery in South Langley BC, will be discussing her book as she gives a live cooking demo focusing on the pleasure of creating and using beautiful, seasonal preserves. Her unique creations include:

    • Kumquat with Vanilla & Vodka preserve;
    • Olive with Orange and Lemon preserve;
    • as well as Beet with Oranges and Pink Peppercorn preserve!
    She also masterfully turns these preserves into mouth-watering dishes such as: Jamargeritas; Brie & Preserve-Stuffed French Toast, Coconut Curry Braised Chicken; and Olive & Caramelized Onion Tart. Yes, I said JAMargeritas – her book includes cocktails! Also, incredibly useful for cheese lovers like myself, is a table of all 55 preserves from the book, cross referenced to the cheese with which they would pair best! This fun event is a must for all food lovers in the Sea to Sky corridor! There's more...

    Thursday, July 27, 2017

    Musings On The Community Public Library (Feature Articles)

    I just passed my third month as a new employee at a community library in rural BC. Here are 5 things that I've learned.

    • The book collection is a living, breathing thing reflective of the seasonal and changing interests of the patrons. What I mean by this is that as people order, read and return books to our branch library, the entire collection of books that end up on our shelves changes. For example, when I first began work at the end of April 2017 there were very few gardening books. As the growing season kicked in, more and more people reserved books from the shared book inventory that circulates between all 29 locations, and consequently, we now have two shelves of books on gardening, permaculture, organics, aquaculture---you name it.

      I've noticed that a patron with a love of history has

      Tuesday, July 25, 2017

      Life On The Ground Floor (Feature Articles)

      Dr. James Maskalyk has written the most humane book of ABCs I have ever read. He uses his vast medical experience as a framework to navigate his reader through the alphabet of medicine: Airway, Breathing, Circulation, Drugs, etc.; all the while explaining the medical significance of each step. “A breath is not an idea, like the airway, something you don’t know is there until it’s gone. It’s the real thing, all action. Even during that flat pause between inhalation and exhalation, each cell is breathing. Your brain, your heart, each pore.” And yet, it is not the medicine that is enticing, it is the human stories that connect to each letter. It is the brief glance into his patients’ lives that makes the medicine real, makes it sing with story and truth; and occasionally makes me cry (perhaps because I’m a huge sap).

      We meet the Toronto patients: the old confused man brought in from a nursing home, the worried mother with her sick son, the asthmatic man who has come in a dozen times struggling for air. A few letters later, Dr. Maskalyk travels to Ethiopia to support and teach the newly formed emergency medical team in Addis Ababa. We meet the Ethiopian patients: the man with the nose bleed that won’t stop, the girl in the oxygen mask, the girl hit by the lorry; and despite the language and culture barriers it becomes clear that people are people. The team at the hospital in Addis has neither the equipment, drugs, nor bed space that Toronto does, but medicine is medicine. The brave men and women training to be Ethiopia’s first ER doctors become heroes in my eyes as I watch them struggle against all the odds they are up against.

      Beyond the medicine and patients, the reader is also shown the inner world of Dr. Maskalyk himself. We see the pain, the love and the struggles he endures as he navigates the ground floor of the emergency rooms around the world. We see him at his most vulnerable, not in the Toronto ER or in the streets of Addis, but in the third setting of the book: a remote cabin in Northern Alberta where Dr. Maskalyk spends time with his dying grandfather.

      Sunday, July 16, 2017

      Whistler Reads: Leanna Hutchins is WR's New Program Administrator! (Whistler Reads)

      Please join us in welcoming Leanna Hutchins. Leanna has joined Whistler Reads as the new Program Administrator effective immediately. Her role will be to develop and execute new and fresh programming, liaise and partner with Whistler’s literary, business and non-profit communities, and continue a tradition of quality events that Whistler Reads has provided this community for the past decade.

      Leanna brings an extensive background in leadership roles for humanitarian causes with the International Committee of the Red Cross, Doctors without Borders and other NGOs. She was Head of Mission for crisis intervention in several war-torn countries in Africa (including South Sudan) Central Asia and the Caucuses. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Bishop's University in International Relations, Liberal Arts and Anthropology, and studied Political Science and Government for a year at Sciences Po Lille, France. She speaks French and Russian and shares many athletic Whistler passions, such as alpine and backcountry skiing, wake-surfing, mountain biking, yoga and she can be found hanging out mid-air in crazy positions suspended by ribbons of fabric from the ceiling at the Whistler Gymnastics Centre with the “Silks” team. She lives with her husband, Ryan Nadeau in Rainbow.

      Leanna can be reached via email at, or her mobile 1(604) 907-1044. To join Whistler Reads go to and click on the “Whistler Reads” column where all our current and past events are posted. News and events are also posted on our Facebook page and Tweets @WhistlerReads (formerly @BookBuffet).

      Whistler Reads – the village book group, was founded in 2004 by Paula Shackleton who saw the need for a public forum in which to discuss books and topical issues germane to the community. Membership quickly grew. To date, the group has hosted 52 public events. Shackleton now runs her family farm on the Similkameen River a few hours from Whistler over the Duffy Lake Road in the Interior of BC. She is thrilled to welcome Leanna on board to Whistler Reads.

      They've Come for our Voices: Lyrebird-Voice Synthesis Software (Technology Corner)

      A Canadian company by the name of Lyrebird is on the forefront of voice synthesis technology. It can mimic our voices with just a 1-minute sample, and given a longer one, say 5 minutes, they claim that it's difficult to differentiate between the native and robotic speaker. They also say they can control the emotional flavour of speech to evoke things such as anger, stress, distress. Sound worrying?

      The work came out of University de Montréal in Quebec where three founders are currently PhD students: Alexandre de Brébisson, Jose Sotelo and Kundan Kumar. Their startup is advised by three of the most prolific professors in the field: Pascal Vincent, Aaron Courville and Yoshua Bengio. The latter, director of the MILA and AI pioneer, wants to make Montréal a world-capital of artificial intelligence and this new startup is part of this vision.

      It raises concerns about the forgery of voices just the way photographic manipulation by software like Photoshop has forever changed that artistic discipline into an unreliable form of documentation where authenticity is always under suspicion. Ditto for CGI and video content.

      The name Lyrebird comes from an Australian bird that is able to mimic its call. Listen to the CBC's podcast on the topic. "Where will this technology likely show-up?"

      Lyrebird is making a bet on the future of voice-controlled computing. They imagine a world where more and more of our interactions with the digital world are done through voice. That means an increased focus on voice recognition and voice synthesis. Right now Lyrebird isn't a consumer-facing tech company. They want other businesses to take their technology and build on top of it. De Brébisson expects Lyrebird will be used to design better personal assistants — like the ones from Amazon, Google and Apple. He also sees applications for video game makers and in animation, movies and audiobooks. A studio could record an actor, build a voice model then artificially generate any dialogue they want." excerpted-here.

      Saturday, May 27, 2017

      Ode to a Bookseller: Barbara Jo Closes After Two Decades (Feature Articles)

      When I heard the news that Barbara Jo was closing her shop Books To Cookson West 2nd and Burrard in Vancouver I was saddened; another independent book business going by the wayside. Our Vancouver book group, Between the Lines had spent many of our annual cookbook-themed meetings, which were scheduled each June, at Barbara Jo's shop where our group enjoyed a cooking lesson and a delicious meal selected from recipes in a chosen cookbook that came with the activity package. For a bunch of book-loving foodies, this along with liberal pourings of wine paired just right enjoyed in her demonstration kitchen at the back of the bookstore was the perfect send-off to our respective summer vacation hiatus.

      As a former Dubrulle Culinary School graduate I always enjoyed seeing a professional demonstrate their craft as the years of experience engender wonderful short-cuts, like wrapping dry linguini pasta in a tea towel and running it over the edge of a counter top to break the strands into perfectly even one inch sections ready for the cooking pot!

      Barbara is spending time in her beloved village in France and writes a delightful blog which you may sample here. It's like enjoying a small glass of Pastis under the shade of a country grove. But the post directly below hers is the one I wanted to celebrate with you as this "Ode to Barbara Jo" as I am calling it sums up just what an impact she had on her patrons John Lekich and one of those tragic losses the digital world has created in the march of progress. Here it is reprinted in full - with respect.

      After the passage of almost two decades, the memory has a way of playing tricks on you. Over the past twenty years, I have often tried to convince Barbara-jo – the much-beloved proprietress of the recently closed Barbara-Jo’s Books to Cooks – that I was her first actual customer....

      Monday, May 01, 2017

      Daniel Levitin wins Best Business Book of 2017 (Author Interviews)

      Neuroscientist, academic and popular author Daniel Levitin has just been awarded $30,000 and named the winner of the National Business Book for 2017 for his latest volume, A Field Guide to Lies: Critical Thinking in the Information Age (published by Allen Lane, Canada). The National Business Book Award is co-sponsored by Pricewaterhouse Corporation, Canada, and Bank of Montreal Financial Group. Now in its 32nd year, the prize is handed out annually to the most outstanding Canadian business-related, non-fiction book of the previous year. The author says the book was written in response to the lack of public skepticism to the erosion of trusted news sources and complacency with information being disseminated through questionable sources and modern derivative news sources like social media. The world seems to have lost its critical thinking skills and is accepting as fact things which are not; accepting as evidence things which are hearsay. Discriminating between real and unreliable sources, propaganda, false and fake news is a grave problem today. Click bait hounds you everywhere on the web. And Levitin objects to the term "fake news" as it indicates something false as being worthy of any attention--which it emphatically isn't.

      LEVITIN: I object to the term because it is not simply another variety of news, like “breaking news” or “political news” or “celebrity news.” It isn’t news at all — it’s a lie. Thinking critically begins with not enabling the purveyors of distortions, lies, and made-up "facts."

      Thursday, April 13, 2017

      A New Book About Joni Mitchell (Book Reviews)

      Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchellby David Yaffe (FSG/Crichton, June) - A biography, with dozens of in-person interviews with Mitchell, reveals the backstory behind the famous songs—from her youth on the Canadian prairie, the child she gave up for adoption, through her albums and love affairs, to the present.

      For those of you who did not grow up listening to the music of Joni Mitchell it is fair to say that she remains one of Canada's foremost singer-songwriter-producers of the late 60s and 70s whose body of work has continued to evolve through to her last album released in 2016. She went from folk to pop to rock and roll and has worked with blues as well as jazz artists. She was won through competition and been awarded every accolade a singer and a songwriter of her distinction can be given. She was named 9th on Rolling Stone's Top 100 Best Songwriters list, and 42nd on their Top 100 Singers list. Having just sustained a brain injury, sadly she is confined to a wheelchair. When you play your Joni Mitchell music, you'll likely be pairing it with the likes of other fine Canadian artists: Leonard Cohen, Neil Young, and her US contingents in this league: Bob Dylan and Joan Baez.

      For me her music has intelligence, playfulness and a soulful melancholy individualism. Fellow musicians praise her complex and skillful phrasing, chord changes, tempo changes and timeless lyrics. When she located her own daughter, whom she'd lost to adoption during an era when she was a destitute artist undoubtedly contributed to her philisophic complexity. Her lyrics are lush with observations about the confines of mores and society. Joni simply valued her freedom, to remain "unfettered and alive" as she says in her song "Free Man in Paris".

      Digital Mining of Literature Shows Interesting Facts (Feature Articles)

      Remember when you got your first e-reader and saw that great Word Search feature that allowed you to find every instance of a word in a particular work - say you wanted to track down every instance of the word "horse" in Cervantes' classic, Don Quixote? What a great shortcut to finding a particular passage, reviewing and analyzing a work, or taking it a step further, using it to compare and contrast many works of literature either for personal interest or for scholarly purposes.

      Turns out Ben Blatt did just this thing posting his findings in Publishers Weekly self-reviewing his book Nabokov's Favorite Word Is Mauve: What the Numbers Reveal About the Classics, Bestsellers, and Our Own Writing (Simon & Schuster), and here are a few of the points inside that piqued my interest:

      1. Authorship of previously disputed (or thought to be known) texts can be traced to the real author(s) by the incidence, the order and use of words. For example, they've put to rest the theory that Shakespeare collaborated with Marlow - they positively did.
      2. Exclamation points - the so-called marker of not-so-great-writers... Turns out James Joyce, an undisputed GREAT writer, uses them the most! (see below)
      3. Comparison of "shortest" and "longest" first sentences between authors. Turns out Toni Morison and Margaret Atwood win for shortest, and Jane Austen and Vladimir Nabokov win for longest.
      And there's more. But you'll have to get the book.

      Tuesday, April 04, 2017

      Inventor of the Internet Laments Its Abuse (Technology Corner)

      Arguably the most impactful thing to happen to mankind in our lifetime has been the creation of the Internet (which now needs no capital, so says Chicago Manual of Style). Its creator is alive and well and working at both MIT and Cambridge University. His name is Sir Tim Berners-Lee. He was hired as temporary staff in the IT department of CERN. He enjoyed the work, they found him useful and he ended up coming on as staff and staying there for the next decade. His creation of the the web was for purposes of expedited collaboration between colleagues. But, there was an even larger picture to evolve. He imagined a platform where information could be exchanged across geographic boundaries, cultural borders, institutional barriers and philosophic confines. But reflecting today on what has become of the entity he worries about three important trends: "...over the past 12 months, I’ve become increasingly worried about three new trends, which I believe we must tackle in order for the web to fulfill its true potential as a tool that serves all of humanity." The following feature pulled from The Guardian.

      Sunday, March 26, 2017

      FOLD - May 4-7th Brampton Ont (Events)

      If the axiom of good writing is "Write what you know", then perhaps the axiom of a good reader should be "Read what you don't know." That's how I see FOLD, Canada's first literary festival celebrating literary diversity. It's founded by Jael Richardson and takes place in her hometown of Brampton, Ontario now in its second season, coming May 4-7 2017. "The Festival of Literary Diversity will celebrate stories that are underrepresented in Canadian literature — stories that reflect variations in geography, ethnicity, race, culture, gender, ability, sexual orientation, and religion, and stories that employ different methods of story-telling." Check out the 25 programs on offer over 3 days. The FOLD will utilize a “three-fold” approach in the programming: engaging readers, inspiring writers, and empowering educators. The main festival runs from Friday, May 6 to Sunday, May 8, but the larger festival includes a workshop for educators and sessions dedicated towards high school students.

      What I didn't know is that "Brampton is Canada’s second fastest growing city and the ninth largest city in the country. Located immediately north of Lester B. Pearson International Airport, Brampton residents represent more than 170 different cultures and speak more than 70 languages. People have literally come from around the world to live, work, play, read, and write in this City." Speaking as a Vancouverite - that's a wonderful distinction to celebrate!

      Saturday, March 11, 2017

      The BC Book Award Long List: Everyone's friend Alma Lee Juror (Feature Articles)

      The moment all BC Book Publishers have been waiting for has arrived: the announcement of the longlist for this year's BC Book Awards. This is the chance to see the variety and creativity that writers, editors, book designers, and publishers have been working to bring to you. The full list is here The books that jump out at me:

    • Anosh Irani's The Parcel by Publisher: Knopf Canada
      Set in Kamathipura, Bombay’s notorious red-light district, The Parcel tells of a retired transgender sex worker named Madhu, who identifies as a “hijra”—neither man nor woman. She receives a call from the most feared brothel owner in the district and is forced to prepare a “parcel”—a young girl trafficked from the provinces—for its fate. Anosh Irani is the author of Dahanu Road, nominated for the Man Asian Literary Prize, and bestsellers, The Cripple and His Talismans and The Song of Kahunsha. His play, Bombay Black, won the Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding New Play, and his anthology, The Bombay Plays: The Matka King & Bombay Black, was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award. -BC Book Award site quote
    • Deborah Campbell's A Disappearance in Damascus: A Story of Friendship and Survival in the Shadow of War Publisher: Knopf Canada
      A Disappearance in Damascus: A Story of Friendship and Survival in the Shadow of War Award-winning journalist Deborah Campbell travels undercover to Damascus, reporting on the exodus of Iraqis into Syria following the Iraq War. When her “fixer,” a charismatic Iraqi woman who has emerged as a community leader, is seized from her side

      Thursday, February 16, 2017

      From Human Rights to the Jian Ghomeshi Sex Scandal (Whistler Reads)

      Join Whistler Reads on Thursday March 16th at the Squamish Lil'Wat Cultural Centre (SLCC) from 7-9:30 pm when we host two of Canada's prominent investigative journalists to discuss their latest books. Tickets/books here. Meet Alexandra Shimo and Kevin Donovan.

      Kevin Donovan is an investigative reporter and editor at Toronto Star. He has won three National Newspaper Awards, two Michener Awards and three Canadian Association of Journalists Awards. In 2014 his team broke the story on the Jian Ghomeshi sex scandal. His book on the subject, Secret Life: The Jian Ghomeshi Investigation (published by Gooselane Editions) covers the investigation and trial from start to finish.

      Readers will recall Ghomeshi's public admission to a preference for "rough sex", claiming his partners were willing participants. Whistlerites will recall Jian Ghomeshi's visit to our fine town in 2012 to chat up that year's Giller Prize author at the local writers' fest. The most memorable thing to me was how fast his affable demeanor switched over to agitated annoyance when he noticed bottled water had been placed on the staging table between him and Will Fergusen. He stopped the program until a carafe of tap water was brought in, but not good enough, he wanted the offending bottled water removed from view and his presence! Everyone waited through the awkward moment and silently took note.

      Later that year, the CBC's decision to fire their superstar host of their most popular program, "Q" for allegations of conduct unbecoming were followed by a subsequent criminal investigation with charges laid, and a sensational trial that resulted in his acquittal. This case created a lightning rod for debate. Kevin's talk will discuss how journalists operate in the murky waters when it is one person's word against another and how this issue compounds when a celebrity is implicated and when the justice system gets involved.

      Joining Donovon is Alexandra Shimo, a former editor at MacLeans Magazine. Alexandra Shimo spent four months living in an isolated fly-in First Nations community in northern Ontario investigating an alleged water crisis that may have been fabricated. Inevitably, she becomes drawn into the daily life of the community and conditions on reserve---that of severe poverty, isolation, youth suicide at crises proportions, and other issues garnered from her very personal vantage, which results in PTSD and more. Readers will better understand why this book is so important when they...

      Friday, January 27, 2017

      2017 Winner of the BC National Nonfiction Award (Feature Articles)

      Bookbuffet attended the BC National Nonfiction Prize again this year. This is a Canada-wide competition in its 13th year. It is the only national prize based from the West Coast. Congratulation to this year's recipient, Sandra Martin. Sandra takes home $40,000 for her book A Good Death: Making the Most of Our Final Choices published by Patrick Crean Editions/Harper Collins (April 12 2016).

      The book deals with an issue facing us all, given Canada's aging demographic and the reality of health statistics at this end of this spectrum. Whether it is the decline of an aging parent or a family member suffering from a devastating and irrecoverable illness, the question will eventually arise -- at what point does bearable cross over to unbearable, and when that time comes, what are our rights, to whom shall we turn, and how does society ensure a process exists to both serve and protect the concept of dying with dignity?

      History and the courts have witnessed a seesaw stance where

      Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance: Insights into Trump Voters (Author Interviews)

      If you want an intimate insight into the firmament of Trump voters then J.D. Vance's bestselling book, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis (published by Harper Collins) is poignant, painful but uplifting book. It describes his childhood growing up in a struggling, dysfunctional family in eastern Kentucky and the Appalachia of America. Closures in the steel industry and the auto industry have erased well-paying jobs, the consequence of automation or globalization. This has led to profound social decline with poverty, alcohol and drug addiction eroding the values of this formerly proud and independent working-class peoples who have become welfare dependent, complacent, and a sometimes angry demographic as a result. These are the people identified as being co-opted by President Trump.

      JD Vance describes his upbringing by his "hillbilly" grandparents, without whose love and support he would have become the victim of his mother's failings, and fallen through the cracks of the system. In spite of the odds stacked against him, Vance managed to graduate from high school and turn his life around during a stint in the Marines following which he not only graduated with an undergraduate degree (paid for by veteran funds) from the state university, he was accepted into Yale Law School graduating summa cum laud, and then went on to marry a wonderful partner and live a successful life. He gave up his work in the law and now works with a California hedge fund creating economic development opportunities for the Appalachia. Now others there will have a better chance to turn their lives around as well. His first-person struggle as told in his book could help shape social service policy from this point forward. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis is a must read.

      NPR caught up with the author and here is a link to their podcast and the transcript. I hope you'll take a moment to listen. (Click title to open feature)

      Now Hear This: Print is Not Dead-Long Live Print (Publisher News)

      I am a subscriber to The Columbia Journalism Review whose features capture the latest thinking on all things pertaining to the medium and the profession. Like you I am a reader of books, and a subscriber to newspapers. Like you, I've been saving the planet by ticking the "electronic version only" to my subscriptions to save the world from destroying oxygen breathing trees and burning carbon fossils on delivery of my subscription.

      But more and more I've become nostalgic for the rituals of home delivery of print copies of these items where I can make--an occasion--of sitting back in a comfortable chair with the newspaper and enjoy the page layouts, the smell of the ink and paper, the fact that advertisements are not popping up in my face (on my electronic screen), and tracking which articles I click, and feeding me information in silos of like-topics such that I am no longer served a diversity of features in the way that a well managed print publication provides.

      The breakdown between the fourth estate and its public is fewer print subscribers which means fewer advertisers which mean fewer quality staff which means poorer quality journalism and consequentially publications going into the red and off the map.

      In the publishing industry people have been predicting the return of book, and why not? Just yesterday I wanted to "lend" my copy of a book to a friend and I couldn't--it's on my iPad in digital format. And this is but one of the joys of physical book ownership that has been lost. Think of the state of your physical library, as in, those colourful and dusty shelves with copies of books you've had since the Gutenberg Press.

      All the books on my shelves are from what seems like "another era" because I have added few new titles that reflect any update in my reading habits reflecting new topics of interest. But my kindle shelves show neat little rows of book "covers" backlit in colourful pixels illuminating on my screen and floating in the cloud. No help to anyone in my household or on my trusted lending list. (the ones who return books)

      So here now is a more erudite rant on the subject from Michael Rosenwald of The CJR.

      Thursday, January 12, 2017

      Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right (Book Reviews)

      The New York Times begins its review of Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right with a description of the staff writer for The New Yorker, ­who spent five years working on this book, the beginnings of which originated from an article she wrote on the Koch family that was published in the magazine in 2010.

      "Neither Charles nor David Koch agreed to talk to her, and several of the most important figures in their political network were unavailable. But she reached hundreds of sources who did want to talk: longtime conservative campaign operatives, business associates, political opponents and political finance scholars. Some of these sources spoke on the record and some did not, but all in all “Dark Money” emerges as an impressively reported and well-documented work.

      I was intrigued by her book because of the compelling -- stunning, really, in every sense of the word -- documentary on PBS's Frontline Black Money produced by investigative correspondent, Lowell Bergman who examines the shadowy world of international bribery. If you have a chance to watch this first you will want to get the book to be better informed on how world politics and the underbelly of business is being conducted.

      Wednesday, January 04, 2017

      Winner of the 2016 Roderick Haig Brown Prize (Whistler Reads)

      Join us February 23rd when we meet to discuss (venue TBA) the book that was the winner of the 2016 Roderick Haig-Brown Regional Prize and the inaugural Mack Laing Literary Prize. Shortlisted for the 2016 Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prizes. A wonderful book of Canadiana. The Real Thing: The Natural History of Ian McTaggart Cowan by Briony Penn ISBN 9781771600705 is the first official biography of Ian McTaggart Cowan (1910–2010), the “father of Canadian ecology.” Authorized by his family and with the research support and participation of the University of Victoria Libraries, Briony Penn provides an unprecedented and accessible window into the story of this remarkable naturalist. From his formative years roaming the mountains around Vancouver looking for venison to his last years finishing the voluminous and authoritative Birds of British Columbia, Cowan’s life provides a unique perspective on a century of environmental change—with a critical message for the future. As the head and founder of the first university-based wildlife department in Canada, Ian McTaggart Cowan revolutionized the way North Americans understood the natural world, and students flocked into his classrooms to hear his brilliant, entertaining lectures regarding the new science of ecology. During his academic career, Ian McTaggart Cowan stepped outside the narrow confines of academia to pioneer nature television. His television programs in the 1950s and ’60s,

      NY Review of Books: Canadian Authors in Caricature (Author Interviews)

      I had a lawyer friend when we lived in Los Angeles who happened to be the nephew of a famous New York society cartoonist. He divulged an interesting factoid about this relative that has always fascinated me. When sketching his subjects live at New York plays, the Met and Broadway musicals, he used a small pencil and scratch pad from within his jacket pocket to do the work - sight unseen - so as not to distract or attract the attention of onlookers. A remarkable feat.

      If you have an interest in these sorts of artistic profiles you can go to the wonderful publishing house of The NY Review of Books who have amassed a collection by four artists: David Levine (whose more than 3,500 caricatures have illuminated articles published in the Review since 1963); and John Springs, Pancho (Francisco Grails), and James Ferguson whose works have been published regularly in the Review over the past few years. Preview the extensive list in alphabetical sequence, or enter a subject or category into the search box to obtain a grouping of interest. As a bibliophile and a Canadian I chose the category "Canadian Authors" and came up with David Levine's wonderful collection - a work in progress, judging by the short list. It's all ON SALE right now if you act quickly.

      Tuesday, January 03, 2017

      Masterpiece: Victoria (WGBH Boston)

      The 2017 MASTERPIECE PBS season starts out tapping into the insatiable public appetite for young Royals, specifically, British. Their new series about Queen Victoria, titled VICTORIA airs January 15th and is based on the screenplay written by Daisy Goodwin. Buy the hardcover book, Victoria: The Heart and Mind of a Young Queen which is the official companion to the Masterpiece Presentation on PBS, and the DVD box set "Masterpiece: Victoria" .

      It stars Jenna Coleman as the young queen portrayed from her coronation in 1837 at the age of 18 through her courtship and marriage to her cousin Prince Albert played by Tom Hughes. Goodwin says her inspiration for Victoria derived from watching her own teenage daughter's vigorous and tempestuous nature and imagining how a monarch at the same age might compare. In this sense, the character takes on a personalized flare.

      While the series has been criticized for taking liberties with some specific historical facts in order to make her character more congruent with modern sensibilities and perspectives, it has all the hallmarks of beloved PBS productions that includes an exquisite cast, costumes, sets and settings. As a result, it has usurped viewer turnout for previous period costume dramas, reaching 5.3 million viewers with a production budget of £10m.

      So who was Queen Victoria and what were her hallmark contributions to British history?

      Monday, September 19, 2016

      Republic of Dirt is Whistler Reads Fall 2016 Pick (Whistler Reads)

      Susan Juby won this year's Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour for her book, The Republic of Dirt. She is this year's Whistler Writer in Residence a post supported by the Whistler Resort Municipality and the local writer's group. Whistler Reads is pleased to select this book out of the excellent offerings at this year's 15th annual Writers Festival in Whistler. "With so much in the world to concern us: continued strife in the Middle East, the sluggish world economy, the travesty that has become the US election, Canada's struggle to make the best decisions related to global warming -- it behooves us to elevate/side-track our minds and spirits through the tonic of humour. After all, we do produce some of the world's most talented comedians," says Paula Shackleton, Founder and Director of Whistler Reads.

      The Stephen Leacock award is a personal favorite. If you've not read the work of the namesake honoring this genre, you must because it gives insights into where our Canadian roots in ironic wit and self-deprecating humour derive. (thank GOD for spell check) Susan Juby is the beneficiary of this award, and deservedly so. A quick peruse of her website is funny from start to finish, er from button titles to deep-down content.

      The fact that she lives in the boonies, and I live in the boonies has nothing to do with it. Really. Oh, well, if you must -- we DO share a love of chickens. Chickens are the original comedian on the farm. Everything about them is true; the pecking order, coming home to roost, cock of the walk... but I digress.

      The WWII motorcycle side-car with the Blue Heeler pup as her mate sold me. Not to mention the serial mugshots gleaned from past author photos. So hope you can join us as we meet Susan Juby in person at the Whistler Writers Festival. And leave comments about your musings on her book on our wall.

      Saturday, June 11, 2016

      Who Served Adam Smith Dinner? (Book Reviews)

      The name Adam Smith in economic and finance circles is sacrosanct. His mantra was simple. People act out of self-interest. This fundamental is at the core of the reasoning behind capitalism and the free market economy. But Swedish author Katrine Marçal asks the question - what about the mothers, wives and workers whose motivation is founded upon love or altruism? Isn't there room for an economic inclusiveness that is not based on self, but on others; on love, not greed; on altruism, not cynicism? And how are they remunerated, or at least accounted for on financial ledgers of companies and countries? Well, I'll bite! Enter Who Cooked Adam Smith's Dinner: A Story About Women and Economics by Swedish author Katrine Marçal (published by Portobello Book in the UK, 2016).

      About the Author

      Portobello Books tells us that Katrine Marçal is the lead editorial writer for the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet, where she writes articles on Swedish and international politics, economics and feminism. On publication in Sweden, Who Cooked Adam Smith's Dinner was shortlisted for The August Prize and won the Lagercrantzen Award. She lives in London. Do delve deliciously deeper for more background on this important writer on the PB website.

      About Portobello Books

      A little more about Portobello Books. In 2009 they were short-listed for Independent Publisher of the Year. And this I did not know -- they bought the esteemed literary magazine Granta and as such, share design, marketing and sales teams.

      Here's how they describe themselves:

      We aim to give our readers books that are enlightening and searching, with a particular focus on non-fiction. We offer our writers a creative, innovative, and supportive environment.

      The company was founded in 2005 by the philanthropist Sigrid Rausing, the Academy Award-winning film producer Eric Abraham and the publisher Philip Gwyn Jones. Its first books, published that autumn, were Jeremy Leggett’s Half Gone, Nasrin Alavi’s We Are Iran, Gina Ochsner’s People I Wanted To Be and Glen Neath’s The Outgoing Man – urgent non-fiction in ground-breaking form, outstanding short stories from America via Eastern Europe, and highly experimental British fiction.

      Look to their website for font list, midlist and backlist titles (are there any there yet? LOL) Surprise! They represent Hurta Muller who won the Nobel Prize in 2009. That appears to have been a very good year for Portobello.

      Here is the link to her Nobel Prize. Might as well get her book, Land of Green Plums, The: A Novel while you are at it!

      Monday, April 25, 2016

      Winner of the National Business Book Award 2016 (Feature Articles)

      The National Business Book Award celebrated its 30th year. The news was announced on April 21st - apologies for being 4 days late. The entire longlist is always worthwhile reading for people interested in business topics in a wide range of interests.

      The winners were co-authors: Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff for their book, Losing the Signal: The Spectacular Rise and Fall of BlackBerry which chronicles the relationship between Research In Motion founders Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis.

      The NBBA jury panel is chaired by CBC's Chief Correspondent, Peter Mansbridge with jury members: Wililam Dimma, Deirdre McMurdy, David Denison, Anna Porter and Pamela Wallin.

      Of the six books that made the longlist

    • Kirstine Stewart, Twitter executive and former head of CBC's English­ language programming for her book, Our Turn, which recounts her experience as a female business leader in a predominantly male industry.
    • John Stackhouse, is the former Globe and Mail editor and author of Mass Disruption: Thirty Years on the Front Lines of a Media Revolution. The book delves into the transition from print to digital journalism and its long­term implications.
    • Jeff Rubin was longlisted for his book The Carbon Bubble: What Happens to Us When It Bursts. Rubin explores how climate change could influence Canada's oil industry.
    • David Mulroney was nominated for Middle Power, Middle Kingdom: What Canadians Need to Know about China in the 21st Century. In the book, Canada's former ambassador to China discusses its diplomatic relations with the country and criticizes Canadian foreign policy for its lack of ambition.
    • William Watson was longlisted for The Inequality Trap: Fighting Capitalism Instead of Poverty, which explores the relationship between public policy, capitalism and poverty in Canada. 1/4 3/12/2016 David Mulroney, John Stackhouse, Kirstine Stewart on National Business Book Award longlist | CBC Books | CBC Radio

      Friday, March 25, 2016

      FOLD: Canada's newest author festival celebrating literary diversity (Events)

      If the axiom of good writing is "Write what you know", then perhaps the axiom of a good reader should be "Read what you don't know." That's how I see FOLD, Canada's first literary festival celebrating literary diversity. It's founded by Jael Richardson and takes place in her hometown of Brampton, Ontario this coming May 2016.

      "The Festival of Literary Diversity will celebrate stories that are underrepresented in Canadian literature — stories that reflect variations in geography, ethnicity, race, culture, gender, ability, sexual orientation, and religion, and stories that employ different methods of story-telling."

      Check out their program. Starting with PEN's Writer in Exile, Eden Esayu from Eritrea to their fina session titled, The Final Word featuring beloved author, Lawrence Hill (Book of Negros, The Illegal) who novel focus's on the world refugee crisis.

      What I didn't know is that "Brampton is Canada’s second fastest growing city and the ninth largest city in the country. Located immediately north of Lester B. Pearson International Airport, Brampton residents represent more than 170 different cultures and speak more than 70 languages. People have literally come from around the world to live, work, play, read, and write in this City." Speaking as a Vancouverite - that's a wonderful distinction to celebrate!

      Talon Books: Discover This Amazing Vancouver Publisher (Publisher News)

      Finding great publishers through one of their front-listed books is a great way to discover other worthwhile writers of other great books. It doesn't come about by luck or coincidence. It takes as much talent to recognize and shape writers as it does to be one. Talon Books is one of those publishers whose books have made a difference to the face of Can Lit. And we love their story. We can't tell it any better than them - so here instead, is a rip on their About Us page:

      Mandate To publish work of the highest literary merit by world class authors from the mainstream and the margins of Canada’s three founding nations, as well as from both visible and invisible minorities within Canada’s cultural mosaic, and to work with all of our authors to build their national and international literary careers throughout their active writing lives.

      Principal Accomplishments We have more than 500 titles in print, which have received well over 300 awards. We have built and continue to keep in print one of the finest and most diverse literary lists in Canada.

      Role in Canadian Publishing Talon’s dedication to the publication of over four decades of excellent Canadian literary work, created through an unbroken line of internal mentorship and succession of ownership in the company, has earned our publishing house the privilege of being one of the pre-eminent independent Anglophone literary presses in Canada. We are the only one of the pioneering “first generation” of Canadian literary publishers of the 1960s to have consistently maintained our success and independence over the past 45 years. We are Canada’s largest independent publisher of drama; do more translations from Québec than anyone else; and publish more Native voices than any other Canadian publisher with the exception of First Nations publisher Theytus Books.

      Thursday, March 10, 2016

      The PEN Literary Award Shortlist for 2016 (Book Reviews)

      PEN announced its shortlist for the 2016 Literary Awards. There are several categories and each has roughly 5 contenders. The winners will be announced on Mar 1st and April 11th at the New School in New York City. We've pulled this feature from the Star Tribune, so if you see a hyperlink it takes you to a Star reviews.

      Here are the finalists:

      PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction ($25,000):

      In the Country: Stories (Alfred A. Knopf), Mia Alvar
      The Turner House (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), Angela Flournoy
      Mr. and Mrs. Doctor (Coffee House Press), Julie Iromuanya
      The Sympathizer: A Novel (Grove Press), Viet Thanh Nguyen
      Mayumi and the Sea of Happiness (Europa Editions), Jennifer Tseng

      PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay ($10,000):

      After the Tall Timber: Collected Non-Fiction (New York Review Books), Renata Adler
      Between the World and Me (Spiegel & Grau/Random House), Ta-Nehisi Coates
      The Quarry (New Directions), Susan Howe
      The Givenness of Things: Essays (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), Marilynne Robinson
      Sidewalking: Coming to Terms with Los Angeles (University of California Press), David L. Ulin

      PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award ($10,000):

      Rain: A Natural and Cultural History (Crown), Cynthia Barnett
      The End of Plenty: The Race to Feed a Crowded World (W. W. Norton), Joel K. Bourne Jr.

      Tuesday, March 08, 2016

      Canadian Book Designer Up For BEST IN WORLD at Leipsig (Feature Articles)

      This just in from The Alcuin Society: "A Canadian book has just earned international recognition." Congratulations to the designer and publisher!

      "GUILLAUME LÉPINE, designer, La lecture des signes abstraits: une exploration visuelle, by Joséane Beaulieu-April. La chose imprimée (Montréal).

      The Stiftung Buchkunst, based in Frankfurt, Germany, curators of the international exhibition "BEST BOOK DESIGN FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD" at the Frankfurt and Leipzig Book Fairs, selected their 2015 award-winners (for books published in 2014) in an international competition in February 2016. They have just released their list of awards, which will be presented at the Leipzig Book Fair later this month. Of almost 600 books submitted by 32 countries, 14 winners were selected. Only one Canadian designer, M. Lépine, was honoured to have his book chosen as a shortlisted title.

      The 28 Canadian books on exhibit, representing Canada as participants in the international competition, were submitted by The Alcuin Society to the Stiftung. These books were the winners of the 2014 Alcuin Society Awards for Excellence in Book Design in Canada, held in March 2015. The collection has been donated to the German Book and Type Museum in Leipzig, where it will be available for consultation and exhibitions. The winners of this year's Alcuin Society competition will be forwarded to the Stiftung later this Spring.

      Information about the Stiftung Buchkunst may be found at Click the translate flag for language of choice.

      The Alcuin Society ( is a Vancouver-based non-profit society for the support and appreciation of fine books. In addition to the annual Book Design Competition, the Society publishes a journal, Amphora, and organizes lectures, workshops, exhibitions, and field visits on various aspects of the book. Further information on the Alcuin competition may be obtained from

      Saturday, February 27, 2016

      Euphoria and BC's Museum of Anthropology Papa New Guinea Exibit (Events)

      Coincidence behold. My Vancouver book group just finished reading and discussing Lily King's book, Euforia (Harper Collins) based on a period in the life of Margaret Mead, the famous anthropologist who studied and reported on the indigenous peoples along the Sepik River in Papua New Guinea.

      Two days later, as a member of the BC Museum of Anthropology, I received an invitation to the opening of a new MOA exhibit titled, "In The Footsteps of Crocodile Man: Contemporary Art of the Sepik River", which features modern artifacts and video footage of some of the same indigenous peoples featured in Lily King's book. What a spot of luck! My whole group is planning to attend the opening because of our captivation with Euforia, which we highly recommend to those people interested in a primer before they view the exhibit. If you are not able to make it to In The Footsteps of Crocodile Man (March 1, 2016 — January 31, 2017) at the MOA in Vancouver, do check out the museum's web portal.

      Read the review of Euphoria at and view the author's book trailer below:

      Tuesday, February 23, 2016

      Book Browsing in Beirut (Feature Articles)

      Earlier we ran a series of articles about the books in the shop windows of bookstores around the world as spotted on our travels. London, Paris, Toronto, Vienna, Helsinki and more, were featured. As it turns out, my former Stanford Alum roommate opened a bookstore by the name of Papercup in her hometown of Beirut, and she's been getting a lot of very good press recognition! What are they reading in Beirut, you ask? And so we did. Rania Naufal's philosophy goes like this,

      "...[with] a passion for books and personal frustration for the lack of a cozy, neighborhood spot, Papercup opened its doors in June 2009 as a dedicated specialized bookshop. Located on a charming street in the eclectic Mar Mikhael neighborhood of Beirut, you will find our shelves filled with beautiful books on art, architecture, design, photography, and fashion. Those are complemented by a curated selection of magazines, children reads, graphic novels and stationery finds, as well as our bespoke ordering service – if you can’t find it on our shelves, we will order it with complimentary shipping.

      We also love our coffee and strive to serve a good one.

      In other words, think of Papercup as a coffee-infused book therapy.

      We love Rania's idea of asking visiting authors, celebs and others what books they adore, which she then features on a display. It provides a sort of window into the reading interests of creative minds whose books we already enjoy. As an example here is what she posted on facebook and featured last fall.

      Sunday, February 14, 2016

      Whistler Reads Next Event: Screening of HADWIN'S JUDGEMENT with John Vaillant (Whistler Reads)

      Back by popular demand... John Vaillant returns to Whistler. The author of three bestselling books: The Golden Spruce, The Tiger and his latest, a fiction titled The Jaguar's Children (Penguin-Randomhouse) on Monday, March 14th from 6:30-9 pm in the Squamish-Lil'Wat Cultural Centre for a public screening and discussion of the film, HADWIN'S JUDGEMENT. Hadwin's Judgement is nominated for 2 Canadian Screen Awards for Best Documentary and Best Cinematography and has won a number of other Film Festival Awards across Canada. Tickets are sold out. Another date is in the works. Email wr (at) to get priority notice. Don't miss this sublimely haunting docudrama by filmmaker Sasha Snow that is based on the life of Grant Hadwin, the man accused of chopping down a rare and revered 300-year-old giant spruce, a genetic variant, growing in the protected rainforest of Haida Gwaii, BC. The golden coloured spruce was revered by the local First Nations. It was admired and studied by forestry biologists, and it attracted eco-tourists to the destination from the worldwide.

      Part myth, part madness this film "chronicles the tormented transformation of Grant Hadwin from expert logger to environmental terrorist, a man who dared to challenge the destruction of the world's last great temperate rainforest." based on Vaillant's book, "The Golden Spruce" that was awarded a GG for nonfiction.

      The cinematography of Haida Gwaii is breathtaking. If you have never been there - this is your chance to witness our temperate rainforest and discuss its future. If you have been there, you won't want to miss this event. John will introduce the film and do a Q&A following. Copies of his books will be available for sale. As THE JAGUAR'S CHILDREN is our Whistler Reads Feb-March book selection, we will reserve time at the end for members to discuss. Click to view the movie trailer.

      Monday, February 01, 2016

      Why Lament the Takeover of Songza by Google? (Technology Corner)

      When I first started using Songza a few years ago [circa 2012] I felt both elated and relieved! Elated that someone with brains had designed a music app that cost nothing and provided endless hours of streaming playlists curated to any musical genre or mortal mood, all coordinated around hypothetical tasks at any particular time of day in the week. It was a relief to finally pack up my CD collection, which I had reverted to in frustration after Apple had once too often dumped my music library and carefully organized personal playlists for the zillionth time during yet another forced system upgrade to my iPod or iPhone - sorry Apple, not everyone has a PhD in computer science to manage the workarounds!

      Now another technology behemoth has bought Songza along with all their clever ideas and my favorite playlists. What is in store for us? Well on January 31st we

      Tuesday, January 26, 2016

      British Columbia's 2016 National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction (Feature Articles)

      Mark your calendar for February 4th, 2016 at 11:45 when the annual luncheon hosted by The BC Achievement Foundation holds the British Columbia National Nonfiction Awards in the ballroom of the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel in Vancouver 900 Canada Place Way. Created in 2005 to honour Canada's finest nonfiction writers, the prize is one of the largest in the country - $40,000 will go to the winner.

      I have had the pleasure of attending the past 4 years and look forward to this event again with fresh anticipation. The four finalists are always of a stunning calibre, and the topics of their books are as varied as they are fascinating. Names like Thomas King, Modris Eksteins, Charlotte Gill, John Vaillant, Ian Brown, Russell Wangersky, Lorna Goodison, Noah Richler, Rebecca Godfrey, and Patrick Lane are a few of the past winners.

      However the erudition of the speakers chosen to introduce each author and their book is what makes this event particularly entertaining. I am quite sure that these four writers will not receive a better introduction in their careers than what is said about them here. Add to that the opportunity to mingle with a cross-section of BC and the nation's literati from Candian publishing heads to top literary agents to festival organizers, to university chancellors and MFA writing programs, to our wonderful library system professionals — all avid readers and supporters of the literary arts.

      Here are the nominees **starting with my pick** for the winner... (—Book blurbs courtesy of the BCAF's Website.)

      Sunday, January 24, 2016

      Three Compelling Films To Help Save Our Planet (Feature Articles)

      Climate change was on scientists' radar much earlier than 2006 when the world got a compelling advocate in Al Gore whose book, film and speaking tour titled, An Inconvenient Truth shocked the world into awareness and action.

      It took another decade to reach unanimous consensus at the UN's Paris Climate Talks this past fall. (Read a synopsis in The Guardian to bone-up on how we got there.)

      I urge you to watch this award winning documentary about a movement called Mission Blue that is powerfully alerting the public to the dangerous plight of our oceans through the compelling work of an inspiring and tireless advocate, Dr. Silvia Searle.

      Dr. Searle's life has been dedicated to studying the oceans - she's probably spent more time underwater than above it. Like Gore, she is changing the way we think about the urgency required to stave off the growth of dead zones underwater and the decimation of fish stocks. She advocates for the creation of Hope Spots where fishing and industry are restricted to allow the ecosystem a desperate chance to recover and, with hope, flourish. These underwater parks - just like land-based National Parks – become places for study and the advancement of marine science, where the public can access to understand just what is at stake of being lost. As Dr Searle points out, from the surface the ocean looks

      Sunday, January 10, 2016

      Whistler Reads Director Search (Whistler Reads)

      Are you a person who loves books and interacting with people? Whistler Reads is looking for a new Director to lead groups and manage the program. This will involve picking titles, working up discussion points and questions, organizing meetings, leading groups and keeping up with content for our blog and social media platform.

      Whistler Reads is a community literacy program that has operated for over a decade. As the first public book group, Whistler Reads has brought innovation and creative ideas to stimulate dialogue and discussion around books in Whistler. We've profiled prize-winning authors and local talent. Our events have ranged from close readings to expert speakers and panel discussions, to political skits to book themed costume parties, to video productions and podcasts. We've partnered with numerous Whistler groups and organizations and festivals to serve this mountain community's related interests and broaden the scope with popular and provocative published titles: Whistler Museum, WORCA and Crankworks - Pecha Kucha, Cornucopia, WPL to name a few.

      A lot has changed in Whistler over the ensuing decade since our inception in 2005: a new public library facility (2007), the active writing community and growing success of the annual Writers Festival, the growth of the Whistler Arts Council and their grasp of the concept to make Whistler a "cultural tourism destination". Then there is last year's initiative to unite the corridor in coordinated literary events via "One Book One Corridor" (2015), and now a new group, The Dream Makers Literacy Committee (2016) whose goal is to incorporate other forms of learning encompassed in the general definition of literacy (numeracy, computer and digital literacy) for fuller cognitive competency in our community.

      Whistler Reads has always maintained that open discussion of books contributes to personal development as well as community development. People new to the community have a place to come and meet other locals. Visitors who attend events contribute their worldly perspective - and enjoy meeting Whistlerites as though in our own living room. As we come together as a community to read and discuss books, we grow in ways that benefit community connectedness, enrich our relationships, influence our families, and improve our workplaces. We hone our listening and communication skills, improve our vocabulary, foster inclusivism, tolerance, and understanding. Civic engagement improves -- we vote, we volunteer, we flourish. Studies have even shown reading helps us sleep better and stave off neural decline.

      For a list of all our previous events and books that encompass this social enterprise, click on the subject titles of our feature article list (in this column) to see a decade of programming.

      Submit your resume and a statement of why you think you'd make a great Whistler Reads Director to

      Sincerely, Paula Shackleton
      Whistler Reads Founder

      Friday, January 01, 2016

      Wine & Book Group Pick for Jan-Feb 2016 (Wine & Book Club)

      It's winter - let's revel in that. Who better to read this January and February than Sheila Watts-Cloutier, the Inuit writer whose book The Right to Be Cold: One Woman's Story of Protecting Her Culture, the Arctic and the Whole Planet is a manifesto on climate change and its effect on the indigenous peoples of Canada's north. Cloutier is a compelling speaker. I've listened to her in the media and on several radio programs. This book will change the way you view the plight of peoples of the North. Sheila is a member of the Inuit Circumpolar Council, the non-governmental body representing the interests of Inuit people living in four Arctic nations. This led to her becoming a powerful advocate for Inuit rights at United Nations climate-change negotiations that garnered her nomination for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.

      But the details of her upbringing and the stark contrast between the experience of living at home in the North compared with living at a lower latitude with a non-indigenous family during her formative years, highlights the importance of cultural identity and traditions.

      As Naomi Klein writes in the Mar 13th issue of The Globe and Mail:

      As the title of the book suggests, a major theme of The Right to Be Cold is how climate change poses an existential threat to cultures that are embedded in ice and snow. If the ice disappears, or if it behaves radically differently, then cultural knowledge that has been passed on from one generation to the next loses its meaning. Young people are deprived of the lived experience on the ice that they need to become knowledge carriers, while the animals around which so many cultural practices revolve disappear. As Watt-Cloutier has been arguing for well over a decade now, that means that the failure of the world to act to reduce its emissions to prevent that outcome constitutes a grave human-rights violation.

      While some may snicker and say more NK hyperbole, we all know that the arctic at both poles are the puffin/penguin in the tunnel, and haunting images of polar bears clinging to a slab of ice condemn us all. Awareness is the forerunner to action, and the time for rhetoric has passed. We each need to become part of the solution to solving our planet's climate change issues.

      Monday, December 14, 2015

      The Internet's Future: It's Good, Bad and Ugly (Technology Corner)

      I've been thinking about the ways in which information technology is enveloping our daily lives beyond our use of smart phones and laptops. The connectivity between individuals and information systems means that you are almost never "off-grid". As we go about our daily lives using our phones to make calls, access the web and use a myriad of apps there is a whack of information going in both directions. Things like your geo-location, your browsing habits, and the things you share on social media only scratch the surface. Multiple systems have created profiles of you. That's how your bank knows when to question a credit card purchase. Stores purchase your tracked shopping patterns to know which ad coupons to push to your smart phone when you enter their store. Wait, it gets worse. Digital advertising signs on streets, at bus stops, in stores, will change just for you based on your purchasing and browsing patterns [to the ironic instance of the photo at right]. Let's hope it's not like the annoying way ads are served to us presently on our laptops/phones such that after we visit a website those ads relentlessly "follow" us, appearing on every consecutive ad space in all the sites we browse for weeks and weeks forward, until we finally figure out we can click the "x" to block it.

      Think about how all the raw data being collected on people around you is simultaneously being correlated and applied to us. ie. Google Maps show commuter route traffic density using the GPS movement of other commuter's cell phones. Smart meters installed on our houses by utility companies are hour-by-hour measuring our energy consumption. Smart chips in our appliances are communicating with them too. They'll soon know when we wake up and put the coffee machine on and use the microwave, turn up the heat, put our laundry in, which will determine energy fees charged according to a sliding scale of use and demand. Want to lower your Fortis bill?

      Sunday, December 06, 2015

      Holiday Gift Book Picks (Feature Articles)

      Looking for books for loved ones on your holiday shopping list? There are plenty lists of "best books of 2015" courtesy of reviewers like the New York Times, London Review of Books, The Guardian, and the Globe and Mail—but who wants to browse ponderous lists of 100 to 200 books, the majority of which will miss the mark?

      Bookbuffet has culled a modest collection from our own past year of reading and also from a close peruse of the above. We've sprinkled in some gems from the arts, science and business sector. One of these is sure to please most everyone on your holiday gift list.

      Reading is a wonderful pastime over the holidays. It helps to bridge the passing year and introduce the next with new inspiration to make the world around us, a better place to live.

      Top of our list is a book of poetry. Yes—poetry! We are ambushed by words everyday in our texts, emails and web browsing, but not very many of us read poetry with any regularity and that is such a shame. Poetry makes us appreciate words and the meaning behind beautifully placed words that evoke powerful thoughts and feelings.
      The Selected Poems of Donald Hall by Donald Hall
      Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, is just $22
      The former U.S. Poet Laureate, now 87, is known for his unpretentious poems about nature; he selected his favorite work for this collection.

      Next to poetry comes philosophy. When I started a course in philosophy at Univeristy of Los Angeles, way back when, the professor began his lecture by saying, "In this course I shall endeavor to teach you how to think," period. (my addendum) Everyone needs to dip into a book with philisophical merrit and here's one that intrigues: The Meursault Investigation, By ­Kamel Daoud. Translated by John Cullen. (Other Press, paper, $14.95.) This rich and inventive Algerian novel imagines the ­story of the Arab murdered on the beach in Camus’s “The Stranger.”

      We particularly like these books from Fortune Magazine's Best Books as Picked by CEO's

      Wednesday, November 18, 2015

      Fall Season PBS Masterpiece:Indian Summers (WGBH Boston)

      Since 1971 the good folks at WGBH Boston have been producing award-winning series of programming for television. Their run-a-way success "Downton Abbey" took the world by storm and is now in its 6th season. Fall 2015 kicks off with a dramatic program series set in a subtropical paradise during the twilight era of the British Empire. Indian Summers explores the collision of the ruling class English with their Indian subjects, and the intricate game of power, politics, and passion that ensues. Julie Walters (Harry Potter, Oscar® nominee for Billy Elliot and Educating Rita) stars as Cynthia Coffin, the glamorous doyenne of an English social club, and is joined by Henry Lloyd-Hughes, Jemima West, Nikesh Patel, Roshan Seth, and Lillete Dubey.

      Told from both the English and Indian perspectives, the drama of Indian Summers unfolds as illicit agreements, romance, and revolution abound. Though the English socialites are having the time of their lives in Simla, the local Indians have started to call for national independence, a path which is quickly rendering the world’s greatest empire helpless. As pressure builds, the two sides alternately clash and merge in a passionate and dangerous game. Indian Summers airs in nine sweeping episodes, and premieres on Sunday, September 27, 2015 at 9/8c on MASTERPIECE on PBS.

      Man Booker Prize 2015 Winner Marlon James (Author Interviews)

      Jamaican born Marlon James was only 6 years old when his country's iconic singer, Bob Marley, faced an assassination attempt in his home by seven gunmen from the burrough of West Kingston, Jamaica. The fact that the author's mother and father were both police officers at the time leads you to understand Marlon's fascination with the details surrounding the case. His mother went on to become a prominent detective, his father became a lawyer, and Marlon James went on to become the winner of the 2015 Man Booker Prize on October 13th with wide audience approval for his 704 page, sprawling character-driven historical fiction. It's titled, A Brief History of Seven Killings (published by Riverhead Books). Listen to this interview with Miami Book Fair host Jeffrey Brown who asks James about his relationship to the story, how it ended up so long, his use of characters and distinct dialects, and the tie-in to the Cold War era involving the CIA as well as the intricacies of criminal justice and political system in Jamaica during the period.

      MBooker's describes "A Brief History" thus,

      "On 3 December 1976, just weeks before the general election and two days before Bob Marley was to play the Smile Jamaica concert to ease political tensions, seven men from West Kingston stormed his house with machine guns. Marley survived and went on to perform at the free concert. But the next day

      Wednesday, November 11, 2015

      Gloria Steinem at 81 Writes, My Life On the Road (Feature Articles)

      When I was coming of age the women's movement had already been in full swing for almost two decades. I was reading Germane Greer The Female Eunich and watching 2001: A Space Odysseyy. The pill was widely available and abortion could be safely obtained so there was relative control over one's reproductive freedom. Once you were married and pregnant however, the work/stay at home dilemma was still a mine field. I look at my daughter's generation today who feel that a good education and job are a given, and all the typical milestones of marriage and babies are being deferred a decade later than in my generation, or they're not sought after or expected at all. It's not a shock to simply remain single and devoted to a career, or announce you are LGBT.

      So to be told that Gloria Steinem, the icon for the women's movement, has just turned 81 sends a small lightening bolt through one's skin. And her interview on NPR radio with broadcast journalist Terry Gross of "Fresh Air" shows us how much more outward thinking within countries around the world, that women's issues, their rights and concerns have become. Gloria's list starts with domestic violence in North America against women being number one; the most dangerous place is in a woman's own home perpetrated by a man known to her. Then there is FGM (female genital mutilation) and female infanticide. Child brides risk of death from sex and childbirth under these extreme forms of patriarchy. And last, the widespread use of violence and rape against women in conflict zones. Women need to stand together around the globe, and that is just what Gloria Steinem has been doing.

      Steinem's latest book, My Life on the Road (published Oct 26th, 2015) and a New York Times Bestseller • "GS—writer, activist, organizer, and inspiring leader—now tells a story she has never told before, a candid account of her life as a traveler, a listener, and a catalyst for change."

      Monday, October 05, 2015

      Chelsea Green: Publishing Books On Sustainability (Publisher News)

      I've just discovered the most amazing publisher of books entirely devoted to diverse topics on sustainability. I want to order a dozen books immediately! Meet Chelsea Green Publishing. Founded in 1984 in Vermont, it has emerged as the go-to source for people with a serious interest in organic farming and gardening, permaculture, ecology, the environment, simple living, food, sustainable business and economics, green building, and more. They have over 350 titles in print and digital download. A scan of their new releases brings up an intriguing list of titles: The Biointegrated Farm, The Art of Leading Collectively, Make Mead like a Viking, The Book of Pears, The New Livestock Farmer, Beyond the War on Invasive Species, Trees for Gardens, Orchards and Permaculture, Start Your Own Wood, The Local Economy Solution, Will Bonsai's Essential Guide to Radical Self-Reliant Gardening, Thinking for Social Change, The Lean Farm, Two Percent Solutions for Understanding Roots, The PawPaw, The Essential Bernie Sanders and His Vision for America, and so on...

      I came upon Chelsea Greens's website when looking to book a local cheesemaker, David Asher for a cheese making workshop. His book The Art of Natural Cheesemaking/a> is published by this Vermont-based business despite David Asher being located on a small island in the gulf on the west coast of British Columbia. Saltspring, home of the delicious producer of Saltspring goat cheese, is just a short ferry ride from Vancouver. People say the salt sprayed forage browsed by local sheep populations make the meat particularly tastey - we love the soft mild cheese they produce at the creamery with varieties topped in wildflower petals, peppercorns or roasted garlic! What I like about his book and the Chelsea Green style of publishing is that they are totally in sync with today's modern thinking farmers, ecologists, hobbyists and policy makers.

      In 2012 Chelsea Green became employee owned with 78% of the staff owning the company's private stock. They also rely upon customers for marketing of products through social media and offer new subscribers discounts on books for posting reviews and links on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Google Plus networks. A great way to instantly reward customers and spread their philosophy of reaping benefits from our own educations on topics of sustainability.

      Sunday, October 04, 2015

      Chelsea Green: Your One-stop Publisher on Sustainability (Publisher News)

      I've just discovered the most amazing publisher of books entirely devoted to diverse topics on sustainability. I want to order a dozen books immediately! Meet Chelsea Green Publishing. Founded in 1984 in Vermont, it has emerged as the go-to source for people with a serious interest in organic farming and gardening, permaculture, ecology, the environment, simple living, food, sustainable business and economics, green building, and more. They have over 350 titles in print and digital download. A scan of their new releases brings up an intriguing list of titles:

      • The Biointegrated Farm,
      • The Art of Leading Collectively,
      • Make Mead like a Viking,
      • The Book of Pears,
      • The New Livestock Farmer,
      • Beyond the War on Invasive Species,
      • Trees for Gardens, Orchards and Permaculture,
      • Start Your Own Wood,
      • The Local Economy Solution,
      • Will Bonsai's Essential Guide to Radical Self-Reliant Gardening,
      • Thinking for Social Change,
      • The Lean Farm,
      • Two Percent Solutions for Understanding Roots,
      • The PawPaw,
      • The Essential Bernie Sanders and His Vision for America
      and so on...

      I came upon Chelsea Greens's website when looking to book a local cheesemaker, David Asher of The Blacksheep School of Cheesemaking for a cheese making workshop. His book The Art of Natural Cheesemaking is published by this Vermont-based business despite David Asher being located on a small island in the gulf on the west coast of British Columbia. Saltspring, home of the delicious producer of Saltspring goat cheese, is just a short ferry ride from Vancouver. People say the salt sprayed forage browsed by local sheep populations make the meat particularly tastey - we love the soft mild cheese they produce at the creamery with varieties topped in wildflower petals, peppercorns or roasted garlic! What I like about his book and the Chelsea Green style of publishing is that they are totally in sync with today's modern thinking farmers, ecologists, hobbyists and policy makers.

      Sunday, September 13, 2015

      The 2015 CBC Creative Nonfiction Prize (Feature Articles)

      The CBC is one of Canada's best cross-country resources for promoting Canadian talent. In 1979 they began to offer literary prizes in the categories of short fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction for, get this, as yet unpublished works. Past winners include Michael Ondaatje, Carol Shields, Michael Winters and Camilla Gibb. Here is the CBC Creative Nonfiction Prize longlist of authors (30 of them) competing for the 2015 as announced on August 31. The shortlist of 5 will be unveiled on September 14, (same link as above) and the winner will be announced on September 21, 2015.

      The winning author will receive $6,000, have their story published in enRoute magazine and they will attend a 10-day writing residency at The Banff Centre for the Arts. The 4 runners-up will receive $1,000 each from the Canada Council for the Arts.

      Out of the 30 on the longlist, here is our pick for the shortlist, and also who we predict will win:

      A Girl, Waiting, by Marusya Bociurkiw is an author, filmmaker and professor based in Toronto. She has written five books, including the novel The Children of Mary, and the award-winning Comfort Food for Breakups: The Memoir of a Hungry Girl, which was also shortlisted for the prestigious Lambda and Kobzar awards. She is associate professor of media theory at Ryerson University, and director of The Studio for Media Activism and Critical Thought. She has made ten films; the latest, This Is Gay Propaganda, is a documentary about LGBT people and the war in Ukraine. (Winner)

      Wednesday, August 12, 2015

      The Antarctic Book of Cooking and Cleaning (Book Reviews)

      Anyone who has ventured out of the city to spend time in the wilderness knows that it takes planning, talent and ingenuity to create an appealing meal and that some of our most vivid and satisfying food experiences are heightened during such travel. Now imagine that your voyage has taken you to the polar region of the planet and your makeshift kitchen must somehow sustain the palates of a consortium of hungry volunteer workers who have joined you from seven nations and four continents for the exclusive purpose of an environmental clean-up project. That is exactly the challenge and the feat accomplished as told in The Antarctic Book Of Cooking And Cleaning: A Polar Journey, the story of Carol Divine and Wendy Trusler's "journey through an austral summer" to a small island 120 miles off the Antarctic Peninsula.

      Part travel/work log, part cook book, and part homage to historic expeditions of the past, this volume will capture your heart and your stomach as you follow the team from concept to completion (and from strangers to an esprit de corps) in this collaborative effort to return the pristine environment of one of the world's last remaining wilderness destinations. The fact that it occurred 1995-96 marks this as a formative example of the positive trend toward eco-conscious travel.

      In the process we see the region's unique appeal through the principal photography of Sandy Nicholson whose images comprise: ice formations, polar landscapes, rich marine wildlife and members of the team engaged in various activities, along of course with Chef Wendy, centre stage, prepping satisfying ethnically diverse food, served in appealing rustic presentations that reflect the culinary tastes of the volunteer brigade from Russia, Canada, Chile, the Ukraine, People's Republic of China, Brazil and Uruguay. To paraphrase Carol and Wendy, "Food might not be the first thing you think of when embarking upon Polar travel - but it should be the second." Check out recipes...

      Tuesday, August 04, 2015

      The Antarctic Book of Cooking And Cleaning (Book Reviews)

      Anyone who has ventured far away from the city to spend time in the wilderness knows that it takes talent and ingenuity to create a meal and that some of our most vivid and satisfying food experiences are heightened during such travel. Now imagine that your voyage has taken you to the polar region of the planet and your makeshift kitchen must somehow sustain the palates of a consortium of hungry volunteer workers who have joined you from seven nations and four continents for the exclusive purpose of an environmental clean-up project. That is exactly the challenge and the feat accomplished as told in The Antarctic Book of Cooking and Cleaning, the story of Wendy Trusler and Carol Divine's "journey through [an] austral summer" to a small island 120 miles off the Antarctic Peninsula.

      Part travel log, part cook book and part homage to historic expeditions of the past, this volume will capture your heart and your stomach as you follow the team from concept to completion in a collaborative effort to return the pristine environment of one of the world's last remaining wilderness destinations. People have long held a fascination for the region and past colonial efforts to explore, claim and exploit the region have resulted in some of our most enduring

      Monday, July 27, 2015

      Take This Literary Quiz (Feature Articles)

      Who can resist a quiz? Bibliophiles will be keen to see how well you do answering this geographical literary quiz posted on Matador, a fantastic travel website. Book titles and author names are provided and the question is not what country the author derives from, rather it asks which country the book title's narrative is set. We've replicated the list with links to purchase each book in case you missed an answer and want to fill in your reading void:

      1. One Hundred Years Of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

    • a) Venezuala b) Columbia c) Equador d) Peru
    • 2.The Reader: A novel by Bernardt Schlink
    • a) France b) Poland c) Germany d) Austria
    • 3.Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
    • a) Iran b) Macedonia c) Belgium d) Greece
    • 4. Ulysses (Annotated: Revised and Expanded Edition) by James Joyce
    • a) England b) Greece c) Ireland d) Turkey
    • 5.The House of the Spirits by Isabelle Allende
    • a) Argentina b) Peru c) Chile d) Columbia
    • 6.Adventures of Tintin (Complete Slipcase) by Herge
    • a) France b) Belgium c) Luxemburg d) the Netherlands
    • 7. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
    • a) Camaroon b) The Democratic Republic of Congo c) Gabon d) South Africa
    • 8.Disgrace by J.M. Coetze
    • a) South Africa b) Lesotho c) United Kingdom d) The Netherlands
    • 9. Things Fall Apart by Chinoa Achebe
    • a) Uganda b) Nigeria c) Kenya d) Ghana
    • 10.Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
    • a) Mexico b) Cuba d) The United States d) Puerto Rico
    • 11.A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
    • a) Afghanistan b) Iraq c) Iran d) Pakistan
    • 12.Let the Right One In John Ajvide Lindqvist
    • a) Norway b) The Netherlands c) Sweden d) Denmark
    • Click title for answers.

      Sunday, July 12, 2015

      Chef's Table: Netflix Inspiring A Food Movement (Author Interviews)

      Each spring my husband and I relocate to our farm in the Southern Interior of British Columbia. While we've owned the property for two decades, we've not had the luxury of circumstance to be there until the last few years. Taking control has put us on a steep learning curve on multiple fronts. The best teacher of course is experience, and we have tried to pick off projects within the scope of our budget and energy, which of course necessitates learning by our mistakes. I don't feel we began to really take things seriously until we acquired chickens. A garden can be tilled, seeded and left for a few days or even a week with a timed water system. Ditto for a ploughed field depending on the planting and time of year. But animals require that you be there. And being present on a daily basis you learn their rhythms, their needs, their idiosyncrasies and personalities.

      Chickens were the catalyst to understanding the responsibility of our farm. My book shelves are lined with titles on topics of interest. The Guide to Self Sufficiency, Back to Basics, The Organic Grain Grower, Bee Keeping & Honey, The Oxford Companion To Beer. And of course many many cook books to deal with all the bounty from the vegetable garden. There is a series on Netflix right now that connects the dots from farmer and field to consumers and their tables. It is called Chef's Table. This is where you become inspired by cooking movements around the world started by chefs who embody a philosophy of eating that is most often traced back to their roots. If you watch this series I challenge you NOT to think about food and its connection to the health of the landscape from which it derived, combined with the skill, technique, history and cultural identity of every hand that touches product from field to table.

      Friday, July 03, 2015

      London Book Fair 2015 - It's A Wrap (Events)

      Each year much of the book world convenes in London for the annual London Book Fair. LBF is the global marketplace for rights negotiation and the sale and distribution of content. This year was the largest in its 42 year history with over 25,000 people in attendance from 114 countries. Who are they and what do they do? Visitors include anyone involved with the creation, distribution, sale or treatment of content: book sellers and book buyers, small to large publishers, acquisition editors, book designers, translators, authors, agents, talent scouts, editors and digital authorities.

      This year held no clear single news-maker, but two debut novels were rumoured to sell for seven-figure deals: Yaa Gyasi's Homegoing and DeSales Harrison's The Waters & the Wild. The first is an epic set in 18th century Ghana and the second is a literary thriller. It seems the most photographed personality was Austrian singer and drag-queen artist Conchita-Wurst, who gained celebrity after winning a Eurovision song contest and recently launched her book in Berlin. (Holding a copy)

      Independent and self-published topical sessions were extremely popular, seeing a rise from previous years. People are also interested in e-book distribution systems and traditional publishers are looking at ways out of the "no" culture they've created with prospects who are flogging to independent methods of pub and distribution. There's talk on how to adapt to market needs with services that aid prospective writers with better experiences on the road to some form of published product.

      Amazon remains the behemoth in the room with their self-publishing arm and subscription service. And last, library lending of e-books remains prickly with many authors complaining that the system lacks standardization and is difficult to find.

      Friday, May 01, 2015

      PEN World Voices AFRICA: May 4-11 NYC (Events)

      This year the festival — conceived after Sept. 11, 2001, to celebrate international literature — will include a special focus on the contemporary literary culture of Africa and its diaspora. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the Nigerian-born writer whose novel “Americanah” won the 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction, is organizing the African program with the festival’s director, Laszlo Jakab Orsos. Ms. Adichie will also deliver the festival’s prestigious closing-night lecture, named for Arthur Miller.

      Colm Toibin, who is serving as chairman of the festival for the first time this year — a position he took over from Salman Rushdie — said in an email interview that “there is a great deal happening culturally in Africa that we don’t know about. Africa is also a big place, and there are large differences between Kenya and Nigeria, Somalia and South Africa.”

      This year's Festival includes writers, artists, academics, and activists from Senegal, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Kenya, Congo-Brazzaville, South Africa, Cameroon, and more. These writers' work offers an entry point to discuss timely subjects, such as gender issues in Africa, and the role of the African diaspora, as well as important cultural phenomena including the publishing landscape and variations in important literary genres in different countries.

      Go to the website for program details and tickets.

      Tuesday, April 07, 2015

      Whistler Reads: PEDAL by Chelsea Rooney (Whistler Reads)

      Our next Whistler Reads event is Thursday April 30th at the Nita Lake Lodge (Library) 7pm-9pm. (Tickets $15 Message Paula if you are a non-profit) Come meet Vancouver's new literary prodigy, fresh out of UBC's MFA program with her debut novel. Chelsea Rooney is the author of Pedal(published Caitlin Press)and named Book of the Year by the Canadian Publishing community. Now a finalist for the Amazon First Novel Award co-presented by Canada's premiere literary magazine, The Walrus!

      Since its inception in 1974, The First Novel Award has launched the careers of some of Canada’s most beloved novelists, including: Michael Ondaatje, Joy Kogawa, Rohinton Mistry, Anne Michaels and Joseph Boyden." That means Whistlerites will have the opportunity to preview this talent before the announcement on May 21st. Come judge for yourselves.

      I met Chelsea at a book event in Vancouver and was immediately taken by her candour and poise. Of the three authors on offer that evening, she was the most compelling speaker. Her novel deals with a difficult subject matter; sexual attraction between adults and minors, but she manages to take out the demons offering her own first person experience, effectively transformed into fiction. Her book intelligently asks questions that challenge the status quo on victimization.

      We are reaching out to a few local Whistler non profit organizations with an offer to obtain copies of the book for your staff and network, and a few spaces for interested persons. Message me on our LIKE.

      Sunday, April 05, 2015

      The BC Book Award April 25th (Events)

      The finalists for the 34th annual BC Book Award were announced, and the gala takes place April 25th at Pinnacle Vancouver Harbour Front Hotel when the winners will be announced. Tickets are $120 ($110 for members).

      The BC Book Award was established in 1985, to celebrate the achievements of British Columbia writers and publishers. There are seven categories and we have chosen our favourite for each. See the website for full shortlist:

    • The Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize for the best original work of literary fiction.
      The Beautiful West & The Beloved of God by Michael Springate (published by Guernica Editions)
      The Beautiful West & The Beloved of God
      Elena and Mahfouz meet in Montreal in the spring of 2008. That summer, however, Mahfouz doesn’t return from a trip to Cairo, and his father is picked up and held indefinitely for unknown charges on undisclosed evidence. No longer in contact with each other, Elena and Mahfouz must separately come to terms with their historical situation, preparing for a future shaped by forces they struggle to understand. The Beautiful West & The Beloved of God maps currents of world history as they coursed through Montreal in the first decade of the 21st century.
    • Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize awarded to the best work of poetry. Supported by the B.C. Teachers’ Federation
    • Roderick Haig-Brown Regional Prize is awarded to the book which contributes the most to the enjoyment and understanding of the province of British Columbia. The book must be original and may deal with any aspect of the province (people, history, geography, oceanography, etc.). Supported by Marquis, Victoria Bindery, and First Choice Books
    • A Review of John Vaillant's First Novel: The Jaguar's Children (Book Reviews)

      Anyone who has read John Vaillant's books knows that he is a champion for causes. Be it a rare golden spruce on the West Coast of Vancouver Island in BC or an endangered Amur tiger in the Pri­morye region on Russia’s far eastern border.

      He is also a consummate storyteller who takes facts from his exhaustive research to construct plots with convincing detail and thriller-like tension. Was the missing Grant Hadwin an eco-terrorist who cut down the 500 year-old iconic tree? Was he murdered, drowned or hiding? Was the Amur tiger a man-killer, stalking for revenge? Would the search team tracking the wounded animal's blood in the snow reach the animal before it would have a chance to kill again? Gripping stuff—and this is nonfiction we're talking about!

      So when John announced he was working on his first novel, we all waited with baited breath. What will it be about? Where will it be set? Would he succeed in contriving characters and conflict evoked from his imagination as well as those in real life? Of course good story telling is based on something equally as powerful as facts. To make great fiction you must construct truth. For in fiction the reader is looking as hard for mistakes in the logic of your writing as the footnoted sources of your nonfiction. Throw on too much sentimentalism, too much bravado and like a failing movie your audience will not feel safe to suspend the disbelief that carries them to the fateful end.

      The Jaguar's Children: A novel is set deep in Mexico in Oaxaca and on the borderland between Mexico and California. Two boyhood friends, Hector and Ceasar have decided to flee their homeland; one for the promise of a better life, the other to bring promise back to the people left behind. They pay a coyote [slang for a person who smuggles Mexican nationals] to weld them inside the belly of an empty water truck along with a dozen other desperate illegal immigrants. The truck breaks an axle

      Wednesday, April 01, 2015

      PBS Masterpiece and Hilary Mantel (WGBH Boston)

      Mark your calendars! It's all things Wolf Hall (and Hilary Mantel) it seems, since the just-aired BBC series has received outstanding critical reviews saying "it's close to perfect television". That same series premieres in North America on PBS MASTERPIECE April 5th. For those of you lucky enough to be in New York, you can catch the Broadway play of "Wolf Hall", which launches a week later.

      MASTERPIECE on PBS will air a six-hour miniseries adapted from Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall and its sequel, Bring Up the Bodies. MASTERPIECE brings both works to life in Wolf Hall, airing on Sundays, April 5 to May 10, 2015 at the special time of 10 pm ET on PBS.

      Wolf Hall stars Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winner Damian Lewis (Homeland) and Tony Award-winner Mark Rylance (Twelfth Night) and shines a spotlight on Thomas Cromwell's involvement in King Henry VIII's marriage to and divorce from Anne Boleyn. See Viewers in USA can watch streaming online. Viewers in Canada will have to catch the series on TV at the scheduled times in their zone.

      Praise for Hilary Mantel's writing is not quiet or discreet. It shouts and drools.

      Sir Peter Stothard, Chairman of the Man Booker Prize '"Bring Up the Bodies" is simply exceptional...I envy anyone who hasn't yet read it'
      Philip Hensher, Independent on Sunday 'In another league. This ongoing story of Henry VIII's right-hand man is the finest piece of historical fiction I have ever read. A staggering achievement' Sarah Crompton, Sunday Telegraph

      Masterpiece has given BookBuffet copies of Wolf Hall for our members. Message me on our @bookbuffet Twitter feed. Here is the link to purchase. Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies

      Sunday, March 22, 2015

      Whistler Tackles Financial Literacy: Mar 28th (Feature Articles)

      Saturday, March 28th Whistler Reads "Community Series" begins with the hot button topic Financial Literacy. Come learn lessons from the trenches of three dynamic business women at this afternoon clinic taking place in the Whistler Public Library 12-2pm $25 pp (community room) includes take-aways.Tickets Here There is a wine reception you'll be welcome to join at the Nita Lake Lodge 5-7pm as well.

      Dragon Den winner Natasha Strim who along with her husband Norm founded Nonna Pia's Balsamic Reductions. The accolades just keep coming, named BC Business of the Year, and Product of the Year by the Canadian Consumer Industry, Natasha will describe how they've built the company and her experiences taking a brand from local to North America wide. (see Dragon's Den video below)

      Ashleigh McIvor-Demerit is Whistler's GOLD MEDAL Olympian in Ski Cross and she's transitioned her elite athlete status into a successful career in broadcasting, media and modelling! Not all athletes make that switch successfully. Find out what it takes to channel that athletic drive and commitment into the next stage of life. (see clips of Asheigh's commercial below)

      Friday, March 13, 2015

      The Secret Sharer: Movie Review of Debut Screening of Oscar-winning Filmaker's Latest (Book Reviews)

      I had the good fortune to meet Oscar-winning filmmaker, Peter Fudakowski (Tsotsi 2005 Best Foreign Language Film: producer credit) at a private screening of his latest movie The Secret Sharer (2014) in Whistler, BC. to which Fudakowski is both the writer and director. This is a film completely unlike his previous, but equally deserving of superlative accolades. Shot on a decaying freighter in the coastal waters off Thailand with actors speaking both English and Chinese language with subtitles it is quickly being picked up at Film Festivals around the world.

      The Secret Sharer is a story about a young ship's officer, (British actor, Jack Laskie) who is promoted to the rank of captain for the purpose of taking commission of a cargo freighter whose wayward crew has taken control, making it their floating possession. Orders are to return the vessel to its owner at a port in China. Upon arrival on aboard ship, the young Captain, who speaks perfect Chinese, is faced with complete indifference to his orders by the motley crew. And they are breaking all the rules: women, alcohol, laziness and potted plants everywhere.

      Just as

      Monday, March 09, 2015

      Whistler Reads Turns Ten: Come Celebrate (Whistler Reads)

      As Whistler Reads turns 10 we reflect on a decade of book events, authors and the evolution of a program for readers that has contributed to the cultural fabric and the history of this mountain community in fun and memorable ways. Enter the contest: What was your favourite book of the decade? We'll vote on your passionate defence - and make that a Whistler Reads pick! Help shape what everyone in Whistler is reading and talking about!

      Looking Back on a Decade of Shared Events Join Us!
      March 28th, 2015 5pm-7pm
      Nita Lake Lodge Library | $25 w your first glass of wine
      Tickets Here

      It was ten years ago this month that Whistler Reads launched its first book discussion. (PiqueNewsmagazine Announcement) Betty McWhinnie was our first member! The book was Rockbound by Frank Parker Day - a fascinating look at an unlikely title that won the Canada Reads selection for 2005. (Discussion outcome)

      Wednesday, February 25, 2015

      How NOT to Look Ugly on a Webcam Interview (Technology Corner)

      Coincidentally, I was just giving (4 of these) bits of advice to colleagues who I've asked to film a webcast for an event when this timely post came from web guru Guy Kawasaki. It's the most comprehensive, easty-to-follow guide as seen on his AllTop website. But I see the original infograph credit goes to Kate Rinsema of Mixology. In summary:

        Don't have any distracting light source behind you.
      1. DO have natural sunlight (as from a window) or other flattering light source in front of you bathing your face.
      2. Keep in mind what is in the background - is it working FOR you or AGAINST the vibe?
      3. Use ethernet cable, not WiFi - if connection fails, you've just lost your audience and possibly future opportunities
      4. Pick a quiet/comfortable place to record so your mind is not distracted
      5. Re-start your computer (even if it is a MAC) and close all extra windows & programs
      6. Take yourself off "network share" while recording, if you are using this (go to system preferences-network-share "off")
      7. Position yourself in the centre of the webcam screen. I always think you should also have laptop or camera at eye level or above shooting down instead of lower shooting unflatteringly UP.


      Monday, February 23, 2015

      Turkey and the Arab Spring: Leadership in the Middle East (Feature Articles)

      Last week I was fortunate to have an expert speaker address our standing-room-only audience on the topic of ISIS: Leadership in the Middle East. Weeks following the shocking Hebdo killings in Paris at the hands of radical islamists, our guests were united in the quest to come to terms with the brutality behind the movement that has emerged since the Arab Spring and the protracted civil war in Syria with Western contingents and Middle East countries confusing and shifting alliances. How does the world stop this radicalization, what are the forces behind it, is there hope for a solution?

      Graham Fuller is a former vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council at the CIA. He followed that career by serving as a senior political scientist at RAND - the California think tank for another decade, and he stands currently as adjunct professor of history at Simon Fraser University. Having lived in the Middle East (and other related world posts) for two decades his fluency in Arabic, Russian, Turkish and Chinese have together afforded Graham deep insight into...

      Sunday, January 18, 2015

      The Antigone Poems by Marie Slaight (Book Reviews)

      I hold in my hand a copy of The Antigone Poems (Altaire Publication 2014, poetry/art). As a book maker I value production quality. The choice of paper, ink, binding, type, layout, images; all of these decisions go into making both pulp editions or a trade art piece. The former is fast disappearing into digital fodder. But people with a regard for artifact have produced the latter with Antigone Poems.

      Antigone has a rich brown, generously-thick card stock cover with a French fold that is printed with a creamy silhouetted charcoal drawing by Terrance Tasker (1947-1992). A line from the poetry inside seems to describe the haunting image of the woman depicted at right: "No words, Only the gaping silent scream." The poetry is an homage to the Sophocles tragedy written before 441 BCE wherein the debate over ethical principles governing civil and family law by rule of God or man is argued. But an interesting part of the story behind the making of this slender volume lends additional perspective.

      Surprisingly, the source material—verse and drawings, were created in the 1970s while poet, Marie Slaight and artist, Terrance Tasker lived together in Montreal and Toronto. Reading Antigone, I begin to ponder their relationship. (The book is dedicated to TT.) Through this work I imagine them in their youth with a roiling ferver for life--artistic passion mixed with lust, obsession, anger, fear, questions—the stuff of life. Their hormonally gorged vessels pulsing with energy that fuels their respective ouevres.

      Had he lived, Terrance would have

      Wednesday, January 14, 2015

      Salon Series Kicks off with Graham Fuller (Whistler Reads)

      Here is the line up of events and speakers planned for the first half of 2015. Order your digital books online via our links to get a jump-start on reading. Hard or soft cover books will also be available at respective events.

      February sees the launch of our exclusive "2015 Salon Series" with talks by fascinating speakers on provocative topics that are hosted in select homes in Vancouver and Whistler. The first is with writer, political analyst and commentator Graham Fuller who is an expert on the Middle East having lived in the region for over two decades during his career as a top analyst for the CIA and later at the nonprofit global policy think thank - RAND Corporation. He speaks Arabic, Russian, Chinese and Turkish and has authored over a dozen books and writes for the World Huffington Post. His talk was originally titled, "ISIS: Leadership in the Middle East" but will now include timely perspectives on the week's tragic Paris killings at Charlie Hebdo. Space is limited - this is by invitation. Wine, tapas and his latest book, Turkey and the Arab Spring: Leadership in the Middle East. Please contact me if you are interested in the series. paula.shack at

      Tuesday, December 30, 2014

      Best Books Lists of 2014 (Feature Articles)

      Reflecting on the past year's published books, here is what some of the top review sites have to say. I have marked with an * those that appear on multiple lists.

      The New York Times Best 10 of 2014:

    • All The Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doer
    • Department of Speculation by Jenny Offill
    • *Euforia, by Lily King
    • Family Life, by Akhil Sharma
    • Redeployent, by Phil Klay
    • Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant, by Roz Chast
    • *On Immunity: An Inoculation, by Eula Biss
    • Penelope Fitzgerald: A Life, by Hermione Lee
    • The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, by Elizabeth Kolbert
    • *Thirteen Days in September: Carter, Begin, and Sadat at Camp David, by Lawrence Wright
    • The Guardian's Reader List of Top 10 for 2014

      Kirkus Review's Best Books of 2014

      Publisher's Weekly Best Books of 2014: Here you can read the full review and then purchase the book.

      Saturday, November 29, 2014

      Author Podcast: Cheryl Strayed's - WILD (Author Interviews)

      When Cheryl Strayed's mother contracts what initially seems like a cold, her condition rapidly devolves into a diagnose of cancer. In a soul-wrenchingly short seven weeks, her 45-year-young life is taken leaving Cheryl and her two siblings behind. Compelled by profound loss, Cheryl, just 22, sets out to hike the Pacific Crest Trail - all 1100 miles - solo. She has never hiked. She has never backpacked. From her home in Portland, OR she catches a plane to Los Angeles, hitches a ride to the desert town of Mohave and sets off on a journey that will transform her life, compel her to write a bestselling book titled Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail., which Reese Witherspoon options before before the book can make it to print, and hires English novelist, essayist, lyricist and screenwriter Nick Hornby to adapt into a feature film that stars Reese Witherspoon and is now murmured for Oscar nominations. [That is one sentence for a purpose: take a breath, you are only just reading it. Cheryl had to live it.] Suddenly Cheryl's life is vertiginous with success and purpose. Her emotional journey is set to become the public touchstone for transformation over grief.

      But wait, there is more.

      Wednesday, November 12, 2014

      David Cronenberg Reading CONSUMED (Author Interviews)

      Canadian film maker, screenwriter and actor, David Cronenberg has come out with his first novel, Consumed(published by Hamish Hamilton,CA). Here he reads for the audience at St. Francis College. His book is described as a radically poetic, necromantic, numinous, homicidally erotic novel. Horror novelist Stephen King says, "Consumed is an eye-opening dazzler. Not for the fainthearted, but for those of us who relish a trip into the shadowy depths, a must-read...[it] is as troubling, sinister, and as enthralling as his films."

      Cronenberg is fascinated by death and the psychological impulse toward grotesque bodily distortion mixing fear with arousal. In this story the difficult topic is cannibalism. The style of the book is compared to Kafka and Borge. The main characters are a charismatic couple, the wife and celebrity Célestine and her husband and philosopher, Aristide Arosteguy, (apparently intended as a riff on Sartre and de Beauvoir). It's set in Hungary, Toronto, Paris and North Korea. The Boston Globe writes,

      Saturday, November 01, 2014

      Whistler Reads Hosts Author Tilar Mazzeo (Whistler Reads)

      Whistler Reads next event is Saturday, Nov 22nd when we host NYT's bestselling author Tilar Mazzeo at the Fairmont Whistler Chateau to talk about her latest book, The Hotel On Place Vendome: Life, Death, and Betrayal at the Hôtel Ritz in Paris (HarperCollins) Reception 7pm Empress room with cash bar preceding the talk. "There will be champagne!"
      Get your tickets here

      The Fairmont Chateau is offering Whistler Reads guests special room rates by clicking here, or you can call the hotel direct at 1-800-606-8244 and give them Whistler Reads Program 1114WHIS

      Whistler Reads Founder and Director Paula Shackleton on "My First Visit to Paris".
      On my first visit to Paris we stayed at a hotel next to the Hôtel Ritz, just off the Place Vendome. While the Ritz was admittedly out of our budget, we were determined to wander around the lobby and stop for a drink in the famous Hemingway Bar. There we met a fascinating man living in Dubai, a former test pilot and military attache who also held advanced science degrees who had been given a mandate (and a half billion dollar budget) to seduce high-tec and bio-tec companies to the UAE. Great hotels and bars are like that - magnets for fascinating people, the crossroads to the world. This book is about one of the world's great hotels, set during this century's most defining moment in history, WWII, and it features a cast of real characters from this unique perspective.

      Whistlerites have a special relationship with hotels. As a resort town we...

      Tuesday, September 23, 2014

      Antifragile: The Things You Gain from Disorder (Feature Articles)

      Business Insider posted a great article on the realities of personal reputations as viewed through our digital foot print. From our LinkedIn profile to our Facebook page to our Instagram posts and our Tweets, all that information is readily available to the public and for the most part it's information we've shared for the purpose of getting our identity and thoughts out there.

      But what happens when information about you is circulated beyond your control? Something that attacks or slanders; is distasteful, un-accurate or perhaps downright mean? Celebs have to deal with leaked nude photos-real and fake. CEO's have to pay the consequences of a public outcry from off-hand comments, (Lulu Lemon founder's stepping down as CEO over a remark made about who should wear or not wear his spandex clothing line), all the way down to a bad review about your book posted on Amazon that negatively affects sales.

      Micheal Simmons writes an intriguing piece in Business Insider on the topic, and I've pulled one segment related to Nassim Taleb for highlight. Taleb is the bestselling NYT author of The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable a book that uses his statistician's brain to talk about outlier events - those "rare and unpredictable events" and how to seize an opportunity posed from a good outlier or negate the effect of bad a outlier.

      But it's his new book, Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder that we here reference. I think

      Monday, September 01, 2014

      Wine and Book Club: Sept - Oct (Wine & Book Club)

      Ken Follet's new novel, the third volume in his Century trilogy is titled, Edge of Eternity, which is a bit of a cheesy sounding title but with his reputation and success as a writer and screenwriter, who are we to complain?

      Though I have only read this last book in the series, it is a compelling stand-alone volume that does not require, but perhaps inspire, you to read the first two books in the series. Here is how KF's website describes the trilogy:

      Throughout the "Century" trilogy, Ken has followed the fortunes of five intertwined families – American, German, Russian, English, and Welsh – as they make their way through the twentieth century. Now in Edge of Eternity they come to one of the most tumultuous eras of all, the enormous social, political, and economic turmoil of the 1960s through the 1980s, from civil rights, assassinations, mass political movements and Vietnam to the Berlin Wall, the Cuban Missile Crisis, Presidential impeachment, revolution – and rock and roll.

      Growing up in the atomic era I can say that ETERNITY brought back vivid memories of my childhood and the fear we all lived under - which is something I have tried to explain to my children. The "duck and cover" bomb drills in school, the television interruptions posting the Indian head test pattern with a loud alarm tone and the announcer's words, "This is a test." etc. Every city and town block had a siren alarm box attached to the telephone poll. Living in the era of nuclear fear kept you awake at night, even as a child you had a pit of anxiety in your stomach and a sense of impending doom. The Kubric film "">Dr. Strangelove was an apt cautionary parody of geo-politics of the day. Now I can point my children who are each in varying degrees students of history, to this book as it captures the era pungently.

      That is the benefit of historical fiction, and why KF made the

      Friday, August 29, 2014

      Hyperlapse: New App from Vimeo (Technology Corner)

      If you enjoy time lapse videography and wish there was an easy technology to convert your home videos, then check out HYPERLAPSE, the new app from Vimeo. Hyperlapse allows you to collapse your own videos using a video stabilization algorithm called Cinema, which is already used on videos posted to Instagram. The effect is mesmerizing. For the geeks wanting to know how it works, the technology is explained here. To summarize, the program changes the frames per second (up to 12x faster) and the aspect ratio to speed things up and to counteract any camera shake. Previously this sort of time-lapse technique took oodles of planning and engineering. Now you have just one button to press and you're video is good to show! Check out these examples and get busy making your own time-lapse videography today. View tutorial below.

      Thursday, July 10, 2014

      PBS Masterpiece: 2014 Filmfestival (WGBH Boston)

      The PBS Online Film Festival gets underway June 16th to July 31st. Participate by heading to the iTunes App Store to download their App Once you've viewed a film, you can vote on your favourite on the PBS website. Viewers in Canada are blocked from online viewing - which is such a disappointment. Why can't PBS do something about this? People are not just moving away from cable network subscriptions - they are RACING to online streaming sites like Netflix. Time for a re-think PBS!

      Check out all our Masterpiece posts here, including our interview with creator Julian Fellowes and Masterpiece Diva Producer, Rebecca Eaton. Then join the BookBuffet Masterpiece Group for latest books associated with Masterpiece episodes and series.

      Monday, July 07, 2014

      Africa Writes 2014 (Events)

      Africa Writes 2014 is the the annual literature and book festival in association with The British Library now in its third year. It takes place Friday July 11th through Sunday July 13th at the British Library Conference Centre on 96 Euston Road, London. (Directions)

      Africa Writes brings together over 50 authors, poets, publishers, critics a selection of book launches, panel discussions, presentations and workshops with activities for adults as well as families with children. Most events are free, and a few are ticketed such as on Saturday 18:30-20:00 when Ama Ata Aidoo, Ghana’s leading author, poet, playwright, academic and former Minister of Education, will be joined for an in-depth conversation led by Wangui wa Goro, writer, critic and translator. I am also interested in seeing the The Caine Prize 2014 Conversation, also Saturday 15:00 – 17:00, FREE.

      Each year, the Caine Prize for African Writing maps new directions in contemporary African writing. Join the five authors short- listed for the 2014 Prize - Diane Awerbuck, Efemia Chela, Tendai Huchu, Billy Kahora and Okwiri Oduor - in conversation with Delia Jarrett-Macauley, award-winning writer and judge for the 2007 Caine Prize.

      Program Guide: click to down load.


      Friday, June 27, 2014

      Wine & Book Pick for July-Aug (Wine & Book Club)

      Summer is the time for light wines and heavy reads. It's when women put a chunk of ice and a sprig of mint in our tumblers of Pinot Gris, while men swirl great bowls of frosted Rose to go with their finely barbecued skirt steak. What books go best with these delights? While it's not a heavy read, it comes from a heavy-hitting writer. J.K. Rowling's new detective genre mystery, The Silkworm (A Cormoran Strike Novel) is getting rave reviews. It's under a pseudo name John Galbraith, and will satisfy your desire for a killer plot that's set in the publishing world involving a novelist Owen Quine, his wife Leonora Quine and an investigator named Strike who she hires to find said missing husband. Turns out of course he's been brutally murdered and everyone becomes a suspect: the editor, the agent, the publisher, jealous writer friends — you get the picture.

      For the wines we suggest La Vieille Ferme Cotes du Ventoux Rosé 2011, Rhone Valley, France
      Price: $14 | Score: 86/100
      UPC: 00631470000124

      Wine writer Anthony Gismondi writes, "You will love the pale salmon, copper colour, and its bright floral, strawberry jam, licorice, spicy fruity aromas. The attack is food friendly, dry and fresh with a slightly austere palate. Flavours are a mix of strawberry, cherry jam, licorice and toasted floral flavours. Always a fresh bet for summer with plenty of citrusy fruit. Try it with veal kebabs."

      For the Pinot Gris we suggest Okanagan Wine Fest winner Hester Creek Estate Winery's Pinot Blanc 2012.
      Price: $16.95 | Score: 80-90's/100 for estate wines UPC: UPC: 626990050032;

      The LCB lists this wine as, "Like icewine, this late harvest wine has a refreshing acidity that balances the tastes of peach, apple and honey with a hint of tangerine. It pairs well with any dessert featuring vanilla, cheese and a hint of sweetness." Perfect for summer sipping.

      Thursday, June 19, 2014

      The Royal Society's Winton Prize for Science Books - 2014 Long List (Feature Articles)

      There are some mighty interesting books on the Royal Society's longlist for Best Science book of 2014. Nonfiction readers with a bent for science topics will want to nab a few titles for summer reading pleasure and for great conversation over drinks on the patio with friends and colleagues. My top 3 choices out of the dozen books selected by the panel (from the 160 titles submitted this year) are as follows:

      • Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age by W. Bernard Carlson (Princeton University Press, 2013); Available as audio download / e-reader / hardcover.
        Publisher's synopsis Nikola Tesla was a major contributor to the electrical revolution that transformed daily life at the turn of the 20th century. His inventions, patents, and theoretical work formed the basis of modern AC electricity, and contributed to the development of radio and television. Like his competitor Thomas Edison, Tesla was one of America's first celebrity scientists, enjoying the company of New York high society and dazzling the likes of Mark Twain with his electrical demonstrations. An astute self-promoter and gifted showman, he cultivated a public image of the eccentric genius.. In this groundbreaking book, W. Bernard Carlson demystifies the legendary inventor, placing him

        Wednesday, June 18, 2014

        Excellent Video About Haruki Murakami (Author Interviews)

        This wonderful video arrived in my latest edition of Electric Literature. A creative project by Ilana Simons. Simons studies authors with with a holistic lens. Every aspect is included: their hobbies, life milestones, influences and works. Additionally, I have a soft spot for creative animation in storytelling. She is the author of A Life of One’s Own: A Guide to Better Living through the Work and Wisdom of Virginia Woolf (Penguin, 2007). She also curates Tin House Reels, a review of short animated films accompanied by the Vimeo clip, as well as reviews of books and poetry with lots fresh names.

        Sunday, June 08, 2014

        Nature Writing: Sightlines wins Orion Award (Feature Articles)

        Each summer I retreat from the city to our farm property where there are various projects on the go. A rather large farmhouse garden is always a source of much joy and physical effort: tilling the spring soil; testing for pH, nitrogen and phosphorus; adding amendments like alfalfa mulch and compost, spraying the fruit trees with lime sulphur oil, building the seed rows and laying out the drip hose and sprinkler irrigation.

        I bring our laying hens along and collect the boarding rooster from a friend who owns a nursery in a part of the city where zoning laws allows his early morning revelry. This year I took a two-day intensive course on beekeeping and purchased then assembled two hive kits that we populated with starter nukes. Nukes are boxes containing four hive frames, a mated queen bee, some workers, drones and laid comb with brood.

        We also embarked on a hops adventure in tangent with the thriving craft beer industry here in BC. I ordered several hundred hop rhizomes and potted them into 2- litre nursery pots in prelude to establishing a hops yard inside our hay field. Hops grow to over 20 feet and the structure to support them is quite an undertaking.

        That said, it is very gratifying to come inside after a day of outdoor physical labour and take a hot bath, change into some loose summer clothes and enjoy a tasty beverage in the twilight of the day. I keep a journal with observations like when the swallows arrive, what we're planting and how it is thriving or suffering, the weather patterns, when the birds fledge and the date the elk pass through on their fall migration.

        Of course reading is a favourite pastime

        Sunday, June 01, 2014

        Whistler Reads: Join the July 22nd Google Hangout! (Whistler Reads)

        We at Whistler Reads love technology and innovation. Since so many of the group spend different parts of the summer away with several of us packing up entirely… the best method I can think of for "getting together" is through Google Hangout. (I've detailed instructions on Google Hangout at the bottom - click full article to view them.)

        If you haven't done it before, it's easy to start. I've also posted a group notice on Meet Up to help spread the word about our online session. Just type "Whistler Reads" in the Meet Up search box and our event will appear. (Use Meet Up to find all sorts of interesting gatherings in the vicinity, by postal code, by radius or by topic of interest for locations worldwide, etc.)

        Our discussion takes place on July 22nd from 7-8 pm. DO check in and post a message about what you are reading this summer. We'll tally the recommendations and send the list in our next newsletter.

        With new Anti-SPAM legislation, we've all been bombarded with requests from existing subscription groups to remain opted-in. Ours is on its way. If you do not receive a request, we've likely got an outdated or incorrect email for you, in which case, take this time to re-connect. We only send out messages to announce the next book, the location and pertinent event details.

        In the meantime, enjoy your summer reading adventure! Paula Shackleton

        Friday, May 02, 2014

        May 3rd is World Press Freedom Day (Feature Articles)

        On World Press Freedom Day, May 3rd, we urge you to consider the plight of journalists, bloggers and whistle-blowers around the globe; to follow the chain of information and action inherent in your area; to uphold the standards of your media and your government. This includes ensuring free access to information and to the promotion and safeguard of systems in place to disseminate information: traditional press and media, the Internet and social media. The subtle actions by corporations or government to throttle bandwidth, charge unfair fees, restrict licenses and block access to entry of competition are also issues of importance, and any policies that interfere with public access. We need to add our voice to the protest in parts of the world where access, voice or rights are being compromised or are banned either politically or systemically.

        The United Nations declaration of Human Rights issued on December 10th, 1948 after WWII inscribed 30 articles. Article 19 deals with expression. It states:

        Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."

        Here is how countries stack up in 2914 at Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index (click on link to get to interactive map at RWB)

        This year PEN International draws attention to the press freedom in Ethiopia, Turkey, Honduras and Russia. Read more here. An informed society who takes action can uphold the rights of others.

        Wednesday, April 30, 2014

        PEN Canada Hosts Wade Davis & John Vaillant (Events)

        Elegist, advocate, or dispassionate observer? What role should writers play in a world of transient landscapes, and ever-changing languages and cultures? Anthropologist Wade Davis and author John Vaillant consider the ethics of storytelling, reportage and bearing witness in the twenty-first century. Moderated by poet and novelist Karen Connelly. If you live in or around Toronto and want to hear a stimulating discussion, look no further than PEN Canada's spring event "Still Points in a Changing World"

        I have had the good fortune to host John Vaillant twice in Whistler for Whistler Reads, and he is a compelling speaker whose book topics have led him into the wilds of Eastern Russia and the ancient forests of the Pacific Northwest. His GG award-winning non-fiction reads like a gripping novel; part eco-thriller, part psycho-social detective. That single earring and faded denim shirt make women swoon.

        As for Wade Davis, he is a consummate orator. His introductory speech for Margaret MacMillan at this year's Canadian NonFiction Awards was breathtaking. Margaret had a tough time getting out of her seat!

        Anyone attending this discussion will be on the edge of their seat.

        Wednesday, April 23, 2014

        Wes Anderson and Stefan Zweig on The Grand Budapest Hotel (Author Interviews)

        The world is divided into those who are fans of Wes Anderson films and those who are not. (Royal Tanenbaums, Moonrise Kingdom, The Life Aquatic, The Squid and the Whale) Fans looking for insight into the director/producer/Oscar-winning screenwriter's sources of inspiration and technique should check out this recent conversation between George Prochnik, author of The Impossible Exile and Wes that took place at the NY public library. The topic of discussion is European literary icon - Stephan Zweig's influence on Wes's film, The Grand Budapest Hotel based on two of his books: Beware of Pity and The Post-Office Girl.

        The Budapest Hotel is a richly cast feature film with Tom Wilkenson, Ralph Fiennes, Jude Law et al.

        Stephan Zweig (1981-1942) was a Jewish-Austrian author, playwright, journalist, biographer and pacifist who wrote prolifically and passionately about people and history. He moved from Vienna to escape Nazi persecution and then

        Saturday, March 08, 2014

        WHISTLER READS: Margaret MacMillan (again!) (Whistler Reads)

        Whistler Reads invites you to take a field trip together to Vancouver to hear renowned Canadian historian and prize-winning author, Professor Margaret MacMillan speak about her latest book The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914 on Friday March 28th at the Vancouver Public Library. We attempted to bring the author to Whistler this trip but her busy book tour was already full - so next best thing - we will go to her! Bus departs from Meadow Park Sports Centre (which is on the public transport route, or drive and park your car.) Please be ready to load the bus at 4:30pm. Bus returns following the event. We will determine which size bus (and final cost) based on your rsvp with non-refundable deposit. Click here to book your place!

        Margaret is one of the easiest persons to listen to. Her grasp of the personalities and the firmament of the time is breath-taking. You will come away from this talk with an informed perspective of events in history that have and continue to shape our lives and times. Not merely an academic, she is the great-granddaughter of British Prime Minister David Lloyd George. Her books have earned her national and international prizes including the Duff Cooper Prize, the Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction (the first woman to do so), the Hessell-Tiltman Prize for History, the Silver Medal for the Council on Foreign Relations Arthur Ross Book Award and the Governor-General’s prize for non-fiction in 2003. Whistler Reads members had an excellent discussion of this title in 2007 with the author participating by podcast. MacMillan is currently Warden of St. Antony College, Oxford University a post she holds subsequent to being the Provost at Trinity College University of Toronto. Here is a list of her previous books, and click on the link to view two excellent one hour interviews on C-Span.

        • Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World
        • Nixon and Mao: The Week That Changed the World was nominated in January 2007 for a Gelber Prize, awarded annually to the best book on international affairs published in English.
        • Here are two excellent interviews with Margaret MacMillan on C-Span.

          Friday, March 07, 2014

          Sprintz Text Streaming Technology: Read 500-100 WPM (Technology Corner)

          It's all over the news. There's a new way to read on mobile devices that is going to make all of us as fast as Evelyn Wood's reading dynamics always claimed possible. Think 500 to 1000 words per minute.

          "Spritz, the company behind the innovative text streaming technology built to reinvent the way people read, launched today at Mobile World Congress. Spritz's patent-pending technology enhances reading on mobile and wearable devices by streaming individual words using the "Optimal Recognition Point" (ORP) in a special display called the "Redicle." This method makes communication faster, easier and more effective by removing the inefficient eye movements associated with traditional reading. The first use of Spritz will be implemented in an email application for the Samsung Gear 2 and Galaxy S5 smartphone. With the growth of wearable devices, Spritz's patent-pending technology will enable Samsung device users to read emails comfortably and conveniently- one streaming word at a time." —PR Newswire

          Go to this link on Elite Daily try reading at 250, 350 and 500 words per minute. It works! Now maybe I'll finally get through the "virtual stack" on my bedside reading table. Yegad - Is this the app that kills books for good?

          Saturday, March 01, 2014

          Harbour Publishing Partners with D&M (Publisher News)

          Harbour Publishing announces its collaboration with Canada's respected industry giant Douglas & McIntyre. "Douglas & McIntyre, the original imprint of British Columbia’s long-time flagship book publisher, will live to see another day thanks to a new alliance with Harbour Publishing, another long-established British Columbian publisher. Harbour owners Howard and Mary White reached an agreement to purchase assets associated with the famous imprint from its former owner, D&M Publishers Inc. D&M Publishers Inc. published under two imprints, Douglas & McIntyre and Greystone Books. During reorganization the imprints have been separated and sold as individual entities. The Douglas & McIntyre imprint dates back to 1971 when the original publishing company was co-founded by Jim Douglas and Scott McIntyre. The Douglas & McIntyre list is made up of some 500 titles including the Giller-Prize-winning novel The Sentimentalists by Johanna Skribsrud; the Canadian NonFiction Prizewinner Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese and works by such eminent Canadian authors as Emily Carr, Bill Reid, Wayson Choy, Doris Shadbolt, Wade Davis, Bill Richardson, Douglas Coupland, Will Ferguson and others. The Whites plan to operate Douglas & McIntyre as a separate company with its own editorial direction, maintaining the press’s focus on First Nations, art, fiction and books directed at the national and international market. All Douglas & McIntyre titles will continue to be distributed by Harper Collins in Canada with no interruption of service.

          Friday, February 21, 2014

          BC's 10th Canadian Award for Nonfiction (Events)

          Attendance of the luncheon for the BC National Award for Nonfiction in Vancouver is one of the highlights of the year for a cross section of people. Publishers, educators, book store owners, book designers, literary agents, members of the arts community, and of course sophisticated book lovers all converge at a waterfront hotel in Vancouver to meet the shortlisted finalists for the prize. This is the 10th year of the prize, which awards $2500 to all shortlisted authors and $40,000 to the winner - the largest purse for an award in nonfiction in Canada.

          This year the individual speeches given in support of nominees were prize-worthy in themselves. Essays summarizing the merits of each book and its relative contribution to the canon of Canadian literature drew audience appreciation as well as emotional responses from the respective authors.

          Anthony Sheldon, Director of the UBC Museum of Anthropology introduced Carolyn Abraham and her book, "The Juggler’s Children: A Journey into Family, Legend and the Genes that Bind Us". Wade Davis, ethnographer named by National Geographic Society as an explorer for the Millennium introduced J.B. MacKinnon, "The Once and Future World: Nature As It Was, As It Is, As It Could Be". SFU's President Andrew Petter introduced Margaret MacMillan, "The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914" and the (un-usual) 5th author candidate was Graeme Smith who's book"The Dogs Are Eating Them Now: Our War in Afghanistan" was the last of the shortlisted authors.

          The winner was 2014's prestigious award is Thomas King for his exceptional book, "The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America" published by Double Day Canada, a 304 page-turner that is "wry and, at times, angry recounting of the relationship between first nations people and those who came after is remarkable work. Highly personal, yet remarkably well-researched and documented, he lays bare uncomfortable truths about history, politics and modern North American culture. Engaging, thought-provoking and entertaining, King’s iconoclastic and important book challenges us to think differently about both the past and the future."

          "Thomas King is of Cherokee, Greek, and German descent and is currently chair of American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota. His short stories have been widely published throughout the United States and Canada, and a film, based on his much acclaimed first novel Medicine River, has been made for television.&emdash; NACNF

          Friday, February 07, 2014

          Author Podcast: Wendy Lesser, (Author Interviews)

          "Author and essayist Wendy Lesser discusses her latest book Why I Read with poet Robert Pinsky. Their conversation explores the ways that literature and, especially, poetry touch readers and change their lives as Cambridge Forum continues its series My Life Touched by Art."

          Wikipedia has this to say about Wendy: (born 1952) is an American critic, novelist, and editor based in Berkeley, California.
          Lesser did her undergraduate work at Harvard College and her graduate work at University of California, Berkeley, with time in between at King's College, Cambridge. She is the founding editor of the arts journal The Threepenny Review, and author of ten books, including one novel, The Pagoda in the Garden (Other Press, 2005), and her latest nonfiction book, Why I Read (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2014).

          Wednesday, February 05, 2014

          The Craft Beer Trend:Make Some Beer! (Feature Articles)

          The Craft Beer Market has taken over in British Columbia, fast on the heels of other "beer regions" south of the border in Washington and Oregon. The current count as listed on the BC Beer website is 76 different breweries. Craft Beer Crawls to local Tap Houses is another popular weekend pastime, where you can taste flights of brews from local makers as well as the imported brands. Ten such purveyors have been rated by VanCityBuzz. Restaurants like The August Jack on 4th Avenue self-define as dedicated experts in beer cuisine. Menus feature sophisticated pairings with suggested beer accompaniments: try their Read Island Mussels with a Paprika Rosé Sauce garnished with Basil & Crème Fraiche. Suggested Pairing: Deschutes River Ale. Folks used to have to wait until October for the German-themed Octoberfest. Now there's a Vancouver festival of beer that takes place in the summer (when beer drinking is at its peak, not counting Canucks games or the Super Bowl). Check out VCBW, Vancouver Craft Beer Week and join in the celebration of our trendy beer culture.

          As a farm-owner with acreage in the Interior of BC, we've been

          Thursday, January 23, 2014

          Barry White: Blank on Blank (Author Interviews)

          Barry White is the man. His cashmere baritone voice and love lyrics were a staple of couples' album collections in the 70s. Bookbuffet has featured the interviews of PBS's Blank on Blank series before (David Foster Wallace) whose graphics we find a captivating way to listen to an interview. Enjoy this, and then dial in your Barry White playlist on your shuffle into work today.

          The Barry White Story
          All-Time Greatest Hits
          And for purists-the vinyl version! Can't Get Enough (Vinyl)

          Wednesday, January 22, 2014

          Whistler Reads Ski Race & FUNraiser (Whistler Reads)

          On Saturday, February 15th Whistler Reads will host an open FUNraiser ski-race and aprés social. The race takes place on the GMC Racecourse on Blackcomb Mountain 10-11:30am. Skiers of all levels are welcome - you don't need to have prior experience running gates. Just find a partner and register as a team to be assigned bibs and race times. We need to supply race names ASAP so register Register Here.

          There will be 3 prize categories:

        • Match Your Time: Closest Time between the 1st and 2nd heat
        • Fastest Individual, Fastest Team
        • Congeniality Award.
        • Prizes will be awarded at the Aprés Social 4-6pm held at the beautiful Nita Lake Lodge their address and mapquest directions are 2131 Lake Placid Road, Creekside in their cozy fireside lounge The Cure.

          Host Paula Shackleton says, "This will be a highlight of the Whistler literary calendar year. A time to blend our passion for gravity fuelled sport with our love of books (and book lovers), as the case may be!

        • Racer Ticket includes entry to the social + your first beer is on the house. $55pp.
        • Social Ticket encourages you to cheer slope side, and join in the aprés social $35pp.
        • Saturday, January 18, 2014

          Rebecca Eaton's New Book (WGBH Boston)

          After 25 years as the Executive Producer of PBS's world famous Masterpiece television show, Rebecca Eaton has finally come out with her own story entitled, Making Masterpiece: 25 Years Behind the Making of Masterpiece and Mystery on PBS (published by Viking). Masterpiece is the longest running prime-time television drama in American history. And we Angofile Canadians have been avid viewers. It started by adapting classic literature by authors like Austen, Dickens and Middlemarch, and crime mystery writers like Agatha Christie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Anthony Horowitz into multi-part episodes played weekly on PBS that has set the bar on quality of television production values.

          The foreword to the book is written by Kenneth Branagh. Inside are stories and pictures of Rebecca and her family along with many of the players of Masterpiece productions over the years; from hosts Alistair Cooke, Diana Rigg, Russell Baker and Alan Cumming to writers/screenwriters: Andrew Davies, Tony Hillerman, Julian Fellowes and actors Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Derek Jacobi, Helen Mirren, Benedict Cumberbatch to name but a few. It has the feel of thumbing through a family album, as we invited each of them into our living rooms every Sunday night gathering at the appointed time dutifully.

          Anyone who's a fan of the show is defacto a fan of Rebecca, as this book will attest. We learn about her

          Friday, January 03, 2014

          Making 2014 Productive (Feature Articles)

          If you're like me you've got a diverse range of interests, desires and obligations all battling for your attention. Add to that distracting factors that reduce productivity. January is a great time to look at ways to improve productivity and adopt new work-flow patterns that ensure you reach your goal, complete your tasks and have time for personal growth and loved ones. Here are the 3 things you may need to improve upon: staying focused, prioritizing, and keeping on schedule.

          FOCUS: Throw out multitasking. We all think we can do five things at once, but studies show we make mistakes, compromise the quality of our work or fail to complete things when multitasking. The technology explosion promised to keep us up-to-date on information, but many of us experience information overload and fight constant interruptions that vye for our attention. The result? Our ability to focus is impeded. The answer? Get back to basics. When you pick up a book - do nothing else! When you write - don't stop the flow to check emails or browse the web. When you're in a meeting - don't answer phone calls or respond to text messages (a dying courtesy!) When you take time to walk the proverbial dog - enjoy the break for what it is and resist the urge to Instagram. "Live in the moment," as the saying goes, and feel your powers of concentration and your ability to focus return. What's the side benefit? Relief. Awareness. Release from the compulsive need to be completely connected and caught-up and a return of focus :) In 2014 use one device at a time and do one task at a time.

          Wednesday, January 01, 2014

          Whistler Reads: Lynn Coady's 2013 Giller Prize Winner (Whistler Reads)

          The Canadian short story rules! So think people from coast to coast to coast after Lynn Coady's sublime collection of short stories in her book, Hellgoing: Stories (published by Anansai Press, 2013) won this year's Scotiabank Giller Prize. Whistler Reads members were here to cheer her on. The native Cape Bretonian who now lives in Edmonton Alberta obtained her MFA in writing from the University of British Columbia and her writing appears in magazines and newspapers across the country.

          The Giller committee writes of her work:

          “The eight stories in Lynn Coady’s Hellgoing offer a stupendous range of attitudes, narrative strategies, and human situations, each complete and intricate, creating a world the reader enters as totally as that of a novel, or a dream. Yet the book as a whole is also magically united by Coady’s vivid and iconoclastic language, which brims with keen and sympathetic wit. Whether from the perspective of a writer flailing in the social atmosphere of a professional conference, or a woman trying to extend forgiveness to a lover’s abusive father, Coady offers a worldview full of mournful humour, ready indignation, and vertiginous possibility; the reader feels in the presence of life itself.”

          And her own publisher says:

          "Equally adept at capturing the foibles and obsessions of men and of women, compassionate in her humour yet never missing an opportunity to make her characters squirm, fascinated as much by faithlessness as by faith, Lynn Coady is quite possibly the writer who best captures what it is to be human at this particular moment in our history."—RandomHouse.
          Get your book online here or via Armchair Books in Whistler, where members receive a 10% discount. We'll announce the venue for this discussion shortly. (A booking with the author is in the works.) In the meanwhile, here are some questions to keep in mind as you read:
          1. What do you think sets Coady's writing apart from the crowd? Bring an example of writing that grabs you in the gut to share with the group.
          2. Is there a common thread among the stories as in theme, mood, feeling? Like an album or CD of music, much thought goes into the order of stories. Consider how the editor chose these.
          3. How would you compare Lynn's writing to other Canadian short story specialists? WR discussed Alice Munro's Runaway Sept 2009, and there are many other Canadian short story specialists. Is there anything that speaks to "every Canadian" and the sense of a national identity?
          4. A writer's style has a lot to do with the mechanics; the cadence of their sentences in addition to subject, plot, setting. Is it short and punchy like Hemingway, or long paragraph-length unpunctuated sentences like Proust? What is Coady's distinguishing style?

            Tuesday, December 10, 2013

            Holiday Book Picks from the BookBuffet Staff (Feature Articles)

            No one is ever disappointed with a gift book over the holidays. Whether it's an art book you know they'll cherish, a biography of a fascinating person, a fiction title by the hot new writer or a topical piece in the genre of science, economics or finance. I happen to collect cookbooks. My mother-in-law is an armchair travelor. Books are both an expression of the giver's taste and the recipient's interests. Take a look through these and send gift-wrapped via Amazon (who knows, maybe it'll arrive by drone!)

            • National Geographic: Around the World in 125 Years<: A Taschen book is always exquisite. This is a must-have photography book. Three volumes of the best photos from the iconic travel magazine, and edited by Ruel Golden former editor of the British Journal of Photography and executive editor at Photo District News. He has edited on titles including both New York, and London, Portrait of a City, Her Majesty, and Harry Benson. The Beatles.
            • The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt: (Little, Brown $20) Quite possibly my favourite fiction title of this year. The story is about a boy who loses his mother in a terrorist bombing of New York's Metropolitan Art Gallery. In a state of shock he inexplicably walks out of the smoking building unseen with the titular painting by the master Dutch artist. The rest of the book follows him in a coming of age story to Las Vegas, New York, Amsterdam and back, hiding, losing and attempting to recover the coveted piece that is ironically stolen from him. The reader is taken on a journey of the underbelly of the stolen art trade and through an unrequited love story where the meaning of art and love and lust are uncovered.
            • Sunday, December 08, 2013

              Author Podcast: Sue Oakey-Baker (Author Interviews)

              BookBuffet caught up with Sue Oakey-Baker a Canadian writer, mountain guide and school teacher who lives in Whistler BC. Listen to the MP3 podcast on BookBuffet's Audio Channel (32:34min) in MP3 format where we discuss her first book, Finding Jim (published by Rocky Mountain Books, 2013), a memoir about her life with Jim Haberl, the first Canadian to summit K2. Attracted to his rugged charm, his warm heart and his passion for the outdoors Sue lived an exhilarating life evolving from friends, to lovers and then wedded. Together they traveled the world climbing, rafting and adventuring in places experienced by an intrepid few. When an avalanche claimed Jim's life in Alaska, Sue experienced loss, grief and disbelief at an extraordinary level. Writing became her therapy. Finding Jim is about her personal struggle out of her abyss and back into a life with renewed purpose. />This book will resonate with anyone with a love of adventure who knows the risks and rewards of pushing your personal limits. You'll want to share it with your significant other. This book is a warm blanket for anyone experiencing loss and searching for a lifeline back from the depths.

              In her reading Sue's voice is understated, strong and clear. She pauses to consider each question. Her natural outdoorsy looks and athleticism combined with a calm warmth that emits a pheromone of annealed strength. Our interview coversSue's perspectives on her life with Jim, and a phrase she uses frequently to describe her journey after his death: "searching to find her soul again". She also talks about the process of writing a memoir itself: what you include, what you leave out, how to order the details. Her accomplishments in the 7 years that it took to complete this book attest to her determination, and she modestly gives thanks to her steadfast support network from family, friends and the local writer network, the Vicious Circle. Sue's now into her 15th year guiding members of the Canadian Altzheimer's Society climb Mount Kilimanjaro—the highest peak in Africa. She graciously agreed to read a favourite excerpt of mine of her experience white water rafting Nepal's Karnali River.

              Monday, November 18, 2013

              The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (Book Reviews)

              Fans of Donna Tartt have been waiting for her new novel since they closed the pages of her last one. She's kept us waiting almost a decade. The Goldfinch (published by Little and Brown, 2013) does not disappoint, all 766 pages of it in the hard cover version that depending on the font size you select on your e-reader can grow to as many as 1200 pages! As the title suggests the central figure in the story is a bird. Well actually, a painting of a bird (which also happens to exist in RL - real life) and comes with its own intriguing back story.

              Painted by the Dutch master Carel Fabritius, it is one of only a few works left in the world, his others having been lost in a tragic explosion of the gunpowder factory situated next door to the painter's studio and home that also took his life. Fabritus is supposed to have been the forerunner of Rembrandt who helped his protoge acquire his masterful technique. The painting is introduced to the precocious 13-year-old New Yorker, Theo Decker by his mother on a visit to the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art on the fateful day of a terrorist act. A bomb goes off in the gift shop of the museum and Theo, who has separated from his mother, survives. Just prior to the blast Theo has become entranced with both the painting and an enigmatic girl accompanied by an elderly man. In the chaos and confusion of the blast, Theo connects with the dying man who passes him his signet ring for safe keeping - a talus that will connect Theo to the next important person coming into his life. As Theo stumbles his way out of the gallery in darkness, in chaos, choking through the dust in search of his mother and escape, he clutches the very painting off the wall that he's been admiring and instinctively saves, the priceless Goldfinch.

              The rest of the book takes the reader through Theo's life after the blast, as he

              Thursday, November 14, 2013

              Cornucopia:The Whistler Resort Wine Fest Does Lit (Events)

              The Cornucopia Festival in Whistler BC takes place each November during the formerly slow "shoulder season". That's the time of year when summer visitors have left locals daily watch the alpine fill with snow as the snow-line creeps down the ski runs toward the village. It's also when incredible deals can be had on food, as restauranteurs offer price-fix menus at discounted fairs, and everyone around awaits the food and wine festival so-named because of its proximity to Thanksgiving. This year they've ramped up to 11 full days of programming: so more wine tastings, more incredible winemaker dinners, cooking demonstrations and now they've added a fun new literary component. Wined Up on Books writes Pique Newsmagazine takes place Sunday November 17th at 7pm when ticket holders are matched up "speed dating style" with a panel of local authors to meet, chat about their writing craft, publishing experiences, check out their books and connect one on one over a few lovely glasses of wine. Participating this year is East Coast writer and long-listed Giller Prize nominee, Michael Winters, Minister Without Portfolio and current Whistler writer in residence Ania Szado, the best-selling author of Studio Saint-Ex who is also from Ontario, is taking part.

              Local participating authors include children's author Sara Leach, author and founder of The Point artist-run centre Stephen Vogler, science journalist and author Leslie Anthony, Sue Oakey Baker author of the recently released memoir Finding Jim, author of coffee-table book Mauritania Paula Shackleton and Harvey herself, whose novel Nicolai's Daughters came out last year.

              Tickets here

              Sunday, November 10, 2013

              Munro's Nobel Prize: What It Means to Canadians (Feature Articles)

              She's Canada's most famous recluse-writer. A revered 82 year-old Canadian who has been living and writing primarily about small town Ontario for over 45 years in her specialty genre, the short story, with 14 books to her credit. That's a new book every 3 to 4 years. She has won Canada's highest accolades for writing among her international awards: the Governor General award three times, the Scotia-Giller Prize twice, the Commonwealth Writers Prize, the Man Booker for lifetime achievement. The full list appears on her wiki listing. Brad Martin, the President and CEO of Penguin Random House Canada said,

              “It’s the crowning achievement. As a Canadian, we should all be proud of her. I think she’s the best short story writer in the world. This just confirms it.”

              What does this mean for Canada? Canadians have won 23 Nobel Prizes in the various categories since the titular Swedish award first began in 1901. The majority are held in the field of Chemistry followed by Physics and Medicine. In the mid to late nineties Canada saw a sweep of prizes in the field of Economics. As for the category of Literature, Alice Munro is technically the first all-Canadian to win, since Saul Bellow, who won in 1976, is listed as a dual citizen of Canada-USA having moved from Lachine Quebec to Chicago at age six.

              Saturday, November 02, 2013

              Holly Marie Armishaw: Photographer (Author Interviews)

              If you missed Holly Marie Armishaw's photo composite exhibit "The Guilded Life" at the Back Gallery Project in Vancouver last month you can catch up on this talented Canadian artist's work here. Captivated by the image left, I was intrigued to learn more about Armishaw, her oeuvre and her technique. If you admire the self-portrait work of Diane Arbus, you'll like this. Since there's a strong historical research and literary connection with a video of the artist (below) explaining her work to accompany the piece, this article fits our BookBuffet podcast interview segment. Of note, New Materials Art Fair (Miami Beach) has just announced Holly Marie Armishaw as the winner of the Solo Artist International Competition. So her work will be travelling Dec 6-7th to Miami where Art Basel-Miami takes place.

              Let's start with Holly's artistic statement. She makes a new one for each new project so that it will be pertinent to the work. French art critic Jean-Francois Lyotard writes in his essay, What is Post-Modernism? "It must be clear that it is our business not to supply reality, but to invent allusions to the conceivable, which cannot be presented.”

              The two defining aspects to this series are: a heavy use of photoshop to portray a "visual hypothesis" and the use of self-portrature to literally place herself within the realm of subject and tableau. Each one of the pieces in the show is a self portrait of Armishaw heavily photoshopped in a pose to retrospectively fit a previously photographed period gown, to which the figure is then placed into its scene—a previously photographed interior or exterior space of the Chateau Versailles, which she shot on location while composing this series. That is some amount of work! And Armishaw uses her interpretations of research to back

              Sunday, October 20, 2013

              Author Podcast: Sarah Seleky (Author Interviews)

              Bookbuffet caught up with short story writer Sarah Seleky on October 9th to talk about her career, her book This Cake is for the Party: Stories (published by Thomas Allen in May 2010), her writing practice, her online writing classes and her annual story intense workshop. We also delved into topics like taking a break from social media—that in-the-moment thought-thief, and the question facing writers today: "Is self-publishing an option?" Please join me for 00:24 delightful minutes with Sarah Seleky.

              Of note: this interview took place just before the Nobel committee's announcement of Alice Munro's win of the 2013 prize for literature.

              Sarah's website "This Cake" was a finalist for The Scotiabank Giller Prize, shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, longlisted for the Frank O'Connor Short Story Award and winner of the CBC Bookie Award. She also garnered "Best New Writer" of 2010 from the Globe 100, Best Canadian Fiction.

              Sunday, October 13, 2013

              Whistler Readers and Writers Festival 2013 (Events)

              This is the 12th year of the Whistler Readers and Writers Festival which takes place Oct 18-20th in various venues across the village, but mostly hosted at the Whistler Fairmont Chateau. The line-up of author readings, writing courses and events should find most venues selling out. Organizer Stella Harvey leads the local writers group, Vicious Circle, whose numbers have grown as people gravitate to the nurturing environment of support/critique groups who band together to help plan— the festival, adding a unique flare to the festival circuit with a distinct writerly approach to their programming. You can take a class in memoir writing or crime writing, attend the opening night at Millennium Place with guest authors lined up in conversation followed by live jazz, wine and mingling, or my favourite, meet CBC host Jian Ghomeshi interview Giller Prize author Will Ferguson about his stunning novel 419. There's always a breakfast clinic offered on the Sunday, and this year Jian will be doing double duty hosting a discussion with Lisa Moore, Sue-Oakey Baker, Jane Silcott, Richard Wagamese, Genni Gunn and Meg Tilley, along with brunch on Sunday at 11 a.m. The Whistler Museum closes things down on Sunday with their 2nd annual "debate" of a timely topic. This year the debate is "Self-publishin or Perish" The debate team includes popular author and journalist Leslie Anthonly, Signature publisher Karen Haughten, yours truly Paula Shackleton and Janel Love Morrison.

              Monday, September 23, 2013

              TOUCH where Community and Inspiration Meet (Events)

              TOUCH: definition 1. the act of connecting physically and emotionally 2. the interface used on computers, mobile devices, iPads and modern technology 3. the name of the Vancouver Public Library Foundation's first fundraiser event in over a decade taking place October 4th in the Atrium space of the Central library, 350 West Georgia, Vancouver.

              TOUCH "where inspiration and community meet" is the tagline for the event is designed to raise awareness and funds for the VPL's new technology-rich space called, The Inspiration Lab. Slated to open on the 3rd floor of the central library in 2014 the foundation hopes to raise $500,000 by attracting a new generation of library advocates - through both our Downtown and Yaletown corporate neighbours, and through local residents who we call "the young Digerati" of Vancouver. These are people who already live, eat and breath technology, work in technology rich sectors, who share a commitment to life-long learning and the desire to help our community become the technology leaders and stakeholders of tomorrow.

              For more information check out the VPLFoundation website with pages on Committee | Creative | Sponsors | Tickets. Doors open at 8pm for a VIP reception where people can mingle with our installation artists, meet the City Librarian, Sandra Singh. BC Minister of Technology, Honourable Andrew Wilkinson will be attending. There are 5 noted Vancouverites who have have agreed to participate in a mentor program - check out details on our Silent Auction Catalogue. We've gathered loads of items for the tech-minded person and fun get-a-ways and dining experiences.

              Sunday, September 22, 2013

              Katie Hafner, Mother Daughter Me (Author Interviews)

              BookBuffet interviewer Paula Stoeke was pleased to catch up with noted author and journalist, Katie Hafner on her latest book Mother Daughter Me: A Memoir (published by Random House), which has been sweeping the "Best" lists of all the major literary review sources: declared an Oprah "Book of the week" pick; New York Times quotes, "Best Memoir I've read this year"; "Required Reading" from Bibliophile, "Best Books of July" itunes book list. Jane Smiley at Harpers Magazine says,

              "Mother Daughter Me" delivers an unusually graceful story, one that balances honesty and tact... Hafner narrates events so adeptly that they feel enlightening rather than enervating.
              Mother Daughter Me is a memoir set in California about inter-generaltional living. Katie invites her 77-year old mother, Helen to come and live with she and her teenage daughter Zoë in their architectural jewel of a house on stately on Sacramento Street, in Lower Pacific Heights. When years of sublimated memories of the turbulent years spent with her dysfunctional, borderline alcoholic mother threaten to disrupt their collective good intentions of co-habitational living, Hafner resorts to her tried-and-true emotional and creative outlet—writing —to vent her feelings and frustrations.

              Discovering the writing to be too powerful to leave in her personal diary, her editor agrees that Mother Daughter and Me is a poignant and timely story capturing a not uncommon phenomenon these days, and the rest is history.

              Listen to the MP3 podcast on BookBuffet's Audio Channel (24:34min) in MP3 format.

              Katie Hafner writes books about technology, healthcare and society. They appear in The New York Times, Newsweek, Business Week, Esquire, The New Republic and The New Yorker Magazine. Her book list:

            • Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins Of The Internet, with John Markoff (Simon & Schuster, 1991)
            • The House at the Bridge: A Story of Modern Germany, (Scribner, 1995)
            • Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins Of The Internet, with Matthew Lyon (Simon & Schuster, 1996)
            • Well: A Story Of Love, Death And Real Life In The Seminal Online Community (Carroll & Graf Publishers, 2001) [
            • A Romance on Three Legs: Glenn Gould's Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Piano (Bloomsbury USA, 2008)
            • Mother Daughter Me (Random House, 2013)
            • Saturday, September 14, 2013

     (Technology Corner)

              After I bought my new Canon EOS 5D Mark II I was at a loss for how to operate it beyond the automatic controls. I wanted to use the manual functions and I wanted to know how to achieve certain effects. I turned to You Tube with the search terms "Photography, Canon 5D Mark II" and was introduced to and what would become hours of online tutorials in exactly the content information I needed. In addition to that I discovered a world of creative how-to's that compelled me to subscribe. Now part of my weekly early morning ritual after yoga, the dog walk and breakfast, is a delicious hour of self-determined online tutorials. Want to learn how to use Excel better? Master Photoshop and other Adobe Creative Suite products like InDesign? What about some tricks on your film editing program or tips on accounting products? It's all available from Now meet Lynda...

              Tuesday, September 10, 2013

              Rivington Was Ours, by Brendan Jay Sullivan (Feature Articles)

              "Brendan Jay Sullivan was an up-and-coming New York City DJ when he met Stefani Germanotta, then a struggling artist, in 2006. She was a go-go dancer who sewed her own outfits but had bigger ambitions—she wanted nothing less than to take over the music world. In this intimate portrait of the budding star who would soon catapult to fame and fortune, the author describes afternoons sitting with Gaga on the floor of her bare Lower East Side apartment, drinking wine from pint glasses and plotting out the pop stardom that awaited her."

              Reminiscent of the artistic primordial goo before them (Patty Smith, Factory Girl, Madonna's early New York stories) witness this generation's creative musical talent emerge. Rivington Was Ours: Lady Gaga, the Lower East Side, and the Prime of Our Lives (Harper Collins 2013) is the memoir of the moment. A fascinating look into the life and friendship of Gwen Stefani and Brendan Jay Sullivan. “We’d go out every night, eight nights a week, if we could. She would match me for drinks toe-to-toe,” said Sullivan. "People loved her as a dancer. When she was up dancing on stage [people] were like, 'Who's that?'"

              But my take on this story is something Brendan is doing quietly reflective of his humanitarian side. You can find the provocative GoGo dancer images elsewhere. Take a look at this video Brendan produced about a friend he made on the streets of New York when he and she were two people trying to get a leg up in the world. This video shows you BJS at the heart. (click to view)

              Thursday, August 15, 2013

              Whistler Reads: 419 by Will Ferguson (Whistler Reads)

              Our next Whistler Reads book discussion will be held on October 19th, 8pm at the Fairmont Chateau Hotel, Whistler with Giller Prize winning author of 2012, Will Ferguson whose book 419: A Novel, (Random House 2012) "...a provocative tale of an email scam and a woman who sets out on a wide-ranging search for those she believes responsible for her father's death." It is a continuation of Will's first novel Spanish Fly which was a historical fiction about con artists in the 1930s. Ferguson lives in Calgary and he's a three-time winner of the Stephen Leacock Medal (for humour). This will prove to be a delightful discussion as part of the Whistler Readers and Writers Festival Oct 18-21st, because CBC's own award winning broadcaster, Jian Ghomeshi will be leading the discussion, essentially - two celebrities for the price of one! Tickets just $25. Whistler Reads members are encouraged to read the book in advance, attend in hoards and enjoy this special night at what promises to be the best Whistler Readers and Writers Festival event yet. Don't miss this star-studded literary-packed festival. Congrats Stella and Vicious Circle. Stay tuned for more information here at the festival website where you can purchase tickets and plan your weekend. Whistler is at its glory in the mantle of fall foliage. Come savour these last moments of the season before another ski and snowboard season kicks-in (annually) on American Thanksgiving. See you there!—Paula Shackleton

              Friday, August 02, 2013

              Grow: Vancouver Aug 14-16 2013 (Events)

              Don't miss Grow: The Intersection of Design and Entrepreneurial Thinking which takes place August 14-16, Vancouver, BC. GROW is a curated environment that brings together technology pioneers, founders, executives, influencers and investors who are passionate about identifying problems worth solving. If you are interested in the future of innovation, growth and entrepreneurship - GROW is for you. Here is some of the exciting line-up of events, participants and speakers: Opening Remarks by Danny Robinson of PERCH. 8:30-9:30 Aug 14th. Then Daniel Burka and Jake Knapp give a talk titled, "Quit wasting time on ideas that suck". Nir Eyal ov leads a session on "How to build habit forming technologies". Don't miss it!

              Monday, July 15, 2013

              What A Plant Knows (Feature Articles)

              Each summer my reading interests turn to books encapsulating aspects of nature since I pack up my urban life and relocate to our farm in the boonies for the months of May through September. I've got three books on my just read list that might interest you. Ever wonder about the sentient capacity of plants? Plunked down in the middle of a few hundred acres of field growing a mix of alfalfa and dry land grasses, with the added close observational experience of tending a farmhouse garden, I think a lot about plants in the summer. (In the city my plant experience consists of a few low-maintenance orchid houseplants and an overgrown shade garden that fails to stimulate my juices.) But when you till the soil, handle clods of dirt in your hands, sew from seed, watch the primary aplets form and the tendrils of peas twine around poles; essentially doing all the things necessary to coax life in plants "from scratch" - you tend to get rather contemplative and philosophic about the relationship, indeed, the biology we share with plants. You begin asking questions like: "How do plants know up from down; when to open their flowers and close them at night and in the day with coming rain; who is touching their stamens and pistols in a friendly way, or burrowing into their stem and munching on their leaves that triggers an exudation of pheromones to warn a sister plant down the row to produce its own repellant toxin?"

              More than just fodder for food, plants seem to behave as though they're aware of more than we give them credit for. No surprise that great minds

              Monday, July 01, 2013

              Penguin and Random House Merger Completed (Publisher News)

              M&A's are common in the business world, and the publishing world is no exception. The traditional "big six" has just been slashed to five with the merger of Penguin (Pearl) and Random House (Bertalsman). What does it all mean? John Makinson is chairman of Penguin Random House and Markus Dohle, serving as CEO says,

              "As outlined by its parent companies, PRH will have over 10,000 employees worldwide and publish more than 15,000 new titles every year across 250 imprints. It is estimated that the new trade publishing powerhouse will have annual revenue of $3.9 billion."

              One can't help but think this is a move to better compete with Amazon and the nexus between online sales, online publishing and self-publishing trends in sales and marketing. Advocates from either corporate side had two tongue-in-cheek ideas for the merger's new corporate name depending on their stripe: Random Penguin or Penguin House. Let's see how things look when the dust settles.

              Tuesday, June 18, 2013

              Author Interview: David Foster Wallace (cartoon) (Author Interviews)

              "If your fidelity to perfectionism is too high, you never do anything." - David Foster Wallace

              If you want to be totally cool, subscribe to BLANK ON BLANK's YouTube video channel. It's the handiwork of PBS Digital Studios and this particular video takes an interview with the late, David Foster Wallace talking about ambition in the backdrop of his own tennis career. Apparently DFW was a seriously ranked tennis player before college. He decided that despite his high ranking he would not be able to go Pro, based on a combination of his level of talent and the "monk-like" commitment to practice hours required. The illustration compliments the conversation brilliantly. Overall a creative and intriguing viewer/listener experience.

              View more of the series and then hit subscribe. DFW's article on the brilliance of Roger Federer as a tennis player posted by the NYT's is here.

              Friday, May 24, 2013

              Alcuin Society AGM Scott McIntyre Speaks (Feature Articles)

              The Alcuin Society is Canada's book design award granting body. The volunteer nonprofit has 321 members who share an interest in the art of printing, book design and publishing. The annual design competition takes place in the spring. They received 236 books this year in various categories from 9 provinces and 112 publishers. Winners are displayed at the AGM as well as 22 more venues across the country.

              This Year's AGM was held May 22nd at the UBC Golf Club featured Canada's formative publisher Scott McIntyre as keynote speaker. Scott is a raconteur and savant from the publishing industry and one of the most interesting personalities because of his direct and honest nature. In a talk titled, "Learning to Type" he described his "seductution into the world of paper and type" commencing with his induction as the yearbook editor at his highschool, Lord Bing Secondary followed by the same post at UBC's yearbook team. Upon graduating from UBC he moved to Toronto to start work at McLeland & Stewart. "It was like being in the eye of a huricaine - it might seem calm - but all around you is chaos". Those were the days when

              Saturday, May 18, 2013

              Leadership & Emotional Intelligence (Feature Articles)

              Are leaders born or can they be nurtured? When I think of the qualities that signify leadership I look at a person's principles, charisma, problem solving capabilities, perceptiveness, decisiveness and their determination to complete tasks or solve problems when others falter. That requires taking responsibility and speaking your mind irregardless of whether your opinion is going to be "popular". Sometimes leaders are born when they do a particular "good" - like the little girl who stands up against bullying in her school and goes on to create an intra-school movement of awareness and action. It's recognizing a need and stepping-up. Next you need to be a good communicator or at least one in which your passion shines through so that people with the necessary skills and energy to help you fullfil the goal decide to come on board. Some say being a good delegator is key to not burning out. Creative or innovative thinking is a great quality, and intelligence comes in all forms.

              Some say that "social intelligence" or "emotional intelligence" is the best quality of all. That latter term was first coined in the late 60s and became the title of a book by Daniel Goleman in 1995. A decade later Emotional Intelligence: 10th Anniversary Edition; Why It Can Matter More Than IQ has been released. And it's worth taking a look at the book that popularly coined the phrase and has become a standard marker of leadership today.

              Sunday, May 12, 2013

              The Empty Glass by J.I. Baker (Book Reviews)

              "In the early morning hours of August 5th, 1962 Los Angeles County deputy coroner, Ben Fitzgerald arrives at the home of the world's most famous movie star, now lying dead in her bedroom. There he discovers The Book of Secrets—Marilyn Monroe's diary—revealing a doomed love affair with a man she refers to only as "the General". In the following days, Ben unravels a cover-up that implicates the Kennedy's, the Mafia and the CIA. Soon the sinister and surreal accounts in the Book bleed into Ben's own life, and he finds himself trapped - like Monroe - in a deepening paranoid conspiracy.

              A knockout combination of fact and legend, The Empty Glass is a rivetting debut thriller."

              James Ireland Baker is the executive editor of Condé Nast Traveler. Before that, he was development editor at Time Inc. He has also worked at Real Simple, Glamour, and Us, and is a founding editor of Time Out New York. The Empty Glass is his first novel. Baker lives in Westchester County, New York. This book is published by Penguin, USA

              It's not often you re-read the back cover blurb on a paperback novel after you've completed reading the book itself and realize that it captures the essence perfectly. It's not often that the book's cover art, a photo of Marilyn Monroe with red lipstick letters scrawled across that famous-tragic face, commands you to pick up the book and continue reading it every time you pass the table on which it sits in your house. It's not often that the combination of fact and fiction blend so seamlessly that you are compelled to search the Internet to establish the facts so you can confirm the depth of the vortex you are being sucked into by some pretty darn captivating noir fiction writing.

              I used to live in Los Angeles where occasionally a movie theatre located on Wilshire Boulevard at the edge of Santa Monica and Westwood

              Sunday, May 05, 2013

              Dignity: Celebrating the Sprit of Entrepreneurship (Events)

              I sit across the bistro table talking with Raseel Sehmi, the Vancouver Chapter Chair of ACUMEN. Acumen is a nonprofit organization founded by Jaqueline Novogratz in order to change the way the world thinks and deals with poverty. Acumen claims to have impacted 100 million lives "with dignity, not dependence." Raseel is telling me about her Vancouver Chapter's activities and the upcoming fundraiser in Vancouver on May 15th, 7-11pm at the trendy Electric Owl, 928 Main Street called Dignity.

              The afternoon sun streams brightly through the window effectively blinding Raseel whose iridescent eyeshadow is not the only dazzling feature of this confident and composed international-based beauty. We shift the positions of our chairs so she can more easily answer my questions about how she got to be one of Vancouver's hardest working disciples of social awareness using entrepreneurial initiative.

              "It's not enough to work at our 9-5 jobs," says Raseel. "Young people like myself who've been educated abroad and who've traveled the world are incredibly aware that their lives need to incorporate a greater purpose in order to find fulfillment. We probably spend as much time working for not-for-profit initiatives and various causes in our free time, as we spend at our full time jobs."

              This is in keeping with my reading on Gen Y or the Millennials, as this age group is referred. A joint study by AMP Agency & COS about this demographic (born 1979-2001) had this to say:

              The Millennial Generation is by far the most analyzed, most marketed to and most intriguing generation to date. It is a generation that is comprised of individuals who are extremely ambitious and not only have high expectations for themselves, but also for those around them including their friends, families, communities and brands. It is also a generation that has been shaped by tragic world events such as 9/11 and natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina. The result is a group that has developed a strong social conscience amplified by technology.

              When I ask Raseel how she came to live in Vancouver when her Facebook and LinkedIn profile mentions Ethiopia, Nigeria, Uganda, India, Myanmar and London England, she answers that her parents were diplomats and she moved with her family regularly to postings around the globe. Her parents presently live in Mumbai Maharashtra, India. She came here after completing her graduate studies at SOAS (The School of Oriental and African Studies, London University). [Disclosure: Raseel and my daughter were classmates at SOAS] She currently works at Vancouver's hot social media company,

              Sunday, April 28, 2013

              Acumen's Vancouver Chapter Hosts Dignity (Events)

              I had mint tea with Acumen's Vancouver Chapter Director, Raseel Sehmi this past week. Raseel is one of those people who make you feel that the world is going to be OK. She's the daughter of a consulate so has lived the world over: Ethiopia, Nigeria, Uganda, India, Myanmar, England, and Canada. She's educated at one of my favorite universities - SOAS in London (School of Oriental and African Studies). She's globally conscious and socially impecable. With my back to the window and the sun's late afternoon rays blazing into the room, Raseel's subtle iridescent eye makeup is reflecting like an exotic lepidoptera. Her conversation flips from her day job at Hootsuite to her all-consuming non-profit work at Acumen. She's excited to be working on an event called _____________. Viewing the Acumen website videos is like a shot of B12 for your global ___________.

              Friday, April 26, 2013

              Come to Steinbeck Country: Jun 15-18 (Feature Articles)

              Literary Excursions is a niche-market travel entity. Our tagline is "Let us take you to the places where iconic authors have lived and immortalized through their writing."

              The idea sprang out of years of reading great fiction, researching the authors' backgrounds for the purpose of either writing about them in feature articles or leading discussions at book events. Eventually you come to understand that the only way you can truly understand how "place" has shaped their writing, is to go to the source. The final incentive was a desire to connect book group people back to the needs of our libraries via my foundation work.

              LE has come up with a list of authors and destination trips: Austen in Hampshire, England; Hemingway in Cuba (Paris, Pamplona or Kilimanjaro), Joyce and Beckett in Dublin, and of course Steinbeck in Monterey and Salinas. We incorporate aspects of local history, culture, cuisine and wines into the mix via expert guides, lectures, tours and tastings. Since we're a pretty active group, there's always an opportunity to walk, cycle, kayak or par-take in some form of physical activity to break up the laughing, talking, eating (drinking) and touring!

              Back by popular demand is our trip to "Steinbeck Country" - Monterey and Salinas, California departing Vancouver on June 15th and returning on the 18th. It costs just $1575 per person (based on double occupancy) for an inclusive package of: airfare, hotel, coach transfers, breakfasts, a guided tour of Monterey and Salinas, a fabulous Monterey Wine tasting and more. Single rates provided upon request. This is a perfect "girl's get-away-weekend" or an opportunity for book groups to incorporate into the annual activity calendar. Call HSK Travel, our partners to book. +1 (604) 921-0012 and ask for Yasmin. Then join our Facebook Page.

              Gorilla Glass: Steve Jobs and Corning (Technology Corner)

              You've dropped it, stepped on it, unintentionally launched it and it doesn't break, crack, dent or scratch. We're talking about the glass surface of your new smart phone. Out of 1.5B devices used in 33 brands, Gorilla Glass made by Corning Inc was first designed for Steve Jobs back in 2006. But there's more to glass now than transparency and protective surfaces. Check out this Bloomberg video by Adam Jason who visited the Corning Glass Company in upstate New York. [Click title for imbedded video]

              Friday, April 12, 2013

              Best of the Young Novelists: Granta 2013 (Feature Articles)

              Some of my favourite British novelists I first discovered via Granta Magazine's "Best of Young British Novelists" award, which only comes around once every decade. To qualify you must be under 40 years of age, and a British citizen with at least one published work published in 2012. The diversity of immigrants to the UK has ensured that stories embody characters and setting from all over the world. It's wonderful to see the publishing industry keeping pace with the outward-looking reader population interests.

              The first Granta Awards occurred in 1983 followed by 1993, 2003 and now 2013. This means that 30 years of talented writers have gone on to prove Granta percent in their picks, showing remarkable careers bearing distinguished literary voices. Salman Rushdie, Martin Amos, David Hollinghurst, Zadie Smith, David Mitchell to name a few. The top 20 for 2013 were announced on BBC tonight April 15th and due to the time change - we've got the list for you below. Browse the list and then grab your copy of Granta 123: The Best of Young British Novelists 4, which includes a new story from each writer on the 2013 list. Granta 123 will be available to purchase from all good booksellers from 16 April in the UK and 23 April in the North America. Throughout 2013, the British Council and Granta are collaborating on an international showcase of

              Monday, April 01, 2013

              Whistler Reads: MAURITANIA (Whistler Reads)

              Whistler Reads next event presents a rather unique personal circumstance. As the director of this program I have had the honour of putting on some 36 book events hosting various authors from near and far. This time the topic of discussion is a book I published this January. Some dear Whistler friends have offered to host the book launch and discussion in their lovely home. Please join us April 20th, 2013 between 6 and 8pm at the Nadeau residence 8417 Big Sky Terrace in Whistler BC, V0N 8B0 (click link for map). I hope the topic intrigues you. This is a large profile coffee table book on the West African nation of Mauritania (published by Ewrks Media, January 2013) containing photographs and text in three languages: English, French and Arabic. If you browse the travel section of most well-stocked book stores, you will not find another book on Mauritania like this in the English language. Books on North Africa may offer a few pages in between Morocco and Algeria. Books in French are a decade old.

              I will seed the discussion on the facets of this fascinating, but little known emerging nation: its landscapes, history, culture, economy and place within the geo-political climate since the Arab Spring.

              Having traveled to the country twice, first with the CEO of Red Back Mining, Rick Clark who introduced me to President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, the Minister of Tourism and the Minister of Mines to determine the intent and scope of the book. Then for a second trip in April and May of 2011 in the company of my photographer, Gary Fitzpatrick, our trilingual interpreter, escorts and drivers who joined us for the material collection phase—which entailed travel throughout the capital, to major towns and medieval villages in the countryside and within the Sahara desert, to UNESCO World Heritage sites and wildlife sanctuaries in order to capture photographs and conduct subject interviews.

              We returned with over

              Sunday, February 10, 2013

              Author Interview: Michelle Orange (Feature Articles)

              Michelle Orange is a Canadian writer, essayist and film critic from Toronto currently living in Brookline. This indicates she is connected with a lot of other cool people I associate with that neighbourhood in the literary slash culture world (a list too extensive to begin). Her latest book, This Is Running for Your Life: Essays (Farrer, Straus & Giroux), was reviewed by Booklist who says, “restores one’s hope for the future of intelligent life on earth.” She was recently named by Flavorwire as an Up-and-Coming New York Culture Maker to Watch. I place her picture beside the book cover, because the book cover is so unappealing, but we still want you to buy the book. Someone at FSG needs to fire that book designer. I can think of a dozen more appealing cover designs.

              The blurb about her book from her own website writes:

              In Running for Your Life, Michelle Orange takes us from Beirut to Hawaii to her grandmother’s retirement home in Canada in her quest to understand how people behave in a world increasingly mediated—for better and for worse—by images and interactivity. Orange’s essays range from the critical to the journalistic to the deeply personal; she seamlessly combines stories from her own life with incisive analysis as she explores everything from the intimacies we develop with celebrities and movie characters to the troubled creation of the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. With the insight of a young Joan Didion and the empathy of a John Jeremiah Sullivan, Orange dives into popular culture and the status quo and emerges with a persuasive and provocative book about how we live now. Her singular voice will resonate for years to come.

              When you research a new author, you customarily read as much as you can find that has been written by them and about them. You take into consideration who published their works. You slum around looking for pictures, any YouTube videos you can find that allow you to judge the visual aspect of their lives. Then of course you scrutinize their website. says a lot. The spare white design, just a stick figure and an orange with casual font headings linking to all her blog posts, film reviews, articles, essays and books. The list of published works reside at the calibre and editorial edge:The New York Times, McSweenies (in the early '00s) et al. Her Twitter account has a quirky set of Vimeo videos that includes a creative interview of 3 sets of friends for a book review on a book about Friendhship. There's a weird excerpt of a ridiculous out-take featuring Ben Affleck on a television set snuggling up to a coy, ridiculous girl on his lap—odd-but-interesting.

              Saturday, February 02, 2013

              Whistler Reads: THE DAVEY DIALOGUES (Whistler Reads)

              My neighbor John Madden is a delightful person whose life of science started with a Rhodes Scholarship in his twenties. Recently retired, he has just self-published a book entitled The Davey Dialogues: An Exploration of the Scientic Foundations of Social Culture and it reminds me of two separate people and their respective intentions. The first is Canadian broadcaster and environmentalist David Suzuki, and the second is the Norwegian philosopher, Jostein Gartner. Years ago when Suzuki was hosting his television program, "The Nature of Things", I took a course in Zoology from him at the University of Toronto. He had made the jump from bench scientist, unravelling the DNA of fruit flies and publishing in the journal Nature, to public personality, upon realizing that the pace of scientific advancement was outstripping the general public's ability to keep up. Soon there would be fewer and fewer people prepared to weigh-in on decisions affecting our daily lives—like the impact of Monsanto's genetically modified seed, or whether the Bush administration should be permitted to stop stem cell research. Jostein Gartner, a Norweigan philosopher lamented the dwindling interest of university students in studying philosophy, the academic discipline concerned with reason and thought. She published a book titled, Sophies World that would become a European bestseller about a fictional character who uses philosophic theoretical arguments attributed to great philosophers to solve clues to a mystery. Both Suzuki and Gartner saw a gap in the public knowledge base and sought to fill it in a creative way. And that is John Madden's goal as well. Join Whistler Reads and John Madden at the Whistler Public Library on February 27th at 7pm. His book is available in advance via or purchase a copy from the author at this reading. Admission by donation.

              Wednesday, January 30, 2013

              Get Square! To Accept Credit Cards with Your iPhone (Technology Corner)

              We've all been there - wishing we had an inexpensive, fast way to process customer purchases at point-of-sale. Whether it's to sell tickets or accept donations at your event or fundraiser, to process sales of your artwork at an artist show, to process sales of your book at a launch party, or to accept payment for services provided: language lessons, computer tutorial or anything that used to require a check or cash payment. Up to this point, you had to go through a huge palather with Moneris or another bank for application, credit check, pay a large monthly fee for "the device" (that wireless gizmo the waiter hands you at the end of your meal) and of course the processing fees on every transaction. Read all about the company's creators and history at wikipedia.

              Now all you need to do is to sign-up online with Square. Square is an electronic payment service, provided by Square Inc. Square allows users in the United States and Canada to accept credit cards through their mobile phones, either by swiping the card on the Square device or by manually entering the details on the phone.

              It took just minutes to register online. Square will make two insignificant deposits into your bank account, which takes a few days, then once you confirm the amounts, your bank account is activated and all the transactions you swipe appear in your account the next day.

              You can customize your customer receipts with your logo, include a photo of the item you sold in your records, and do a sale with or without the user's card (a higher transaction rate is applied in the latter instance).

              Square will send you a free card reader in the mail when you sign up, or you can purchase one from any Apple or technology store that sells smart phones.

              Monday, January 28, 2013

              The Writers Voice by Richard Nordquist (Feature Articles)

              I subscribe to several grammar RSS feeds and blogs. I feel a daily tidbit one way to keep abreast of improvements in my own writing and comprehension of the English language. One of these is Richard Norquist's posts on under Grammar and Composition category. He begins...

              "Let me give you Dr. Don's Rule for Distinguished Writing. It's in the voice. You get a call from a friend, you know right away who it is. One paragraph, you know the voice. (Donald Newlove, First Paragraphs: Inspired Openings for Writers and Readers. St. Martin's Press, 1992)

              What is a writer's voice? It's a familiar metaphor, of course, perhaps an oxymoron as well. But does voice refer to an aspect of writing that's waiting to be discovered, or is it a distinctive method that must be crafted and cultivated over time? Is it a synonym for style, tone, persona, or diction--or is voice something altogether different from any of these qualities?

              While many authors, like Dr. Don, insist that voice is an essential element of effective writing, few agree on just what that element is or even how to recognize it.

              To spur your thinking on the nature of voice in writing, we've gathered these ten observations (some contradictory, others complementary) from professional writers and teachers of writing.

              Defining Voice
              Like a singer's, a writer's voice is an elusive thing, the sum of everything that goes into his or her style of expression. A distinctive vocabulary might contribute to it. So might a preference for particular sentence forms or syntax. Or voice might emerge from even more subtle dimensions of writing. Unique angles of approach to subjects, maybe. Or a characteristic pace or degree of formality.

              Ultimately, voice is the writer's personal style coming through in the writing. It's as complex and varied as human personality itself."

              Monday, January 21, 2013

              Vancouver's PuSh - International Performing Arts Festival (Events)

              The International Performing Arts Festival - PuSh in Vancouver starts Jan 15 and goes to Feb 3rd. 2013. This event started in 2003 making this its tenth year. A decade of continuous run is an accomplishment in itself and speaks to the larger role the festival plays in curating creative artists' works, mentoring and promoting local talent and staging new productions. The public gets to choose from over 160 different performances with events in 14 different venues and sites over the three week period. So there is a chance to take in trend-setting, multidisciplinary work on almost every day of the week. Some of the titled works: Fictions, Ride the Cyclone, A Crack In Everything and our personal favourite - The Human LIbrary, where members of the community with eclectic backgrounds and life experiences are available to "take out and read" with their life story and perspective.

              Enter the Vancouver Public Library’s Central Branch and head up to the third floor where a special PuSh Festival circulation desk will register you with your own Human Library card and offer to lend you one of thirty possible human books. In choosing from titles like “Drag Queen,” “Occupy Activist,” and “Refugee” you’ll sign one out and be connected to the person behind that title. A one-on-one informal conversation will begin and the rest is up to you.

              The goal to become Canada's leading arts festival seems to have been realized. Congratulations PuSh!

              Sunday, January 20, 2013

              Helsinki Explored - in January! (Feature Articles)

              I've just returned from a trip to Helsinki Finland where the temperatures dipped to -30 degrees Celsius from the balmy -10 on arrival. When most people escape to the tropics for a winter holiday, 60.1708° N, 24.9375° E is a latitude quite apart. But this nordic destination has manifold opportunities for the sophisticated traveler.

              Sunrise began around 9am with tinges of pink appearing on the horizon of the frozen Baltic Sea viewed from my hotel room, the delightful HAVEN, located on the waterfront of the city's old town. It wasn't fully "light out" until 10am, but what a glorious day it was. Despite the frigid temperatures, everyone goes about their business unperturbed—suffice it to say there's a generous amount of fur and down.

              Super ferries roll into port carrying 2-3,000 passengers from Stockholm and other parts of the archipelago. Locals recommend you book the highest level accommodation (from sea level) as the noise of ice-crushing during the voyage can become vexing.

              Dusk starts at 3pm when the color of the sky turns a striking cobalt blue that contrasted with the golden lights of the city make photography effortless. It's no surprise that representative art from the area factors in starry night skies, expanses of snow, frozen lakes and boreal forest.

              Helsinki was the Design Capital of the world in 2012. Names like Alvaro Saarinen (the architect responsible for the St. Louis Gateway Arch) Marimekko with their bright patterned textiles and dishes are worn by child and mother alike. I particularly love the boiled wool pieces and the laplander wooden cups. Glass work is big. Go to Uudenmaankatu and Iso Roobertinkatu, the arteries that feed the heart of Helsinki’s ultra-cool Design District.

              As cities go, Helsinki is a stunner for architecture and cuisine. Starting with a span of period architecture from Byzantine ornate to Contemporary minimalist with a generous splash of Art Nouveau thrown in. The superb cuisine uses fresh local ingredients from the land—reindeer grazed on grass and lichen served with anti-oxident rich wild berry accents, and from the sea—hyper fresh Baltic seafood 'cooked' to perfection at 38 degrees with dill or juniper flavourings, and the smallest, most perfectly crisp, round, whole wheat breakfast bun with a doughy centre (can you tell carbs are off my usual diet?)

              Thursday, January 17, 2013

              Whistler Reads: THREE TRUTHS AND A LIE (Whistler Reads)

              How as parents do we come to terms with the loss of a child to drug addiction? Graham E Fuller writes "a compelling memoir of paternal love and anguish," says the author's good friend, William Roberts, President Whistler Forum for Leadership and Dialogue when reviewing Graham's latest book titled, Three Truths and a Lie (2012). Whistler Reads members will recall Graham Fuller as our Squamish neighbour who moderated our WR discussion of the political thriller, The Reluctant Fundamentalist in his capacity as former station chief in the Middle East for the CIA. His remarkable career has spurned a prolific list of books on policy and polemics of Islam and conflicts in the Middle East. Three Truths is his first memoir.

              The premise of Three Truths is the story of Luke, his adopted Korean child aged 2, who despite the Graham's unbridled love, gradually loses his life’s way to the struggles of addiction and death from an overdose of cocaine at age 21. This is an unsparing and vivid account of the Fuller family's "...wise, misguided, passionate, naïve, creative, [though] ultimately unsuccessful" efforts to save their son. "Luke is warm, likeable, funny, quick to win friends—and a skilled deceiver, able to impress others with a seeming maturity and urbanity. But the image he works to create for himself is increasingly belied by the darker realities of his life and the black hole he creates around his family. The tale chronicles a poignant and tumultuous quest to grasp the meaning of Luke’s life—and death—against a broad international backdrop from Afghanistan to Latin America. It explores the mysteries of adoption, identity, addiction—and grace."—cover blurb

              Please join the author January 23rd at the Whistler Public Library at 7pm in discussion of this book.

              Wednesday, December 19, 2012

              SONGZA: Free music streaming DJ'd (Technology Corner)

              I remember when I used to head down beginning of December to our local "record shop" - actually, I'm not that old, it was a CD shop called The Magic Flute. They specialized in classical music, which is what I listen to in the winter mostly. Summer is for pop music, spring and fall is jazz, opera or tech, but Christmas is strictly classical. Give me a Bach choir, a Stabat Mater, brass ensembles, celtic strings. The store had these lovely polished brass arty door handles mounted on glass doors, but inside were banks of CD's whose cover artwork was as engrossing as the anticipation of coming home with some new music to get into the Christmas spirit while baking and decorating the house.

              Today life just got a whole lot simpler! Canada finally has access to a streaming music app called SONGZA that allows you to pick all manner of pre-selected play lists suitable for any time of day or night, any genre or mood you could imagine. And it's FREE!

              A quick download to your iPad, iPhone or iTunes account and registering as a user and you're in. The consierge page will open and tell you the time of day and ask you which category you feel like. You can connect it to some powered speakers, like those amazing little mandarin orange size beauties or a docking station and you're set for un-interrupted listening pleasure. Don't like the song - just hit the skip button. Like it, tap the button to send the song/CD info to your email address. You can also click a thumbs-up or down button to help the program learn your subtle preferences to suggest more closely matching play lists. I like to play music in the background from my laptop as I work. Then turn on my iPad in the living room in the evening when we're relaxing after work. Then I sometimes take it up to bed and listen with ear buds while I read my e-book. Party music is especially daunting to pick and play, but not with SONGZA. Switching play lists if one is not quite right is just a tap away! ENJOY

              A Survey of Best Book Titles of 2012: All Sources (Feature Articles)

              As the year draws to a close we book people are bombarded with lists from various sources extolling the Best Books of 2012. We've picked several from a line-up of excellent sources: The New Yorker, The Financial Times, The Atlantic, The New York Times, Granta, The Guardian, The Walrus, Salon, Esquire and so on. There is something for everyone on your holiday list. Purchase in book stores, order pre-wrapped and direct delivery from online vendors, or perhaps digitally load books onto a new iPad or e-reader? [click on each header for direct link to review source]

              The New Yorker:
              The New Yorker chose to do submissions from book review contributors resulting in an interesting variety.
              Shake Off, by Mischa Hiller is powerhouse author and essayist Malcolm Gladwell's top choice. He says, "I picked it up entirely by accident. I’d never heard of Hiller before, and the book absolutely blew me away. The only thriller this year that even came close was Chris Pavone’s, The Expats but Hiller’s novel has the benefit of mining every trope of the thriller genre while being absolutely original at the same time. I will read anything by Hiller from now on."

              Teju Cole writes, "The new novel I liked best this year was Katie Kitamura’s Gone To The Forest. This is a story of how the submerged violence among “civilized” men requires little excuse to surface. Startling, written in clean, understated prose, the better to frighten.

              The Financial Times:
              Makers: The New Industrial Revolution, (Random House, Business), by Chris Anderson - the former editor of Wired Magazine, is a book I've recently ordered. "Anderson brings evangelical zeal to the story of how ever-cheaper 3D printing is shaking up the world of manufacturing. He weaves his own attempts to build working models and whole businesses with themes familiar from his previous books The Long Tail and Free, which extolled the virtues of cheap digital distribution and open-sourcing."

              Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory and the Conquest of Everest, by Wade Davis, (Vintage). "Davis retells the story of George Mallory’s doomed bid to conquer Everest – and uses it to examine the mentality of a generation scarred by the first world war and the decline of empire. Winner of the 2012 Samuel Johnson Prize and described as 'magnificent' by the FT."

              Monday, December 03, 2012

              Author Interview: Salman Rushdie (Author Interviews)

              I almost bumped into author Salman Rushdie on the street one day in Greenwich Village, New York as we negotiated the slush and snow after a November storm. Since that time, I've been waiting for the book he would write telling of his nightmare's journey. After the release of his novel, Satanic Verses in September 1988 the Iranian religious leader, Ayotollah Khomeini declared a fatwa against him that forced him into hiding for more than a decade. Those events have had time to percolate in his memory, and at long last, his book has been released. Resembling more of a fictional international spy thriller than the true memoir of a world renowned literary figure, Joseph Anton (published by Random House) is both the name of the memoir and the pseudonym Rushdie chose for identification among his closest friends and his protectors, the secret police, etc., during those 11 years in hiding. The name, Rushdie explains, is a combination of Joseph Conrad and Anton Chekov. Surrounded by "an iron ring of friends" who kept his secret hiding places, provided their own homes, and allowed him to live inside their protective cover. Rushdie explains what his life was like, as well as the political milieu at the time. An extraordinary story by one of this century's most talented writers. There's also an excellent video piece embedded at the bottom of this article worth watching. It's 90 minutes in length but gives the entire scope of the effect Salman Rushdie's book had on the Muslim world, from the first reviews of his manuscript to the India book ban that spread in countries around the world, to the northern London suburb where his book was publicly burned and the media and muslim community lit up. Interviews with journalists, publishers, his translator, his sister and people involved in the development of the story all culminate in the developing dramatic story.

              Friday, November 16, 2012

              How Would These Famous Authors Have Voted? (Feature Articles)

              The Huffington Post came up with a feature looking at the political persuasion of a list of famous authors based on their books. I include the list of authors with an "R", "D" or "L" for Libertarian: Aldous Huxley, D; Virginia Woolf, D; Langston Hughes, L; Ayn Rand, R; Jane Austen, D; C.S. Lewis, R; Alan Ginsberg, L; Upton Sinclair, D; and F. Scott Fitzgerald, D. You can easily predict which bias they'd take but I thought it would be interesting to apply a similar exercise to Canadian politics, which due to the fact we've got 4 national parties (19 officially registered ones!) makes the job a bit trickier. See what you think. I've limited the choices to: Conservative, Liberal, NDP, Green on the basis that the rest of the parties do not have support in all jurisdictions.

              Margaret Atwood: her writing spans genres and she defies categorization having won Science Fiction awards (she prefers Speculative Fiction) and feminist fiction (she prefers "writing in the feminist genre"). She has railed against the Harper government over cuts to the arts and the national arts institutes like the CBC and essays against the Free Trade Agreement. Influenced early by her father, a forest entomologist, her rural upbringing (did not attend school full time until gr8) may have helped to set her on the path of greenie. She and her writer-husband are staunch supporters of GPC.

              Robertson Davies: son of a newspaperman and Liberal Senator, Davies had a wonderful education and in addition to writing 30 books (The Deptford Trilogy is about a newspaper family) purchased several newspaper outlets. He taught literature at Trinity College, was a playwrite and lover of theatre and Jungian philosophy. A close friend of John Kenneth Galbraith. Stephen Heuser's eulogy of Davies categorized him as a "Libertine Rascal". I can't place him in a party. I'd say he was a Humanist who voted Liberal.

              Margaret Lawrence: this Manitoba writer lived with her civil engineer husband in Somaliland and Ghana when it was colonially run. She had two children in Africa. Her early writing reflects her life there in reaction to colonial rule. Her later novels, The Diviners and Stone Angel have characters who span the changing roles, attitudes and opportunities of women in Canada. An advocate for world peace, human rights and Canadian aboriginal rights, she would have voted for the party who best served those values.

              Will Fergusan: Humorist and novelist Why I Hat Canadians, Beautry Tips from Moose Jaw among other titles won him Canada's prizes for humor. His recent novel won him the Giller Prize. Born in rural Alberta 800 miles north of Edmonton then time in Regina then Saskatoon, he eventually moved to Japan to teach English where he met and married his wife Terumi. An anti-royalist in his politics who curiously wore his clan kilt to pick up his Giller Prize, I would definitely say the gent swings toward middle-left.

              Thursday, November 01, 2012

              Whistler Reads: NICOLAI'S DAUGHTERS (Whistler Reads)

              Stella Harvey, founder of Whistler's writers group, Vicious Circle launched her debut novel, Nicolai's Daughters (published by Signature Editions, Oct 2012) at the 2012 writers festival this past October. After spending almost a decade with false starts she settled on her novel's premise and the hefty 336 page volume results. Join us in discussion with the author next month, December 6th. Stella's maiden name is Leventoyannis. Her family comes from Greece and her book is set in two cities in the southern region of Peloponnese. This hilly countryside, though surrounded by water, would be an island if not for the technicality of a land bridge that joins the mainland. Interestingly, the local population has provided the majority of Greece's modern-day politicians.

              To research for her book, Harvey says that she returned to Greece regularly to connect with her heritage, visit family and brush up on her native tongue. During her travels she discovered a WWII piece of history involving a German massacre of a town's male population over age 13, a fact that has been kept quiet by members of the townspeople who left after the tragedy. Harvey was intrigued by the idea that a tragedy of this nature would follow generations in a variety of ways, whether they knew about the story or not. Indeed she imbues her main character with additional layers of secrets which his daughters are led to uncover. Loss, longing and secrets are the basis of this book told through the alternating voices of daughter Alexia and her father Nicolai. The reader is carefully bounced between generational stories, colliding cultures and economic realities to reach the climactic truth. Join us at a private home in Whistler (details disclosed with paypal voucher). Tickets $10 $15 at the door, with proceeds used for Greek themed refreshments and appis. (Voucher has mapquest location link).

              Copies of the book can be purchased at Armchair Books in Whistler village and members be sure to get your 10% Whistler Reads discount. It's also available online in digital format via iTunes, KOBO or Kindle.

              Visit Stella's website for more biographic information and a very good book trailer.

              Tuesday, October 30, 2012

              Author Interview: Kim Thuy (Author Interviews)

              Kim Thuy is nominated for this year's 2012 Giller Prize for her novel Ru published by Random House (Vintage, Canada paperback). Her interview reveals a delightful person full of humour and grace, whose life as a Canadian citizen living in Montreal emerged from her roots in Saigon, Vietnam and her subsequent time in a refugee camp in Malaysia and a boat person. This is a lovely introduction to this author for those who have not heard of her before this. (click to view)

              Giller Prizes Awarded Tonight Oct 30th (Feature Articles)

              The people setting up in Toronto for the Giller Prize awards tonight will be treated to a stiff competition between the 5 nominees who hope to take home $50,000 in prize money and a significant boost to their book sales and literary fame. The fnalists are:

            • Humorurist Will Ferguson is nominated for his dark thriller 419.
            • The 2012 Governor General award winner, Kim Thuy is nominated for her autobiographical novel, Ru (translated from French by Sheila Fischman). U.S.-based Montrealer Alix Ohlin is nominated for Inside, a modern story about four interconnected characters.
            • Montreal's Nancy Richler for her mid-century set novel The Imposter Bride.
            • Halifax-raised, St. John's-based journalist and author Russell Wangersky is nominated for his short story collection Whirl Away.
            • Watch the author interviews on CBC.

              Saturday, October 13, 2012

              10 Top Essays Since 1950-as per Publishers Weekly (Feature Articles)

              Publishers Weekly is a magazine, website, marketing arm and professional networking entity for the American publishing sector. Anyone in "the business" regardless of nationality reads it. I recently came upon this article by Robert Atwan (Oct 12, 2012) where in he whittles down to 10 the top essays since 1950. Note that he says "essays" not "essayists" and that he excludes "all the great examples of New Journalism—Tom Wolfe, Gay Talese, Michael Herr, and many others" and that his list is exclusively American writers. The essays he has selected exhibit deep personal exploration and reflection, and the writers include: I provide the link here so you can follow the hyperlinks to each writer's full essay.

              The article of course, got me thinking about who I would pick for Canada's list of great essays? Send me your suggestions and I will compile a list for our readers. Where did you find the piece(s)? Where do Canadians go for home-grown excellence in writing: The Walrus, Descant, The Malahat Review, Exile: The Literary Quarterly, Guist... here's a full list to pique your interest, as well as this site. Take a browse and tell me what you think paulas @

              Monday, October 08, 2012

              Whistler Writers and Readers Festival 2012 (Events)

              The Whistler Writers and Readers Festival is on October 12-14th. Following in the tradition of not following tradition, it's a home-grown affair by a core of select scribblers (several of whom who have become published authors over the duration) who've managed to hang-in for over a decade to the concept that an active town can and will come out in support of an annual literary event. This proves that if you keep plugging, people will eventually reward you with a door fee that is probably less than what they spend on a weekly yoga session. Consider the relative input of the pair; consider the value. Check out this year's ambitious offerings of readings, workshops, spoken word events and panels Whistler Writers Festival 2012.

              Wednesday, September 26, 2012

              A Message From Michael Cunningham: Electric Lit (Book Reviews)

              Why does history remember some novels, and forget others? Okay, because most novels are forgettable. But there are some, a handful or two, that brush up against greatness itself, and yet don’t seem to get a ticket on the literature train. Hence, Glenway Wescott’s The Pilgrim Hawk.

              I’m urging you to experience something like what I did, in consenting to read an obscure novel, an experience that involved not only the discovery of the novel itself but the attendant realization that the world is host to such novels—call them the “invisible classics.” Call them “Canon B.” It makes for a richer, more fabulous sense of what might be out there, beyond the titles one read (or pretended to have read) in college. - Signed,
              Michael Cunningham, Electric Literature

              Electric Literature is an e-magazine put together by a core of literary minded folks based out of Brookline, NY. Not only are they at the center of emerging writers' primordial goo, they offer treasures like this as tasty inducements to broaden membership at nominal charges.

              Click on their link and join the party. Often in our book group when members can't decide between books, we ask the host to "read the first paragraph of the first chapter". Here is the first tantalizing paragraphs of Pilgim's Hawk...

              NOW CULLEN HAD RISEN and was standing at his wife’s elbow, shaking his finger at the falcon teasingly. I thought that the bird’s great eyes showed only a slight natural bewilderment; whereas a slow sneer came over his face and he turned pale. It was the first revelation I had of the interesting fact that he hated Lucy.

              He would willingly have sacrificed a finger tip in order to have an excuse to retaliate, I thought; and I imagined him picking up a chair or a coffee table and going at her with smashing blows. What a difference there is between animals and humans! Lucy no doubt would be disgustingly fierce when her time came; but meanwhile sat pleasantly and idly, in abeyance. Whereas humanity is histrionic, and must prepare and practice every stroke of passion; so half our life is vague and stormy make-believe.

            • Electric Literature Website
            • Literary Review of Books
            • Michael Cunningham's Website

              Wednesday, September 19, 2012

              Man Booker Shortlist 2012 (Feature Articles)

              Here is the ManBooker Shortlist. Just 6 books to rock your world, literally speaking.

              Bring Up the Bodies (A John MacRae Book)
              by Hilary Mantel
              Would the sequel live up to expectations? Actually, yes. Hilary Mantel's talent for rich detail and sensuous atmosphere is still apparent, and Bring Up the Bodies is, in some ways, much more gripping and riveting than her prize-winning earlier book, Wolf Hall.

              Swimming Home, by Deborah Levy
              Publisher Comments
              Man Booker Prize Shortlisted 2012 As he arrives with his family at the villa in the hills above Nice, Joe sees a body in the swimming pool. But the girl is very much alive. She is Kitty Finch: a self-proclaimed botanist with green-painted fingernails, walking naked out of the water and into the heart of their holiday. Why is she there? What does she want from them all? And why does Joe's wife allow her to remain?

              Saturday, September 15, 2012

              Square: Become a Retailer Using Your iPhone (Feature Articles)

              If you want to do point of sale transactions for your business or non-profit - look no further than This is an electronic payment service popular among entrepreneurs. It works the same as the device you use at the table when paying at a restaurant, but you don't have to rent their device anymore. The SQUARE attaches to your iphone. They are shipping out for free in the USA, or you can purchase online or at any Apple store.

              The original creator was Jack Dorsey who in 2009 listened to his friend, James McKelvey complain that he was unable to complete a sale for his glass faucets and fittings because he could not accept a credit card. Dorsey built a prototype and the name is apparently due to both the shape of the device and the common phrase when making a transaction, "Are we square?"

              A list of angel investors is on Wikipedia page where it also describes its business model: Square charges 2.75% on every credit card transaction. There is no monthly fee or set-up cost.

              NPR Interview with Junot Diaz (Author Interviews)

              Pulitzer-Prize-winning author Junot Diaz tells NPR's Steve Inskeep about the theme of his book and the real-world circumstances that inspired it. The disclaimer that it took Diaz 16 years to write his book, "This is How You Lose Her" a story with infidelity as its theme.

              Listen to the interview and read excerpts of the transcript, as well as an excerpt of the book via NPR's feature, "Fidelity In Fiction: Junot Diaz Deconstructs A Cheater" by NPR STAFF.

              Diaz responds to the question of his new book's them with this:

              "When I finished my first book, Drown, I realized that the theme of infidelity, which runs through the book, needed sort of a much more upfront presentation, and I concocted this project. It just really interested me. But you know, sometimes you chart out a course and you think it's going to be an afternoon walk, and you realize it takes you half your life."

              Masterpiece: Downton Abbey Season III (WGBH Boston)

              The wildly popular Masterpiece series Downton Abbey, written and created by Julien Fellowes, premiers Season III on January 6, 2013. "The war is over, but intrigue, crisis, romance, and change still grip the beloved estate." With its all-star returning cast and Oscar-winning guest star Shirley MacLaine, there's even a countdown counter on the Masterpiece site. As of today there is 113 days, 9 hours and 53 minutes to go. The site continues:

              Executive Producer Gareth Neame remarks, "What a rollercoaster it has been to be part of this truly global phenomenon. We couldn't be more thrilled by the way American critics and audiences have taken Downton to their hearts and I'm so excited to be getting the third season ready for everyone to see."

              The press loved the second season, with USA Today marveling, "Lightning can strike twice." The Hollywood Reporter called the series "one of the great melodramas of the modern television age." And The Los Angeles Times styled it "big, beautifully acted, and romantic."

              Viewers were no less passionate, with 17.1 million tuning in across the seven episodes, making Downton Abbey, Season 2 the most-watched Masterpiece series on record. It was also the most talked-about. "What sets Downton Abbey apart," wrote Reuters, "is the buzz the show is creating on new social media websites like Twitter and Facebook." And with today's multitude of viewing options, a younger audience is being seduced by Downton Abbey's sumptuously spread-out plot, notes Masterpiece Executive Producer Rebecca Eaton.

              Friday, September 14, 2012

              The NewYorker Festival, Oct 5,6 & 7th (Events)

              Tickets went on sale today for The NewYorker Magazine's Festival Oct 4-6th. Always a highlight on the literary circuit guests include Fiction Night: A discussion among writers Martin Amos, John Lanchester, Zadie Smith monitored by Deborah Treisman; Topia/Dystopia with Margaret Atwood, Jennifer Egan, George Saunders moderated by Daniel Zalewski (both on Friday) and of course Malcolm Gladwell who examines Birmingham: 50 years later. Check out the full schedule here and get your tickets early! Download the < a href="" >App for iPhone or Android to save, share and map festival events.

              Thursday, July 26, 2012

              Mobile Technology and Mobile Fundraising (Technology Corner)

              "By mid-2013 smart phones or tablet users will surpass laptop users. Lay your foundation now!" stresses nonprofit mobile tech guru, Heather Mansfield. Heather of DIOSA Communications hosts webinars on the topic on a regular basis. I just participated in one yesterday. One and a half hours of solid gold information. The take-home message was three-fold: Launch a mobile website; Launch a text messaging campaign; Launch a mobile pay App for Text-to-Give.

              What does she mean by mobile website? It's simply related to screen size and customizing content for a 2 inch screen, the standard size of smart phone screens (first priority) and the iPad/tablet size (second priority). This means our CSS (cascading style sheets) for our website have to be adjusted to fit and the content customized as well; less words, smaller file sizes, limited photos and graphics so that files download quickly and content is easy to read. The quick and dirty way to do this is via your RSS feed. Also, big point, mobile websites start with an m dot prefix before the url. So one of her favorite sites that is keeping abreast of web 3.O is the Center for Disease Control Their mobile site is Another is the international wildlife Check out,

              Of the 200+ nonprofits that Heather has been tracking for the past 5 or so years (my notes on her exact figure is missing), she's discovered that not a single nonprofit is doing all three. There are some with one of them, less with two out of the three, but none with the full baseball count, three out of three. Why is that? Good question. She thinks that it's a matter of cost and resistance. Nonprofits are penny wise and pound foolish. Her course provides all the material you need to get up to speed on mobile technology with affordable options to "get in the game".

              That is another of her key messages: get in the game as early as possible. Early adopters from print to digital benefited by being first on the search engine block. Early adopters in in social networking have discovered its superior usefulness in driving traffic back to their websites. Mobile technology is where most of the rest of the world exists - out of necessity - they can't afford laptops, don't have internet connections with oodles of bandwidth, so cellular is the only way to go baby. The numbers there are staggering. Africa leads the world in mobile banking. The companies and nonprofit organizations who adopt mobile technology in their business strategy will benefit from being a first adopter here in North America. That is the only way you're going to reach some demographics here already: the millennial set, certain income brackets and ethnicities. [TBC]

              Wednesday, July 25, 2012

              David R. Godine Books: Independent Publishing for Over 50 Years (Publisher News)

              David R. Godine is that rare person who spends a lifetime building an exquisite list of well crafted books that appeal to the sophisticated reader. David R. Godine Books have been around over 50 years. That he's a native Bostonian gives you some idea of the nature of his eclectic taste in books, I suppose. Reading through the catalogue I see a healthy dose of original fiction and non-fiction of the highest rank, rediscovered masterworks, translations of outstanding world literature, poetry, art, photography, and beautifully designed books for children.

              When French author, Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio won the Nobel Prize for literature in 2006, I got an email celebrating the fact that he was a Godine author. When I was looking for a book on politics I stumbled on an excellent volume dealing with the topic of rhetoric - in its truest definition as an art form of dialogue and skilled argument vs the pedantic, obfuscating verbal diarrhea slant in which we've all come to view the topic. When I browse the back list of art books and photography I see a collection of classics on regional topics of interest like: The History of the Ocean Racing Yacht, Prints and Collections of the Adirondike Museum, Romantic Gardens: Nature, Art and Landscape Design.

              Founded in 1970 Godine's first books were printed on his own presses nearly all letterpress, limited editions printed on high-quality rag or handmade paper. Many of these early volumes are now collector's items. Godine has been awarded numerous publishing awards over the years for his excellence in book production.

              "On July 1, 2002, John Martin, the founder and for thirty-six years the publisher of Black Sparrow Press, closed down his shop in Santa Rosa, California. After finding new homes for four of his authors—Charles Bukowski, Paul Bowles, John Fante, and Wyndham Lewis—he entrusted the rest of his backlist to a fellow publisher, David R. Godine. The agreement was simple: Godine would keep Black Sparrow's offerings available to the trade, keep the best-selling titles in print, and keep the house's spirit alive through judicious acquisitions. In short, Black Sparrow Press would be reborn—as Black Sparrow Books at David R. Godine, Publisher."

              I invite you to browse their website, sign up for their newsletter and start collecting their exquisite books for your library. They're always at the world book fairs: BEA, Frankfurt, London - a solid and cheery bunch! Congrats on the first 50 guys.

              Friday, July 20, 2012

              Whistler Reads: MY YEAR OF THE RACEHORSE (Whistler Reads)

              Horse racing is often qualified as "the sport of Kings." It's popularity is on the rise again, (the previous zenith occurring circa Seabiscuit) if you take into account trendy Vancouver party promoters who are jumping into the saddle and organizing "a day at the races" complete with broad-brimed hats for the ladies, pale suits for the lads, mint julips and of course, the alure of racetrack betting. A friend of mine grew up in Richmond behind the old Landsdown Racetrack and her father raised ponies for a trainer. I remember watching my first colt born in their barn, and have since held a fascination bordering on awe for this majestic animal.

              Our next Whistler Reads event on September 22nd, 4pm-6pm at Whistler's Armchair Books | Gone hosts local Vancouver writer, Kevin Chong to Whistler to discuss his latest book, My Year Of The Racehorse (Greystone Books, a D&M Publisher 2012). Kevin has a wonderful sense of humor and is no stranger to live performance—he's also a jazz artist with the stage name "Butterscotch Panda". Kevin bought a race horse and spent the year infused in the culture. "My Year of the Racehorse just made the Top 10 Books of Amazon so far", he announces on his Facebook page. I look forward to a lively discussion, readings by Kevin, audience input and some musical interludes. Come discover the inside machinations of the horse racing industry.

              Kevin Chong is the author of four books, including Neil Young Nation—honoured as a book of the year by the Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, and Ottawa Citizen and aired as a documentary on CBC’s Definitely Not the Opera—and the novels Baroque-a-Nova and Beauty Plus Pity. He's an avid freelance journalist, a regular contributor to Quill & Quire and prestigious literary mags. He is an editor at and teaches creative writing at UBC.

              "I can't think of a better way to spend 2 hrs on a Saturday afternoon in Whistler," says Whistler Reads Founder, Paula Shackleton. Armchair Books | Gone joint establishments are in the heart of Whistler village (across from Araxi's) Whistler Reads members receive a 10% discount off the current book selection - become a member - over 620 of us and counting.

              Thursday, June 21, 2012

              20 Writerly Questions: Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya (Feature Articles)

              Random House offers a series of interviews with their stable of authors that asks the same basic questions about their writing process. Here now is:

              JOYDEEP ROY-BHATTACHARYA was born in Jamshedpur, India, and educated in politics and philosophy at Calcutta University and the University of Pennsylvania. His novels, The Gabriel Club and The Storyteller of Marrakesh, have been published in 11 languages in 16 countries. His newest novel is The Watch.

              • 1. How would you summarize your book in one sentence?
                Following a nightlong battle, a young Pashtun woman appears before the gates of an isolated American military base in Afghanistan and asks for the return of her brother’s body – the novel relates what follows.
              • 2. How long did it take you to write this book?
                Ten weeks for the first draft; and then a year’s worth of revisions.
              • 3. Where is your favourite place to write?
                My desk at home, surrounded by my library.
              • 4. How do you choose your characters’ names?
                Usually they select themselves. My characters have unusual autonomy.
              • 5.How many drafts do you go through?
                More than I care to remember, quite frankly.
              • Wednesday, June 20, 2012

                Powerful New Movie About Student Shooters (Author Interviews)

                News stories about students going into their schools and universities on killing sprees with guns turned on their fellow students and teachers is a trend both disturbing and perplexing. "What causes this and what can we do to stop it?" is everyone's first response. Psychologists, psychiatrists, criminal experts and educators are becoming all too familiar with the social profiles and psychological cocktails that are trending these incidents, but the general public needs to have a graphic portrayal on a human scale that can bring home the message. Enter Michael Danner, who produces and directs a compelling feature film on this topic; a biting, realistic portrayal called, Hello Herman. What follows is the blurb sent to members of a Santa Monica improv theatre group that Ms. Danner supports. I happen to be on the mailing list. Help this go viral. The world doesn't need anymore Columbines.

                "Hello Herman..." is a poignant examination of the making of a teenage school shooter. We hope its provocative and powerful subject matter will speak to teens, parents, educators, and anyone who has endured the universal experience of needing to be heard.

                The movie explores the desensitizing of America, youth violence and bullying, the impact the media has on our individual quest for fame and recognition, and ultimately our need for human contact.

                "Hello Herman..." will be released in the Fall of 2012.

                In the meantime, we are excited to share our EPK and Teaser Trailer.

                We ask that you show your support of the film by "Liking" us on Youtube and sharing the videos with your friends.

                Michelle Danner

                Car2Go (Technology Corner)

                I first heard about Car2Go, the global innovator of a car-sharing scheme by German car manufacturer Dailmer while shopping in a funky dress shop on Main Street in Vancouver. The chic young proprietor was saying, "It's cheaper than a cab and way more convenient than the bus system". Next my son, also an early technology adopter, arrived at our house for Father's Day dinner in a Car2Go last week, proclaiming the simple booking and car locator system that uses a smart phone App, the pay-by-the-minute fee rates (38cents/min includes gas and insurance) and the nifty activation procedure; the swipe of a microchip card at the windshield device gains you access.

                We went out to the boulevard to marvel at this compact vehicle that fit into the street space between our driveway and the laneway, something no vehicle in our private "fleet" could do. Once you know about Car2Go, you begin to spot them everywhere you go; those cute little blue and white smart cars with the Car2Go logo on the front.

                Recognizing the personal, environmental and social benefits of the program, I went online to sign-up immediately. After filling out the form...

                Saturday, June 09, 2012

                Sculpture: Doing and Appreciating (Feature Articles)

                I am taking a weeklong intensive sculpture course from Ian Rhodes at Emily Carr University this week. The group of 12 are into the fourth of five jam-packed days. At this point we've become familiar with several ways to: blow yourself up, set yourself on fire and and get a serious sunburn. It's like your mother in your head saying "Stop! You'll poke your eye out!" when running with scissors. Once you get over the drama of the potential for harm, you can then begin to feel familiar, and for some, reasonably facile at welding with acetylene torches, plasma cutters and MIG (metal inert gas) machines.

                Like any art class I've ever taken, it never ceases to amaze me the diversity of backgrounds and creative thought people bring as adult learners. There is none of the self-concsious intimidations of youth. People have lived lives; have years of work experience; traveled and formed opinions on art, philosophy and they come at things with a sense of purpose. For some it's an escape. For others it's the chance to transfer designs and skills from another medium: the architect from Iran, the woodmaker from Gabriola Island, the commercial designer escaping his laptop.

                The class is divided between what I'd call representative artists and modernists, and then again by those who prefer delicate work and those who make use of the big shop machines: the benders, cutters, grinders and band saws. One guy is refashioning heavy gauge rusted used construction pipe into a shiny, new Bauhausian bike rack. He also made an incredibly functional BBQ from scrap. Big material equals big machinery that makes big noise, so there is a correlation between noise and scale. Others have squirreled themselves away in a corner of the shop and work independently measuring, sketching, scheming and assembling.

                Wednesday, May 30, 2012

                John Irving: In One Person (Author Interviews)

                John Irving is on the circuit promoting his latest book In One Person. With 13 novels, an Oscar winning screenplay, an O. Henry Award and a near miss Pulitzer Prize you could say that the popular and critical audiences have been good to him. What we have come to rely upon from Irving is unusual characters, unusual sexual proclivities, unusual deaths; unusual stories. Though he finds inspiration in the masters, Dickens and Shakespeare, his books are firmly entrenched in this century. Of all the interviews that abound, we've selected the one that has Irving talking about his main character Billy Abbot, a 60-year-old bisexual male.

                When The Cider House Rules came out, readers were confronted with characters dealing with abortion. St Clouds orphanage is where Dr. Larch saves women from the prospect of searching for a back street abortion and provides them with a safe clinical alternative without judgment. Other women come, labor and leave their babies. At the time of the movie release of CHR in 1999, America was 26 years out of Roe vs Wade, the Supreme court decision that gave women the right to choose. Still at that time people felt society had a ways to go on this polarized issue. Today, Irving reminds us how successive right wing regimes and Tea Party politics have seriously eroded women's freedom to choose, as access to clinics is reduced with significant closures (for one reason or another) and funding removed for programs across the country. Ironically, studies report that the single most dramatic factor resulting in the reduction of poverty and crime and incarceration trends in America —was—Roe vs Wade's effect of removing mothers of the financial burden or social stigma associated with an un-wanted pregnancy. But that's not the only human right at stake these days,

                Friday, May 25, 2012

                Literary Excursions Launches with Steinbeck Tour (Feature Articles)

                Have you ever wanted to travel to the places where your favorite authors lived, wrote and immortalized? Have you wanted to experience the culture, taste the food, drink the wines and learn about the history of the places infused in your mind from those novels? Why not throw in a few lectures by academics and experts in the company of friends? Literary Excursions launches our first trip... to Steinbeck Country, Salinas and Monterey California this fall. As a trustee of the Vancouver Public Library Foundation concerned with bringing people together in the spirit of celebrating authors we hope to inspire people to discover and support their local libraries. Join LE founders, Paula Shackleton and Yasmin Ker (and a host of other fun people) Sept 28-Oct 1, 2012. Booking deadline is June 10th. Spaces are limited. Contact our booking personnel at HSK Travel Specialists: + 1 604 921-0012 extension 2.

                John Steinbeck is one of America's iconic authors. Winner of numerous literary prizes including the Pulitzer Prize, the Nobel Prize in 1963 for his body of work that includes: Cannery Row, Of Mice and Men, East of Eden, Tortilla Flats, The Pearl, The Winter of Our Discontent, The Red Pony among others. His books have left an indelible mark on our view of the Depression years and family sagas of good and evil. The film adaptations by luminary Directors and Producers: John Ford, Elia Kazan, Alfred Hitchock, Darryl Zanuck, with actors James Dean, Henry Fonda, Marlon Brando, Jayne Mansfield, Spencer Tracy and more add to the legacy. His friendship with mentor and Marine Biologist Ed Ricketts is well represented in The Log of the Sea of Cortez. John was married three times and had two sons, Tom and John, by his second wife. He was an inveterate drinker and smoker. He died at the age of 66 of a heart attack. His ashes are interred in the family grave in the Salinas cemetery.

                Here are more details of the trip...

                Monday, May 07, 2012

                Who Killed Mom by Steve Burgess (Book Reviews)

                The cover design of Who Killed Mom? (Greystone Press) has a black and white photo of a beautiful young woman seated on a picnic blanket holding a scrappy puppy with her three babies seated directly in front of her. The children have that look children get when you are taking their picture at this age of minimal awareness of the importance of holding still for something that remains bafflingly obscure to their immediate need. The mother, Joan Burgess has a look of serenity and fragility at once. Fine bone structure and a side-parted short hairstyle with her trim figure in a practical dress speak volumes. The book has been sent to me by the author's publicist. From my first e-mail exchange with Steve, I am treated to his wit. He jokes, "Guess which one is me in the photo? Two are girls so be careful who you insult".

                I guess correctly, "You're the toe-head on the right looking off to the side instead of at the photographer, " I say describing the baby with no shirt and a roly-poly stomach.

                Right!" he answers.

                "Somehow I feel you have always been a man of distraction and drool." I quip.

                Next I study the author's website and his photo. He is leaning out the window of what looks like a bus, nattily dressed, sporting a grand smile and a high forehead above dark framed glasses. Burgess is an avid traveler and award winning magazine columnist, web contributor for the likes of MSN, Salon, AOL and has been a broadcast host at CBC. He could easily take over as the savvy urban version of Garrison Keillor, the OTHER radio broadcaster I enjoy listening to on CBC (from syndicated programing at NPR).

                Over the course of the next week, while

                Friday, May 04, 2012

                TD National Reading Summit 2012: Vancouver (Feature Articles)

                The TD National Reading Summit III gathered in Vancouver May 2-4 to refine, discuss, brainstorm and generally formulate a strategy, building upon the last two summits, that gets people reading across the country. Reading for pleasure, reading for information, reading for inspiration. We want Canada's cultural identity to be one of hockey AND reading, ok, maybe in reverse order. Just how this story plays out TBC'd! In the meanwhile, check out the organization, think about why you love reading and how to instill the passion of reading for all. Patsy Aldana, founder of Groundwood Books and Rick Wilks, founder of Annick Press are both founding members of the National Reading Campaign steering committee. Patsy is also President of the International Board on Schools for Young People (IBBY) and Canada's representative to the American Publishers Group, among other accolades. Thursday we heard from Canadian singer, songwriter Steven Page of Bare Naked Ladies and Max Wyman, writer, cultural commentator and former Director for the Canada Arts Council (2002-2006) who also led the Canadian delegation to the UNESCO World Conference on Arts and Education in Portugal (2006). Max has been

                Thursday, April 26, 2012

                Slide Share and TED Talks: 2 Ways to Learn FAST (Technology Corner)

                I was out for drinks with the girls (chromosomally we DO qualify) and one of our group had not heard of TED Talks. This rather astonished me. I have a habit of viewing TED talks on my iPad at night before bed. Some people drink hot milk, others take an ativan. I like the idea of dozing off and infusing my brain with creative ideas. TED stands for Technology Education Design with the bold red sign displayed right behind the speaker. Experts in diverse fields give TED talks on topics as wide as: brain physiology, astrophysics, human behavior, art, and architecture. They use intriguing titles like: What makes us happy? How women are reshaping the world. The rise of collaboration in technology. They're brief, 12-17 minutes, so once you watch one you can't stop! Browse the list according to theme, speaker or topic, or "most viewed" or "recent", if you're a regular. Search a well-known name and you will likely find they've done a TED Talk. Jamie Oliver talks about obesity in America. Bill Gates talks about really brilliant educator. Elizabeth Gilbert talks about genius and how we ruin it. Jane Goodall talks about what separates us from the apes.

                Another wonderful way to pick-up topical statistics on diverse and fascinating subjects is from a wesite that stores slide presentations - from ALL kinds of sources. SLIDESHARE.COM. I'm interested in edcucation, libraries and digital technology so a slide presentation by the Pew Center for Research on the topic with data results from a study supported by a several million dollar grant from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is a fantastic source of information to absorb and incorporate into my writing and talks! Choose from their list of themes or topics and you'll be amazed what you will find. Browse by category or by popular rank according to other social media sites from which they are aggragated: SlideShare is the best way to share presentations, documents and professional videos. Get a free account to upload and share. Or go PRO to get more.

                Tuesday, April 24, 2012

                Vincent Lam's Debut Novel: The Headmaster's Wager (Author Interviews)

                Giller Prize winner Vincent Lam has today released his first novel titled, The Headmaster's Wager (Doubleday, 2012 Canada and Hogarth Press in America) based on his own grandfather who was "a drinker, womanizer and man-about-town" and the headmaster at an English school in Vietnam. Interviewed today on CTV news, Vincent explains the space between this novel and his last published work - due to the sensitive nature of writing about close family members, the emotions he felt and the care he wished to take with the writing. The premise of the novel is below. Lam won the Giller for his collection of short stories titled Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures (2006). That book was adapted for television as a series that aired in 2010 produced by Shaftsbury Films. In addition to being an author, Lam is an emergency physician who works at the Toronto General Hospital, as well as being a devoted husband and father. Last, Vincent is a passionate advocate for the Toronto Public Library and the value of public spaces that nurture thought, creativity and social capital. Click for CTV Interview

                Sunday, April 22, 2012

                No Pulitzer Prize Awarded - Scandal or Indictment? (Feature Articles)

                My PW bulletin arrived with a great debate on the blowback after America's Pulitzer Prize committee decided NOT to award any of the short-listed nominated books. Response to the decision has been interesting. Anne Patchett wrote a scathing piece that appeared in the NYT and felt that readers are the ones missing out, in addition to the finalists who deserved losing to someone. Is it an indictment of the quality of fiction, a faulty committee process or a justified stance? Despite a jury’s selection of three titles beloved by many—David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King, Denis Johnson’s Train Dreams, and Karen Russell’s Swamplandia!—the award selection committee (a separate body) declined to pick a winner. Read details of the PW report and let us know your thoughts on our blog.

                Saturday, April 14, 2012

                Wine & Book Group Pick for Feb-Mar 2012 (Wine & Book Club)

                Half-Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan won Canada's highest honor, The Scotiabank Giller Prize for 2011. Esi was also longlisted for the 2012 Orange Prize for Fiction, a finalist for the Man Booker Prize, the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, the Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction, the Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction and the Ethel WIlson Fiction Prize. That is a lot of final lists! Take a peek as Esi is awarded her prize at the Giller Prize ceremony followed by her interview on Canada AM.

                The author's website describes the novel as: "Berlin, 1939. A young, brilliant trumpet-player, Hieronymus, is arrested in a Paris cafe. The star musician was never heard from again. He was twenty years old. He was a German citizen. And he was black.

                Fifty years later, Sidney Griffiths, the only witness that day, still refuses to speak of what he saw. When Chip Jones, his friend and fellow band member, comes to visit, recounting the discovery of a strange letter, Sid begins a slow journey towards redemption.

                From the smoky bars of pre-war Berlin to the salons of Paris, Sid leads the reader through a fascinating, little-known world, and into the heart of his own guilty conscience.

                Half-Blood Blues is an electric, heart-breaking story about music, race, love and loyalty, and the sacrifices we ask of ourselves, and demand of others, in the name of art.

                Wednesday, April 11, 2012

                Tribeca Film Festival: Available To Viewers At Home (Events)

                What a great concept - a film festival you can watch from home! You don't have to be in New York. Check out the line-up for the Tribeca Film Festival-at home 2012 sponsored by American Express - April 19-29th. I was particularly drawn to a film called Knuckleball when the Tribeca Film Festival program came out. It's the story of a small cadre of pitchers in American baseball who mastered the pitch which requires them "to have the fingers of a safecracker and the mind of a Zen Buddhist," or as it is alternately described, "it's like trying to throw a butterfly into your neighbors mailbox." Filmakers Annie Sundberg and Rickie Stern claim it's a metaphor for society and the economic times we face today. While mainstream is bsessed with youth, power and speed the people who master knuckleballs go completely against the mainstream grain; craftsmanship, patience and time are what go into acquiring this pitch, and it is what keeps players in the game when others flame out. The two pitchers for the Boston Red Sox and the New York Mets are the year long subjects of the film.

                Another topic of focus at the Tribeca Film Fest is about the future of film itself. Everyone is scrambling to find ways to deliver films to consumers in the mediums with which they now consume them; via You Tube, the net and how films are marketed as well. For example - are Tweet Seats the new smoking section? How does the medium serve when its virtual screen has gone from theatre size to iPad size for many viewers?

                Tuesday, April 10, 2012

                Didn't Get No Pussy Neither.... (Author Interviews)

                It's Poetry Month, the time of year when literary types as well as those fearing Alzheimer's vow to memorize and publicly recite more poetry. Actually, poetry has probably never been more of a pop phenomenon if you include the modern versions: Rap and Poetry Slams. Compare those two presentations to the content and cadence of the poetry you read in high school and university by luminaries such as Edna St. Vincent Millay or A.E.Housman, these were pieces read in quiet contemplation for personal enjoyment, sans blare of amplified speakers or requisite attendance at a public crush. The New York Public Transit Authority selects a few pieces of poetry for public display on its transit surfaces each April. Thom Gunn's work was selected and he tells a humorous anecdote in this video followed by a reading from his poems:Jamesian and The Home. The first line begins, "Their relationship consisted in discussing if it exhisted..." to which a graffiti artist adroitly annotates below, "...and I didn't get no pussy neither."

                Dreaming In French (Feature Articles)

                In Dreaming in French: The Paris Years of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, Susan Sontag, and Angela Davis, National Book Award finalist Alice Kaplan traces the experiences of Jacqueline Bouvier, Susan Sontag and Angela Davis during the periods early in their adult lives that each lived in Paris.

                Bouvier had grown up under a family myth of having descended from French royalty, complete with the habit of speaking only French at mealtimes; although the royalty bubble soon burst, Jackie--who was still pronouncing her own name in the French fashion--found a rich intellectual world in France, as well as a sense of elegance and presence that would come to define her personal social, professional and sartorial style. Sontag went to France during graduate school at age 24, leaving behind a husband and young son. Her French was poor, but her social life in the city was rich, and what it taught her about human sexuality and her own passions informed her work from her dissertation until her death. Davis, like Bouvier an undergraduate studying abroad, spoke French fluently but found herself navigating alien racial terrain as the only black student in her study abroad program, which took place as bombings tore apart her

                Sunday, April 01, 2012

                Whistler Reads: NO ENEMIES, NO HATRED (Whistler Reads)

                April marks our launch back into the Whistler Reads public book club series. It is fitting that we should discuss Nobel Peace Prize laureate (2010) Liu Xiobo's new book recently published by Harvard University Press entitled, No Enemies, No Hatred: Selected Essays and Poems. Join us the SECOND (not the first as stated earlier) Thursday of June at Armchair Books in Whistler village, where WR members receive a 10% discount on books and where we'll will meet, greet and share refreshments next door at Whistler's popular Gone Bakery Restaurant. Your donation towards a participation fee in advance covers everything. $15 at the door. Be a part of Whistler's reading, thinking book discussion series, where we alternate fiction with nonfiction titles every 8 weeks.

                Liu Xiobo is a writer, literary critic, professor and most importantly, a public intellectual and human rights activist who was arrested in 2008 for his

                Saturday, March 31, 2012

                Masterpiece:April Celebrates Two Dickens Classics (WGBH Boston)

                In the year that marks Charles Dickens bicentenary of birth Masterpiece Classic has released this two-episode rendition which views on television on April 1 and 8th of Great Expectations starring Gillian Anderson (The X-Files, Bleak House) as Miss Havisham, with David Suchet (Hercule Poirot) and Ray Winstone with emerging talents Douglas Booth and Vanessa Kirby. Adapted by Sarah Phelps (Oliver Twist). Great Expectation is of course the story of Pip, a battered orphan boy, who rises from blacksmith's apprentice to gentleman under the patronage of a mysterious benefactor. (Click the hot links for direct purchase of the DVD's to add to your Masterpiece movie collection.)

                April 15, 2012 at 9pm (Check local listings)
                Mystery of Edwin Drood
                One 120-minute episode
                An adaptation and completion of Charles Dickens' last novel left unfinished at his death, The Mystery Of Edwin Drood is a psychological thriller about a provincial choirmaster's obsession with 17-year-old Rosa Bud. Cast includes Matthew Rhys (Brothers & Sisters) and Julia MacKenzie (Miss Marple).

                Tuesday, March 27, 2012

                Free & Easy File Sharing: (Technology Corner)

                Is your email server throttling your messages? It can be annoying if you are expecting a file that the sender told you they emailed hours ago. There are lots of file sharing options out there, but many of them have an onerous registration process when all you want to do is retrieve or send a file with no strings or fees attached. A new-to-me Amsterdam company is the ticket for sending secure files (2GB or less) fast and for free. Easy as 1 2 3. Click on the website, drag the document or folder into the box, type your friend or colleague's email address and your own email and any message, if needed, and click SEND. Done. Retrieving is just as simple. They get a WeTransfer email notification. Click open and it's downloaded to their desired location. You can sign-up for channel which gives you a personalized url, your own backgrounds and the ability to store files for 4 months. Not bad! It's available in 9 languages. They've delivered over 100,000 files including a few of my own!

                Short Video of Old-fashioned Book Making (Author Interviews)

                As digital technology inevitably replaces print technology in the march of progress, it is fascinating to behold the combination of machine and person-skill sets that have gone into the traditional print medium. Why do I not have the same sense of nostalgia for the technical advances that have replaced other communication mediums - music, for example? Vinyl to 8-track, cassette to CD, walkman to iPod? (video frame below)

                Thursday, March 22, 2012

                B*tches in Bookshops Video (Author Interviews)

                After attending the Jay Z and Kanye West concert in Vancouver in which THIS song was played a record of 12 encores... I think I've got the tune down. But check out these girls and their book themed lyrics.

                Sunday, March 18, 2012

                Breville Juicer: Simply The Best AM Drink (Feature Articles)

                For the past while I've been making weekly trips to the luxury food market in my neighborhood to purchase a one liter jug of freshly made beet, carrot, apple, ginger juice; right after yoga at Sempraviva. The garnet red color of the juice alone is a visual boost. Full of anti-oxidants and vitamins you can feel the energy stores rising with each gulp. I decided to take the plunge and bought a Breville juicer-blender combo so I can make my own concoctions, and I can't be more satisfied. True, it's a pricey countertop appliance, but it's also

                Wednesday, March 07, 2012

                Nobel Peach Prize Laureate in Vancouver March 20th (Events)

                Liu Xiaobo is a writer, literary critic, professor and most importantly, a public intellectual and human rights activist. Liu was imprisoned three times for political reasons prior to his most recent arrest in 2008, following which he was sentenced to eleven years' imprisonment due to his role in circulating the Charter 08 manifesto calling for multiparty constitutional government in China. Since the late 1980s, Liu’s writings have been banned in China, and few young Chinese people have read them or even heard of him. In the West, Liu was equally obscure until the 2010 Nobel awards were announced. This January, Harvard University Press published a collection of Liu’s critical essays and prison poetry from the last two decades, No Enemies, No Hatred: Selected Essays and Poems (with a foreword by Vaclav Havel), which gives English-language readers a chance to hear his courageous voice.

                The purpose of this proposed reading is to share Liu Xiaobo's works with a broader audience, and to engage students at SFU and the local community by reading Liu’s human rights literature in different languages. In between these readings, scholars and experts will give an introduction and commentary on the significance of Liu’s activities and his writings.

                When: Tuesday, March 20th, 2:00-4:00pm
                Where: Room 1425, Simon Fraser University - Harbour Centre, 515 West Hastings Street, Vancouver, British Columbia
                Admission: FREE and open to the public. Seating is on a first-come, first-serve basis. Please show up a little early to avoid disappointment.

                Event sponsors include Institute for Humanities, Department of Humanities, Asian Canada Program, the World Literature Program and David Lam Centre, all at SFU. Below is the video of the Nobel Prize ceremony in which Liu Xiobo was awarded in absentia.

                Monday, March 05, 2012

                Best Translated Book Awards (Feature Articles)

                Unless you speak and read foreign languages, translated books offer you insights into other cultures like nothing else. They're right up there with foreign films with subtitles. While film gives the viewer the advantage of spoken word with nuances of behavior (acting), books have the writerly trump card through inner monologue, description, style and phrasing. I try to read at least one new translated work for every 5 or 10 English language books. There is a host of titles to choose from out of the BTBA finalist list just announced in the LA Times book section. This young award started in 2007. It recognizes both the original author and the translator with $5,000 each. The BTBA winners will be announced during the PEN World Voices Festival, which takes place April 30-May 6 in New York. Without further adieu (drum roll please...)

                The longlist for the 2012 Best Translated Book Awards

                • "Leeches" by David Albahari, translated from the Serbian by Ellen Elias-Bursać (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
                • "My Two Worlds" by Sergio Chejfec, translated from the Spanish by Margaret B. Carson (Open Letter) [....23 more titles]

                  Saturday, March 03, 2012

                  Keep Calm & Carry On (Author Interviews)

                  This YouTube posted video Keep Calm & Carry On tells the story of a WWII slogan poster that was designed by the British government, kept in reserve for dire times, forgotten and then found. It's simple clear words have captivated people since, and it has been reproduced to great success. (Click below)

                  Thursday, March 01, 2012

                  The Power of Habit (Book Reviews)

                  Neuroscientists have been studying how habits are formed, and how those habits, good or bad, affect our lives. The knowledge is used by a surprising array of people. Like companies who want to determine how to get you to buy their product. Proctor and Gamble had a product designed to destroy odors. It was losing money and so they studied a group of women cleaning their houses to determine how to better market their product, Fabrese. After re-designing their advertising to suit the new information, the company and the sector it spawned now has annual sales of $1billion.

                  Companies benefit internally from recognizing and infusing good employee habits. Personally we all have things in our lives we'd like to change or improve upon. I used to have an issue with accounting. I'd rather have a dental hygenist appointment than work on my budget. Then I downloaded an App for my phone (Expense It) that has a daily reminder to input receipts and income streams, and now it's a become a habit with visible rewards, like seeing pie graphs of my business expenses and personal spending.

                  People hire habit makers (or breakers) all the time for things like improving diet and exercise habits, to stop smoking or avoid procrastinating. Successful people are merely those who have developed effective habits to accomplish the things they need to move forward with their lives.

                  The interesting part about the author of this book is

                  Monday, February 27, 2012

                  Author Podcast: Julian Fellowes (Author Interviews)

                  You can almost hear them shouting, "The British are coming!" all over again since Masterpiece Theatre's Downton Abbey debuted on this side of the pond. Written by Academy Award winning screenwriter Sir Julian Fellowes (Gosford Park, Vanity Fair, SNOBS) whose name has become synonymous with his facility for personifying—and humanizing—Britain's stratified society of staunch upper crust, the middle and emerging class of professionals, and those in service. His knowledge base of course stems from his renunciation of a life of privilege for a career in (long before knighthood) acting, writing and directing. [Rather like Sybil!] Since the series has become a North American sensation, our 2005 BookBuffet telephone interview with Julian Fellowes has rocketed to our most popular podcast download, so we decided (with a mix of pride and embarrassment) to share this early foray into the podcast medium by bringing it out of the cobwebs to page one. The questions are still fresh and relevant today, and readers may be even more interested to learn some of the personal details revealed inside. Fellowes talks about his first novel, SNOBS (St. Martin's Press 2005) insights into British aristocracy with thoughts on America, his Director/Screenwriter debut with Separate Lies in theatres October 2005. Read the transcript and listen along.

                  Sunday, February 05, 2012

                  The Man Within My Head by Pico Iyer (Feature Articles)

                  I've always been a fan of Graham Greene. He was a journalist turned novelist, an avid traveler who wrote about external and internal forms of conflict; during war or occupation; in matters of the heart; spiritual conflict. He appeals to the philosopher and psychologist in all of us. Pico Iyer's new book, The Man Within My Head (Random House, Feb 2012) is about his own close identification with Graham Greene life and work. This book make you see the deep connections we each have for the writers we admire.

                  You may know Pico Iyer through his prodigious 100 yearly articles appearing in Time, NYRB, Harper's, National Geographic, Financial Times and other fine publications. They demonstrate his shared breadth of interest in Green-esque topics—indeed Mr. Iyer wrote the introductions for Greene's Collected Stories, as well the introductions for authors: Michael Ondaatje, Somerset Maugham, Peter Matthiessen (Snow Leopard) and others. His own books deal with faith, The Open Road: The Global Journey of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, and travel: Sun after Dark: Flights into the Foreign, The Global Soul: Jet Lag, Shopping Malls, & the Search for Home, Imagining Canada: An Outsider's Hope for a Global Future, The Lady and the Monk: Four Seasons in Kyoto for starters. Of his current book Random House writes,

                  In The Man Within My Head, Pico Iyer sets out to unravel the mysterious closeness he has always felt with the English writer Graham Greene; he examines Greene’s obsessions, his elusiveness, his penchant for mystery. Iyer follows Greene’s trail from

                  Sunday, January 01, 2012

                  Gear to Jumpstart 2012 (Technology Corner)

                  With an eye to keeping up with the latest technology trends, here is a list of gear and gadgets you'll want to take with you into 2012.
                  Apple iPad 2
                  Rightly called "the game changer" the iPad2 sold out on all channels with 500,000 units flying out the door on the first weekend alone. The reason? Our smart phones aren't really large enough to read books or browse websites and many of the new apps are easier to see and use on an ipad. Our laptops are too cumbersome to pack and carry for international travel, or for that matter commuting by bicycle to work. Two cameras make FaceTime and HD video recording possible. Using the ipad as a surrogate office station is possible through the free (or larger data subscriber rates) of iCloud, where all your memory heavy programs and data is kept on a remote server you can access and update from anywhere. The dual-core A5 chip and 10-hour battery life keep you powered. Over 200 new software features in iOS 5. Manipulate and share photos art. Carry all your digital and audio books, music & films, world newspapers and magazines in one slim device. Use the GPS positioning system for every app that you now rely on: google maps, cinema and restaurant locator, taxis, that wine label locator, etc.

                  Boxee Live TV ($50)
                  Now that you've streamlined your office, why not dump your cable company? How many times have you lamented that you were paying for hundreds of stations that you never use or want to see or have to negotiate around? Boxee Live TV ($50) uses an HDTV antenna or unencrypted cable connection to access to local broadcast stations with a friendly show-finding interface that lets you receive recommendations from friends, and even remove channels that you never watch. Boxee puts viewers in control of their television viewing preferences for the first time! It's a positive revolution that may save us all from a Kardasian-esque future idiocracy.

                  The Audio Bulb:
                  It's a light bulb and a wireless audio speaker. Just screw it into your light bulb socket for added sound. What a great idea!

                  Saturday, December 17, 2011

                  Dickens 2012: The Biggest Literary Celebration (Author Interviews)

                  Next year will mark the 200 anniversary of the birth of English author Charles Dickens, and all kinds of things are planned to mark the occasion. Check out I just downloaded a cool App for my iPad. It's a narrated and illustrated copy of Dickens: Dark London by the Museum of London that is interactive, and takes users on a journey through the darker side of Charles Dickens’ London in a unique series of interactive graphic novels narrated by Tinker Tailor Solder Spy actor Mark Strong. It's compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 4.2.1 or later.

                  Since it is "that festive time of year" let us focus on Dickens' classic short novel A Christmas Carol. The book has remarkably been in print continuously for 167 years. The novella was first published by Chapman & Hall on 19 December 1843 during the Victorian era when people were experiencing a nostalgia for traditions - the Christmas carol and the German tradition of decorating evergreen trees. In fact, Dickens is credited with changing the way Great Britain, the rest of the Commonwealth and western Christian society now celebrates this holiday, which before the runaway success of A Christmas Carol wasn't even a bank holiday. This Penguin copy, Classics Christmas Carol And Other Christmas Writings has a wonderful combination of stories you can read aloud in your family to start your own family aural tradition.

                  Each year our local library puts on a collective reading of A Christmas Carol for the public. And each year our family watches the black and white remastered film version starring Alister Sims on Christmas Eve, all of us huddle together on our old couch at the ski cabin with a fire blazing, hot rum toddies and various savory treats along with Nana's traditional Christmas fruitcake with a large chunk of aged cheddar on the side, and Purdy chocolate balls wrapped in green or red tin foil being tossed around the room along with Mandarin oranges that we compete to remove the skins in one intact piece. Get the new Blu-ray version.

                  Friday, December 16, 2011

                  Christopher Hitchen Dies at 62 (Feature Articles)

                  It might seem ironic that the man considered one of this generation's best, if not most controversial, essayists and speakers, prone to a prodigious often vitriolic verbal attack on his topic or target d'moment (Mother Teresa, Henry Kissinger, the royal family—God) has died of complications of esophageal cancer. It's as though the words and the cigarettes conspired against him. He was a great friend of other great literary personalities and minds: Ian McEwan, Martin Amos, Salman Rushdie, and I watched him with great interest on all the Charlie Rose interviews. He could recite in entirety several of his favorite books and also his favorite plays by Shakespeare. A prolific writer he contributed articles to: The New Statesman, the London Evening Standard, London’s Daily Express, Harper’s, The Spectator, and The Times Literary Supplement, among others. He was an editor and writer at Vanity Fair and wrote for Slate, The Atlantic among others. His books include The Trial of Henry Kissinger (Verso, 2001), Letters to a Young Contrarian (Basic, 2001), God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (Twelve, 2007), Hitch-22: A Memoir (Twelve, 2010), and Arguably: Essays by Christopher Hitchens (Twelve, 2011), a collection of his later essays. He took pains to assure people he had not changed his views on religion after being diagnosed with cancer. The world shall miss his brilliant mind, "slashing polemicist in the tradition of Thomas Paine and George Orwell" to use a quote from William Grimes of The New York Times eulogy in today's paper.

                  Here is a selection of tributes:

                  Monday, December 05, 2011

                  The Best (Feature Articles)

                  The lists are coming out fast and furious these days and I always enjoy finding new books as recommended by sage review teams and of course noted authors. Check out the Guardian's list recommendations from heavy-hitters: Julian Barnes, John Banville, Tariq Ali, Chimamanda Adichie, AS Byatt, William Boyd et al - all my favorites. Then there is the annual lists from:

                  Friday, December 02, 2011

                  Masterpiece: December Returns to Cranford (WGBH Boston)

                  Cranford is the mythical setting for Elizabeth Gaskell's novels. Sue Bertwhistle has a love affair with period pieces. She adapted Gaskell's Wives and Daughters and of course the ever popular Jane Austen"s Pride & Predjudice starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle and Emma starring Kate Beckingsdale. When asked how she came upon the Carnford series she replied that it was recommended to her after the success of Pride & Predjudice and she quickly became entranced with the author who uses her characters over and over with each new work of fiction substituting different names and scenarios, but whose work remains true to her own life experiences: a brother that went off to sea at age 16, the death of an infant (her own). Like Austen these tell the minutia of women's country lives in the period, and adhere to all the details Masterpiece productions are well know for, including a repertoire of wonderful actors such as: Dame Judy Dench, Claudie Blakley, Julia McKenzie and Alex Jennings, to name but a few here. This story has the addition of curious animal behavior - a cow that is dressed up in pajamas daily that is based on a real sartorial cow in the author's hometown of Knutsford,. Oh those Brits! Get the DVD package here Elizabeth Gaskell Series.

                  More details from the Masterpiece interview between Bertwhistle and Richard Maurer.

                  Tuesday, November 29, 2011

                  An Economist's Views On The Occupy Movement (Author Interviews)

                  Jeffrey Sachs is a writer economist with numerous distinctions; he's on the list of the 100 most influential people in the the world, the 50 most important leaders in globalization, the 500 most influential foreign policy advisors, and he's the director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University. In his previous 14 books and publications Sachs has written about the economies of the developing world and macroeconomics of the globe. He's been a champion of people in extreme poverty and as director of the UN Millennium Project he helped write the Millennium Development Goals among other groundbreaking initiatives. He's been criticized as "leftest" and "neoliberal". His latest book, The Price of Civilization: Economics and Ethics After the Fall (Random House 2011) turns the telescope away from those "other nations" and focuses it firmly on the USA. And although the book was written before the "occupy movement", he feels that it is the banner to which his book's message speaks.

                  The following video posted on You Tube comes from a talk he gave at the Toronto Public Library. It is a 3 part series.

                  The Fear Index by Robert Harris (Book Reviews)

                  If you have an interest in these two things; CERN and the consequences of algorithmic trading, then Robert Harris's new novel The Fear Index (Hutchinson UK, Knopf NAmerica Jan2012) is a must read. I told my husband about it and he picked up a copy at Heathrow airport and says it's a real page-turner, er, iPad-turner.

                  Bloomberg's correspondent Hephzibah Anderson met up with the author to discuss his book the premise to which is a "physicist-turned-hedge-fund-manager unleashes a trading algorithm that feeds on human emotions to predict market fluctuations. In just a week, VIXAL-4 makes a profit of $79.7 million. Then, on May 6, 2010 -- the day of the so-called flash crash, when the Dow briefly dropped 9.2 percent -- it goes rogue, catapulting its creator into a paranoid universe of murder and market mayhem."

                  “The fund is like a malevolent creature,” says Harris, 54, the author of bestselling novels including “Pompeii,” “Fatherland” and “The Ghost,” the basis for Roman Polanski’s movie about a thinly veiled Tony Blair. Speaking from the depths of a leather chair in a London hotel, he shares some of his own anxieties over club sandwiches and lounge music.

                  Anderson: What inspired the switch from historical and political thrillers?
                  Harris: I see myself as writing books about power and this is the same -- it’s all about control. A dozen years ago I wanted to write a version of George Orwell’s “1984” in which the threat to the individual wasn’t the state, but rather corporations and computers. I got very interested in artificial intelligence. It wasn’t until the financial crisis that I realized I could marry finance and computers. Financial Research

                  Anderson: How much did you know about finance going into this project?
                  Harris: I didn’t understand what a short was, or a credit derivative, or even precisely what it was that a hedge fund did. I asked a lot of very embarrassing questions of very busy people. Anderson: So plenty of research, then?

                  Saturday, November 26, 2011

                  New Biography of KURT VONNEGUT by Charles Shields (Book Reviews)

                  Upon learning that Kurt Vonnegut's mother successfully committed suicide when he was 21 - on Mother's Day, a peep of insight into the writer's life works begins to dawn. The author of “Cat’s Cradle”, “Sirens of Titan”, “Breakfast of Champions” and his masterpiece, “Slaughterhouse-Five”

                  Friday, November 25, 2011

                  Wine & Book Group Pick for December (Wine & Book Club)

                  There has been a general trend in western society toward political apathy to the point where both the US and Britain have gone down on the "democracy index" as compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit, a think tank that examines information collected on countries around the world. Evidence shows poor voter turnout, bounding cynicism, young people like those of the occupy movement disenfranchised with the political system, the candidates running and disgust for the collusion between big money and big government. The US is frustrated by political gridlock and a seemingly backward mandate by fully 50% of the political combatants. The Euro debt crisis further shows government mangling our collective economic future.

                  As a timely respite, Canada Reads —the countrywide competition to choose the next book that Canadians will read en mass, discuss and possibly become influenced by—was announced yesterday. The Best Laid Plans by Terry Fallis is a great way for folks on both sides of the 49th parallel to enjoy a political satire addressing all of the above.

                  Friday, November 18, 2011

                  PD James Writes a Jane Austen Sequel (Feature Articles)

                  PD James has a bio to knock your socks off: The author of twenty books, most of which have been filmed and broadcast on television in the United States and other countries. She spent thirty years in various departments of the British Civil Service, including the Police and Criminal Law Department of Great Britain's Home Office. She has served as a magistrate and as a governor of the BBC. In 2000 she celebrated her eightieth birthday and published her autobiography, Time to Be in Earnest. The recipient of many prizes and honors, she was created Baroness James of Holland Park in 1991. She lives in London and Oxford. —Random House

                  With her love of Jane Austen (she re-reads the entire canon every year) she has devised a mystery picking up 6 years after the marriage of Elizabeth Bennet to Mr. Knightly. Sound intriguing? Check out the interview (below) with the author and purchase copies of Death Comes to Pemberley(Random House 2010) for each JA fan on your holiday gift list.

                  Tuesday, November 01, 2011

                  The Easy Way to Pick Colors: Kuler Color (Technology Corner)

                  Even if you are not a design professional, there are situations when you need to come up with a palette of color swatches: you're picking wall paint or furniture fabric after a house reno, you're designing a new web site and need a set of colors - or like me, you're in publishing and need to determine colors accents for a large format coffee table style book. Check out kuler Kuler is the web-hosted application that is part of the Adobe suite used for generating color themes that can inspire any project. No matter what you're creating, with Kuler you can experiment quickly with color variations and browse thousands of themes from the Kuler community.You can load in a picture and will come up with a set of swatches automatically that you can brighten or mute as needed. Name and save the chip sample, post it to friends or colleagues. It's an indispensable tool in several industries. Here's how it works. After registering as a user (it's free) you can create your own swatches by uploading a photograph and then letting the program do the work. It picks 3 to 4 or 5 colors from your sample and you can select a mood, "brighter, muted, deep, darker or custom." These make subtle changes to the palette that might be more in line with your project goal. You can save swatches and refer to them again and again, and you get to see what other users have come up with when they name a swatch set. Go ahead, give it whirl.

                  Wednesday, October 26, 2011

                  Boomerang: Michael Lewis Takes On The Globe (Author Interviews)

                  Michael Lewis, author of The Big Short has a new book out that essentially takes TBS on a world tour. Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World is Lewis's take on how the world financial markets got caught in the financial crisis. He devotes a chapter each to Iceland, Germany, Greece and Ireland and asigns sweeping character assessments to explain their investor Gestalt. Forbes says "[Boomerang] demystifies Germany's role in the global debt calamity." Jackie McNish at the Globe and Mail says, "In Boomerang, a travelogue through the globe’s economic ruins, Lewis takes us into the lives of the hapless and misguided government officials, bankers and speculators who stoked the 2008 financial fires we wishfully and wrongly believed had been doused by massive government bailouts. Turns out, taxpayer dollars only stalled the carnage. Like a boomerang, the crisis is now swinging back with a vengeance and this slight, poignantly humorous 212-page book tells even the most informed student of global economics why it was inevitable." Check out Lewis's interview on You Tube with PBS economics correspondent, Paul Solman at this cozy little European-style restaurant in Washington, DC. What I love is how Lewis pokes a stick in the eye of all the people who he says thought they could beat the system. He says they were that guy in a dark room sitting next to a wad of money. Who could resist? They all knew what they were doing, and they handled it in their own stereotypical way. Don't take offense. The world tour's last stop is America, where Lewis claims that Americans, adept at re-inventing themselves without the fear of a European-like stigmata post-bankruptcy will use their "stories of woe" to rise pheonix-like out of the current world quagmire. My stock portfolio could use a little boost - thanks Michael..

                  Sunday, October 23, 2011

                  Canada Reads True Stories: Top 40 (Feature Articles)

                  For the past three weeks, Canadians from coast to coast to coast have been nominating their favourite memoirs, biographies and literary non-fiction reads for Canada Reads: True Stories. The response has been overwhelming! Thousands of entries poured in from nook and cranny, with readers nominating everything from CanLit classics like The Last Spike by Pierre Berton to new names in non-fiction like One Bird's Choice by Iain Reid. Browse the list and cast your vote.

                  In Alphabetic Order

                    Adventures in Solitude by Grant Lawrence
                    And No Birds Sang by Farley Mowat
                    Baltimore's Mansion by Wayne Johnston
                    The Boy in the Moon by Ian Brown
                    Burmese Lessons by Karen Connelly
                    Burning Down the House by Russell Wangersky
                    The Cello Suites by Eric Siblin
                    Down to This by Shaughnessy Bishop-Stall
                    The Film Club by David Gilmour
                    Gabrielle Roy written by Francois Ricard, translated by Patricia Claxton
                    The Game by Ken Dryden
                    The Golden Spruce by John Vaillant
                    Jane Austen by Carol Shields
                    The Last Spike by Pierre Berton
                    Louis Riel by Chester Brown
                    The Love Queen of Malabar by Merrily Weisbord
                    Mordecai by Charles Foran
                    The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary by Andrew Westoll
                    Cockeyed by Ryan Knighton
                    The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs

                    Thursday, October 06, 2011

                    Steve Jobs 1955-2011 (Feature Articles)

                    We all expected it, but the news still came as a shock. Steve Jobs dead at 56. He was a genius, a visionary and an aesthetic rebel. Like the products he produced and the industries he affected. He made tech cool. As the accolades pour in for him I reflect on the impact he's made in my life and the lives of my family. We bought the first MacIntosh in 1984. (In fact we only recently gave it to a computer recycling depot after storing it for over 20 years.) My husband used it in medical school and upgraded religiously as newer models came along. We've always been a Mac family and so when my son entered into the gaming world and preferred to program with a PC we took it personally. (Don't worry, he's got lotsa Mac stuff now.) There has always been a Mac/PC schism in the world of geeks which is reflective of Steve Jobs own rebel attitude in business - he twice organized a coup of his company board and regularly addled executives. But his persistence paid off. PC users loved their key commands and code, while Mac users loved our intuitive operating system and attention to design elements. We've always bragged about the "plug and play" facility of Mac products and scorned the "blue screen of death" that our PC friends endured regularly. Start an Apple product and begin work instantly. Start a PC product and you have to take a coffee break before it's ready to use. That was the old LOL.

                    Today we can thank Steve Jobs for

                    Friday, September 16, 2011

                    Saylor Dot Org = Free College Education (Feature Articles)

                    Learning opportunities abound on the web. We've talked about iTunes University's list of ivy league podcast lectures from Stanford, Berkeley et al, to award winning math educator with 2,400 videos teaching everything from basic algebra to GMAT exam tutorials to multidisciplinary applied math in areas like astronomy, computer science or economics, (and even up-to-date stuff like videos of The Geithner Plan to Solve the Banking Crisis.) Want to learn a new language? Watch a series of You Tube videos in the language of choice. The difference between all those experiences and is that the Saylor Foundation offers the entire college experience in a choice 13 areas of study (Art History, Biology, Business Administration, Computer Science... ) that includes the complete course curriculum, online access to all suggested class reading material through the creative commons license, a full set of video lectures to follow along, all the course assignments you would normally get at a brick and mortar school, and of course, final exams. The clincher is IT'S ALL FREE. The Foundation is indebted to founder Michael Saylor and his dedicated full and part time staff, academic consultants and network content providers. I logged onto the site and picked the English Literature degree for example. LIke any college degree you have required core courses in the 100-300 level and a selection of elective choices in the 400 level. I picked the 200 level course: Cultural and Literary Expression in the 18th and 19th Century and got the course purpose, learning outcomes, course overview with a breakdown of concepts from the origins of the term "enlightenment" to the rise of the early novel and so on, all in palatable bite size pieces similar to what you'd learn in a typical classroom experience. In order to take the exam you must be logged into your Saylor Foundation School account. Check it out! There's no excuse not to get Back To School in your spare time.

                    Wednesday, August 31, 2011

                    The Leader Gets A Haircut by Idris Ali (Author Interviews)

                    I've been looking for a novel that captures the essence of life for the citizens of Libya during the Quadafi regime, and found it in Egyptian author, Idris Ali's The Leader Gets A Haircut. Unfortunately, I cannot read Arabic. If anyone knows of an English translation - please let me know; info @ The Sept 5th, 2011 edition of The New Yorker has a feature by Hisham Matar, a Lybian writer, who describes his own experience under that regime; the disappearance of his father who became a permanent statistic of men who crossed Quadafi's political boundaries and paid the price with their life. Matar explains how Haircut derives its title: it is based on a well-circulated account of the day all the barbershops in Libya were closed by order of Colonel Muammar Quadafi. Apparently the dictator had had a nightmare where he was getting a haircut and a shave at a local barbershop and the razor-weilding barber slits his throat. Convinced that his dream is a premonition of some diabolical plot against him, the ensuing public consequence demonstrates how irrationality became the norm for the citizens of Libya. Arabic Literature in English writes "The 130-page book was based on Ali’s four years (1976-1980) as a foreign worker in Libya, and describes Egyptians toiling there under inhumane conditions. According to the the website Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), the book 'included testimonies of Libyans about social life there and how it was affected by repression under the rule of Colonel Quadafi.

                    Tuesday, August 23, 2011

                    Wine & Book Group Pick For Aug-Sept 11 (Wine & Book Club)

                    Fantasy isn't generally speaking "my bag" but this book came so highly recommended by people I admire that I decided to give it a try. Glad I did. Lev Grossman writes in a style that's easy to fall into within the first page. The Magician King (Penguin, 2011) is categorized as psychological fiction. Some call it urban fantasy. It is the sequel to Grossman's first NYT bestseller and "literary phenomenon of 2009". Juno Diaz (author of The Brief and Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao) calls it "a stirring, complex adventurous coming-of-age fantasy." It's about three brilliant college students who've known each other since childhood owing to the Brookline school system's propensity to "sort out the gifted [students] and shove them together, then separate the ridiculously brilliant ones from the merely gifted ones and shove them together; and as a result they'd been bumping into each other in the same speaking contests and regional Latin exams and tiny, specially convened ultra-advanced math classes since elementary school." pg 4. Everyone loves to read about exceptional people. And fantasy has been reeling them in from Narnia to Harry Potter. We are drawn into contemporary fantasy where the landscape is the imagination.

                    Quentin is the thin tall hero of the story. Julia and James are his schoolmates. Together they find unexpected power and the dark side of hedonism and disillusionment in a place called Fillory. (Don't worry - like all good fantasies there is a map on the first page.) I can't think of a better way to lose oneself at the close of summer.

                    And now the wines...

                    Monday, August 22, 2011

                    Whistler Reads: A WORLD ELSEWHERE (Whistler Reads)

                    For Whistler Reads members, our next book discussion will be Canadian author Wayne Johnston's new novel, A World Elsewhere (RandomHouse CA 2011). Click on the link to purchase from for $20.56, or locals go see Dan Ellis at Armchair Books in Whistler and receive our 10% WR member discount off retail. GREAT NEWS! The author is coming to Whistler for the Whistler Readers & Writers 2011 Festival on Sunday October 16th from 10-2pm along with another award-winning Canadian author, Miriam Toews. Purchase your ticket ($35 includes breakfast) here if you'd like to attend. Check out the rest of the festival line-up here for daily blog entries promoting the program and inspiring us all to write and read.

                    True confession: Wayne Johnston is the reason I created this website 9 years ago. I don't know whether to thank him or taunt him with the fact that he essentially changed the course of my life?

                    It all began in Los Angeles circa April 2002.

                    Friday, August 19, 2011

                    Technology Corner: Duotrope (Technology Corner)

                    So you've been plugging away at the next great novel or perhaps that longish fiction piece based on your last trip to Turkey and you're beginning to wonder where you could get published for money, joy or fame? Look no further than DUOTROPE. Duotrope is the award-winning, free writers' resource listing over 3525 current Fiction and Poetry publications. Use this site to search for markets that may make a fine home for the piece you just polished. Use the menus at the top and right of the home page to explore all of the free services they offer writers and editors, including a free online submissions tracker for registered users. They claim to "make several updates per day, and check each of the current listings regularly (at least once a month) to ensure the most up-to-date database humanly possible. So far this week, [they] have checked guidelines for 918 listings, and we have made 527 listing updates. The last update was made 1 hour(s) and 7 minute(s) ago." Sounds like these guys have your back.

                    I tried it and here's how it worked. I used the drop down menu to select TRAVEL, HISTORICAL, 2500 WORDS, LITERARY, YES PAY, WHATEVER THEY WILL and so on. The results turned up The Manchester Review as a first suggestion with some interesting link options that allow you to explore the publication, check out back issues, see if there are any upcoming events, listen to their podcasts, check out their "Center for Writing" and of course the be-all and end-all, names of the review team, dates they accept submissions, guidelines and so on. There is also a section listing other publications that people submitted works to like the search return, and other publications people were accepted at who fit this category. All in all, this is a fantastic site for writers looking to find homes for their work. Check it out. DUOTROPE Next I think that I will follow up with a suggested editor/publication and let you know how I make out!

                    Thursday, August 18, 2011

                    Summer Blockbuster In All Mediums: The Help (Feature Articles)

                    The Help by Karen Stock Stockett is one of those books that you see on the NYT Bestsellers list for over 100 weeks, is translated into 5 languages and sells 5 million copies (so far), gets adapted into a summer film feature blockbuster with rumors of Academy Award nominations that you go to see with your entire book club and have to push past all the other women in the audience seated with their book club. When you hear The Help is the author's break out novel and that it was turned down by 60 literary agents before finally being picked up by the apparently clairvoyant Susan Ramer you want to cheer. My 20-year-strong book group (who've carried on without me through thick and thin) picked this book for our summer read and I have to say that the plot originally did not move me: set in the 60s during the civil rights movement it exposes the bigotry, cruelty and injustices of the White Southern society toward the one-generation-removed-from-slavery African American residents who work for them as domestics and laborers. I felt I "knew" that part of history and that we'd covered "that topic" before in books like Life of Bees or The Color Purple. However, as with all bestsellers, there's more to it than just plot. We fall in love with the characters, we see raw truths in their behavior and we are reminded to be scrupulous in our own relationships and to respect the past.

                    The story is set in Jackson Mississippi and narrated by three voices: Abileen Clark who has spent her life raising 14 white babies with tender love and respect despite the tragic mistreatment of her only son; Minny Jackson, the chocolate pie (with that secret ingredient) baking Black housekeeper that talks back to her bosses and lands a job on the outside of town working for the good but troubled white outcast of the ladies circle. Lastly there is Eugena "Skeeter" Phelan, a headstrong young White woman who champions "the help" by teasing out their stories (with considerable risk to them, given the period) in the intension of exposing the injustices she sees in her town and her effort to break into the publishing world. She hooks her editor with the line, "These women raise white children; we love them and they love us. But they can't even use the toilets in our houses." Most poignant is the reciprocated affections between the Black nannies and the white children they raise, contrasted with the surly vindictive all-powerful Whiter matrons, a metaphor for race relations of the times.

                    Pick up the book in paper, digital or audio version and grab your bf's to catch the movie in theatre before summer's end. (Trailer)

                    Friday, July 29, 2011

                    Harvard Book Store's Top 100 Book List (Feature Articles)

                    I used to live in Boston on Beacon Hill and one of my favorite things to do was to cross the Charles River and head over to the Harvard University campus where the Harvard Book Store is located. Its rival was "The Coop". Recently the employees of THBS were asked to come up with a list of 100 of their all-time favorite books. The lists were compared and compiled into one master list - probably using some complex mathematical formula borrowed from MIT for weighting and placement. Here is the list. See how many you've read, want to re-read, or are planning to read for the first time and add them to your summer reading list. If you've got a digital reader it's easy to load-up and keep them on your virtual bookshelf. We've placed the list into groups of 10 so you can tally each set and keep track of your percentages:

                    SET I

                    1. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
                    2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
                    3. Breakfast of Champions, Kurt Vonnegut
                    4. One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
                    5. The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, Haruki Murikami
                    6. To The Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf
                    7. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov
                    8. Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien
                    9. The Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison
                    10. Beloved, Toni Morrison
                    score (___/___)

                    Tuesday, July 19, 2011

                    On The Outside Looking Indian (Author Interviews)

                    With so many wonderful Indo-diasporan authors making waves in the fiction world over the years: Kiran Desai, Salmon Rushdie, Jhumpa Lahiri, Vikram Chandra, Rohinton Mistry, Arundhati Roy... the list goes on, here is an interesting new book by Rupinder Gill, On the Outside Looking Indian (McClelland Books, 2011) that details a spirit and insight through her own non-fiction coming-of-age story that is both laugh-out-loud funny and full of universal truths. Listen to her interview on here. And if you're intrigued, there's also this excellent in-depth interview by Allan Gregg on TVO via YouTube.

                    The author's blurb goes: "There's a phenomenon in Amish culture called Rumspringa, where Amish adolescents are permitted to break free from their modest and traditional lifestyles to indulge in normally taboo activities. They dress how they want, go out if and when they please, smoke, drink and generally party like it's 1899. At the end they decide if they will return and join the Amish church.

                    "I am 30 years old. I wore my hair in two braids every day until I was 12. I dressed more conservatively than most Amish, barely left my house until I was 18 and spent the last 12 years studying and working hard on my career like a good little Indian girl. The time has come; you are witness to the dawning of my Indian Rumspringa, a Ram-Singha if you will. But instead of smoking and drinking Bud Lights in a park while yelling 'Down with barn raising!' I plan to indulge in a different manner — by pursuing everything I wish had been a part of my youth. Things I always felt were part of most North Americans' adolescent experience...

                    "This is the story of the ultimate New Year's resolution, more akin to a new life resolution. Will it all be fun? Will my friends and family support my walk down memory-less lane? Will it all matter in the end? I don't know yet but much like my young Rumspringaed-out counterpart, I will decide whether or not there is any going back."

                    Jane Austen Manuscript Sells For $1.6M (Feature Articles)

                    The title of this feature should read "The Art of Aging Well". Nobody can say the gal hasn't gained in popularity over the years with the sale (to an individual) of an unfinished manuscript titled, "The Watsons" dating from 1804 at Sotheby's auction this past week, making it the only original JA manuscript or portion-there-of NOT in the hands of a public institution. Makes you wonder what the chap who bought it is going to do with it? Watsons is the story of four sisters who are the family of a widowed clergyman. The work was apparently passed on in the estate to Jane's sister Cassandra, then to her niece Caroline Mary Craven Austen (1805-1880), the younger daughter of their eldest brother James. It was in Caroline’s possession when first published in 1871 by her brother James Edward Austen-Leigh. It passed to Caroline Austen’s nephew, William Austen-Leigh, and he presented the first six leaves (a quire of two leaves and a quire of four leaves) to a charity sale in aid of the Red Cross Society at Christie, Manson, and Woods’s on 26 April 1915. Lot 1520, it sold for £65 to Lady Wernher.

                    The author Margaret Drabble describes the work as "a tantalising, delightful and highly accomplished fragment, which must surely have proved the equal of her other six novels had she finished it". Jane Austen died at the age of 41 in 1817. You can get the complete set of her works for only $15.15 plus shipping Complete Novels Of Jane Austen or purchase a Amazon Kindle Wi-Fi 6'' Wireless Reading Device (Graphite) and download the digital version. And then take advantage of the 99cent offer for the entire digital library of Jane Austen titles here.

                    Become a member of the Jane Austen North American Society (or stop in to see what kind of trouble they routinely get into... I shall now invent a poolside cocktail to celebrate!

                    -1 part GIN, British label please
                    -1 part Absynthe, because it's old and previously forbidden
                    -dash of rose water, the essence of a proper country garden
                    -angostura bitters, for all the spilt tears in Jane's novels
                    -guava juice, to give it the perfect shade of pink-coral
                    Put all ingredients into a martini shaker over ice and strain into a fine crystal glass, which lends the appropriate drama for the occasion.
                    Cheers Jane Austen book lovers!

                    Saturday, July 16, 2011

                    Miró Miró On The Wall (Feature Articles)

                    Summer for me means visiting the art galleries of the city I am traveling. The Tate Modern has an excellent exhibit of Modernist-Surrealist painter and sculptor Joan Miró (thru Sept 11, 2011) that affords a brilliant look at the artist's life, his work and the history that shaped both. It is the first major retrospective in 50 years in London. I especially enjoyed the short film with Miró's grandson giving a tour of his grandfather's two studios where you can see everything in its place. I had the pleasure of viewing the show with a Greek friend who claims she is going to make a large canvas version [in turquoise] of one of the paintings in Miró's blue series for display on the living room wall of her modern style home in Athens. "That's a lovely idea," I said. "Just call it your 'Turquoise Homage de Miro'. An original is beyond we mere mortals and a poster version is better suited to a university dorm wall."

                    We discussed the challenge of making a large canvas a single color; do you use wide brushes or a roller? We see from close inspection of the work that he used a combination dry brush technique at the finish. It may look like child's play, but if you try it you'll see the difficulty.

                    If you can't make it to the exhibit in London (or the Miró Museum in Barcelona), the next best thing is to purchase a copy of Miro (Taschen 25th Anniversary) and check out the excellent review in the The Guardian while you're waiting delivery of this book as an addition to your art book collection. More about Miró and the Surrealist movement.

                    I wish I had taken a photo of the timeline on the wall. If anyone does so, please send me a copy. paulas (at) —Thanks!

                    Monday, June 20, 2011

                    Ape House by Sara Gruen (Book Reviews)

                    MyAltTextHere What would you do if you could talk to animals? What would you say? What would this discovery mean to our society? Sara Gruen’s award winning novel Ape House is a thought provoking read, which poses several questions about how we treat our closest relatives.

                    Gruen holds a mirror to human culture and we can see it reflected in the engaging eyes of a great ape. Bonobos are part of the great ape family, they are less aggressive and dominant than chimpanzees and are distinguished by their long legs, pink lips, and dark faces. Their facial expressions, and hand gestures are freakishly human in nature, and it’s this human connection that intrigued award-winning writer Sara Gruen.

                    “Although John already knew that the bonobos’ preferences varied (for example he knew Mbongo’s favourite food was green onions and that Sam loved pears), he was surprised by how distinct, how different, how almost human, they were.”

                    Wednesday, June 15, 2011

                    A Frightening Time In America: David Foster Wallace (Author Interviews)

                    For those of us who have forever missed meeting or hearing David Foster Wallace speak, here is an interview titled, "A Frightening Time in America" published in The New York Review of Books by Ostap Karmodi.

                    The following conversation is drawn from an interview I did with David Foster Wallace in September 2006 as part of a series of articles and radio pieces about important foreign writers, artists, and movie directors who were not well known in Russia at the time. (Unfortunately, Wallace’s readership in Russia is still very small.) The occasion for our talk was the tenth anniversary of the publication of Infinite Jest. I planned to talk to Mr. Wallace for fifteen minutes, but we ended up talking for

                    Social Thinking: Who Has It, What It Does (Feature Articles)

                    We've all met people who just can't seem to get along socially - be that an awkwardness in the workplace, inappropriate behavior in public or social settings or people who have given up interacting and become loners. A new book by Michelle Garcia Winner and Pamela Crooke titled, Social Thinking At Work: Why Should I Care? (North River Press, June 2011) is out that helps to explain how we develop social skills and why they're so important to personal and professional success. Turns out the term was coined by the author(s) over a decade ago and in the ensuing space of time they've gone on to become thought leaders on the topic, giving lectures and winning awards. Their work starts with youth and carries on up to teens and adults.

                    " Social thinking is a term for social cognition. Social thinking is required prior to the development of social skills. Successful social thinkers consider the points of view, emotions, thoughts, beliefs, prior knowledge and intentions of others (this is often called perspective-taking - considering the perspectives of others). This is for most of us an intuitive process. We can determine the meanings behind the messages communicated by others and how to respond to them within milliseconds to three seconds! Social thinking occurs everywhere, when we talk, share space, walk down the street, even when we read a novel and relate to our pets. It is an intelligence that integrates information across home, work and community settings - something we usually take for granted!"

                    You don't need to have Aspberger's Syndrome or autism to be interested in this book. It turns out, social behavior has a spectrum: some of us are better at this than others. Sounds like a useful resource to leave laying around the office coffee room, if not suggested reading in workplace orientations. Check out their website and join their Facebook page.

                    Check Out Copious Dot Com (Technology Corner)

                    I've got a friend who is obsessed with weekend yard/garage sales that abound over summer. She and her husband like nothing better than to scour their neighborhood for upcoming sales during the week, then get up early on the weekend and grab a latte before they head out treasure hunting. I must tell her about the new buy & sell website called that operates out of Facebook. It claims you can "buy from people not strangers" a dig at the faceless behemoth eBay. Since Facebook connects you to friends and friends-of-friends, one presumes there'll be things you'll want to buy or sell off the people you share interests, socio-economic backgrounds, and who are easy to track down if the item is not what you expected. The site is clean and simple. My interest was tweeked when I saw who the founders and investors are. Check this out:

                    Tuesday, June 14, 2011

                    Masterpiece Turns 40 (WGBH Boston)

                    MASTERPIECE celebrates 40 years of bringing high-quality adaptations of classic works to PBS on Sunday nights. For the occasion, they have revamped a full library of book-to-film discussion guides from the archive—find titles ranging from Jane Eyre to The Diary of Anne Frank and Doctor Zhivago at

                    The Book & Film Club resources
                    provide everything you need for your club. Over 25 guides, sorted by title or author, provide discussion questions, author bios, background essays, interviews, and even activities and recipes.

                    The next author to be added to the MASTERPIECE Book & Film Club collection is Agatha Christie, with book-to-film discussion resources for Poirot and Miss Marple available this June at

                    Friday, May 06, 2011

                    Meet Jim Hanas (Author Interviews)

                    Almost everyone these days has a Facebook page to keep in touch with friends. Some people stop in once a day, others check their wall obsessively through out. But how many of you notice the advertisements on the side bar, and how many of you are compelled to click on them? As a book reviewer the Facebook marketing department got my attention when they served me an ad about a book with an intriguing cover written by Jim Hanas titled, Why They Cried.(Kindle version $7.95) I clicked on the ad, got to his website and saw that the book is a collection of short stories published in every digital format currently available— Kindle, iPad, iPhone Ap, and iTunes. Between the review, the cover and the savvy of marketing and distribution I decided it was time to contact Jim Hanas to ask, "How's it going with that?"


                    BB: Hi Jim. Thanks for taking this interview. Your book advert came up on my Facebook page and I was intrigued by both the cover and the concept of self promotion using social networking. Everyone says it works - what's your experience?

                    Jim Hanas: Whether or not social networks "work" depends, I suppose, on what work you want them to do. I've been a blogger for years, so there was never a moment when I calculated that using social networks could help me sell books. That would be like wondering if a telephone or e-mail would help me sell books. They might, but that's not their exclusive purpose.

                    Angelology by Danielle Trussoni (Book Reviews)

                    MyAltTextHere Oddly enough I have actually studied angel iconography as part of my English Language degree. I shied away from the phonetics and advanced syntax classes on offer and delved into the eclectic mix of subjects that made up the Folklore Department. We covered supernatural beliefs, place name study, and eventually we were allowed to choose a subject to research that would give us the larger portion of our marks. When I saw the cover of Danielle Trussoni’s second novel Angelology I was immediately drawn in. The dramatic black front with a white winged figure in chains sets the tone for the book - the story is as dark as the image suggests. These are not the angels of self help books, or the ones on the front of Christmas cards, this book depicts them as more demon than angel. In a modern world obsessed with vampires, myth and legend, secret sects, and anything dark and sexy, Danielle Trussoni could be adding angels to the aforementioned list.

                    Wednesday, April 27, 2011

                    Live At The NYPL: Billionaires Against Bull (Events)

                    The New York Public Library has a speaking series that makes you wish you lived in the Big Apple. Here's one to catch if you're planning to be in town:
                    Billionaires Against Bull: From Charity to Justice. Ralph Nader speaks to Ted Turner and Peter Lewis.
                    Wednesday, May 4th at 7:00 p.m.
                    Celeste Bartos Forum, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building.
                    $25 General Admission, $15 FRIENDS of The NYPL, Seniors & Students

                    In "Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!", Ralph Nader imagines a coalition of billionaires who join forces to answer the question: “What if several of America’s wealthiest individuals decided it was time to work for the collective good?”

                    On May 4th, Turner and Peter Lewis, two billionaires portrayed in Ralph Nader's fictional narrative, will appear on stage in real life for a taboo-free exchange with the author.

                    The two "billionaires against bull," as Ralph Nader characterizes them, will join the consumer advocate and provocateur to envision how philanthropy can spark key redirections of our society, our country, and the world.

                    Thursday, April 21, 2011

                    Election Time? Check Out This Book On Rhetoric (Feature Articles)

                    Rhetoric has gotten a bad name lately as people associate it with politicians who are full of bluster and hot air. But the term has a much more honorable history. Broadly and rightly understood, rhetoric is the art of using words to persuade or otherwise affect an audience; for most of Western history it was viewed as a central feature of a liberal education.

                    Farnsworth's Classical English Rhetoric, published on 18 February 2011, is a return to that tradition, and is the perfect antidote to the linguistic vacuity of our age. Here, the reader exasperated by the current state of the language will find page after page of refreshment - an enjoyable and reassuring exhibition of what the English language can do at its best. Wit and great writing, presented lucidly and entertainingly, will restore hope to those driven to despair by texting and twittering.

                    Have you ever wondered about the best way to use erotema or litotes? Hypophora and prolepsis? Let Farnsworth show you with examples from the Anglo-American greats - from Churchill and Lincoln, Dickens, Shakespeare,Thoreau, Shaw, Chesterton, Melville and others. These effective speakers and writers used patterns that arrange words according to principles that are elements of beauty and power - repetition and variety, suspense and relief, concealment and surprise. These examples both entertain and provide a blueprint for anyone who aspires to write and speak effectively.

                    Not only educational but delightful. - David Mamet

                    Every writer should have this book. - Erin McKean, editor Verbatim Ward Farnsworth is Professor Law, Nancy Barton Scholar, and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at Boston University School of Law. He attended Wesleyan University and the University of Chicago Law School. Farnsworth has written scholarly articles on a wide range of legal topics, and is the author The Legal Analyst (2007), a guide to analytical tools for thinking about the law. He has written a treatise on chess that is available on the internet. He lives in Boston with his wife and family. More information can be found at

                    Publication date 18 February, 2011. $26.95 hardcover, 256 pages, 978 1 56792 385 8

                    For more information about this book or to contact Ward Farnsworth, please contact Sue Ramin, sue @, 617 451 9600 ex 29.

                    Friday, April 15, 2011

                    The Paris Review Hadada Award 2011 (Feature Articles)

                    Fans of The Paris Review are rewarded each quarter with a new edition of works selected by the editors that introduce us to unknown and established authors alike. They also give out annual awards and prizes to writers at both ends of the spectrum: The Plimpton Prize (honors The Paris Review's longtime editor, George Plimpton, who presided over the magazine for fifty years, until his death in September 2003) is awarded to the best piece of fiction by a newcomer to appear in The Paris Review that year. The Hadada is awarded annually to a distinguished member of the literary community who has demonstrated a strong and unique commitment to literature. Past Hadada statues (a bronze replica of the Paris Review's iconic bird) have been given to John Ashbery, Joan Didion, Norman Mailer, Peter Matthiessen, George Plimpton, Barney Rosset, and William Styron. Last year went to Philip Roth. Drum roll please... This year it goes to James Salter.

                    James Salter is an American novelist and screenwriter born in NYC June 10th, 1925. That makes him 86 years old with a lifetime of literary contributions drawn from his formative years, twelve of which were spent serving as a fighter pilot in the Korean theatre on 100 missions flying the F-86 Sabre in the renowned Mig-fighting unit. He used his Korean experience for his first novel, The Hunters (1956), which was made into a film starring Robert Mitchum in 1958 and re-published under the title Cassada. His 1961 novel The Arm of Flesh drew on his experiences flying with the 36th Fighter-Day Wing at Bitburg Air Base, Germany, between 1954 and 1957.

                    His writerly style was influenced by Ernest Hemingway, Henry Miller, Andre Guide and Thomas Wolfe. "Widely regarded as one of the most artistic writers of modern American fiction, Salter himself is critical of his own work, having said that only his 1967 novel A Sport and a Pastime comes close to living up to his standards. Set in post-war France, Sport And A Pastime is a piece of erotica involving an American student and a young French girl, told as flashbacks in the present tense by an unnamed narrator who barely knows the student and who himself yearns for the girl, and who freely admits that most of his narration is fantasy." —Wikipedia

                    His introduction to Hollywood was for a production featuring the young actor, Robert Redford in "Downhill Racer" about a competive ski racer. Here is a excellent link dedicated to that 1969 film production with video clips of both the film and an older Redford talking about its making. My friends and colleagues in Whistler involved in skiing and filmmaking and film festival organization will be interested in the lessons here-in.

                    Tuesday, April 12, 2011

                    Shanghai Girls by Lisa See (Book Reviews)

                    Shanghai Girls Shanghai Girls I have just finished Lisa See’s latest novel, and I am devastated. I turn to the next page in hope that it’s a misprint and that there must be more written – this just can’t be the end. I have been following two Chinese sisters, May and Pearl, as they embark on a journey from their home country to America. It is a story of displacement and identity. Underpinning it all is the tale of sisterly love, as well as sibling rivalry. Lisa See weaves an enthralling tale at a time in history where there were so many stories to be told.

                    Lisa See is the author of critically acclaimed and international bestseller, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (2005). She has also written a three part mystery series, as well as non-fiction and short story works. Lisa See released her first book in 1995, On Gold Mountain: The One Hundred Year Odyssey of My Chinese-American Family . This is the story of her grandfather’s journey to Los Angeles, and how he became the godfather for Chinatown. Her latest novel is the third in her Chinese set, and from what I hear will not be the last.

                    Wednesday, March 16, 2011

                    The Medium Is the Message: Electric Light's New App (Feature Articles)

                    Marshall McLuen's catch phrase "the medium is the message" coined in 1964 has never been truer for the folks at Electric Literature Company in New York who have just launched their new Broadcaster App. Key to McLuhan's argument is the idea that technology has no per se moral bent—it is a tool that profoundly shapes an individual's and, by extension, a society's self-conception and realization. How does this relate to Broadcaster App? Using your iPhone you can download free storytelling using social media and an interactive map. Access 6,000 stories (and counting) it uses your geo locator to pinpoint a story near you. There's also an upload feature if you feel the need to contribute.

                    No iPhone? No problem. All the stories are also available on the website. Here are some stories we think you and Electric Literature readers might enjoy:

                    A daughter talks about her mother’s long love affair with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jennifer Egan reads from A Visit from the Goon Squad, and one man shares his deep thoughts on Shakespeare.

                    For a blast from the past, you could listen to the Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler from your iPhone while strolling through the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

                    Find it in iTunes:

                    Electric Literature is

                    Monday, March 14, 2011

                    Podcast: How The British Library Is Handling eBooks (Author Interviews)

                    Having spent several summers doing research at the British Library I am a confessed fan of the institution. As a board member on the Vancouver Public Library Foundation I am keenly aware of the impact libraries have in our community locally. With the digitization of books transforming the way we access, borrow, read or purchase books and store them, we need each be interested in public library policy concerning the uptake of e-technology and whether we are meeting the public needs. It is the jurisdiction of the acquisition librarian(s) to decide whether a particular item is acquired in print, digital or both versions for library lending use. One would think that rapid-turnover items such as light fiction and romance titles would be a good choice for digitally stocked copies with resource books, biographies and say classics stocked in print and digital versions. It brings up interesting questions such as "how do we avoid the 'digital divide'? That's the difference between library patrons who can afford to purchase or perhaps already own a digital reader offering them the ability to download both library and retail digital books for their pleasure, and the people who cannot afford such a costly electronic device who would be left picking over whatever remains on library shelves? But the most profound debate of all facing libraries is: "Is there really a need for 'brick and motor' libraries at all?" To that I respond a resounding YES, but don't take my word for it. Here are two excellent resources to help you decide.

                    The first is an essay written by Philip Pullman, CBE, FRSL and author of The Golden Compass. Please read through the excellent debate raging in the comments section!

                    The second is this BBC tour of The British Library with journalist Spencer Kelly who addresses these issues. The BL that is one of the largest resource libraries in the world; for every book published in the UK there is at least one copy in the BL stacks. Take a look at how they're handling things. VIDEO LINK

                    Saturday, March 12, 2011

                    10 Literary Terms You Should Know (Feature Articles)

                    When discussing books and examining literature we sometimes run into literary devices whose name and definition have escaped us since college and university days. Recognizing them and discussing their use elevates your discussions. Here is a test to refresh your memory.

                    Match these literary terms with the definitions below. 10/10: Head of the class; 8/10 Still teacher's pet; 6/10 Some review required; 4 or less: Purchase one of the reference books below.

                    1.  Allegory
                    2.  Metaphor
                    3.  Parody
                    4.  Allusion
                    5.  Irony
                    6.  Satire
                    7.  Simile
                    8.  Aphorism
                    9.  Personification
                    10.  Paradox


                    A. An imitation of the work of another for the purpose of ridicule that is sometimes humorous.

                    B. A brief reference to a person, event, or place -- real or fictitious, or to a work of art. May be drawn from history, geography, literature or religion.

                    C. The comparison of two unlike things using the verb "to be" and not like or as.

                    D. A literary device used to make fun of human vice or weakness, often with the intent of correcting or changing the subject of attack.

                    E.  A form of extended metaphor, in which objects, persons, and actions in a narrative are equated with the meanings that lie outside the narrative itself. In other words it's when a story has two (or more) meanings: a literal meaning and a symbolic meaning.

                    Technology Corner: (Technology Corner)

                    Now more than ever business professionals are on the go and operating virtual offices. How do you maximize efficiency and keep track of incoming calls? Meet eVoice - from the makers of You’re busy with clients and meetings and don’t have time to listen to every voicemail message. Now you can receive easy-to-read transcriptions of your voice messages delivered as a text message or email. eVoice answers and routes your calls, transcribes your voicemail to text-and much more! It's like having your own personal assistant 24/7. And the best part is, eVoice works with your existing phone number, so you don’t have to deal with the hassle of changing it. Check out the demo.

                    Wednesday, March 09, 2011

                    Whistler Reads: CUTTING FOR STONE (Whistler Reads)

                    Whistler Reads members have been asking for a fun piece of popular fiction and our next book will not disappoint. Abraham Varghese's Cutting for Stone is now out in paperback. WR members get a 10% discount off this title when they purchase at Armchair Books. "Not since Khaled Hosseini debuted with The Kite Runner has there been a novel that could and should capture the hearts of people around the world," writes Mike Sullivan. In fact the accolades from a long list of celebrated authors and reviewers tells us we are all in for a treat. Join us April 14th at Nita Lake Lodge in the library, 7-9pm. Nita has a wonderful wine list. We will pick a few to sample by the glass - cash bar.

                    Join us on Thursday April 14th 7:00-9:00 at the Nita Lake Lodge (library) in Whistler. Advance tickets $15 and $20 at the door.

                    Cutting for Stone takes readers from India to Ethiopia to America. The cover blurb had this to say:

                    Sunday, February 20, 2011

                    Whistler Reads: Invited Author Round-up (Whistler Reads)

                    Whistler Reads - the village book group - has been meeting every 8 weeks to discuss a new book since February 2005. That makes us exactly 6 years old this month. With over 30 author events under our belt we thought you might like to check our track record in picking books for the program and bringing these fresh authors to Whistler. In fact, right now, two of them, John Vaillant, The Tiger and Matthew Hooton, Deloume Road have recently won awards and are currently on the CBC Bookclub's competition for the favorite book in Canada in these categories: Best Nonfiction, Best of this Year, Best Fiction. Vote here and support them today!

                    As far as what the rest of the authors we've discussed are up to, here is a list chronologically. (updating as we speak!)

                    • Dec 2010: John Vaillant, The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival: John won the BC Award for nonfiction - Canada's largest prize, is nominated for the CBC Bookie Award for Best Nonfiction and Best Overall Book. He is currently writing his first novel, which will be an interesting departure for fans of his two award-winning nonfiction books.
                    • Oct 2010: Kerry Madden, Harper Lee: Up Close and To Kill a Mockingbird: 50th Anniversary of the publishing of TKAM.
                    • July 2010: Matthew Hooton, Deloume Road: nominated Best Nonfiction CBC Bookies, voted Random House list of "Most Promising New Writers 2010". Presently working on his next novel which also features a child-driven narrative plot.
                    • May 2010: Michael Pollin, Food Rules. I had no idea that Michael's sister is the actress Tracy Pollin who is married to actor Michael J. Fox. He speaks extensively (for huge fees) to groups, still teaches at Berkeley School of Journalism and will publish the next version of Food Rules fall 2011. His blog asks readers to submit their own food rules in the hopes that somebody has new catchy single sentence mantras about healthy eating that he can share. Pollin has become the figurehead for food-safety and sustainable farming practices and the stamp-out-junk-food cult.
                    • Feb 2010: Annabel Lyon, The Golden Rule. Annabel contributed to Finding The Words, an anthology published by McLelland&Stewart used as a fundraiser for PEN Canada.
                    • Nov 2009: David Byrne, Bicycle Diaries WR beat Vancouver's "most environmentalist mayor" Gregor Robertson (by almost a full year) to the punch when they hosted Byrne in Vancouver in October 2010 along with 2 other speakers advocating urban planning and bicycle routes. The singer-songwriter-artist Byrne continues his multimedia productivity with the Jan 20, 2011 UK premiere his film "Ride Rise Roar" simulcast across theatres in Britain and he had an important art exhibit in Tokyo.
                    • Sep 2009: Alice Munro, Too Much Happiness was Knighted with The Order of Arts and Letters and of course won the Man Booker Prize 2009.

                      Thursday, February 17, 2011

                      Sophisticated Reading: NYRB Translates 3 Foreign Classics (Feature Articles)

                      Sophisticated readers looking for something different from the typical fare offered on the bestseller lists and by the domestic pub houses will be excited to get their hands on 3 new translations of foreign classics not available in English before now, coming courtesy of The New York Review of Books, Classics. These Dutch, Polish and German authors introduced the genres of the confessional novel, 19th century realism and ironic modernity. All three novels are available at an incredibly low price of ten bucks and are great editions to your foreign classic library with their delicious cover art. (Yes, some of us still DO collect books and commit space in our house to display them. You can also do that old-fashioned thing with a pocket book - loan it to a friend. Quaint idea, no?)

                      A Posthumous Confession by Marcellus Emants is translated from Dutch. This novel is a powerful and unsettling psychological study of the relationship between hatred and desire. Translated by Nobel prize-winning author J. M. Coetzee, the novel that "won a permanent place for [Emants] in the history of Dutch literature" is now available after being out of print for many years.

                      Termeer, Emants's narrator and antihero, is a deeply frustrated, emotionally stunted man who finds himself continually reminded of his own worthless mediocrity. Due to a dark and condemning upbringing and his own sense of self-loathing, Termeer can only seem to live up to the low expectations of his family and community—until, that is, he successfully woos a beautiful and gifted woman. Their marriage, however, leads only to further distress, and Termeer soon decides that only in murder can he find ultimate satisfaction. Reminiscent of Dostoevsky's Notes from Underground, Termeer's chilling narrative will have every reader pondering the delicate nature of self.

                      "Since the time of Rousseau we have seen the growth of the genre of the confessional novel, of which A Posthumous Confession is a singularly pure example. Termeer, claiming to be unable to keep his dreadful secret, records his confession and leaves it behind as a monument to himself, thereby turning a worthless life into art."
                      —From J. M. Coetzee's Introduction

                      Saturday, February 12, 2011

                      Masterpiece: Any Human Heart Feb 13-27 (WGBH Boston)

                      As the longest-running primetime drama on American television, Masterpiece is committed to bringing viewers the best in literature-based drama, mysteries filled with eclectic characters, and groundbreaking contemporary works. Each month BookBuffet partners with WGBH Boston to give readers the inside scoop on their books to film.

                      One of my favorite authors is now featured having adapted one of his own novels into a 3-part Masterpiece television series starring a long and talented list of actors from the British repitory. William Boyd is a UK novelist (Scottish actually, born in Accra Ghana), screenwriter and short story writer who has won multiple awards for his fiction including the Whitbread, the Booker, Somerset Maugham to name a few and he earned his CBE in 2005. He's the lesser-known contemporary of Martin Amis, Julian Barnes and Ian McEwan who writes in ironic style in settings both in the UK and Europe as well as Africa. Any Human Heart is one of my favorites. It's a diary-style novel that follows the life and internal machinations of Logan Mountstuart through his adventurous and eventful (love)life beginning with his first sexual experience while studying literature at Oxford, through several romances and marriages, mixed with extensive travel and work over a couple career paths taken before, during and after WWII. Mountstuart is a novelist, a spy, a war correspondent, an art dealer, a freelance writer and a literary agent. His very human heart experiences obsessive love, ambiguous love, filial love, petty love and enduring love. During his life he

                      Monday, February 07, 2011

                      Must-Have 4 Valentines Book : The Sublime Engine (Feature Articles)

                      You've got one week cupid. I recommend a confection with greater than 60% cocoa to stimulate the serotonin levels plus this new book by Stephen and Thomas Amidon, The Sublime Engine: A Biography of the Human Heart scheduled for release February 14th, Valentine's Day.
                      (Kindle version)

                      These two quotes on their twitter page piqued my interest:
                      "What we find words for is already dead in our heart."
                      "Every kiss a heart-quake," —Lord Byron, Don Juan.

                      A book with the perfect blend of art and science about the very organ that makes us tick physically, emotionally and metaphorically. Written by two brothers, one a cardiologist, the other a novelist, The Sublime Engine encompasses science, religion, literature and the arts. The heart has been the symbol of humanity from the time of the Egyptians and ancient Greece through the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, right up to the modern era.

                      “No matter how much you think you know about the heart, you will be enlightened and entertained by this fascinating book. From its image as a religious icon and the seat of thoughts and feelings, we are led through the great discoveries of its function, its diseases, and its cures, including the most up-to-date therapies and promising clinical research.”—William Parmley, M.D., former Chief of Cardiology, UCSF, past president of the American College of Cardiology.

                      Our heart beats an average of 3 billion times during an 80-year lifespan. We speak, feel and react with our hearts; heartaches are the viceral response to sorrow. We know and feel excitement and desire when our heart quickens and sometimes skips a beat, or when we blush - that physiologic response dilating vessels in our face and body.

                      As a writer and history buff I love all the literary references. But in my former life (yes ppl, there was life before BookBuffet) I worked in the Massachusetts General Hospital's critical care cardiac unit. I've saved lives, administered CPR, seen open chests with beating hearts and witnessed death. The Sublime Engine's attention to cardiac physiology and up-to-date medical knowledge on heart disease and how to maintain a healthy heart make this a truly unique tribute to this vital topic!

                      Wednesday, February 02, 2011

                      Better Book Titles: Go Ahead and Judge a Book By Its Cover (Feature Articles)

                      Better Book Titles is a blog for book snobs and avid readers seeking personal titillation (or the opportunity to poke fun with other book snobs.) You'll know you qualify when you browse Better Book Titles because you'll have 5 people in mind to send this link. That includes trade people like book reviewers, most book editors but certainly not all, and librarians who do more than shuffle the stacks. I would safely guess you also qualify if: you've been in a book club for over 5 years; you majored in lit, philosophy or even the law; you were unpopular or pudgy in school or didn't play extracurricular sports; you take a long daily commute; you work a boring job with little supervision... You get the drift.

                      You don't necessarily have to have a photographic memory of all the books you've ever read - it just means that you're not going to roll around on the floor as quickly as the rest of us. The top book cover is an excellent bad joke-current read example. This compelling true story was adapted into an Academy Award nominated film and it's a simple play on titles... Hemingway would approve since he was both an adventurist and a man of, er definitive action.

                      Books with those delicious Penguin-style art covers that scream C L A S S I C (equals Publishers lucrative backlist, forever) beg a sarcastic replacement title referencing the fustian nature of the writer or the novel, and demonstrate the smug fact that you actually read the book and "got it" (or supremely couldn't care because you were not a Lit Major.)

                      If you want to throw in a cover to make a dig at the amorphous "bestseller audience", then delight in this Stieg Larsson cover improvement. Better Book Titles is the brainchild of Dan Wilbur (yes, that really is his name) who claims it is a blog, "for people who do not have thousands of hours to read book reviews or blurbs or first sentences." He cuts through "all the cryptic crap, and give[s] you the meat of the story in one condensed image... [so] you can read the greatest literary works of all time in mere seconds!"

                      A new Better Book Title is posted every weekday. Every Friday a reader's submission will be posted. Redesign and titles by Dan Wilbur unless credited otherwise. Why not add his Twitter posts to your feed?

                      Thursday, January 27, 2011

                      The Four Agreements (Book Reviews)

                      January is a time for renewal and self-examination. If you don't think you need to do this from time to time, you are mistaken. We go along in life taking care of pressing details: family obligations, work commitments, chores and projects, and we tend to neglect our personal well-being. We are like a root-bound plant in a pot. When the seed is planted the nutrients are plentiful, the soil soft, the plant has room to grow and thrive. As the soil nutrients deplete and the root fibers tangle, the plant chokes. This is where The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, A Toltec Wisdom Book written by Don Miguel Ruiz can help you. The slim hand-sized volume has been published by a number of entities and sells out with each reprint - a good sign that people have found the advice useful!

                      And what are the Toltec tidbits? They're simple:

                      1. Be Impeccable With Your Word
                      2. Don't Take Anything Personally
                      3. Don't Make Assumptions
                      4. Always Do Your Best

                      Read on for supporting arguments.

                      Wednesday, January 26, 2011

                      Author Podcasts: Jennifer Egan and Siddhartha Mukherjee (Author Interviews)

                      We are taking a week off from BB author interviews and insert instead in this column an interview with two fabulous writers who both made it onto the NYRB top 10 for 2010 list. Meet Jennifer Egan and Siddhartha Mukherjee in conversation with Sam Tanenhaus, editor for the New York Review of Books. (31:34 min)

                      As an interviewer it is great to listen to dialogue between authors and other reviewers. Good interviews result from asking the right questions in the right order and having an acute understanding of the book and even the body of work of the person you are interviewing. Drawing analogies to other works or other artists, setting the piece in perspective and teasing the strengths or the controversies, the illuminations or the craft of the design is what distinguishes a great interview. It helps to be talking to powerhouses. I think you will find in the authors here, a compassion for their characters that informs and infuses their writing. We "get" 70s punk rock musicians (in Jennifer's case) and patients confronting the most ominous diagnosis - the C word (in Sid's case) because of this intimacy.

                      Jennifer Egan is an essayist and short story writer from Brooklyn whose work has been said to be unclassifiable, though others call it a postmodern experiment that comes off brilliantly. Here she talks about her book A Visit from the Goon Squad (Knopf, 2010) a series of short stories that feature different characters and settings, indeed different styles entirely, in each with the consistent theme of rock musicians and their worlds in the 70s. It all deftly fits together into a cohesive narrative. Egan says, "There are a lot of writers who find a groove and spend a career mining that vein. I seem to be exactly the opposite. Each book is its own exploration and obsession, with a certain set of ideas and concerns. And once I have finished it, I feel that they will never be alive for me in the same again. And I can really say that for every one of my books."

                      Thursday, January 06, 2011

                      January Shaping Up To Be A Good Year For Books (Feature Articles)

                      Freshly back from the holidays I am delighted to see the publishers' offerings this January 2011. The interesting thing is prices for various print and digital versions of books at different outlets. It's mayhem out there! Do you download from iTunes to your iPad, or from Amazon to your Kindle, or from either to your Kindle App on your iPhone, what is KoBo all about? [This topic begs an upcoming feature... ] From Random House Canada I'm keen on the affordable $22 (softcover and eBook version) of Tom Rachman's Giller Prize nominated fiction title, The Imperfectionists: A Novel published by Anchor Canada. The Kindle version has been out since April and it's only $5. Reviewed on the front page of the New York Times Book Review by Christopher Buckley who writes, "This first novel by Tom Rachman, a London-born [but raised in Vancouver] journalist who has lived and worked all over the world, is so good I had to read it twice simply to figure out how he pulled it off. I still haven't answered that question, nor do I know how someone so young… could have acquired such a precocious grasp of human foibles. The novel is alternately hilarious and heart-wrenching." The publisher continues "Set against the gorgeous backdrop of Rome, Tom Rachman's wry, vibrant debut follows the topsy-turvy private lives of the reporters, editors, and executives of an international English language newspaper as they struggle to keep it - and themselves - afloat."

                      Masterpiece: The Downtown Abby (WGBH Boston)

                      The whole of January 2011 at Masterpiece is dedicated to a 4-part episode called Downton Abbey. Created and written by Oscar-winner Julian Fellowes (Gosford Park), Downton Abbey, like Fellowes other stories (Listen to an earlier BookBuffet interview with Fellowes around his novel Snobs) gives us a portrait of the intricacies of pomp, pedigree and protocol in the vanishing gentrified country estates in England. After generations have been settled in the eponymous estate, a crisis of inheritance threatens to displace the resident Crawley family. The sinking of the Titanic has taken with it Lord Grantham's heirs; both James Crawley and his son Patrick have perished. While personally agonizing (momentarily) for daughter Mary who was supposed to marry Patrick she resourcefully sets her sights on a grander scale. With all the predictable succession plans gone terribly awry, the looming questions arise — Who will be the new heir to the earldom? And what will happen to this distinguished estate, now in jeopardy? Mary's short-lived grief is redirected on another suitor, the Duke of Crowborough. It's "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" meets "Upstairs Downstairs" as the classes push boundaries and precedents in Darwinian ways. Starring notables Maggie Smith and Elizabeth McGovern along with the wonderful Hugh Bonneville, Samantha Bond (Miss MoneyPenny of Ian Flemming's 007 fame) amongst others. Be guaranteed exquisite mansion settings, various traditional hunting parties and goings-on, and attention to all details of British class hierarchy Fellowes and Masterpiece creators are known for with the stately interiors and refined accouterment of an almost bygone era. Tune in January 9th, 16th, 23rd and 30th.

                      Wednesday, January 05, 2011

                      The Sea Captain's Wife by Beth Powning (Book Reviews)

                      MyAltTextHere “Often, she paused on the porch and looked out at the blue line of Nova Scotia and the silver gleam in the southwest where the bay widened to the Gulf of Maine: the sea spread before her, thundered in her ears; and sometimes she loathed it, since Nathaniel was at its mercy. At other times, she closed her eyes, tossed back her bonnet and breathed deep of the world’s size.”

                      I am a sucker for historical fiction, throw a bit of swashbuckling romance in there and I’m hooked. When I imagine sea voyage back in the 1800’s I must admit to conjuring up images of impressive vessels smashing their way across the oceans, with grandeur and glamour that can’t possibly of existed. The real stories, like the one that Beth Powning relates in her latest novel The Sea Captain’s Wife, showcases the more realistic side to seamanship - illness, solitude, risk, and the heartache that inevitably follow a life amongst the waves.

                      Monday, December 06, 2010

                      Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling (Book Reviews)

                      I am a book snob. I am an English Major. I don’t read Oprah’s Bookclub picks. I don’t read chicklit. I don’t read Da Vinci Codes or Twilights or Dragon Tattoos, though I may reluctantly see the movies whilst maintaining an air of pretentious superiority. But it was because of a bestseller franchise and the associated films that I changed my stringent policy on popular-in-this-century fiction after a TV marathon of the Harry Potter series left me desperate for answers. “Alright,” I conceded, “what the *#&%* happened to Dumbledore.” And so I caved. I purchased the last installment, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7) -- along with a face-saving business book on the art of negotiation, lest the one-armed clerk at Barnes & Noble judge me -- and I’m not ashamed to say it changed my life ... People, Harry Potter is bloody good.

                      So I’ll just come out with it: I CRIED. I cried! No spoilers, but I literally was moved to tears by the written word, which hitherto only happened in dog-related scenes in renowned pieces of literature (and one hooker scene in Murphy; when I recounted the experience and choked up again in my Professor’s office he recoiled in horror and said, quote: “this is unheard of in Beckett.”) Thus it has been ingrained in me that there are appropriate times to cry in books and life and there are not. Even most men will admit, for example, that it’s acceptable to cry in Rudy, or when your hockey team loses in the playoffs for the second year in a row to the Chicago Blackhawks, (I cried once in my living room in the presence of my mocking friends, and then, a little more privately in the bathroom). But HARRY POTTER? This was quite shocking to my system and sense of identity as a Reader. Indulge me, please, as we delve into why…

                      Thursday, December 02, 2010

                      US Poet Wins Dylan Thomas Prize in Wales (Feature Articles)

                      Each December I listen to a recording of "A Child's Christmas in Wales" by Dylan Thomas spoken by the great man himself. I love the scratchy quality and his booming voice with its lovely accent. Out of interest, an American writer has won a £30,000 literary award for her collection of 21st Century poetry. Elyse Fenton has been awarded the University of Wales Dylan Thomas Prize, set up to honour the Welsh poet and encourage writing among the young. Ms Fenton's collection Clamor (Cleveland State University Poetry Center New Poetry) is the first book of poetry to have won.

                      A Google search of Dylan Thomas turned up 2,640,000 results in 21 seconds, which proves how much the world loves the cadence of the spoken wordsmiths. Here for your enjoyment are the first two stanzas of "Child's Christmas":

                      One Christmas was so much like another, in those years around the sea-town corner now and out of all sound except the distant speaking of the voices I sometimes hear a moment before sleep, that I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six.

                      All the Christmases roll down toward the two-tongued sea, like a cold and headlong moon bundling down the sky that was our street; and they stop at the rim of the ice-edged fish-freezing waves, and I plunge my hands in the snow and bring out whatever I can find. In goes my hand into that wool-white bell-tongued ball of holidays resting at the rim of the carol-singing sea, and out come Mrs. Prothero and the firemen.

                      Wednesday, November 24, 2010

                      The Digitization of Books: Country by Country (Feature Articles)

                      President Nicolas Sarkozy announced in 2009 a €750 million fund to digitize the French national patrimony. The National Library of the Netherlands plans to digitize every book, newspaper or periodical they've produced in less than a decade going all the way back to 1470. Australia, Norway, Finland and Japan are following suit. What is the status in North America? And what happens when the books are still under copyright and providing someone an income?

                      Of the 30 million books in the American Library of Congress, 2 million have been digitally scanned by Google. It is estimated that it costs about 10 cents a page depending upon the quality required. Some people are proposing the creation of a Digital Public Library of American (DPLA)—a digital library composed of virtually all the books in our greatest research libraries available free of charge to the entire citizenry, in fact, to everyone in the world.

                      Robert Darnton of The New York Review of Books writes: "To dismiss this goal as naive or utopian would be to ignore digital projects that have proven their worth and feasibility throughout the last twenty years. All major research libraries have digitized parts of their collections. Since 1995 the Digital Library Federation has worked to combine their catalogues or “metadata” into a general network.

                      Rose Tremain Speaks To Granta (Author Interviews)

                      Rose Tremain was on Granta’s first Best of Young British Novelists list in 1983 – along with Martin Amis, Kazuo Ishiguro and Ian McEwan. Here she speaks to Ollie Brock about historial versus contemporary writing and exile - ‘freighted with possibility but also with a high degree of danger’.

                      OB: Was it a surprise, or the realisation of a long-held ambition, to appear on the 1983 list?

                      RT: I understand, retrospectively, that there was quite a scramble among publishers to get their authors on this list, but I - who was living in rural Suffolk in 1983, had published only two books and knew very few people in literary London – was blithely unaware of it, so my inclusion came as a complete surprise. I remember being very pleased that Claire Tomalin, who was one of the judges, described me as ‘an interesting and honourable writer’, but it didn’t change my fortunes. That change only came six years later when my novel, Restoration, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and was sold in 25 countries.

                      OB:You also won the Orange Broadband Prize for fiction by women in 2008. What do you think of the claim – made by AS Byatt, among others – that it's a sexist prize?

                      Friday, November 19, 2010

                      Naked Lennon: Masterpiece Nov22, Dec 21 (WGBH Boston)

                      Behind the genius, outspokenness, and mischievous antics of the much-loved "smart Beatle," John Lennon (Christopher Eccleston, Doctor Who), is an artist whose struggle with childhood abandonment by his father shapes and nearly undermines his every relationship. Between 1967 and 1971, the tumultuous and wildly creative "studio years" for the Beatles, John Lennon is mired in an unhappy domestic life with his wife, Cynthia (Claudie Blakley, Return to Cranford), and his young son, Julian, the objects of his cruel indifference. Trying to reconcile the sudden death of Beatles manager Brian Epstein and the reintroduction of his long-estranged father, Freddie Lennon (Christopher Fairbank, Tess of the D'Urbervilles), into his life, John sees himself at once as a martyr and a gadfly. Far from being the gentle icon of world peace that he would later become, John embodies his credo that an artist has to destroy as well as create. It's only when he falls in love with avant-garde artist Yoko Ono (Naoko Mori, Torchwood) that John finds the inspiration to enact change in his and Yoko's own unique way, from a cloud of white balloons to the publicity-generating "Bed Peace." Ultimately, their partnership breaks him from the Beatles and Britain itself. Together, they leave country and family behind for New York City, starting over. Lennon Naked also stars Andrew Scott (Sherlock) and Rory Kinnear (Mansfield Park).

                      Monday, November 15, 2010

                      Aung San Suu Kyi Released From House Arrest (Feature Articles)

                      At long last Aung San Suu Kyi has been released from house arrest in her home country of Myanmar (formerly Burma) where she has been cloistered for 15 out the past 20 years. The first thing out of her courageous mouth was her pledge to continue to strive for democracy in her country through "a peaceful revolution" between her people and the ruling military regime. Watching the video of her first interview with BBC Correspondent John Simpson was reminiscent of Nelson Mandela's release from Robben Island after his long incarceration. The march of world progress, technology and the things people in the free world take for granted, appear new and strange to Aung. She talked on a cellular phone for the first time, and didn't much like it. For a woman of 65 she looks youthful, almost preserved in time since with beautiful skin and a serenely optimistic outlook. The ruling military power recently conducted its first election in 20 years. It has not been sanctioned by UN officials.

                      Tuesday, November 09, 2010

                      Publisher Weekly's Top 100 for 2010 (Feature Articles)

                      Each year Publishers Weekly, the trade publication directed toward people in the publishing industry, puts out its Top 100 Books list comprising several genres. Take a look for yourself to see which ones you know and which ones you might want to know. It's a great way to begin making selections for your gift list this upcoming holiday season. Here are two of BookBuffet's own lists: the ones we've read and conquer, and the ones we're aching to dig into:

                      The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
                      Rebecca Skloot (Crown)
                      Medical history is grippingly told through the life of one African-American woman and her family, which begins at the "colored" ward at Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s. Skloot, who hit the road in her beatup old car to relentlessly follow this story, explores issues of race, poverty, the ethics of medical research and its sometimes tragic, unintended consequences.

                      The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine
                      Michael Lewis (Norton)
                      Lewis has written the briskest and brightest analysis of the crash of 2008. Other books might provide a more exhaustive account of what went wrong, but Lewis's character-driven narrative reveals the how and why with peerless clarity and panache. When will they ever learn?

                      Our Kind of Traitor: A Novel
                      John le Carré (Viking)
                      Those who have found post-cold war le Carré too cerebral will welcome this Russian mafia spy thriller involving an English couple on holiday in the Caribbean.

                      The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires
                      Tim Wu (Knopf)
                      Wu dazzles in his history-cum-manifesto as he reveals how fiercely corporate empires have vied to control communication and information technology-and why we must keep the Internet free and open.

                      Saturday, November 06, 2010

                      Playboy Magazine Publishes Nabokov Final Unpublished Work (Feature Articles)

                      Postumous publishing of a well known author's works is a debatable predicament. Do you heed the author's dying wishes to burn his final unpublished manuscripts, or do you allow the world a chance to peek? Is publishing motivated by material gain on the part of the family member and the publisher, or are they generously allowing readers, writers and academics the opportunity to scrutinize the work for posterity? That debate raged for three decades while Demitri Nabokov, son of Vladimir Nabokov finally wrestled his demons and agreed to publish. And we are now coming up on the anniversary of that decision. If you missed the news before, here is a recap.

                      It was November 10, 2009 when Playboy magazine published the serialization of Nabokov's final, unfinished work, The Original of Laura. Playboy had a long relationship with Nabokov, previously published a portion of his 1969 work Ada and ran an interview with the author before his death in 1977. On November 17, Knopf released the book version of The Original of Laura.

                      Before Nabokov's death in 1977, he instructed his wife to burn the unfinished first draft—handwritten on 138 index cards—of what would be his final novel. As sole executor of his literary rights, she could not, and instead placed the manuscript in a Swiss vault. Nabokov's son, Dmitri, was given sole literary executor rights at his mother's death, and indecision over whether to publish it wracked his life for over three decades.

                      Hailed as last year's literary highlight, the Guardian wrote: "this very unfinished work reads largely like an outline, full of seeming notes-to-self, references to source material, sentence fragments, commentary and brief flashes of spectacular prose. It would be a mistake for readers to come to this expecting anything resembling a novel, though the few actual scenes here are unmistakably Nabokovian, with cutting wordplay, piercing description and uneasy-making situations—a character named Hubert H. Hubert molesting a girl, a decaying old man's strained attempt at perfunctory sex with his younger wife.

                      The story appears to be about a woman named Flora...

                      Monday, November 01, 2010

                      20 Writerly Questions Series: Robert J Wiersema (Feature Articles)

                      The "Writerly Questions Series" is brought to you courtesy of Random House Canada who partners with BookBuffet. Look for this feature each Monday. The idea is we ask different authors the same set of questions designed to give readers a glimpse into the lives and writing mechanics of authors. It is fascinating to compare and contrast when you check the list to date at bottom. Today's author is Robert J Wiersema. Robert J Wiersema is the author of Before I Wake: A Novel (Reading Group Gold), a national bestseller and Globe and Mail Best Book of 2006, and the novella The World More Full of Weeping, which was shortlisted for the Prix Aurora in 2010. A respected critic and reviewer, he lives in Victoria with his wife, Cori Dusmann, and their son, Xander. His new novel is Bedtime Story.
                      1. How would you summarize your book in one sentence?
                      Bedtime Story is about fathers and sons, good and evil, and the power of a book to swallow you whole.
                      2. How long did it take you to write this book?
                      I actually try not to think about that...  Start to finish, once I got going?  A year.  Almost to the day. The key part of that answer, though, is “once I got going” -- there was a lot of... pre-writing and not writing and writing other stuff that went on before I found my way into Bedtime Story..
                      3. Where is your favorite place to write?
                      I’m pretty partial to the deck six port coffee bar on a transatlantic cruise (which is where the book was finished), but generally speaking, The Treasury gets the job done.  (The Treasury is the writing space I rent, a basement suite just down the street from the house.  The Treasury is a little more polite than The Man Cave, which some have taken to calling it...)
                      4. How do you choose your characters’ names?
                      Badly.  And with great anguish.  And then I get help.
                      5. How many drafts do you go through?
                      With the use of computers, that question is a bit tricky to answer.  It really depends on the section of the book, the scene.  Some bits come out all right in the first draft, and only need a bit of tweaking.  Others I end up hitting 8, 10, 12 times. The opening of Bedtime Story took a good two dozen runs at it before I was remotely satisfied, before I found my way in.

                      Thursday, October 28, 2010

                      The Sharjah International Book Fair Oct 26-Nov 6 (Events)

                      The Sharjah International Book Fair is the largest book fair in the Middle East. It takes place Oct 26th-Nov 6th in city of Sharjah located just northeast of Dubai on the coast of the Arabian Peninsula in the United Arab Emirates. This is a spectacularly beautiful region, but don't take my word for it. Check out the mapquest link with excellent photo locators to acclimate yourself, then listen to the music track on the video at this Sharjah info site. Interested to learn more? The UAE is a federation situated in the southeast of the Arabian Peninsula in Southwest Asia on the Persian Gulf, bordering Oman and Saudi Arabia and sharing sea borders with Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Iran. The UAE consists of seven states, termed emirates, (because they are ruled by Emirs) which are Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm al-Quwain, Ras al-Khaimah and Fujairah. The capital and second largest city of the United Arab Emirates is Abu Dhabi and Sharjah is both the third largest Emirate and the name of its city capital. It is also the country's center of political, industrial, and cultural activities. The Sharjah Book Fair is an effort not only to encourage literacy in the country but it serves as a resource for education at all levels. Browsing the 53 page English language book list (because the Arabic book list is, duh, in Arabic) is like skimming a University arts, business and sciences course book list! There are pages of accounting texts, architecture, design, business and marketing books, as well as international fiction titles on current publisher lists. This suggests a very broad spectrum purpose, not the typical offering as what you'd see at the LA Times Book Festival, for example, where mostly fiction authors and particular genre books are on display and for sale at booths. The whole SIBF is guided under the patronage of His Highness Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammad Al Qasimi and has been ongoing since 1982. How well is it attended? This 10-day annual event now draws a total of 750 publishers showcasing books from nearly 42 nations, and attracts over 400,000 GCC visitors.

                      Monday, October 25, 2010

                      The Value of Reading and Book Groups (Feature Articles)

                      A journalist friend called to set up an interview to discuss what I do. It reminded me of a speech I wrote that was intended for an audience at the opening of our town library and it has to do with the joy of reading and the place that book groups hold within that realm. In re-reading it, I decided to post it here and share it with all of you. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

                      "Joyce Carol Oates has said that she believes art to be the highest expression of human spirit and I have to agree. Literature in particular, enhances our perceptions and deepens our understanding of life. I treasure the solace of literature, its capacity to illuminate what is unique about an individual and what is universally human.

                      Stories transcend barriers --- of place, generation, class, race, faith and create gateways to understanding humankind’s endless response to life’s challenges, joys and conundrums.

                      Literature describes more exquisitely than any other art form what it feels like to be alive, how minds shift through memories, emotions, thoughts, and sensations. It entices us into contemplating diverse traditions and divergent viewpoints. It awakens empathy and fosters a sense of connection with others.

                      I am forever falling in love with books.

                      If reading is the most solitary of pursuits – what is the value and purpose and motivating factor of book groups?

                      Firstly, they create a forum to discuss the ideas and feelings and concepts brought out through literature.

                      Secondly, it provides a monthly goal that is not just for ourselves, but provides value to each member – our insights, experiences and perspectives are so individual that in discussing literature there is no one right answer when interpreting a book. We all bring something to the table.

                      Thirdly, it forces us outside our particular reading tastes and habits. Some of the most astounding books I’ve read were titles I was not particularly interested in or would have picked up on my own volition.

                      Fourthly, it elevates our level of examination of literature, our appreciation of writers and their craft and provides a reference point to which our own anecdotes and life experiences can be weighed."

                      Friday, October 22, 2010

                      Author Podcast: Alissa York (Author Interviews)

                      Each week BookBuffet presents a new author in our podcast series made available here in .mp3 format either in interview with Executive Editor, Paula Shackleton or as excerpted from an event we've attended, taped and edited for broadcast. Today's podcast features acclaimed Canadian novelist Alissa York who appeared at the Vancouver Public Library to give a reading from her new novel, Fauna published by Random House Canada (2010). Alissa was introduced by Vancouver International Writers Festival Director Hal Wake who has begun a collaboration with the VPL to bring authors here from across the country and around the world. Audience members were invited to ask Alissa questions after her reading and those tended toward an interest in her writing and research techniques. Fauna is Ms York's third novel. It is a contemporary urban story set in Toronto, but as Alissa points out, it could take place in any green space in cities around the world. Alissa is a lovely speaker who interacts easily with the audience. She elicits a spontaneous chuckle with several of her anecdotes and it is not surprising to learn of the demand for her as a writing instructor. Like her protagonist Lily in Fauna who holds birds in the palm of her hands and marvels at their beating hearts, this story will capture yours. Join us today in listening to Alissa York, and then pick up a copy of this or perhaps all three of her novels: Mercy (2003) was a Canadian bestseller, Effigy (2007) was short-listed for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and long-listed for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Alissa has lived all across Canada, but makes her home in Toronto with her husband Clive who is a writer and film maker.

                      Audio 11:42 min:sec —With thanks to the VPL and VIWF.

                      Our podcasts are available as RSS feeds and there are over 120 segements available on Type BookBuffet or Paula Shackleton in the search menu.

                      Thursday, October 21, 2010

                      For The Natural History Buff In All Of Us (Book Reviews)

                      Most people have a natural fascination for the physical world. We want to learn about the creatures that populate the earth; from near or far, minuscule or gigantic. I've had the good fortune to travel to Washington DC and tour the Smithsonian Institute's Natural History Museum where there are thousands of examples spanning every classification. If you're planning a trip to the Smithsonian be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes and map your tour route by order of personal priority - there's so much to see, you'll be disappointed if you run out of time or energy and miss a favorite. The good news is that a definitive new resource book has just come out on this topic titled, Natural History. It is produced for Penguin by DK Publishing and has 648 pages of exquisite photos and text beautifully bound in a handy 9.25 x 6.25 inch size. It catalogues 6,000 of earth's species from the simplest lifeforms of bacteria to minerals to plants and animals. Written and researched by a worldwide team of natural history experts and overseen and authenticated by the Smithsonian, it is the ultimate resource book for your home. And it will likely land a place on our "BookBuffet Holiday Gift Pick List" next month. DK has a reputation for crafting beautifully made books that are bound and stitched to make handling easy, use of quality paper stock and production values. Whether you add Natural History to your collection of resource materials on your bookshelves, keep it open on the coffee table, squirrel it away in the powder room or gift it to a budding naturalist - it's your call.

                      Monday, October 18, 2010

                      20 Writerly Questions Series: Sam Sykes (Feature Articles)

                      The "Writerly Questions Series" is brought to you courtesy of Random House Canada who partners with BookBuffet. Look for this feature each Monday. The idea is we ask different authors the same set of questions designed to give readers a glimpse into the lives and writing mechanics of authors. It is fascinating to compare and contrast when you check the list to date at bottom. Today's author is Samuel Sykes. At 25, Sam Sykes is one of the youngest authors to arrive on the Sci-fi scene with his novel Tome of the Undergates: The Aeons' Gate: Book One. Stop for a moment and think about what you were doing at 25. It probably wasn't conjuring up alternate worlds and characters in 450 pages to rival your chosen genre's top writers. Reviewer Alice Wybrew at gives "Tome" 9 out of 10, "With imaginative characters, a well-paced narrative and enough maiming, decapitation and evisceration to make '300' look tame, Sykes’s debut proves a bloody good read." Wow. Couldn't have said it better ourselves.

                      1. How would you summarize your book in one sentence?
                      “I love you, I hate myself, that man is on fire, we’re all going to die.”
                      2. How long did it take you to write this book?
                      Tome of the Undergates was something I started when I was 17 and thought all books revolved around morally unassailable heroes stopping generic forms of villainy. There was a lot of talk of “dark masters” and “righteous indignation” in those days. Eventually, after two iterations, two years of doing nothing and four years of college, I finished it when I was 24 and sold it when I was 25. It took awhile, but I’m very pleased with how it turned out.
                      3. Where is your favorite place to write?
                      I suppose if I had a greater need for attention, I would write in a coffee shop or wine bar somewhere. But seeing as I’m very easily distracted, I lock myself in a small room with my laptop and hunch over a keyboard, mouth agape and tongue lolling as I strive to hold onto any creative thought before I start thinking about looking up bear attack videos.

                      Friday, October 08, 2010

                      Nobel Prize for Literature 2010: Mario Vargas Llosa (Feature Articles)

                      By now you have heard the news about this year's winner for the Nobel Prize for Literature. Peruvian born Mario Vargas Llosa is one of the most acclaimed writers in the Spanish-speaking world. He has written more than 30 novels, plays and essays and is currently teaching at Princeton University. The Swedish Academy's Peter Englund said Llosa is "a divinely gifted story-teller," whose writing touches the reader. Let us explore this 74-year-old author and review his body of work, which has been described as "a cartography of structures of power" with "trenchant images of the individual's resistance, revolt, and defeat," by the Academy. Vargas Llosa's good friend (admittedly, it's a complicated friendship) and 1982 Nobel Laureate, the Colombian Gabriel Garcia Marquez tweeted upon hearing the news: "Cuentas iguales" "Now we're even". (Losa wrote his doctoral thesis on the writing of Marquez.) It has been 18 years since a Spanish language author has been selected. In the previous six years, the academy awarded the 10 million kronor (£938,000) prize to five Europeans and one Turk. This drew criticism that the prize was becoming too Euro-centric and too left wing. Wikipedia writes: "Vargas Llosa rose to fame in the 1960s with novels such as The Time of the Hero (La ciudad y los perros, literally The City and the Dogs, 1963/1966[4]), The Green House (La casa verde, 1965/1968), and the monumental Conversation in the Cathedral (Conversación en la catedral, 1969/1975). He writes prolifically across an array of literary genres, including literary criticism and journalism. His novels include comedies, murder mysteries, historical novels, and political thrillers. Several, such as Captain Pantoja and the Special Service (1973/1978) and Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter (1977/1982), have been adapted as feature films. For a complete list of available books click here.

                      Thursday, October 07, 2010

                      Whistler Reads: THE TIGER by John Vaillant (Whistler Reads)

                      Thank you to everyone who participated in the 31st Whistler Reads event December 11th at 7:30 PM at the Westin Resort & Spa Hotel in Whistler when our guest was Governor General award winning author John Vaillant. John's fabulous presentation was well received by a fully packed audience. For those of you who missed it, we discussed his new book The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival (Knopf, Canada 2010) is, in the author's own words, "The Golden Spruce with stripes". [video presentation to follow upon editing - stop in here again later. For those of you who attended and wish to continue to support us - please use the Donate button at the top.]

                      John, of course is an intrepid traveller. He's been to 5 continents and oceans in the course of his work. This book took John to the remote southeast of Russia to a region called Primorye (Pri-mor-ya), a territory about the size of Washington state by the Sea of Japan where ecosystems converge and plants and animals exist that live no place else on earth. It is also the last refuge for an endangered sub-species of Siberian tigers - the Amur tiger - a spectacular killing machine. Weighing up to 600 pounds and 10 feet long from nose to tail it has evolved into a supreme predator. In "Tiger" Vaillant tells of an injured man-eating tiger who is not just striking for food, it's stalking its prey out of vengeance. The team of conservationists is tracking her on foot deep into the Siberian forest on a heart-thumping chase to capture or kill her before she kills again. But who is stalking who? Beautifully written and deeply informative we learn about this unique eco-system and the people who subsist in a grueling lifestyle. Whistler Reads invited you to make this a weekend adventure. The Westin offered Whistler Reads members huge room discounts on Junior suites and threw in 2 dual mountain ski passes per day. With the large volume of snow that has fallen in December, it truly was an amazing weekend for all. In the interests of not spamming you with info, frequent posts to our FB page are a valuable resource of extra links, updates and member feedback.

                      Monday, October 04, 2010

                      Author Podcast: Richard Harvell (Author Interviews)

                      The joy of hearing an author speak (as opposed to merely reading their words) is that you get a feel for many things about them, as people, as speakers, their creative process; the backstory of their novels as it were. Writers can be introspective people who live in a silent world of words. Getting out in front of the public is a part of the book promotion process these days, and inevitably authors develop a style to fit their public persona. They take time before readings to consider the audience when selecting particular excerpts from their books. The interplay between writer and reader can be a rewarding part of their profession. Recently I watched an interview of J. K. Rowling who became emotional when describing a chance street encounter with a girl of about 19 who told her: "Ms Rowling - your books are my childhood. Thank you."

                      Hearing a writer speak from their own text can be a chilling experience. You get to hear the words that took form and lived in the mind of that writer, often for years before becoming available for public consumption. The writer has agonized over every comma, every transitive verb.

                      Today's podcast features a reading by Richard Harvell whose novel is titled, The Bells (RandomHouse 2010). "Bells" is getting rave reviews and will likely become Random House's fall blockbuster. It has all the elements of a bestseller. In listening you may pick up on his barely discernible accent. Richard has been living in Switzerland for the past 6 years where his novel is set. The Bells captures European life in the 1200s with incredible nuance of detail.

                      When I met Richard he was dressed in an open collared shirt and dress pants. He's about 5'6' and slight but fit. His close cropped hair and wire frame glasses speak calculated conservative. As a former math major, it seems natural that he'd be attracted to music - a subject that intuits math and intervals. But Richard claims he is not musical; he leaves that bit to his wife.

                      This recording was done at the Vancouver Public Library with Hal Wakes of the Vancouver International Writers Festival presiding as co-partner. Support both these institutions by attending their author events. Next up: Alissa York, author of FAUNA.

                      9th Annual Whistler Writers Festival: Oct 14-16th (Events)

                      The Whistler Readers and Writers Festival takes place Oct 14-17th. The line-up this year is all-star and award-winning, and includes:
                      Brian Brett (winner of the Writers Trust of Canada Non-Fiction prize and BC
                      Bookseller's Choice Award for Trauma Farm)
                      Kate Pullinger (2009 Governor General's Award for Fiction winner for The Mistress of Nothing)
                      Russell Wangersky (BC Book Award for Canadian NonFiction winner for Burning Down the House)
                      Wayne Grady, Merilyn Simonds, Jenn Farrell, Kathy Page, Terence Young, Patricia Young, Caroline Adderson and Leslie Anthony.

                      Note to attendees of the "Make Your Own Podcast" session given by Paula Shackleton: Here is the quickie demo podcast we made together in class. Thanks for attending, and good luck with your future podcasts. Stay in touch! paulas @ Click Here.

                      The Festival is an amazing chance to:

                      1. Give your creative self a little charge, with 10 seminars on offer on Saturday October 16 at the Aava, under 2 streams: Where Traditional and Digital Media Collide, and Crafting a Great Story. Young writers (12-19) can also take a free seminar at the library on Saturday.
                      . Dial in your fall reading list, with 10 of Canada's best authors reading at the Saturday October 16 Gala event at the Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre, most with newly released books.
                      3. Dabble in the world of social media with a host of seminars on twitter, podcasting and blogging. Find new ways to promote yourself using social media.
                      4. Linger around the library for three free literary events, including the launch of Leslie Anthony's new book, White Planet: A Mad Dash through the Modern Global Ski Culture, Thursday October 14th at the Whistler Public Library.
                      4. Hang with the hipsters, as spoken word superstar C R Avery parachutes in to the third Pecha Kucha Night at Maxx Fish. A range of speakers are given 20 slides, 20 seconds per slides to speak about something they're passionate about. Fast-moving, eclectic and super cool, PKN has previously unrolled at the TELUS World Ski and Snowboard Festival and Crankworx.
                      5. Peel back the curtains on literary marriages with a free discussion at the library on Saturday afternoon, Write, Fight, Love with Merilyn Simonds, Wayne Grady, Terrence Young and Patricia Young.

                      The full program is downloadable at under the Events Tab. People can also follow the updates and buzz building at their WP Blog, on twitter @whistlerwriters , or on Facebook

                      Tickets on sale on line here

                      Sunday, October 03, 2010

                      Drop Box: For File Sharing & Mobile Storage (Technology Corner)

                      These days a lot of people use multiple devices from different locations that they don't necessarily want completely replicated with the same functions or information. Dropbox lets you share files between devices and between others, regardless of the operating system! You might be at the office and want to access files from there after you've left for work. If you drop box them before you head out, they'll be available in your folder on your computer at home. Or say you have a project you are collaborating with a partner in another location, you want to send them a file that's too big to e-mail and you don't want to go through the hassle of uploading it to a server, or transferring via a memory stick. So Dropbox it. Unlike other programs, Dropbox doesn't have a complicated interface to learn. It's built right into your desktop!

                      Get started by downloading the program to your applications folder from Now look for a little blue open box icon that appears on your computer screen window at the top next to date and time:

                      Step 1: Drag and drop any file or folder into your Dropbox folder.

                      Step 2: Once your file/folder is inside your Dropbox folder, the program immediately starts syncing it to our secure servers. Once this has finished, the file's icon is marked with a green check. Your file is now safely backed up online and also accessible from the Dropbox website. (

                      Step 3: Install Dropbox ( on other computers you use, and they'll also receive a copy of the files you've put in your Dropbox.

                      That's it! Now that Dropbox is watching your file, any changes you make will sync up instantly and automatically. This gives you the freedom to work on any computer you choose. For more help adding files to Dropbox, see here:

                      Appreciating Parody (Feature Articles)

                      The Merriam-Webster dictionary says parody is "a literary or musical work in which the style of an author or work is closely imitated for comic effect or in ridicule". It is delicious when it's done well, and can be scathing without drawing litigation. Everyone remembers National Lampoon and now we have The Onion. Almost all successful comedians use it. Jon Stewart is a master at parodying the news anchor and the news. He does it so well that statistics show most young people prefer to watch him rather than the real thing. Parody is entertaining. It makes us laugh. You have to have a sense of wit, irony and of course "get" that the piece is being satiric in the first place. I think that most kids of this generation think in parody all the time. Cervantes got it when he wrote Don Quixote mocking the knights errant novels of his time. So well that his own work has outlasted the genre. A close relative of the parody is the "pastiche" in which writers take the example of a previous work and incorporate elements into it for their own usually not to make fun but more as an homage. James Joyce's Ulysses was a hats off to Homer's Odyssey. The first film parodies I recall were Mel Brooks creations, "Blazing Saddles" and "Spaceballs". Then of course there was the "Naked Gun" and "Airplane" series of movies that parodied the Police Squad movies and disaster flicks. Who could forget the TPS reports of "Office Space", also made into a television series? Monty Python's "The Holy Grail" et al have been beacons in the genre. All bow down in prostration.

                      So what does it take to make a parody and are there any consequences (other than being completely misunderstood and possibly sued?) Ha ha, you laugh, nervously. You'd LOVE to write a parody of... you know, that person, that family saga scenario, that community debacle, that political insanity. Here is an article in The Guardian by Craig Brown who writes literary parodies and some of his key points: "Every child is a born parodist. The more accurate a parody is, the more it's likely to be confused with the real thing. To appreciate parody, you must be capable of holding two contradictory ideas in your head simultaneously. Parody represents a collaboration, however unwilling, between the parodist and his victim." And last but not least, of course there is The Oxford Book of Parodies to keep us all up to date. Those good Oxford people. What would we do without them?

                      Friday, October 01, 2010

                      Wine & Book Group Pick for Oct-Nov '10 (Wine & Book Club)

                      Take October and November to discover these two great finds matched for the pleasure of Wine & Book Club members here at BookBuffet. When a book is named best work of fiction by the Texas Institute of Letters and long-listed for the Orange Prize (alongside Toni Morrison and Marilynne Robinson) and short-listed for the Orange Prize for New Writers, you can safely assume it will be a worthwhile read. I am referring to Ann Weisgarber's debut novel The Personal History of Rachel DuPree. For the feature wine we've selected a wonderful Zinfandel from Quivira Vineyards situated in a wine growing region called the "Dry Creek Valley" in California near the village of Healdsburg. We passed through this picturesque town on a drive up from LA to Vancouver-Whistler and walked the streets, toured the lovely bookstore, stopped for a delicious lunch. From there it's a short drive up to Quivira, a local family owned estate winery where they make a wonderful Zin and some up-and-coming Sauvignon Blancs as well. Add to that their fabulous estate garden, a 130 year old fig tree and estate sold honey, olive oil and preserves and you get a full terroir experience right there at the tasting room. The BookBuffet Wine & Book Club is a great way to discover new wines and touring destinations. So read the book, taste the wine at home or with friends and share your discussion/tasting notes online. You are in for an incredible reading and tasting experience. We believe in feeding the mind and the body!

                      Monday, September 27, 2010

                      20 Writerly Questions Series: Allegra Goodman (Feature Articles)

                      The "Writerly Questions Series" is brought to you courtesy of Random House Canada who partners with BookBuffet. Look for this feature each Monday. The idea is we ask different authors the same set of questions designed to give readers a glimpse into the lives and writing mechanics of authors. (It is interesting to compare and contrast the full list to date at bottom.) Get exposed to authors that otherwise would not have come onto your radar. It's rather like shopping for a new tie or addition to your wardrobe, and never deviating from certain colors, patterns or styles. Jump out of your comfort zone. Today's author is Allegra Goodman. I first became intrigued by this author upon reading her biography on her website. All the reviewer accolades from admittedly reliable sources like The New York Times, said things that rang of hyperbole; "the next Jane Austen." So it is her real life that interested me when I began to scratch the surface... Daughter of a successful set of academic parents who I imagine never had boring dinner table conversation, (dad: philosophy prof, mom: women's studies prof). Mostly grew up in Hawaii (also cool, but in a hot-way). Uprooted to Nashville, Tennessee (Hello! Nashville?) when her parents took positions at Vanderbuilt University.Published her first story at age 17, and from there climbed her own ivory tower as an undergrad at Harvard. I don't think her answers to this series gives us as good a picture of her as it could. But see what you think. Her latest novel is The Cookbook Collector, and I think RH describe it well: "...a novel about getting and spending... the substitutions we make when we can’t find what we’re looking for: reading cookbooks instead of cooking, speculating instead of creating, collecting instead of living." Hmmm, sounds like the modern (wo)man. BTW - the Austen comparison is about sisters: Sense & Sensibility has them, Cookbook Collector's got 'em too. (Don't be turned off by the elaborate cover or the staging of her publicity photo, which to me seem a little precious. Jane Austen was a passionate observer who captured her time.)

                      Thursday, September 23, 2010

                      It's National Punctuation Day on Sept 24th (Feature Articles)

                      You laugh and say, "Hah! What are they going to think of to celebrate next?" But the standards for everyday punctuation among the masses has eroded further than you think. It is reaching catastrophic proportions. I am in a state of apoplexy every other day, and I am not even a hardcore grammarian. It isn't just our email-ease, SMS semaphore or rampant use of smiley faces (to hedge against ambiguous rhetoric) that has replaced the proper use and understanding of punctuation. Indeed, for a while the prevailing thinking in education was that creative writing was being stifled by fussy teachers who insisted upon that nasty triad: correct spelling, grammar and punctuation. The red ink marks on papers disappeared and little star stickers were replaced, "Good job," they said. Students were told just to write, and worry about details later. Now look where it has got us. However, there is hope in site. Enclosed is a list of websites you can browse, bookmark and refer to - even take a quiz to test your knowledge or play games. We've included a short list of books you should keep beside your laptop, or better yet, beside your bed at night. Can you think of anything better for insomnia? And here are some of the most common errors we see in everyday writing. Happy Punctuation Day! Oh, here is the chap who started it all.

                      Monday, September 20, 2010

                      20 Writerly Questions Series: Richard Harvell (Feature Articles)

                      The "Writerly Questions Series" is brought to you courtesy of Random House Canada who partners with BookBuffet. Look for this feature each Monday. The idea is we ask different authors the same set of questions designed to give readers a glimpse into the lives and writing mechanics of authors. It is fascinating to compare and contrast when you check the list to date at bottom. Today's author is Richard Harvell. This is Richard's first novel titled, The Bells, and it's certain to become a Random House blockbuster this fall. Consider the elements: rich lush prose, intriguing characters like bell ringers and castratas, aluring settings like 17th century European opera houses, and an elegant theme - the redemptive power of music and love. Ladies will like this part - it was inspired by his wife while he was sitting in their kitchen listening to her sing, with her fine clear voice, an aria by Gluck that is based on a story about Orpheus and Eurydice. He asked her about the story and was immediately struck that this plot would form the basis of his novel. Since they live in Basel Switzerland he was already immersed in the region. "Bells" takes readers on a passionate musical journey through Europe ending in Vienna in 1762. Along with the publisher's introduction came a link to his You Tube video - a luscious tempting clip. Richard Harvell was born in New Hampshire, USA, and studied English literature at Dartmouth College. As BookBuffet had the very good fortune to hear Richard give a reading in Vancouver - we will follow-up shortly with a few audio excerpts in a separate feature. Stay tuned! In the meantime listen to Andreas Scholl sing Che Faro Senza Euridice

                      1. How would you summarize your book in one sentence?
                      Boy with preternatural hearing has his life ruined by a priest, an abbot, a choirmaster, and a doctor, and then redeemed by two gay monks, a dwarf, music, and true love.
                      2. How long did it take you to write this book?
                      Nine months until I said, “It’s finished.” Three years until others agreed with me.
                      3. Where is your favorite place to write?
                      Wherever my kids don’t bother me. These days in the attic.
                      4. How do you choose your characters’ names?
                      For the most part I look for names in historical records, for authenticity. However, I had some fun with the last names in The Bells, but you have to speak German to get that.
                      5. How many drafts do you go through?
                      With The Bells, sixteen plus lots and lots of fiddling.

                      Saturday, September 18, 2010

                      Author Podcast: Graham E. Fuller (Author Interviews)

                      I would not be the first person to admit that Graham E. Fuller is a person whose intellect, career and breadth of life experience is intimidating—I'll get to his credentials in a second. But in meeting him, one is immediately disarmed to find a soft spoken individual who stands ready to take any question, debate any point and who routinely pitches-in in his adopted community of Squamish, BC on everything from civic planning issues and the preservation of bald eagles to teaching watercolor painting classes each summer at the Whistler Art Festival.

                      However, in the sphere of history, world affairs and US foreign policy Fuller has been a player, not just a bystander like the rest of us. Author and co-author of at least a dozen political science books, his newest, titled A World Without Islam (published by Little and Brown Oct 2010) takes the reader on an examination of "what if's" as he lays down facts to support his thesis that the current situation in the Middle East and other hot spots around the world: Pakistan, Indonesia, the Baltics... concerning the attitudes and actions of Muslims, is far deeper and more complex than can be pinned on Islam alone, and we do ourselves a grave disservice if we choose not to consider and confront these factors.

                      Wednesday, September 15, 2010

                      14 Over 40: Authors Who First Published Late(ish) (Feature Articles)

                      People seem to think that you have to enter into the fray of writing early. You might be surprised to see a line-up of some people who wrote their first novels after their 40th birthday (and well beyond). Take a look at these familiar book titles and celebrate the authors who wrote them, as compiled in a slide show by Huffington correspondent Randy Susan Meyers:"41 Over 40: Authors Debuting Over Age 40" (Sept.11.2010)
                      Annie Proulx published Postcards at age 57.
                      Alex Haley published Roots when he was 55.
                      Raymond Chandler debuted The Big Sleep at 59.
                      Edward P. Jones' first book Lost in the City came out when he was 41.
                      Henry Miller published Tropic of Cancer when he was 40.
                      James Michener published Tales of the South Pacific when he was 40-? and went on to publish 40 more books.
                      Julia Glass published Three Junes in her 40s.
                      Holly LeCraw wrote The Swimming Pool when she was 43.
                      Paul Hardy won the Pulitzer Prize with his first published book Tinkers when he was 42.
                      Sue Monk Kid debuted The Secret Life of Bees at 54.
                      George Eliot published Adam Bede: (now in its 150th Anniversary Edition published by Signet Classics) when she was 50.
                      Richard Adams debuted Watership Down when he was 52.
                      Katherine Anne Porter published her only novel Ship of Fools when she was 72.
                      Norman McLean wrote A River Runs Through It when he was 74.
                      So what's stopping you? Check out these Writer Workshops and get started on your first novel.

                      Monday, September 13, 2010

                      Hachette Livre: Second Largest Publisher in the World (Publisher News)

                      A colleague just published his latest book in the category of Political Science. As it is a page-turner I wanted to write a review and went online to get further information. The search revealed that his stated publisher (Little and Brown) is owned by Hachette Livre, who it emerges is the second largest publisher in the world. Intrigued by this distinction, I set out to discover - who is Hachette Livre and what has contributed to their success? First, Hachette Book Group USA is a leading US trade publisher headquartered in New York, and owned by Hachette Livre. In one year, HBGUSA publishes approximately 450 adult books, 150 young adult and children’s books, and 60 audio book titles. In 2007, the company had a record 82 books on the New York Times bestseller list, with 20 of them ranked #1. In addition to selling and distributing its own imprints, HBG distributes publishing lines for Chronicle Books, Microsoft Learning, Arcade, Time Inc. Home Entertainment, Harry N. Abrams, InnovativeKids, Phaidon Press, Filipacchi Publishing, Kensington, MQ Publications, Strictly By The Book, Weinstein Books and Gildan Media.
                      Conclusion #1: It helps to have your fingers in the pot of several successful brands that bring volume and quality.

                      Saturday, September 11, 2010

                      Masterpiece Mystery: Wallander Oct 1-13th (WGBH Boston)

                      BookBuffet is excited to announce the return of a whole new season of Wallander, Masterpiece's second series adaptation of bestselling Swedish thriller writer Henning Mankell's novels, starring Kenneth Branagh. The highly acclaimed Series I of Wallander won a BAFTA award for its gripping, surreal production standards, and gave Branagh Best Actor for 2010. He was also nominated for an Emmy and a Golden Globe for his stunning portrayal of the brooding Detective Kurt Wallander. BookBuffet is once again able to offer the first few members who register with our "Masterpiece Book to Film Group" (how to join below) copies of the novels adapted for the series. Read the books, then watch the series. Masterpiece has a number of teaser videos to pique your appetite, and online streaming of episodes in the series are available for a limited period. Check the PBS schedule for your area. Faceless Killers (October 3), The Man Who Smiled (October 10) and The Fifth Woman (October 17). Download the You Tube trailer here. See PBS Masterpiece reader resources here.

                      Monday, September 06, 2010

                      20 Writerly Questions Series: David Mitchell (Feature Articles)

                      The "Writerly Questions Series" is brought to you courtesy of Random House Canada who partners with BookBuffet. Look for this feature each Monday. The idea is we ask different authors the same set of questions designed to give readers a glimpse into the lives and writing mechanics of authors. It is fascinating to compare and contrast when you check the list to date at bottom. Today's author is David Mitchell. David Mitchell is the acclaimed author of the novels Black Swan Green, which was selected as one of the 10 Best Books of the Year by Time; Cloud Atlas, which was a Man Booker Prize finalist; Number9Dream, which was short-listed for the Man Booker as well as the James Tait Black Memorial Prize; and Ghostwritten, awarded the Mail on Sunday/John Llewellyn Rhys Prize for best book by a writer under thirty-five and short-listed for the Guardian First Book Award. His latest novel is The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet: A Novel published by Sceptre in the UK and RandomHouse in NorthAmerica. He lives in Ireland.

                      1. How would you summarize your book in one sentence?
                      Honest Dutch clerk in a walled island of thieves meets a Japanese midwife at the end of the eighteenth century, and dominoes go toppling.
                      2. How long did it take you to write this book?
                      Four years.
                      3. Where is your favorite place to write?
                      My hut in my back garden.
                      4. How do you choose your characters’ names?
                      By stumbling across them, storing them on a special page in my notebook, and retrieving them when the right vacancy arises.
                      5. How many drafts do you go through?
                      'Going through' drafts in the sense of polishing is indistinguishable from 'writing'.  Countless, then.

                      Thursday, September 02, 2010

                      J.K. Rowling Donates $15.5M to Multiple Sclerosis Research (Feature Articles)

                      J. K. Rowling is 45, the exact age that her mother died of complications due to Multiple schlerosis (MS), a debilitating neuro-degenerative disease that strikes between 2 and 150 per 100,000 population depending on your genetic background. Research shows that people of Scottish descent have the highest incidence of this disease, so it is fitting that the money is going to the University of Edinburgh, Rowling's home town, and will be named "The Anne Rowling Centre for MS Research". Significant donations like this, with the celebrity power behind it, is a medical researcher's prayer answered. It takes away the burdon of tedious and time-consuming annual grant applications for dwindling government funding sources, and most importantly, it brings the disease and disease sufferers to the forefront of public awareness. J.K. Rowling became a billionaire off the royalties of her now famous children's Harry Potter book series, and she is at the point of giving back to society some of that bounty. "I cannot think of anything more important, or of more lasting value, than to help the university attract world-class minds in the field on neuroregeneration, to build on its long and illustrious history of medical research and, ultimately, to seek a cure for a very Scottish disease," Rowling said. There are around 100,000 MS carriers in Britain, and Scotland has one of the highest rates in the world. The new center will also look into other degenerative conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and Huntingdon's disease, which like MS are neurogenic, progressive and incurable.

                      Monday, August 30, 2010

                      20 Writerly Questions Series: Camilla Gibb (Feature Articles)

                      The "Writerly Questions Series" is brought to you courtesy of Random House Canada who partners with BookBuffet. Look for this feature each Monday. The idea is we ask different authors the same set of questions designed to give readers a glimpse into the lives and writing mechanics of authors. It is fascinating to compare and contrast when you check the list to date at bottom. Today's author is Camilla Gibb. Camilla Gibb is the author of four novels: Mouthing the words, Petty Details of So-and-So Life, Sweetness in the Belly and the forthcoming The Beauty of Humanity Movement—as well as numerous short stories, articles and reviews. She was the winner of the Trillium Book Award in 2006, a Scotiabank Giller Prize short list nominee in 2005, winner of the City of Toronto Book Award in 2000 and the recipient of the CBC Canadian Literary Award for short fiction in 2001. Her books have been published in 18 countries and translated into 14 languages and she was named by the jury of the prestigious Orange Prize as one of 21 writers to watch in the new century.
                      1. How would you summarize your book in one sentence?
                      It’s a story about the intersection of the lives of three very different people in Vietnam and how those relationships allow them each to reconcile themselves with aspects of the turbulent past
                      2. How long did it take you to write this book?
                      Two years.
                      3. Where is your favorite place to write?
                      At the kitchen table on a sunny day.
                      4. How do you choose your characters’ names?
                      I choose ordinary names appropriate to the culture or context. Extraordinary names draw too much attention to themselves and disrupt the reading.
                      5. How many drafts do you go through?
                      Countless. Maybe 25?

                      Monday, August 23, 2010

                      20 Writerly Questions Series: Alissa York (Feature Articles)

                      The "Writerly Questions Series" is brought to you courtesy of Random House Canada who partners with BookBuffet. Look for this feature each Monday. The idea is we ask different authors the same set of questions designed to give readers a glimpse into the lives and writing mechanics of authors. It is fascinating to compare and contrast when you check the list to date at bottom. Today's author is Alissa York. Alissa York has lived all over Canada and now makes her home in Toronto with her husband, writer/filmmaker Clive Holden. York's award-winning short fiction has appeared in various literary journals and anthologies, and in the collection, Any Given Power, published in 1999. Her first novel, Mercy, published in 2003, was a Canadian bestseller. Dutch, French and US editions have appeared since. York's second novel, Effigy, was published in April 2007, short-listed for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and long-listed for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. International rights to the book have sold in Holland, Italy, France and the US. Her new novel, Fauna, is on sale on July 27, 2010.
                      1. How would you summarize your book in one sentence?
                      FAUNA tells the story of the love between a female federal wildlife officer and the owner of a wrecking yard that doubles as a sanctuary for injured urban fauna and other lost souls.
                      2. How long did it take you to write this book?
                      Two and a half years.
                      3. Where is your favorite place to write?
                      My desk -- in fact, it's the only place.
                      4. How do you choose your characters’ names?
                      Sometimes I come upon promising names during the research process -- Edal was like that. Darius and Lily, on the other hand, arrived from the ether already named.
                      5. How many drafts do you go through?
                      Around a dozen -- the later the draft, the finer the adjustments.

                      Friday, August 20, 2010

                      Author Podcast: Peter Carey (Author Interviews)

                      For this week's BookBuffet podcast we got to thinking about the subject of democracy. World news reports failing economies, scam elections and repressive fanatical regimes. Whatever happened to the temple of democracy? Shockingly the bastion countries around the world that we consider exemplars of this form of government are themselves facing a decline on the "Democracy Index" compiled bi-yearly by the Economist magazine research arm. It's not because of any new ultra right or left wing parties gaining power; it's due to public apathy [in the UK and USA] over their democratic rights: the right to vote as well as the "homeland security" initiatives instigated by both countries in response to terrorism. You will now be photographed over 1,000 times a day on the streets of London by closed circuit cameras, and despite President Obama's efforts to reverse the Bush administration's executive infringements to the civil rights act, a dappled cloud of paranoia remains. Since we are a literary site, we wanted to take a look at who has been writing novels that deal with this topic. I had to look no further than two-time Booker Prize winner Peter Carey. Peter talks about his latest novel Parrot and Olivier in America published by (Knopfdoubleday, 2010) which is based on Alex De Tocqueville's classic tomb on democracy, Democracy in America (Penguin Classics), which Carey says, "All my clever friends quote Tocqueville and pretend to have read all the way through America in high school or college, but they've really only skipped through the good bits. If you read through it, you see how a man of Tocqueville's background dealt with the times and reasoned how this form of government would fare through to the future." Parrot and Oliver is a riff on Tocqueville wrapped up in an imagined love story. Watch this excellent interview with GRANTA editor John Freeman. And don't forget to browse our previous podcasts, both homegrown and borrowed.

                      Monday, August 16, 2010

                      The New Yorker Festival Oct 1st-3rd (Events)

                      If you're like me you anticipate the moment when you turn the key on your post box, open the door to find your copy of this week's New Yorker magazine, teasingly folded over so that the new cover illustration and lineup of feature articles written by informed, entertaining and intelligent writers addressing today's events around the globe are revealed; then you won't want to miss the next New Yorker Festival. What goes on at the Festival? Well, the full program will be announced Sept 6th and tickets go on sale Sept 10th but I can tell you that your favorite staff writers and contributors will be on stages discussing their work, debating the issues, and entertaining you live. Go to New Yorker staff, such as the popular Malcolm Gladwell, will be live blogging during the festival to keep you updated. Come watch intelligent speakers talk about cool things. Even the speakers lament (for example) not being able to attend a session of the Mad Men creative team because they've been simu-scheduled at a forum next door. As one writer-speaker aptly put it, "It's wonderful to have the veil removed between you and your reading audience. To actually get meet your readers, who remarkably have really been paying close attention to your writing, and to hear their questions and opinions... " Satisfying all around!

                      Contemplating Wines (Feature Articles)

                      At the end of a long day here on the farm (in the Interior of BC) it's great to sit on the porch surveying "the back 40" when the intense heat of the day has passed and the long shadow of our cottonwood next to the house provides a cool respite. Here I sit sipping a glass of crisp white wine while skipping through a copy of John Schreiner's The Wineries of British Columbia (Whitecap, 2009). John has been studying the subject for 30 years and this is the 3rd edition. He's mastered the art of giving just enough information to satisfy your curiosity and tempt your palate. Believe it or not there are 457 wineries in BC now, up from 14 in 1988. They're all listed in alphabetical order with the bottle label and engaging stories about each of the vintners, their properties, their methods and their successes. I go immediately to some of my favorites and see a common thread between us: people passionate about wines, not afraid to tackle the science and chemistry of its art, and determined to produce bottles that any family would be proud to serve company and any restaurant would be happy to place on their wine list alongside other worldly fare. Most often wineries are started, taken-over or completely re-vamped by people from entirely different backgrounds to the industry. Blasted Church was started by two couples who were brokerage accountants. Cedar Creek was started by a geologist and his wife. Burrowing Owl was started by a civil engineer with a business degree, and Quails' Gate was started by a distant relative of ours, the Stewart family, now the largest producer of Pinot Noir in Canada. If you want to learn the stories behind the wines you're drinking, take a mental tour through BC's award-winning and up-and-comers. Better yet, purchase a copy and head east on Highway 3 to the Okanagan where you can sample wines and visit winemakers on our own terroir. Slip in a copy of John Schreiner's Okanagan Wine Tour Guide on the dash for good measure! Now, where was I? Oh yes. I'm looking at the future terraced vineyard on our south slope. The east to west oriented valley will ensure long hours of sunlight and the rocky soil will concentrate the flavours in the grapes. Bring on the investors!

                      Thursday, August 12, 2010

                      The House of Special Purpose (Book Reviews)

                      The House of Special PurposeFrom the author of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas comes a new historic fiction. John Boyne’s seventh novel, The House of Special Purpose (Doubleday, 2009) transports you back in time to a fractious Russia in the early 20th Century. Two worlds are at war; the Tsar’s days of lavish enjoyment run alongside a rebellious populous. Boyne’s talent is that when faced with a story that has death, tragedy and loss at its centre, he manages to find light in his characters that make his novels so compelling.

                      Monday, August 02, 2010

                      Whistler Reads Short Fiction Finalists: Dee Raffo and Karen McLeod (Feature Articles)

                      Whistler writers Dee Raffo and Karen McLeod are the winners of the Children's Short Fiction Contest sponsored by Whistler Reads during our 29th author event this past July. The submissions were reviewed by Canadian author Matthew Hooton who came to speak to the village-wide book group, and who agreed to vet the submissions. Both stories are featured here. The exercise was designed to stimulate thinking about the challenges of writing from this "site line", as Matthew describes it, "...where you are actually lower to the ground and view the world from a whole different angle." Dee and Karen enjoyed the process and said Matt was a sensitive editor and mentor who gave excellent advice on their writing. Here now are: "Running with Horses" by Dee Raffo, and "Mrs. Ryan's House" by Karen McLeod.

                      RUNNING WITH HORSES
                      By Dee Raffo

                      Her mother had been the one driving. It was icy and the bend was sharp, the paramedic said it would have been quick. The tree branch had punctured right through the windshield and struck her in the throat. Johnny was another story. He wasn’t wearing his seat belt, which was unusual, and was thrown about thirty metres before his small body had come to a stop. He suffered head injuries that caused him to die two days later, never opening his eyes again. In his five year old hand was a yellow tractor. Michelle thought this may have been the reason he wasn’t wearing his belt. She had gone over it time and time again, frame by frame as if it was a movie. Johnny taking off his belt to get his favourite toy, her mother taking her eyes off the road to make sure he put the seatbelt back on. Gone. In one morning, when there had been so many, they were gone. (continued... )

                      Saturday, July 31, 2010

                      Pecha-Kucha Is Japanese for Chit Chat (Events)

                      You've heard of TED talks. Now there's Pecha-Kucha Night. Pecha Kucha is the Japanese translation for the sound of the words "chit chat". It's a simple principle. Get speakers to gather 20 slides encapsulating their creative work or process and speak to each slide for 20 seconds. In the space of one evening you can learn a whole lot about the creative people around you. The presentation format was devised by Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham of Klein Dytham architecture. The first PechaKucha Night was held in Tokyo in their gallery-lounge-bar-club or creative kitchen called the SuperDeluxe in February 2003. It has now become a global organization with events held worldwide. Klein Dytham architecture still organize and support the global PechaKucha Night network and organise PechaKucha Night Tokyo. For the second year now, it comes to Whistler BC to be held during the now famous bike festival called "Crankworx. Aug 7-15th 2010". Presenters include:

                      - Tyler Schramm, Schramm Vodka
                      - Rick Harry, Aboriginal Artist
                      - Keith Reynolds, Playground Builders
                      - Robin O'Neill - Photographer
                      - Peter Alder, Ecosign Mountain Resort Planners
                      - Leslie Anthony, Writer
                      - Paula Shackleton, Bookbuffet
                      - Carla Gutierrez, Fitness Model

                      Here is an example of one talk.

                      Friday, July 30, 2010

                      Wine & Book Group Pick For Aug-Sep '10 (Wine & Book Club)

                      My girlfriend was excoriating me the other day for not having read any novels by Swedish blockbuster crime writer, Karl Stig-Erland Larsson. On and on she went about the gripping plot, the insights into Swedish history, politics and culture. The sordid scandals and speculation over the author's sudden death at age 50. (Was it a heart attack or murder? Had he been offed by a Swedish right extremist group?) Then the fact that the first two books in the trilogy have been made into foreign feature films, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo starring a cast of people with an impossible number of consonants in their names. I admitted my guilt. I begged off with vague references to... something I refer to as "The Dan Brown Phenomenon"; as soon as I see a blockbuster novel/movie, I run the other way. I do anything I can to avoid exposing myself to mass culture and hysteria. I'm still receiving therapy over Da Vinci Code, truth be told. Then I looked up Larson's book sale statistics: He was the second best-selling author in the world in 2008, behind Afghan-American author Khaled Hosseini, who admittedly I enjoyed. His Millennium Trilogy Bundle, : The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, has sold 27 million copies in more than 40 countries. And the English language version of the "Tattoo" is currently under production starring Daniel Craig, Robin Wright, Stellan Skarsgård scheduled for release in 2011. So, in deference to my dear friend who is trying to save me from turtling into an elitist literary shell, I thought I'd place the last of Larsson's trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest up for our Wine & Book Club pick over the summer. After all, don't we all love a good hornet's nest during a summer picnic? I bought the 3-book pack and my husband bought the audio book and we've been listening to it here at the ranch after our work day, with great anticipation. For all you book and wine people, we recommend some cool Ice Wine from Sweden to accompany your meeting.

                      Thursday, July 29, 2010

                      Technology Corner: Jailbreaking Your iPhone, iPad (Technology Corner)

                      People "Jailbreak" their iphone when they want to buy or use applications not sold via Apple's App store. They can also use their phone as a "tether" to their home computer and access it remotely, access files on their home computer remotely using their phone, etc. What's wrong with that? Well, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 says it's illegal. But aspects of the DMCA changed today. Need a little background? Wikipedia describes it thus:Jailbreaking is a process that allows iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch users to run third-party unsigned code on their devices by unlocking the operating system and allowing the user root access. Once jailbroken, iPhone users are able to download many extensions and themes previously unavailable through the App Store via unofficial installers such as Cydia. A jailbroken iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch is still able to use the App Store and iTunes. Jailbreaking is different from SIM unlocking,

                      Tuesday, July 27, 2010

                      Long List Man Booker Prize Announced (Feature Articles)

                      The judges for the 2010 Man Booker Prize for Fiction today, Tuesday 27 July, announced the longlist for the prize. It is the leading literary award in the English speaking world. A total of 138 books, 14 of which were called in by the judges, were considered for the Man Booker Dozen longlist of 13 books. The chair of judges, Andrew Motion, commented:"Here are thirteen exceptional novels - books we have chosen for their intrinsic quality, without reference to the past work of their authors. Wide-ranging in their geography and their concern, they tell powerful stories which make the familiar strange and cover an enormous range of history and feeling. We feel confident that they will provoke and entertain." A glance over the list you will see some familiar authors who've won literary prizes, or nominations for the Man Booker in previous years. I'm always a little disappointed there aren't more fresh names in literary contests, however it is always a pleasure to read an author you know and can compare the progression of their work. Order one or three from the list and take your chances picking the winner. This will be announced on Tuesday 12 October at a dinner at London's Guildhall and will be broadcast on the BBC Ten O'Clock News. The prize is worth £50,000 and brings the author increased sales and worldwide recognition. The list is:

                      When Are Literary Guys Funny? (Author Interviews)

                      OK, you guessed it. I'm back at the farm slacking off (working my fingers to the BONE) and so this week's author podcast does not derive from moi. It is a hilarious riff from Russian born American writer, Gary Shteyngart. Who is Gary Shteyngart you ask? Well if you crossed Woody Allen with Pushkin, I think you'd be close. To prove my point, just watch this "serious video" from Random House introducing Gary's new book, Super Sad True Love Story: A Novel (Random House, July 27th 2010). It's fiction. It's a whopping 352 pages, and the video has real authors going with the schtick [including Edmond White, Mary Gaitskill, Jeffrey Eugenides.} Gary lives on the Lower East side of Manhattan and teaches at Columbia University, Princeton University and Hunter College. Check out his new book, but don't take MY word for it! Wikipedia (the source of all good journalist's information) wrote this: "Absurdistan: A Novel was chosen as one of the ten best books of the year by The New York Times Book Review and Time Magazine, as well as a book of the year by the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle and many other publications. The Russian Debutante's Handbook won the Stephen Crane Award for First Fiction, the Book-of-the-Month Club First Fiction Award and the National Jewish Book Award for Fiction. It was named a New York Times Notable Book and one of the best debuts of the year by The Guardian (UK). In June 2010, Shteyngart was named as one of The New Yorker magazine's "20 under 40" luminary fiction writers."

                      Song Over Quiet Lake by Sarah Felix Burns (Book Reviews)

                      Song Over Quiet Lake is the second novel by Canadian author, Sarah Felix Burns. Her first novel Jackfish the Vanishing Village, 2007 (reviewed here) won the 2009 Northern Lit Award. This built anticipation for her next book. What shines through in her writing again is Burns' understanding of the human condition and the degree of empathy she evokes in readers for her characters. It is not surprising that she holds a degree in Women’s Studies and History from the University of British Columbia, with a masters degree in Social Work from the University of Toronto.

                      Wednesday, July 21, 2010

                      Jeffery Eugenides Has A New Book (Feature Articles)

                      "One of the most anticipated new books around the Farrar, Straus & Giroux offices (and out in the Real World, I daresay) is Jeffrey Eugenides' follow-up to Middlesex. That 2003 novel, which won the Pulitzer Prize and was later selected for Oprah's Book Club, has sold over 2,000,000 copies and is on many readers' lists of their favorite contemporary novels." writes Jonathan Galassi, president of FSG. Jonathan caught up (virtually) with Jeff in his studio in Princeton, New Jersey, where he is rounding the turn on his new novel.—Work In Progress Blog

                      Galassi: Please tell us everything you can about your new book, starting with the title.

                      Eugenides: I hate to begin by withholding information, but I'd rather not divulge the title of the new book at the moment. I remember when my wife was pregnant and we were trying out different names for the baby. Anytime we told someone a prospective name, they would find something wrong with it. It rhymed with something not-nice. It was just begging to be deformed into a schoolyard epithet. The result was that we never named our child and refer to her now only by her SS#. So I'm not going to make that mistake again and tell you the title of my book.

                      Curious to read more of the interview? Click this link."I don't quite know how to describe it. A college love story? Maybe."

                      Sunday, July 18, 2010

                      Famous First Lines: Test Your Literary Knowledge (Feature Articles)

                       Are you a literary snob?  Take this Quiz And Find Out. Here is the very first line at the beginning of ten classic novels. See how many you can match up.

                    • 100% qualifies you in BookBuffet’s Literary Elite
                    • 75% and above means you should consider becoming a BookBuffet Moderator!

                    • 50% and up not bad, you make our Budding Bibliophile category.
                    • Anything below that signals, "Hide the Remote!"
                    • Tuesday, July 13, 2010

                      Literary Review Sources: A Baker's Dozen (Feature Articles)

                      Looking for a source of good literary reviews? The place to go is a trusted literary magazine, but last time we checked there are hundreds. For the ultimate web resource go to New Pages website. Here are a few of our favorites and others that piqued our interest.

                      1. African American Review

                      African American Review promotes a lively exchange among writers and scholars in the arts, humanities, and social sciences who hold diverse perspectives on African American literature and culture.


                      [African American Review website]

                      2. AGNI

                      "AGNI has become one of America's, and the world's, most significant literary journals"--PEN America.  Now edited by renowned critic Sven Birkerts.


                      [AGNI website]

                      Whistler Reads: TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD and the biography of Harper Lee, UP CLOSE (Whistler Reads)

                      Join us Tuesday October 5th at 7:30 PM at the Whistler Public Library when Kerry Madden will join us on Skype Video. It has been 50 years since Harper Lee's novel, "To Kill a Mockingbird" came out and rocked our world. The reclusive author almost never gave interviews or speeches to accept her awards, including the Pulitzer Prize she was given in 1960. She did form a lasting relationship with actor Gregory Peck who played the lead figure, Atticus Finch in the film version of her book, a character modeled on Lee's own father who was a newspaperman and former lawyer of the highest moral standard. (Gregory Peck's grandchild is named Harper Peck Voll, in tribute to Harper Lee.) A new biography has come out on Harper Lee, written by Kerry Madden, a Professor at the University of Alabama, titled Harper Lee: Up Close.

                      Harper Lee, now 86, declined to be interviewed for her biography. She feels biographies are for dead people. As Madden discovered from her ample research of Lee, who despite her age, remains incredibly active; she golfs every week claiming the walk gives her time to think, and her 90-plus year-old sister still works as an attorney in town.

                      "Madden draws on extensive research—including trips to Monroeville, Ala., and interviews with classmates, colleagues and town residents—to explore how Lee’s life and times inspired her masterpiece. To Kill a Mockingbird has sold 30 million copies in 40 languages and continues to sell 10,000 copies per year, and Lee is 'one of the authors most read by [North]American students.' ...This biography will appeal to fans of the novel and to newcomers. Readers will find a fascinating portrait of an independent young woman stubbornly going her own way to become the one thing she wanted to be: a writer. Extensive source notes and an excellent bibliography round out this superb biography, one of the best in the Up Close series." Get your copy of Harper Lee: Up Close by Kerry Madden—Kirkus Reviews

                      Purchase both the novel and biography and re-visit this classic novel while learning about the author whose story shaped our views of racism and injustice. If you are in Whistler, get your copy from Armchair Books. WR members receive a 10% discount. Treat yourself to The Guardian's round-up of pics of the author.

                      Tuesday, July 06, 2010

                      Masterpiece Mystery: Agatha Christie Turns 120 (WGBH Boston)

                      BookBuffet is helping to spread the word about this July’s premiere of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express, which headlines a trio of new Poirot mysteries on PBS MASTERPIECE MYSTERY! This long-awaited adaptation is preceded by a one–hour special taking viewers on a present-day journey aboard the iconic train. (The documentary, David Suchet on the Orient Express, airs Wednesday, July 7, 2010 on PBS.)

                      2010 actually marks Agatha Christie’s 120th birthday! Agatha Christie is the world's best-known mystery writer. Her books have sold over a billion copies in the English language and another billion in over 45 foreign languages. She is outsold only by the Bible and Shakespeare.

                      MASTERPIECE MYSTERY! is celebrating Christie and her suave Belgian detective with activities of interest to fans: a Q&A with David Suchet at a live Twitter event during the July 11 broadcast of Murder on the Orient Express. Experts from Mystery Readers International, Mystery Scene and The Strand magazines will be tweeting. Join them and tag your posts with the hashtag, and then visit us on TweetGrid at TweetGrid, or use your own favorite aggregator.

                      Finally, we have a free supply of paperback copies of Murder on the Orient Express for distribution to readers. Contact us at paulas [at]

                      Thursday, July 01, 2010

                      Author Podcast: Matthew Hooton (Author Interviews)

                      Matthew Hooton was named one of Canada's new literary talents to watch. His first novel is titled, Deloume Road published by Knopf Canada. Matthew's prose captures the Pacific Northwest in a style reminiscent of other favorite regional authors whose work shows a reverence for and understanding of the natural physical world; I'm thinking John Vaillant (The Golden Spruce), Steve Gutterson (Snow Falling on Cedars), with a bit of W.O. Mitchell thrown in for good measure. What these authors' writing share is an understanding of place and character all wrapped up in compelling suspenseful stories with intersecting characters from immigrant, native and First Nations backgrounds whose respective lives connect in touching and sometimes violent ways with each other and to nature. You will recall Vaillant's book dealt with the eco-terrorism of the giant golden spruce destroyed on the Queen Charlottes Island while Gutterson's novel was set on the small American San Juan Island community of Nordic and Japanese immigrants at conflict over a murder trial. Matthew's novel takes place on Vancouver Island on the titular rural road and it involves several families whose lives intersect with escalating levels of suspense and mystery one hot summer.

                      Tuesday, June 29, 2010

                      Belinda Carlisle of the Go-Go's Tells All (Feature Articles)

                      Depending on your age and your taste in music, you may not recognize this author's name, but you will likely recognize her band, The Go-Go's. This 80's punk rock band came out of Los Angeles California and was the first all-girl band to write their own songs and play their own instruments. The members originally consisted of Belinda Carlisle (vocals), Jane Wiedlin (guitar, vocals), Margot Olaverra (bass), and Elissa Bello (drums). Their first album Beauty and the Beat went double platinum and since its release the Go-Go's have sold over 7 million records. I still remember the cover art of their 1982 album Vacation which featured 5 lovely ladies in white frilly hats, pink tops and white skorts waterskiing parallel in a single line. It was retro-bitching. In addition to their success, they had a reputation for hard partying on the A-list circuit. Belinda Carlisle has had the most successful solo career of the group. She's also just released her memoir titled, Lips Unsealed published by Crown, a division of Random House (June 1, 2010), which is getting great reviews from Kirkus and others for (in addition to the heady girl-power celebrity stuff) its unguarded honesty surrounding her drug and alcohol issues, her battle with weight loss, low self esteem and abusive relationships. Below is an excerpt from her book. Check it out along with the You Tube videos of the girls performing and some of their album cover art. It's the perfect summer read while you listen to their music on your iPod.

                      Sunday, June 13, 2010

                      20 Writerly Questions Series: Justin Cronin (Feature Articles)

                      The "Writerly Questions Series" is brought to you courtesy of Random House Canada who partners with BookBuffet. Look for this feature each Monday. The idea is we ask different authors the same set of questions designed to give readers a glimpse into the lives and writing mechanics of authors. It is fascinating to compare and contrast when you check the list to date at bottom. Today's author is Justin Cronin. Born and raised in New England, Justin Cronin is a graduate of Harvard University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Awards for his fiction include the Stephen Crane Prize, a Whiting Writers’ Award, and a Pew Fellowship in the Arts. He is a professor of English at Rice University and lives with his wife and children in Houston, Texas. His newest novel, The Passage, is published by Doubleday Canada.
                      1. How would you summarize your book in one sentence?
                      Girl saves world.
                      2. How long did it take you to write this book?
                      Forty-seven years, but most of it in the last three.
                      3. Where is your favorite place to write?
                      Rome is nice. But usually I write in my office over the garage. I used to write IN the garage..
                      4. How do you choose your characters’ names?
                      Like my children's names, they seem to come from above.
                      5. How many drafts do you go through?
                      Three at least. In the second draft, I add. In the third, I cut. Often I have to do this more than once.
                      6. If there was one book you wish you had written what would it be?
                      Currently, Joseph O'Neill's NETHERLAND
                      7. If your book were to become a movie, who would you like to see star in it?
                      I think Russell Crowe would make a great Agent Wolgast.

                      Sunday, May 23, 2010

                      Masterpiece Mystery: Foyle's War (WGBH Boston)

                      For more than 35 years, Masterpiece has enthralled audiences with the works of the finest classic and contemporary writers interpreted by the world's foremost actors. We at BookBuffet have been partnering with them for just a short 2 years to provide our members with book give-a-ways to match the series and details on the authors and screenwriters. The Masterpiece schedule breaks the year into three “seasons”:

                      • In winter and spring, Masterpiece Classic features signature period dramas.
                      • In summer, Masterpiece Mystery! presents the best British mysteries.
                      • In fall, Masterpiece Contemporary shows dramas set in modern times.

                      Foyles War VI: This two part show airs June 8th and June 15th.
                      It is June 1945 and while VE Day has been celebrated in Britain, the war continues elsewhere in the world. The immediate aftermath of war was not a time of jubilation and optimism, as had been expected. The country was exhausted and poverty-stricken, families torn apart and rations tighter than ever before. Like everyone else, Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle needs to feel his way in this new world as he faces some of his toughest challenges and gripping plots to date. Keen to retire, but bound to his old job by the steep rise in violent crime that swept the country, Foyle is thrust into the dangerous worlds of international conspiracy and execution, military racism and national betrayal.

                      The Russian House
                      CS Foyle stumbles upon an international cover up, which, if exposed could bring down the British government, and reveal the War Office’s darkest secret yet.

                      Killing Time
                      Foyle goes head to head against the might of the US army, as racial prejudices erupt when a local girl is found murdered, and the finger of suspicion points to a black GI at the US military base.

                      The Hide
                      The newly retired Foyle battles to save a young man accused of high treason from the executioner's noose, in a case that will shatter his personal world to the core...

                      Saturday, May 22, 2010

                      Point Dume: by Katie Arnoldi (Book Reviews)

                      If you crossed T.C. Boyle's Tortilla Curtain with Kem Nunn's surf noir trilogy novels and added breasts you would almost get this book, Point Dume written by Los Angeles author Katie Arnoldi (published by Overlook Press, May 28, 2010). Katie grew up in a tiny beach enclave just north of Malibu called Point Dume, popular among surfers. Sounds like she may have been the bad-ass version of Gidget, that is if she bears any similarity to her novel's saucy protagonist, Ellis Gardener. Somewhere between hanging up her own surf board, a short body-building stint and obtaining a degree in art history, Katie learned to write. She likes obsessive and damaged characters from dysfunctional families set in throbbing plots within issue-related themes. This is her third novel. The first thing that intrigued me was the rave review printed on the back cover by one of my literary icons, Joan Didion in praise of her first novel Chemical Pink a story about the weight lifting culture. It's written from Arnoldi's real life experience as an amateur competitive weight lifter. Point Dume is also a real place, and like all idyllic locations within close proximity to a thriving metropolis, it has been invaded by the rich: film directors, A-list actors, successful business types all looking for that fresh salt air, unobstructed sun and wide-open space. They've bulldozed the surf shacks and built mansion compounds verily driving out the original residents and their way of life. The beat-up pickup trucks along the beach loaded with short boards tacky with layers of thick bumpy wax are being crowded out by the BMW-driving wanna-be's who ride squishy 7-9 footers enabling them to take up the sport and in Ellis's opinion, fake the lifestyle. Yuppy yoga practicing housewives exchange psychologist referrals and drink soy-chai lattes while their hispanic nannies, gardeners and pool boys enable their privileged lifestyles. With the Pacific Ocean in the front yard, there's a whole big back yard consisting of miles of hills covered in tall wild scrub brush made accessible by a crisscross network of trails and fire access roads. Add a little water via an illegal tap into state water pipes and domestic irrigation systems, and you've got a thriving local industry of clandestine grow-ops run by various drug cartels looking to avoid the post 9-11 border hassle importing las herb. Point Dume the novel, could be on the bibliography list for a college degree in hydroponic canibisology. That seems to be Arnoldi's forte - capturing the underbelly of her subject with...

                      Monday, May 17, 2010

                      20 Writerly Questions Series: Holly LeCraw (Feature Articles)

                      The "Writerly Questions Series" is brought to you courtesy of Random House Canada who partners with BookBuffet. Look for this feature each Monday. The idea is we ask different authors the same set of questions designed to give readers a glimpse into the lives and writing mechanics of authors. It is fascinating to compare and contrast when you check the list to date at bottom. Today's author is Holly LeCraw. Holly lives outside of Boston with her husband, who is a journalist, and three kids. Her short fiction and book reviews have appeared in a range of publications, including the Edge City Review and the Boston Book Review. Her short fiction was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Though a newcomer as a novelist, she grew up in the book industry. For more information on her newest novel, The Swimming Pool, please visit her website

                      1. How would you summarize your book in one sentence?
                      It’s the story of a young man and an older woman who are mourning the same person--his father, who was her lover--and who, to their great surprise, begin an affair of their own, leading to crises and revelations they never could have imagined.
                      2. How long did it take you to write this book?
                      I tried not to keep track. Three or four years.
                      3. Where is your favorite place to write?
                      Alone on Cape Cod.
                      4. How do you choose your characters’ names?
                      They just come to me and I use them as placeholders, because at the beginning I am always in a hurry; later I go back to change them and they’ve affixed themselves to the characters like barnacles, and I can’t think of anything better.
                      5. How many drafts do you go through?
                      One draft flows into the other, so I’m not sure. They aren’t discrete manuscripts. Four? Five? Twenty? I did do an edit/polish for both my agent, before we submitted, and then my editor.
                      6. If there was one book you wish you had written what would it be?
                      Too many to choose from--but on the other hand, I can’t imagine writing any books but my own.
                      7. If your book were to become a movie, who would you like to see star in it?
                      Hmmm...maybe Robert Pattinson for Jed, and Juliette Binoche for Marcella. We could make her French.
                      [8-20 cont'd]

                      Monday, May 03, 2010

                      20 Writerly Questions Series: Joan Thomas (Feature Articles)

                      The "Writerly Questions Series" is brought to you courtesy of Random House Canada who partners with BookBuffet. Look for this feature each Monday. The idea is we ask different authors the same set of questions designed to give readers a glimpse into the lives and writing mechanics of authors. It is fascinating to compare and contrast when you check the list to date at bottom. Today we feature Joan Thomas. Joan Thomas's debut novel, Reading by Lightning, won the Commonwealth Prize for Best First Book (Canada/Caribbean) in 2009, was a Globe and Mail Top 100 Book, was shortlisted for three Manitoba Book Awards, is the 2009 Manitoba Reads pick and on the shortlist for the Amazon Best First Book Award. Her short stories and creative non-fiction have been published in journals and magazines across the country, and she is the writing and publishing program consultant for the Manitoba Arts Council. Her newest novel is Curiosity from McClelland & Stewart.

                      1. How would you summarize Curiosity in one sentence? Forty years before Darwin, a 19th century gentleman and a fossil-collecting working-class woman meet each other, and their way of thinking about the world changes.
                      2. How long did it take you to write this book? I read for about a year and then I wrote for three.
                      3. Where is your favorite place to write? I wrote part of this book in a desk in the bedroom, part in the basement facing a cement wall, the rest in my current light-filled office. Really, I don’t care, as long as it’s quiet. I’m not a Starbucks kind of writer.
                      4. How many drafts do you go through? With word processors, it’s impossible to say. I’m always tinkering with what’s there, adding layers. But if you consider it a separate draft every time you say, “Okay, this is done,” print it off, and give it to someone to read—maybe 8. It’s amazing how often you finish a book! [4-10 continued]

                      Sunday, May 02, 2010

                      Whistler Reads: DELOUME ROAD (Whistler Reads)

                      NEW VENUE INFO. The next Whistler Reads discussion takes place this summer on July 10th from 5:00-6:15 pm at the Whistler Public Library community room. Admission is free with donations accepted at the door. We'll be heading down the village stroll directly after to reserved patio tables at a restaurant location for a lovely 3-course dinner to take advantage of two Whistler "greats: great food and great conversation. Enjoy cocktails and wine, fine dining and laughter as we carry on the festivities into the summer evening and watch the alpenglow over the mountain tops. (Cost is your bar bill added to price fix menu of two choices over a three course meal.)

                      There's still time to purchase your copy of Deloume Road published by Knopf Canada. This is our 30th book selection and you're going to love it. It is written by first-time Vancouver Island author, Matthew Hooton. Matthew was named one of Canada's new literary talents to watch. Matthew's prose captures the Pacific Northwest in a style reminiscent of other favorite regional authors whose work shows a reverence for and understanding of the natural physical world; I'm thinking John Vaillant (The Golden Spruce), Steve Gutterson (Snow Falling on Cedars), with a bit of W.O. Mitchell thrown in for good measure. What these authors share is an understanding of place and an understanding of character all wrapped up in a compelling, suspenseful read. They combine the immigrant and native perspective as it intersects the relationships between men and within nature. You will recall Vaillant's book dealt with the mystery surrounding the eco-terrorism of the golden spruce giant destroyed in the Queen Charlottes, and Gutterson's novel was set on a small Gulf Island community of Nordic and Japanese immigrants at conflict over a murder trial. Matthew's novel takes place on Vancouver Island on the titular rural road and it involves several families, acclimated, immigrant and native whose lives intersect with escalating levels of suspense and mystery one hot summer.

                      Sunday, April 25, 2010

                      20 Writerly Questions Series: Anosh Irani (Feature Articles)

                      The "Writerly Questions Series" is brought to you courtesy of Random House Canada who partners with BookBuffet. Look for this feature each Monday. The idea is we ask different authors the same set of questions designed to give readers a glimpse into the lives and writing mechanics of authors. It is fascinating to compare and contrast when you check the list to date at bottom.

                      Today we feature Anosh Irani. Anosh Irani was born in Bombay and moved to Vancouver in 1998. He is the author of the acclaimed novel The Cripple and His Talismans. His play The Bombay Plays: Bombay Black & The Matka King won the Dora Mavor Moore Award in 2006 for Best New Play or New Musical. His newest novel is Dahanu Road.

                      1. How long did it take you to write this book?
                      The idea came to me in the form of a single image -- that of a bottle cork -- about 7 years ago, but the actual writing took three years.
                      2. How many drafts do you go through?
                      Each novel is different. For this one, I must have done about 5 drafts. Maybe more.
                      3. If there was one book you wish you had written what would it be?
                      A FINE BALANCE by Rohinton Mistry.
                      4. If you could talk to any writer living or dead who would it be, and what would you ask?
                      If I had a chance to meet someone from the past, it wouldn't be a writer; it would be the prophet of the Zoroastrians, Zarathushtra. But he did compose sacred hyms, so one can call him a poet.
                      5. Did you always want to be a writer?
                      Not at all. I didn't want to be anything. Ambition seemed like a lot of work.
                      6. If your book were to become a movie, who would you like to see star in it?
                      Johnny Depp. (But I don't have a part for him in it.)

                      Saturday, April 17, 2010

                      Kiwi Collections: The Most Beautiful Hotels In The World (Feature Articles)

                      Whenever I travel, I use Kiwi Collection to book the hotels. They always know the coolest places to stay within my budget, and offer upgrades and perks that my usual travel agent (or attempts at self-booking online) cannot. The big news is that Kiwi Collection just completed an extensive revamp of their website - check it out. Whether you are taking a business trip, planning an annual vacation, or just grabbing a quick get-a-way, this site goes beyond information - it inspires.

                      Started by Swedish entrepreneur Philippe Kjellgren (pronounced Shellgrenn), Kiwi Collection has a team of people around the world who find and approve new properties by staying in the rooms, exploring the environs and meeting personally with each owner/manager to establish a professional relationship. (Sounds like a dream job, right? Ya, I thought so too. ) Approval and listing with KC is maintained as long as the service equals their exacting standards. Whether you prefer well-known international brands, that funky boutique gem, a luxury camp or a classic Inn experience, you can be sure that Kiwi Collection's personal relationship with the owner/operator will ensure you are welcomed like a friend of the family or an honored guest.

                      I had a 5-city junket over about as many days recently, and was somewhat dreading the pace. I was so relieved to hand the address of my hotel to my driver at each stop and discover the hotel location was minutes from my business meeting, it was close to the local sites with great restaurants and potential night-vibe, and I was greeted with a huge smile upon check-in, fitted with a view-room or similar upgrade, and provided excellent personalized service.

                      If you are like me and tend to squirrel away the hotel booklets with suggestions of other hotels in the collection, then you'll enjoy having one - or all three - of Kiwi Collection's coffee table books with gorgeous photos of hotels from around the world and Kiwi's lively descriptions outlining the unique assets. Overnight Sensations The Americas: Hotels for the Discerning Traveler, Overnight Sensations Europe: Hotels for the Discerning Traveler, and Overnight Sensations Asia Pacific: Hotels for the Discerning Traveler. I know for a fact that Madonna has these books, but you don't have to be a Rock diva to appreciate the excellent service and ahah comfort that the Kiwi connection affords. Just book your next hotel through them and see!
                      "It's for people who care about where they stay."

                      Join their Facebook and Twitter pages.
                      Canada & USA 1 800-999-0680 or Worldwide 778-331-0680

                      Author Podcast: Ian McEwan (Author Interviews)

                      Ian McEwan came to Vancouver this past week as a stop on his book tour to promote his new climate-themed novel, Solar (published by Nan A. Talese in the USA and Knopf in Canada). I had 4 tickets, but had to give them up due to the Iceland ash cloud. Funny that an ash cloud should preclude my "solar" experience, but I suppose that's poetic irony. While I would presently be offering you an exclusive podcast, if not for the ash factor, I will instead offer you this (pronounced in Shakespearean style) swipe-ed video interview obtained from his publisher. Try not to be distracted by the people walking past the window outside behind where IM is seated. I'm still trying to work out if this indeed is his London flat or whether it's his publisher, editor or publicist's flat, in which case they have much better accommodations than NYC publishers.

                      Ian McEwan is one of those authors who could write about paint drying and make it seem interesting, even dramatic. He once queried whether literary authors should pay more attention to plot in their writing? The plots in his novels are clever fancies of intricacy criticized by some. For pedantic requirements we list his recent novels many of which have been adapted into memorable films: Atonement, Saturday, Amsterdam, Enduring Love - eighteen titles in total. On Chesil Beach was a charming novelette about young love. In fact one would have to say love and all its many manifestations: passionate love, childish love, incestuous love, unrequited love, tragic love are all covered in McEwan's writing. Solar is a book about planetary love, or the sufficient lack thereof.

                      I wish I could tell you what McEwan is like in person. I wish I could tell you if he seemed jaded by success, or feigned mock coyness despite having it. I wish I could bring you the sound of his voice echoing in the open spaces of St. Andrew's Wesley Cathedral (a location that curiously made John Irving physically uncomfortable to speak in when he appeared here). I doubt that Ian McEwan is uncomfortable in churches, or on the set of a feature film he's adapted from one of his books, or riding in a plane first class around the ash cloud that now envelopes his emerald island home. Without further adieu, please enjoy this reading by Ian McEwan and then scroll down to listen to another of our BookBuffet Author Podcast series.

                      Thursday, April 15, 2010

                      Masterpiece: Small Island (WGBH Boston)

                      Airing April 18 & 25, 2010 on PBS is Masterpiece Theater's adaptation of Andrea Levy's award-winning novel Small Island. "Born into a broken home and an impoverished life in Jamaica, Hortense (Naomie Harris) longs for a fulfilling life in England; one with a fine house and a doorbell. The door of opportunity swings open, and Hortense is married and on her way to the promised land of post-war Britain. Steadfast dreams are soon tested by hard realities as Hortense and her husband Gilbert (David Oyelowo) face racism and poverty. In the small-minded country, their only saving grace is Queenie (Ruth Wilson, Jane Eyre). But Queenie faces her own disillusionment, married to the kind but dull Bernard (Benedict Cumberbatch, The Last Enemy). Bonded by high hopes and broken dreams, these four lives fuse together in a powerful and hopeful story of love and fulfillment." (Two episodes; 90 minutes each)" This is the 10th book to film series that Masterpiece and BookBuffet has collaborated on.

                      Monday, April 12, 2010

                      20 Writerly Questions Series: Yann Martel (Feature Articles)

                      The "20 Writerly Questions Series" is brought to you courtesy of Random House Canada who partners with BookBuffet. Look for this feature each Monday. The idea is we ask different authors the same set of questions designed to give readers a glimpse into the lives and writing mechanics of authors. It is fascinating to compare and contrast when you check the list to date at bottom.

                      Today we feature Yann Martel, whose newest novel, which you can purchase here is Beatrice & Virgil is published by Knopf Canada (left) or the US cover version (right). Martel is the award-winning author of four previous books, including the recent What Is Stephen Harper Reading?. Yann Martel is one of Canada’s most interesting and surprising writers. Born in Spain in 1963, Yann grew up in various places as the son of diplomats. He won the Journey Prize for the title story in The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios. His runaway bestseller, Life of Pi was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award and the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. It was the winner of the Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction as well as the Man Booker Prize. Yann lives with writer Alice Kuipers and their son in Saskatoon.

                      1. How would you summarize your book in one sentence?
                      Writer meets taxidermist meets Holocaust.
                      2. How long did it take you to write this book?
                      With interruptions, nine years.
                      3. Where is your favorite place to write?
                      No favourite place. I just need a chair, a table, my computer and a little peace and quiet.
                      [4-20 continued]

                      Tuesday, April 06, 2010

                      Scrabble Allows Proper Nouns (Feature Articles)

                      Yes, I know this is about to rock your world... BBC reports that "the rules of word game Scrabble are being changed for the first time in its history to allow the use of proper nouns, games company Mattel has said. Place names, people's names and company names or brands will now count. Mattel, which brings out a new version of the game containing amended rules in July, hopes the change will encourage younger people to play. Until now a few proper nouns had been allowed which were determined by a word list based on the Collins dictionary. In Scrabble, players try to gain the highest points by making words with individual letter tiles on a grid board. Each letter tile has a points value between one and 10, based on the letter's frequency in standard English. Various coloured squares on the board can double or triple a player's points. My question is, does this mean that we are so bereft of a sizable vocabulary that we have to dumb-down our games?

                      A spokeswoman for the company said the use of proper nouns would "add a new dimension" to Scrabble and "introduce an element of popular culture into the game". She said: "This is one of a number of twists and challenges included that we believe existing fans will enjoy and will also enable younger fans and families to get involved." However, Mattel said it would not be doing away with the old rules altogether. It will continue to sell a board with the original rules.

                      Scrabble was invented in 1938 by American-born architect Alfred Butts. He later sold the rights and it was trademarked in 1948."

                      Friday, April 02, 2010

                      Vook: It's What U Get When U Cross a BOOK with a VIDEO (Technology Corner)

                      Technology around books just keeps getting more interesting. A California company has just come out with a hybrid between the book and a video which they call "the future of publishing". Check out VOOK. "A vook is a new innovation in reading that blends a well-written book, high-quality video and the power of the Internet into a single, complete story. You can read your book, watch videos that enhance the story and connect with authors and your friends through social media all on one screen, without switching between platforms."

                      Vooks are available in two formats: As a web-based application you can read on your computer and a mobile application for reading on the go. With the web-based application you don't have to download programs or install software. Just open your favorite browser and start reading and watching in an exciting new way. You can also download and install the mobile applications through the Apple iTunes store and sync them with your Apple mobile device.

                      Vook has an exclusive partnership with TurnHere, a leading Internet video production company. Vook and TurnHere leverage a network of more than 10,000 filmmakers around the world to create professional-quality, authentic and engaging vook videos.

                      The company has several dozen titles ranging from fiction to thriller to self help. While many are from the public domain, there are a few new releases by known authors. Anne Rice, the queen of vampire novels released The Master of Rampling Gatein Vook version. It costs $5.00 for the iPad version, $4.99 for the iPhone App and the online version. It has 5 chapters and 7 videos . The videos were made by Phinizy Percy Jr.

                      Check it out and tell me what you think! Email: paula [at]

                      Thursday, April 01, 2010

                      The F5 Expo: Keynote Speaker Malcolm Gladwell (Events)

                      F5, [ef-fahyv] A function key on a computer used to refresh a web browser or file manager.
                      A business conference for executives on changing technologies in the online space such as social media, search marketing, mobile applications, and future trends.

                      The inaugural event will be held on April 7, 2010 in world renowned, Vancouver, Canada. Venue location, the Vancouver Harbour Conference Centre. F5 EXPO invites you to learn about social media, mobile marketing, and other emerging trends. The event converges interactive exhibits, peer idea-collaboration amongst fellow Owners, Executives and Buyers, and edge-of-your-seat sessions into one explosive day. The focus is on refreshing business strategies through captivating content and storytelling with an “AHA” factor on such topics as mobile apps, search marketing, business blogs/webinars, social media, web 2.0, etc. Speakers include: Malcolm Gladwell (The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers and What the Dog Saw), Tech Linz (Blogger and CEO, Massive Media), Brad Lever (CEO, eCrypt Technologies), Michael Ferfusson (CEO, Ayogo), Darci LaRochelle (Swirl Solutions), Tom Ellis (Technological Crime Analyst, RCMP), Howie Wu (Co-Founder and CEO, LayerBoom Systems), Tris Hussey (Author of Create Your Own Blog and Using ). Sound cool. I'm going to meet Malcolm.

                      In the face of rapid change, who wouldn’t need to hit the refresh button?!

                      TOR Books: 30 Years of Fantasy Can't Be That Bad For You (Publisher News)

                      To celebrate its 30th anniversary—and have a little April Fool's Day fun—Tor Books recently took a tongue-in-cheek staff picture in front of its offices in the Flatiron Building, NYC. President and publisher Tom Doherty is in the center of the shot. We assume the flying saucer and serpent demon are photoshopped in. Are you surprised by the number of staff required to be a publisher? Those people are the reason why Tor has won the Locus Magazine poll for best science fiction publisher every year since 1988, and as of early 2009, they have produced 157 prize-winning novels. BookBuffet went online to learn more about this successful niche publisher. Fantasy and Science fiction are not just the reading fodder of teenaged boys. With a stable of over 100 authors they represent such notable writers as Cory Doctorow, Steven Erikson and Kathleen Ann Goonan. There are 15 editors on staff to keep up with the job of reviewing manuscript submissions, selecting and working up properties suitable to the house. Tor Books is one of two imprints of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC, based in New York City. They also publish mainstream fiction, mystery, and occasional military history titles under its Forge imprint.

                      Tuesday, March 30, 2010

                      Deloume Road by Matthew Hooton (Book Reviews)

                      Canadian author Matthew Hooton spells his first name with double t's and his last name with double o's. This inherent symmetry is reflected in his prose, and who knows, may have been the subliminal force in his entire life, starting from the moment when he began to practice printing those consonants and vowels with a large diameter pencil on lined paper in primary school. After all, one of the first things we learn to print is our own name. That means that Matthew Hooton, with double t's and double o's, has been writing parallel and contrasting letters his whole life. I think that is rather a clever observation, and one that portends well for readers, because his first novel, Deloume Road (Knopf, Canada 2010) is the embodiment of sublime and subtle symmetry. Deloume Road is located on Vancouver Island on the "wet coast" of British Columbia where the dense forest grows to giants with just enough space between the trees to permit a few rays of light to penetrate down onto the forest floor and sustain a carpet of thirsty ferns and moss. It's the perfect playground for brothers Josh and Andy and their neighbourhood pal Matthew on this particularly hot August. Other folks living on Deloume Road will factor in the story as well, and their narratives, told in chapters as short as one paragraph, will skilfully lead the reader into a gentle and ominous tension that is contrasted by the pastoral setting of this country road community. Not since John Vaillant’s GG winning novel The Golden Spruce (also set on Vancouver Island) has there been a writer able to capture the essence of the Pacific Northwest and bring us a host of meaningful characters whose lives intersect in touching and disturbing ways.

                      Monday, March 29, 2010

                      20 Writerly Questions Series: Joy Fielding (Feature Articles)

                      The "20 Writerly Questions Series" is brought to you courtesy of Random House Canada who partners with BookBuffet. Look for this feature each Monday. The idea is we ask different authors the same set of questions designed to give readers a glimpse into the lives and writing mechanics of authors. It is fascinating to compare and contrast. Today we feature Joy Fielding. Joy Fielding is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Charley's Web, Heartstopper, Mad River Road, See Jane Run and other acclaimed novels. She divides her time between Toronto and Palm Beach, Florida. For more information on her newest novel, The Wild Zone, please visit her website

                      1. How would you summarize your book in one sentence?
                      "The Wild Zone": Three men make a bet as to which of them can be the first to seduce a mysterious young woman, with unforseen, and deadly, consequences.

                      2. How long did it take you to write this book?
                      It took approximately one year - from the time I first got the idea till it was completed - to write. About 4 to 6 months of actual writing. This is true of all my books.

                      3. Where is your favorite place to write?
                      My favourite place to write is in my office, which is a room in my downtown condominium. The room is beautiful, the view spectacular. (4-20 continued)

                      Thursday, March 18, 2010

                      The Big Short (Feature Articles)

                      Michael Lewis's new book The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine chronicles the 2008 financial collapse through the investors who realized what was happening to the U.S. economy — while it was happening — and then made a fortune by betting against the markets. If you compare The Big Short to his first book Liar's Poker, you could say that Liar's Poker was the bond market bomb that destroyed the Wall Street investment firm Saloman Brothers, while The Big Short, using Stanley Kubric's Strangelove reference, explodes the sub-prime nuclear device that sent up a mushroom cloud over our economy and toxic spores around the world. Several of Michael's books have been made into feature films. "Blind Side," the football flick just won Sandra Bullock an Academy Award, (Purchase DVD) and Brad Pitt is currently in production with Michael's baseball story Money Ball. But make that strike two: Pitt swings his bat for a second time, having just bought the rights to adapt The Big Short along with his buddies at Paramount. Why are Michael Lewis's books such hot properties? He writes smart, perceptive stories that capture the personalities behind the phenomenon, and he does it with clarity, heart and humor. I highly recommend you take the next 40 minutes and listen to Terry Gross at NPR interview Michael Lewis. His cast of real characters include a former neurosurgery resident with Asberger's Syndrome who starts a hedge fund, quits medicine and makes a fortune betting against the system. Then there is Ledley and Mai, two guys in their early 30s who also start their own hedge fund starting with ~ $100,000 and quickly turn it into $15 million by betting on financial events that are extremely unlikely to occur — and therefore didn't cost much to bet against. "This is a story of human perception - people see what they want to see," says Lewis. Read an excerpt of The Big Short, Chapter One inside...

                      Thursday, March 11, 2010

                      Wine & Book Group Pick for Feb-Mar (Wine & Book Club)

                      "When a major writer emerges, the time for comparison ends, and the time to celebrate begins," so says The National Post about one of Canada's fresh literary voices, Rabindranath Maharaj whose forth novel, The Amazing Absorbing Boy has just been published by Knopf, Canada, 2010. But I can't help compare Maharaj's writing style and subject matter as a cross between Junoz Diaz's The Brief and Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao for its liberal use of foreign slang throughout the book, and Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay for its character's obsession with comic books. It seems many talented writers of this generation refer back to comics as the portal to their protagonist's relationship-slash-coping mechanisms for the real world. It makes me wonder if anyone has ever done a study on the affect that super hero, super powers has on the socio-development of little boys. No one seems to quote Archie. It's always Spider Man, the Incredible Hulk, etc with Hugh Jackman-type actors filling in the film roles. I suppose GI Joe is the inspiration for writers like "Full Metal Jacket" or why boys become Jar Heads? Psychology aside, I read this book in three sittings. It captures the culture of Trinidad through the eyes of a 17 year-old boy whose mother has died and whose father reluctantly sends for him to come to Canada. With fantasies of reuniting with his long-lost, deadbeat dad, he soon discovers his father has no intention of making up for lost time with his son. Left to fend pretty much for himself, Samuel negotiates the strange streets of Toronto with its frigid northern temperatures and unfamiliar immigrant neighborhoods, giving the reader an incredibly fresh view of Canada's culture and the machinations of assimilation. To accompany this book we've selected an Alsace Pinot Gris as recommended for spicy Indian style foods by Decanter

                      Wednesday, March 10, 2010

                      Masterpiece: The Diary of Anne Frank (WGBH Boston)

                      Win a set of books for you book group. Join BookBuffet's Masterpiece Book to Film Group (details below) and tune into WGBH for the latest Classic adaptation for television. Airing April 11th on Masterpiece Classic is a brand new production of The Diary of Anne Frank, a story that the world has come to equate with the tyranny of Nazi Germany and its policy of oppression against the Jews and this innocent, independent spirited young woman. The trailer begins, "Anne Frank receives a diary for her thirteenth birthday in June 1942. The following month she and her family go into hiding in the secret annex behind her father's business in Amsterdam to escape the Nazi roundup of Jews. An unusually perceptive writer, Anne records events in the annex over the course of the next two years." Anne Frank is played by Ellie Kendrick. The production was adapted from the diary by Deborah Moggach, produced by Elinore Day and directed by Jon Jones. Watch the trailer. Masterpiece has been presented on PBS by WGBH since 1971. WGBH is one of the nation's top public television and public radio broadcasters; a leading producer of high-quality content for TV, radio, the Internet, and other media; a pioneer in access services for people with disabilities; and the source of educational multimedia used by millions of teachers and students every year. Check out the comprehensive links to information provided here and don't miss the interview with noted writer and one of my favorite literary goddesses, Francine Prose. Read her book, Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife alongside this feature. Video on sale here.

                      Monday, March 08, 2010

                      20 Writerly Questions Series: Andrew Kaufman (Feature Articles)

                      The "20 Writerly Questions Series" is brought to you courtesy of Random House Canada who partners with BookBuffet. Look for this feature each Monday. The idea is we ask different authors the same set of questions designed to give readers a glimpse into the lives and writing mechanics of authors. It is fascinating to compare and contrast. Today we feature Andrew Kaufman. Check back for upcoming authors: Joy Fielding, Drew Hayden Taylor, and John Boyne.

                      ANDREW KAUFMAN's critically acclaimed first book, All My Friends Are Superheroes, was a cult hit and has been translated into six languages. Kaufman is also an accomplished screenwriter and has completed a Director's Residency at the Canadian Film Centre. He lives in Toronto with his wife and their two children. His newest novel is The Waterproof Bible.

                      The Questions:
                      1. How would you summarize your book in one sentence? A woman who projects her emotions, a man who meets a woman claiming to be God, and a mermaid driving a stolen Honda Civic are forced to ask themselves which is more important – faith or fact.

                      2. How long did it take you to write this book? It was a little under seven years. Or, more concretely, when I started I was single and renting a one-bedroom apartment and now I'm married with two kids and a mortgage.

                      3. Where is your favorite place to write? Beside the stereo.

                      Saturday, March 06, 2010

                      Whistler Reads: FOOD RULES by Michael Pollan (Whistler Reads)

                      The next Whistler Reads meeting is SATURDAY May 1st, 4:00pm at the Whistler Public Library, in the community room. The book under discussion is FOOD RULES by Michael Pollan. Panelists are: Andrée Janyk (Olympic mom of Michael and Britt Janyk and a leader in health and fitness), Cat Smiley (Fitness Trainer and founder of the Whistler Boot Camp), Craig MacKenzie (Youth Director of WORCA) passionate about community initiatives for youth, Irene Gutteridge (Kinesiologist with a Masters in Biomedical Science) trained in Moshe Feldenkrais method of rehabilitation. Chris Shackleton, MD (former Professor of Surgery, UCLA School of Medicine) who is helping to shape health care policy to reverse obesity trends. And last but not least Anna Helmer (Whistler-Pemberton's SLOW FOOD movement) who will connect us to the local food chain. This covers all the angles and pulls local experts who, as it turns out, are also national experts from the eduction, fitness, community, health and food supply sectors. We invite you to join in and tell us your food rules, your thoughts on these trends.

                      How on earth did Whistler Reads pick this skinny little book? What's it got to teach (we health-conscious, fitness-obsessed) Whistlerites?

                      Like you I was impressed by our nation's response to the 2010 Olympics - not just in the host cities of Vancouver and Whistler but from coast to coast. Our athletes, their parents and coaches, and the people who helped fund the athletics are to be congratulated. Canada won an unprecedented number of medals. Regardless of your thoughts on the "own the podium" mantra, we also won the most gold between countries. Delirious spectators dressed in red and white hockey jerseys and all manner of Olympic swag broke into spontaneous choruses of the national anthem everywhere. Canadian flags now adorn porches and house windows, and flutter on the sides of cars confirming that a new era of uncharacteristic patriotism has swept this country. Now is the time to harness the post-Olympic spirit, take that unity of purpose and apply it toward a common goal. Let's encourage each and every Canadian to a higher standard of health and fitness. The shocking fact is that Canadians, like our neighbors to the south, are victims of a national epidemic of obesity. A full 60% of people are overweight or obese. We eat too much (of the wrong foods) and exercise too little. Don't believe me? Watch this

                      Friday, March 05, 2010

                      Whistler's Writer in Residence Program: Get Into The Swing of Things (Feature Articles)

                      Each year the Whistler Writers Group offers a Writer in Residence Program for the full month of September. Twenty successful applicants who have submitted a writing sample and paid the modest $250 fee have the opportunity to attend both the group sessions and four one-on-one mentoring sessions with an established writer. The guest author gets to stay at Station House, a converted building that is owned and operated by the Resort Municipality, which is located in an idyllic, quiet location on the opposite side of Alta Lake across from the Whistler village, the ski hills and the hubbub of busy tourist activities. The fee does not include accommodation, but that's the fun part. Whistler has everything from five-star hotels like the Four Seasons to quaint Bavarian style B&B's, or if you are really on a budget, perhaps you can score one of the 101 rooms at the new 2010 Olympic Athlete Village Youth Hostel? Distractions from your homework include world class golf (3 courses in as many miles), hiking (take the new Peak 2 Peak tram and cover two mountains in one day), mountain biking (boasting the world's largest network of trails and the world's largest non profit rider's association to take you there), and then there's the village patio dining and bistro experiences and plenty of shopping. You'd better pack a whack of outdoor gear in addition to your laptop and that sharp pencil! The Whistler writers group, called Vicious Circle was launched in 2001 by Stella Harvey. It has a core of committed members who help with the organizing and creative spirit. They meet regularly throughout the year to critique each other's writing - so they can't be all that vicious. Check out their just-released video of the writer in residence program posted on the group website. It's the work of Rebecca Wood Barrett and Duane Hepditch. Past writer in residence authors include: 2009 Wayne Grady and Merylin Simons; 2008 Jane Dorsey; 2007 Paulette Bourgeois. The 2010 author has not yet been announced, but counting from March to September gives you six months to work on your writing, and polish a short piece consisting of 20 double spaced pages for the submission deadline. Then plan to drop everything and come hang-out in Whistler this September. Contact Stella Harvey: PHOTO: Alta Lake Rope Swing

                      Monday, March 01, 2010

                      Whistler Reads: The Community That Skis Together Also Reads Together (Whistler Reads)

                      The Whistler Reads initiative is fashioned on the "One Book One City" programs popular across North America. Want to be a part of this exciting community venture, meet authors, discover new books, join the biggest book group in BC? Check out the list of past books and events below. We welcome all newcomers and drop-in resort visitors alike. This is a great place to meet locals if you are new to Whistler.
                      "Whether you live work or come to play in Whistler—read what Whistler Reads!" says WR Founder, Paula Shackleton.

                      Here is how to join:

                    • Click on JOIN
                    • Select "Invited to join an EXISTING book group"
                    • Type "Whistler Reads" (without the quotes) into the book group name field
                    • Fill in the rest of your information.
                    • If you are already a member of BookBuffet, check that box.
                      You can now access the member home page, and begin receiving emails with the latest book and event details and discussion questions.

                      See what other members are reading and post your current books on our FaceBook Page.
                      Get the latest news and features via our Twitter Feed.

                      Sunday, February 28, 2010

                      Jim Crace's Deliciously Sarcastic Column Turns 10 (Feature Articles)

                      Jim Crace is the author of, among other books, Being Dead a novel about a middle-aged couple who sneak away for a beach picnic and spontaneous tryst among the sand dunes, who are subsequently accosted and bludgeoned (sounds gory and off-putting but it's fascinating). The reader experiences the victims' agonal death in a rather David Lynch, "Twin Peaks" hyper-real perspective from inside one of the victim's brains while the bodies become an entomology lesson in the art of decay. Coincidentally, I'd just read Being Dead when I attended a reading by Michael Cunningham at Royce Hall in Los Angeles. Cunningham admitted that he'd just read Being Dead and loved Jim Crace. I'm not calling to order a meeting of the Jim Crace admiration society, rather I am calling to your attention to the fact that a decade, yes a DECADE people, has elapsed since Jim Crace began writing his deliciously satirical literary review column for The Guardian entitled "Digested Read." It is an absolute scream. As Crace says, "The primary goal is to entertain – something the book itself has often failed to do – but it's also intended as a (semi) serious critique, for much of the fun is derived from clunky plot devices that don't work, pretentious stylistic tics, risible dialogue and an absence of big ideas. Literary criticism does not have to be dull to be serious." It's based on the premise that many books are reviewed glowingly and inadequately by people who either (gasp) haven't read the book, or worse, didn't really "get it." Jim pokes fun at the books and writers he has "digested" and regurgitates a delightful masticated blurb that will have you ruminating like a bovine on E. So celebrate a decade of critique with me by plowing through Crace's column and see how it effects your views on some of the books you've likely read and authors you likely admire. Crace says, "Satire when it's accurate isn't cruel." I for one will never look at Martin Amos or his books the same again.

                      Friday, February 12, 2010

                      Author Podcast: Annabel Lyon (Author Interviews)

                      The great thing about hosting the Olympics in Whistler, BC Canada this week is that we get to attract stunning literary figures like Annabel Lyon. I couldn't think of a more perfect author to feature this week as Annabel's book, The Golden Mean (published by Random House 2009) is set in 300BC Greece (and Olympia being the birth of the Olympics in 700BC... ) is about the relationship between Aristotle and his royal pupil, Alexander III of Macedon, son of King Philip II of Macedon, or as most of you know him, Alexander the Great. Don't miss this lesson in history and fiction writing as Annabel speaks to the Whistler Reads book group marking their 28th book discussion. Annabel tells us, "I didn't want to write an historic fiction - I wanted to write a modern book set 2300 years ago." This podcast is part of a growing series, the BookBuffet Author Podcast Series, with over 100 segments posted on iTunes and various other podcast aggregators. You get to listen here first! Our downloads average in the hundreds per day, and that bandwidth costs money. Consider making a donation to the site to support our efforts to bring you quality conversations with established and emerging writers. From Nobel prize laureate Orhan Pamuk to triple-prize-nominated Canadian writer Annabel Lyon, we bring you the voices and conversations of select authors that will intrigue and inspire you and your group.

                      Monday, February 01, 2010

                      20 Writerly Questions Series: Beth Powning (Feature Articles)

                      BookBuffet partners with Random House Canada to offer you a writerly glimpse into the lives of authors. First up, is Beth Powning. Check back for upcoming authors: Joy Fielding, Drew Hayden Taylor, and John Boyne.

                      Beth is the author of several books, including The Hatbox Letters, Edge Seasons: A Mid-life Year, Shadow Child, and The Sea Captain's Wife. She lives in an 1870s farmhouse with extensive gardens in Sussex, New Brunswick, with her husband, artist Peter Powning. For more information about Beth and her books, please visit her website The Sea Captain's, or read the first chapter of The Sea Captain’s Wife. <

                      1. How would you summarize your book in one sentence? The Sea Captain's Wife takes the reader around the world on a square-rigged sailing ship in the 1860's with a young woman and her captain husband; beneath the dramatic and fast-paced events of the adventure are the small, painful, and subtle moments that constitute a marriage.

                      2. How long did it take you to write this book? Three years.

                      3. Where is your favorite place to write? In my studio, which is a big room over the kitchen in our 1870's farmhouse. The room has tiny, low doors that even I have to duck to go through. There’s a skylight and narrow east-facing windows overlooking my vegetable gardens, forests and pastures. Questions 4-10... Continued below.

                      Apple Announces The iPAD (Technology Corner)

                      "It's going to change the way we do every day things." I confess outright to being a MAC fan on most technology gadgets. I have a Mac Book Pro laptop and several iterations of iPod's (including the iPod microphone attachment which I use to digitally record interesting literary events I attend). I download music, podcast courses and movies from the iTunes Online Store, and I have 4 "pages" of Apps on my iPhone that enable me to do a variety of things: from stitching my digital iphone photos together into panoramas, to using a handy translator application for languages (including changing English into Arabic script so that I can email directly to the native speaker I'm working with), to staying on top of my stocks via the Bloomberg App, to using the Mapquest app as a geo-locator for directions or to find the London tube stop I need, or the nearest ATM's where I'm traveling. I can view the latest movie trailers and determine the closest cinema playing my choice. I can electronically call a Taxi, predetermine what my fare will be with the likely route he'll take showing on screen and even pay for my fare in certain cities. Yawn. It goes on and on. As a book reviewer, book publisher, journalist and technology bibliophile, I of course downloaded the Amazon Kindle version for my iPhone the day it became available. But I don't really use it - the screen is pretty small. So for the sake of all the book groups who frequent our website I decided to enter the market by (gasp) ordering an Amazon Kindle before Christmas. The device went through postal purgatory for 3 weeks, eventually going to a wrong address and being sent back to Amazon. I figured that was digital karma because a few days later Steve Jobs made his long awaited announcement of APPLE'S new iPad Device which is largely aimed at destroying the e-reader market. Here's why I think that APPLE will dominate the competitive field: design, design, design. It's rather like the real estate axiom: location, location, location. Why would anyone want to own a clunky Amazon Kindle II or a 5th generation but still ugly Sony Reader, or a Barnes & Noble (mad-dash attempt to catch-up) Nook ?? when they can own an elegant, slim, weightless, superior interface iPad. The list of features, cost and dates you can get yours follow...

                      Monday, January 18, 2010

                      The Gold Globe Winners 2010 (Feature Articles)

                      The Golden Globes are always a pre-curser to the Academy Awards (The Oscars) and this year awards went to some actors whose careers have well deserved recognition in the past and who receive it now, as well as the expected sweep of AVATAR. Kudos to James Cameron who once again breaks box office records by making over $1 Billion USD in the fastest time from opening date. (If you're interested in the animation, get this excellent book, The Art of Avatar: James Cameron's Epic Adventure) BookBuffet was particularly pleased to see Vieneese actor, Christopher Waltz win Best Supporting Actor for "Inglorious Bastards", and also Mo'Nique, Best Supporting Actor in "Precious". Check out the list of winners and nominated to see which films and their adapted books you want to start plowing through before Oscars March 7th, as you may have heard that the Academy of Motion Pictures announced back in June '09 that the Best Picture award will list 10 not 5 movies in the running. In the 30's and 40's The Academy used to feature 8-10 nominees, so this is not a completely new concept. One assumes it's a bid to increase theatre attendance across the spectrum of films before the award ceremony, and I have to agree, when an average of 400 films are released each year it seems reasonable to allow 10 to shine in the annual spotlight. Read on for the Golden Globe list of nominees and winners with links to books, trailers and trivia.

                      Tuesday, January 12, 2010

                      Miep Gies, Who Helped Anne Frank Hide From Nazis, Dies at 100 (Feature Articles)

                      She was the secretary of a spice company doing business in the office where Anne Frank, her sister, parents and two others stowed away in the attic in Amsterdam. She brought food and clothing to the family, as well as books and newspapers. The hide-aways were discovered late 1944 (the informer has never been uncovered) and Anne was taken to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany where she died of typhus March 1945, just two weeks before the American liberation of the facility. Anne's diary was found by Miep Gies. She kept it and gave the diary to Anne's father Otto, the only survivor. He then published his daughter's diary in 1947. It has since been translated into 65 languages and read by millions of children and adults. The Diary of Anne Frank Miep worked to promote the diary and to ensure that its legitimacy was not destroyed by Holocost-deniers who alleged it was a forgery. Until her 99th birthday when she suffered a small stroke - she continued to answer hundreds of letters from the public.

                      Author Podcast: Orhan Pamuk (Author Interviews)

                      I had the good fortune while on business in snowy London, to nab a ticket to the sold out event on January 12th featuring Turkish author and Nobel Prize Laureate, Orhan Pamuk at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in the Southbank Centre. Pamuk of course is promoting his new novel, The Museum of Innocence (Published by Knopf, October 2009) which has been getting both impressive critical reviews and receiving popular acclaim. Pamuk has been working on Museum for many years and has alluded to it thus: “The story, which takes place in Istanbul between 1975 and today, is about obsessive passion and the great question: What is love, really?” Tonight, Pamuk is introduced by Hermione Lee who is herself a gifted writer and important critical reviewer. The following podcast begins with an introduction by Ms. Lee, followed by a reading by Orhan Pamuk (with amusing antidotes), then a discussion period betwee Pamuk and Lee, and finally a selection of the questions from the audience. There is an interesting segment where Pamuk explains the derivation of the cover photo art: he found the picture in a Turkish photo archive, he photoshopped out the background and added the Bosphorous Sea, he added suspenders to the man in the back seat (which he then had to describe similarly in the book). After all the work, his publishers worried they'd be sued by anyone of the people depicted in the photo. A search to discover their identities and whereabouts found that the only surviving member is the woman seated in the front seat of the car wearing the kurchief. She was contacted and completely delighted by the story. Pamuk went to meet her and has a photograph taken of himself with her - she is now in her 90's.

                      Sunday, January 03, 2010

                      Masterpiece Classic: January Brings Gaskell, Austen and Buchan (WGBH Boston)

                      We're back into Classic Season at Masterpiece hosted by Laura Linney. BookBuffet partners once again with WGBH Boston to give our members free books (5 copies of the current book) from which the new series is adapted. As a television viewer you can luxuriate in the stunning performances of the actors playing the parts: Dame Judy Dench and Dame Eileen Atkins are just two of an ensemble cast of 50 playing opposite each other in the first 3-part drama titled, Cranford adapted by Heidi Thomas from 3 separate books by the Victorian author, Elizabeth Gaskell. Praised by both Dickens and Carlyle in her time, Gaskell was inspired by the changing social and economic times of the late 1800's as the classes met the challenges and opportunities of the Industrial Revolution. Raised by her Unitarian Minister father and later married to a Unitarian husband, Gaskell covers the topics of the day as diverse as: revenge of a trade unionist through murder, individual travails after the Napoleonic Wars, and the interlocking fortunes between 3 country families. (Wives and Daughters, 1864-66) adapted and aired previously by BBC-Masterpiece is considered to be her best work. Gaskell was a close friend of Charlotte Bronte and became her biographer, (The Life of Charlotte Brontë, (1857). Of the series, Director Simon Curtis says, "Treat classics like contemporary material and contemporary material like classics." Get the insider scoop on the making of the series and take advantage of the BBC production team's reverence for classic literature through the many resources available on the Masterpiece website. Limited online viewing of the series is available in the US (not Canada) and you can of course tune-in to the series on television, as well as read the book. Win copies of Elizabeth Gaskell's novels for your book group by participating in our online discussion group. Details below.

                      Friday, January 01, 2010

                      Inviting All Book Groups to Adopt a Student for a Year (Feature Articles)

                      At the ripe young age of 45 John Wood was a Microsoft director in charge of business development for greater China. He had a grueling schedule. One year he decided to take a break and do a trek in Nepal. That trip changed his life. Appalled by the lack of education opportunities, where children were being sold by their parents into bonded labor in neighboring countries instead of growing up in their own communities getting an education, he began bringing books back to Nepal. Hauling them to remote mountain locations by yak, by donkey, by whatever means he could, he was able to provide the people living there with no schools or libraries a chance to learn to read. He formed a charity called Books for Nepal. It's a similar story told in the popular title, Three Cups of Tea, but in this case John Wood has transformed his vision into a multi-country organization called ROOM TO READ that operates in 8 countries with an astounding record: ROOM TO READ has built more than 750 schools, established 7,000 libraries containing five million books, and funded nearly 7,000 long-term scholarships for girls. They publish books in the language of the countries they operate in - often authored and illustrated by local people using local stories told within the culture, that have often never been published before. This is a meaningful enterprise with a stunning track record. BookBuffet has become a corporate sponsor and we invite you to invite your book group to "adopt a student" for one year. It only costs $250 to provide all the books, uniforms, and tuition for one student to attend a Room to Read school for one year. We are challenging 50 of our book group members to join. Help transform the lives of others, and take inpride your own book group's impact on literacy around the globe.

                      Tuesday, December 15, 2009

                      Whistler Reads: THE GOLDEN MEAN (Whistler Reads)

                      The first book event kicking off the 2010 season in Whistler is going to be a doozy. Don't miss the 28th Whistler Reads book group discussion on Febuary 7th 2010 (apres ski) 4:00-5:30pm at 3313 Peak Drive on Blueberry Hill, Whistler - the home of Chris and Angela. (Tickets: $20 at door or online below) We are thrilled to bring you BC author Annabel Lyon, whose third book The Golden Mean (Random House Canada) was shortlisted for not one, not two, but for three of Canada's literary prizes: both the 2009 Governor General the Giller Prize winning her the the Rogers Writers' Trust Prize. (The Golden Mean is currently #3 on This is the fictionalized story of Greek philosopher Aristotle's unique relationship to the boy who would become Alexander the Great. The title of the book, the golden mean, is a term used to describe the desirable middle between two extremes, one of excess and the other of deficiency. For example courage, a virtue, if taken to excess would manifest as recklessness and if deficient as cowardice. Socrates teaches that a man "must know how to choose the mean and avoid the extremes on either side, as far as possible". Buddha taught "the Middle Way" in 6th century B.C., sharing the supremely important notion that the main purpose of our existence is to lead a good life. Hence, in heralding the New Year with this book and this author, we are bringing together philosophies from many corners of the earth and from a fascinating point in history. Sound like a great way align your 2010? Purchase a copy of this book for yourself and for those bibliophiles in your world. Join us for Whistler Reads' first event of 2010. RSVP required. (OR your ticket purchase will put you on the guest list.)

                      Monday, December 14, 2009

                      Why Women Have Sex (Book Reviews)

                      Sex holds a universal fascination. From our basic limbic drive of "preservation of self and species" to the furthest extremes of sexual practice, everyone wants to know how it works and where they fit into the spectrum. Starting from our first sexual stirring and tracking behavior to the oldest fornicators, researchers are gathering information to determine what stimulates our sex drive, the mind-body connection and social-cultural differences for normal and abnormal behavior. In 1998 when Viagara came on the market for men, the push was on to discover the pink pill equivalent for women. Female sexuality, these studies show, is even more complex and nuanced than male sexuality. Researchers Cindy M. Meston and David M. Buss, both psychology professors at the University of Texas at Austin discovered some fascinating new information, which is contained in Why Women Have Sex: Understanding Sexual Motivations from Adventure to Revenge (and Everything in Between). I am particularly interested to read the section talking about the sex practices of young women today. What are these third generation feminists up to? You'd be surprised to see the frank level of experimentation and use of sex, almost as a tool in their armanentarium to get what they want. Seems like a good book to purchase for anyone who wants to understand the sexuality of women better. (Uh... who doesn't that include?)

                      Sunday, December 06, 2009

                      The 6 Best Technology Gifts This Season (Feature Articles)

                      Buy any of these technology gifts for people on your holiday shopping list and feel the ho-ho-ho; it's one-stop shopping for you and techno-bliss for them. We at BookBuffet either have or want to own one of each. Last year we bought the digital camera for our kids, our sibs and the G-parents, and smiles abounded from ear to ear. This year we're updating everyone with a new iphone and arming them with a Kindle. Canada has just gained access to the Kindle; the USA tested all the first generation models and the rest of us get to reap the benefits. What is there not to like about the Kindle? It makes sense environmentally and you can't beat it for convenience; transport hundreds of books with you, download new digital versions in minutes over 3G at a fraction of the regular book price. The killer item on this list is the tiny (fits in the palm of my hand) digital projector. It attaches to your iPod or iPhone and projects a 4 foot wide image on any white surface. Add a set of portable speakers and your next mobile presentation will impress even the board. Order all of these items in bulk from BookBuffet using the handy direct links. Tell them to giftwrap, write a custom note card, capitalize on the free delivery, et voila - Holiday Shopping completed. Now you can enjoy the parties, actually plan to ski or hit the beach before the Xmas rush, and relax throughout December. Peace, good will and happy holidays from all of us at BookBuffet!

                      Thursday, December 03, 2009

                      Gift Books for Holidays 2009 (Feature Articles)

                      Warning: gratuitous naked hockey player photo explained later; do NOT let your imaginations run to Bruno-like movie segments. Oh those book-wormy Canucks... Even in winter, or perhaps because of the long winters, there is a new literary related news item every week. What am I talking about? Let's take them sequentially. First, the November prizes: the Scotia Bank Giller Prize and its competitor the Governor General (aka the GG) award ceremonies. In Canada it does not suffice to wait-n-see who wins either of these awards. If you are worth your salty Canadian back bacon you are expected to have read several titles on both short lists and have an opinion on each. Phew! Then on December first, the Globe and Mail newspaper comes out with its Globe 100, staff picks for the best books of 2009, a list that features both national writers and an excellent sampling of the best books from the two other culture connections, the USA and the UK. You barely scrape through the list, reading the short summaries provided on each and circling titles targeted as gifts for holiday shopping, when the CBC Canada Reads group announces the list of 5 novelists and 5 celebrity defenders who will compete in media debates to win the public's vote for the top spot as the 2010 Canada Reads title - meant to be read by all Canadians. It's pure gladiator stuff. I liken the pairing of authors with celebs to a hockey team that has their buff defenseman shouldering opponents into the boards when they skate close to the team's goal scoring forward. Someone once complained to me that men in Canada are turning into hermaphroditic frogs (capable only of asexual reproduction) because of the strong feminist culture, and I had to counter with a hockey reference: "Where else do men willingly give up their front teeth for a sport and have the courage to wear a hairstyle known as the mullet?" Now refocus your attention from, ahem hockey, to books. Here is BookBuffet's hot pick list gleaned from all-of-the-above book lists (and a few more) in 6 easy categories for your holiday shopping pleasure. "A book is a gift you can open again and again." –Garrison Keillor

                      Tuesday, December 01, 2009

                      Wine & Book Group Pick for Dec-Jan (Wine & Book Club)

                      Who can resist the delicious red cover of The Winter Vault by Canadian powerhouse, Anne Michaels (McClelland and Stewart, 2009) $15.88. Her last book Fugitive Pieces launched her literary career and garnered her several literary awards including the UK's prestigious Orange Prize and Guardian Fiction Prize. Readers say they "have been aching for her next novel" ever since. Now over a decade later, it has arrived. Judging by the reviews, Michaels has not disappointed her readership. Publisher's Weekly says Winter Vault is "a tender love story set against an intriguing bit of history is handled with uncommon skill." (starred review) and the New York Times writes, "Literature is all the better for it." What could be a better read over the holidays? The story is about a couple who travel to Egypt to live on a houseboat on the Nile River just below Abu Simbel during the '60's, the period of the building of the Aswan Dam.

                      "Avery Escher is one of the engineers responsible for the dismantling and reconstruction of a sacred temple... Jean is a botanist by avocation, passionately interested in everything that grows. They met on the banks of the St. Lawrence River, witnessing the construction of the Seaway as it swallowed towns, homes, and lives. Now, at the edge of another world about to be inundated in the name of progress, much of what they most believe in is tested.

                      When a tragic event occurs, nearing the end of Avery’s time in Egypt, he and Jean return to separate lives in Toronto; Avery to school to study architecture and Jean into the orbit of Lucjan, a Polish émigré artist..." - McClelland and Stewart What could be a better Wine & Book Group read over the holidays? To celebrate we've paired this book with a spicy delicious red, evocative of exotic locations from a stunning winemaker

                      Monday, November 30, 2009

                      Walmart Wins Canadian Supreme Court Ruling to Keep out Unions (Feature Articles)

                      In 2004 the employees of the Jonquiere Walmart store located 470 kilometers (290 miles) north of Montreal successfully organized and joined the United Food and Commercial Workers, or UFCW. Walmart famously does not allow its employees to unionize. Like other locations before this in the US, Walmart closed the store the minute union activity was initiated. In 2005 the workers sued Walmart and won their case on the grounds that closing the store violated their freedom of association rights guaranteed by Canada’s constitution. They were the first store North America-wide that had successfully won their case against the mega retailer. But Walmart fought back with a petition to the Supreme Court of Canada, who in examining the case overturned the ruling 6-3, saying that Walmart proved its reasons for closing the store were valid. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce sided with Bentonville, Arkansas-based Walmart, arguing that businesses ought to retain the freedom to make operating decisions. President Ken Georgetti of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLL) says this effectively hamstrings 100 workers at more than 300 stores across Canada. One can imagine Walmart in his crosshairs today, and it will be interesting to see what happens elsewhere in Canada. I first became aware of the pros and cons of the Walmart giant in a book Nelson Lichtenstien wrote titled, The Wal-Mart Effect: How the World's Most Powerful Company Really Works-and How It's Transforming the American Economy that detailed the employee practices as well as the no-inventory policy which forces suppliers into just in time deadlines to meet Walmart's high-volume, low profit customer expectations. If you want to understand how founder Sam Walton's store became the largest retailer chain in America, and how his Christian-values successor, Soderquist made it onto the top Fortune 500 companies with revenues in excess of $200 billion, then read The Wal-Mart Way: The Inside Story of the Success of the World's Largest Company (240 pgs, 2nd edition, Thomas Nelson Publisher, 2005) -Photo Credit:

                      Saturday, November 21, 2009

                      Author Podcast: Amos Oz (Author Interviews)

                      BookBuffet attended the American Jewish University, LosAngeles where Israeli author, journalist and peace advocate Amos Oz was invited to speak about his life and his books with Rob Eshman, the Editor in Chief of The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles. It is all part the Third Annual Celebration of Jewish Books held this November in the city of angels.

                      Amos Oz, as many of you will recall, was this year’s favourite in to win the Nobel Prize for literature, according to the UK betting site Ladbrokes who rated Oz at 4-1 odds. While he lost to a reasonably obscure Romanian author, the publicity still serves to bring attention to his writing and his political advocacy for a two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Turning 70 this past May, Amos Oz said “Being a 70-year-old Israeli is probably like being a 200-year-old Swede.” [He uses 300 year-old American in this talk.] He is being celebrated in his homeland with a three-day festival in his honour that includes literary, musical and cultural events with President Shimon Peres taking part.

                      Oz has written 18 books and 450 articles and essays. His works have been translated into 32 languages. He famously writes with two pens, one colour for his fiction and another colour for his politics. Half of his books are set within a 30-minute radius of his home in Arad where he lives with his wife Nily. His last book is a slim 117 page memoir titled, Rhyming Life and Death, published in the USA by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and translated by Nicholas de Lange, Professor at University Cambridge. The author prefers to call it one of his “tales”. He says he just tells tales. Tales are what people told each other in caves and it is what we do today. The New Yorker says Rhyming is, “A prose poem… at once melancholic and sensual.” And that is how I find Amos Oz tonight. A warm, soft but firm-speaking man who exudes the depth of experience of his life – a life spent in war and peace, with family, soldiers, politicians, artists; loving, hating, and remembering.

                      Tuesday, November 17, 2009

                      Math: It Does A Body Good (Feature Articles)

                      Whether you are a whiz at math or not, there remains a universal fascination with how applied math principals help us understand the world around us. I've just discovered of a cool new website where you can get an answer to any math or physics question you want. Despite today's access to unlimited resources on the web, nothing beats this conversation style site that makes you feel like you've reconnected to that brilliant prof you had in your 20s and can only now appreciate in your 40s. Check out Questions range from trivial to philosophic: How can we prove that 2+2 always equals 4? What is the best way to understand relativity theory? Why is it so counter intuitive? Is teleportation possible? What is monotony? What is the connection between quantum physics and consciousness? Why does math work so well at modeling the world around us? In answer to the last question, one of the things that resounded with me was that mathematics "was primarily created for practical purposes... addition is used to count possessions, multiplication for trade, and geometry to measure plots of land (or some similar purposes). Mathematicians and scientists use math to model the world by constructing mathematical objects that capture important properties of physical things. Hence, it isn’t as though math just happens to work well for analyzing the world we live in, rather, it was specifically designed for that purpose. e.g. if I have two objects in one group and I combine them with three objects in another group, then my new group has five objects, which is mimicked by 2+3=5." I used this website as a jumping off point to discover other cool sites and books. Check out these math tatoos, how to books on overcoming your math phobia, learn about the Berkeley math circles that are inspiring our youth to gain a fascination with math, and other books with insights into some of the brilliant math minds of the century.

                      Friday, November 06, 2009

                      Technology Corner: Electric Literature Magazine, NOT #Edison (Technology Corner)

                      In keeping with my newfound love affair with the short story genre, I'd like to share with you an innovative new company out of NYC called, Electric Literature Magazine. It's the brainchild of co-founders and editors, Andy Hunter, and Scott Lindenbaum. The duo seeks to revitalize the (ss) genre by employing a variety of electronic formats and digital delivery systems: Sony Reader, ebook, the Kindle, the iPhone, audio books and a POD, print on demand paper version, with of course their online digital version. The cost of an electronic subscription is $24 and $48 for paper - and they've already got over 1,000 subscribers. "In the first two issues this year, the magazine attracted some of the country’s best writers — Michael Cunningham, Colson Whitehead, Lydia Davis, Jim Shepard — and created the kind of buzz that is a marketer’s dream," says New York Times Felicia Lee (Oct 27th) "Mr. Cunningham said he allowed Electric Literature to use an excerpt from his forthcoming novel, Olympia, in the debut issue 'as a vote of confidence' for [the founders] who were his students in the M.F.A. program at Brooklyn College." Get Electric Literature: #1 here. (photo credit:Michael Appleton)

                      eBook Summit: Media Bistro Presents Innovations in Digital Publishing (Events)

                      I just signed up for's two-day eBook Summit in NYC December 15-16th. If you register before November 18th it's only $345 for both days. Take a look at the heavy-hitting list of key note speakers: Brandon Badger, Product Manager, Google Books; Steve Haber, President, Digital Reading Business Division, Sony; Katty Kay, Washington Correspondent, BBC World News America Author, Womenomics; Jane Friedman, CEO & Co-Founder, Open Road Integrated Media and former CEO, HarperCollins. The program promises to "take a closer look at the changing digital publishing industry, from the perspectives of content creators and of publishers. Leaders in the field will uncover business development opportunities, and highlight the latest technological innovations currently driving the future of digital publishing." If you are a publishing professional, content creator, marketer, advertising and PR professional, business development and e-commerce leader, gather round. Get the Twitter feed with: #ebooksummit. In case you need a completely frivolous reason, take in some holiday shopping and window displays-there is no place on Earth like NYC in December. Details, details, details... here is the skinny on what's up for discussion:

                      Sunday, November 01, 2009

                      Ten Things I Learned About The Short Story Genre (Feature Articles)

                      The popularity of the short story genre has waxed and waned but it seems to be on a comeback. I had my suspicions about why this might be true but decided to read up on the matter while preparing for a public discussion of Alice Munro's new short story collection, "Too Much Happiness." It emerges that more novelists are turning to the short story to express themselves. There's even a new business venture coming out of NYC called Electric Literature that has people like Michael Cunningham, author of "The Hours" at the helm promoting short stories through eco-friendly electronic transmission modes. Learn about the roots of short story, how it evolved to the present form, exactly what that is, and which prominent authors use it with an example by each that you can click to purchase. Why is it popular now you ask? From the writer's perspective a novel that consists of between 100,000-250,000 words can take between 3-5 years of your life to complete. Now consider the modern reader's short attention span: (I am forever hearing from JQ Public about the lack of time to read.) We get our news in sound bites, do our social networking in 140 character tweets or through terse Facebook posts, and even text our voice messages via cell phone in preference to direct P2P conversations. The short story's time has come! We can download them onto our iphones and entertain ourselves with a complete one-sitting story during the nanosecond of free time left to us day or night. (photo credit: LA Times Blog)

                      Wednesday, October 21, 2009

                      Brody & Tippet Tell How NOW PUBLIC Became The Biggest Citizen Journalism Site (Events)

                      Take a moment to join this "Fireside Chat With Leonard Brody and Michael Tippett at the Vancity Theatre (1181 Seymour Street, Vancouver, BC) on 27 October 2009, Tuesday. Hosted by The Vancouver Enterprize Forum who write, "Leonard Brody is a highly respected entrepreneur, venture capitalist, best-selling author and Emmy nominated media visionary. He has helped in raising millions of dollars for startup companies, been through one of the largest internet IPOs in history and has been involved in the building, financing and/or sale of five companies to date. Much critical acclaim has followed him in his endeavours. At Onvia (where he was part of the initial executive), the company was voted Canada’s number one startup in 2000 and subsequently closed a $240 Million IPO on NASDAQ. In 2004, Leonard co-founded which is a pioneer in the field of user generated news. The company was named by Time Magazine as one of the top 50 websites in the world, was inducted into the Newseum in Washington and was recently acquired by the Anschutz Corporation. Currently Leonard sits as the President of the Clarity Digital Group responsible for overseeing one of the largest online news conglomerates in the world including and NowPublic, which between them, share over 20 million unique visitors a month and over 200,000 contributors." As well at the fireside that night is his co-founder Michael Tippet, Emmy award winning...

                      Tuesday, October 20, 2009

                      The Soul of Money, by Lynne Twist (Book Reviews)

                      What if you were the head of a struggling non-profit that was working for the good of humanity, to stop global hunger, and a top executive at a food conglomerate offered you $50K as a public relations gesture to counter some bad press his company had received lately. Would you accept the check? Fast forward to a meeting in Harlem you are holding that same night where a group of significantly less privileged people have gathered because of your appeal for help for the hungry people in Africa. A tear-choked woman dressed very plainly listens and then, with barely any hesitation, comes forward from the back of the room and joyfully gives the $50 she earned that day doing housework for a white woman. This sets a stream of people in the room to come forward with shouts of glee as they toss their their dollar bills and change into the basket. The gifts that evening total $500.

                      Remarkably Lynne Twist was that struggling non-profit representative realized at that moment in time that money has a soul. She returned the food executive’s check to him the very next day with a note that went something like, “Dear Sir, I am returning your check to you. Please use it toward a charity that has meaning for you.” Years later when the executive retired, he contacted Ms. Twist, this time to give a far more substantial monetary donation from his own personal funds toward her cause, with the comment “In all my years of business, nothing stuck with me more than your act of returning our donation. Please accept this now, from the bottom of my heart.”

                      That point illustrated to me the very essence of, The Soul of Money: Reclaiming the Wealth of Our Inner Resources. Money can be used for good, or it can be used to destroy hope, integrity and incentive. It doesn’t matter how much you have, it is our attitude surrounding money that determines which way the balance tips. We have the power to choose.

                      Sunday, October 18, 2009

                      Existentialism in Literature and Film: Podcast by Hubert Dreyfus, U of Berkeley (Author Interviews)

                      I enjoy listening to podcasts in the evenings, and discovered a series that I know you will love too. Professor Dreyfus is a real curmudgeon by the sounds of things. He teaches "Existentialism in Literature and Film" in the Department of Philosophy UC Berkeley. (When I took philosophy at UCLA the professor said, "I am going to teach you how to think, how to reason.") His classes are full with 200 eager students, and more on the waiting list. He started podcasting as a way to reach the people who couldn't get into class. Soon, as one LA Times correspondent pointed out, he was broadcasting to oil rigs and other remote and isolated places. He receives regular feedback from listeners in Russia on his discussion of Dostoyevsky-how enlightening that must be! Each podcast is directly recorded, with all its amateur sound quality (no false voiced intros such as you hear in recordings) at UC Berkeley. They're are a delightful combination of lecture hall banter and didactic discourse, incorporating a select list of works of literature and film, from Plato to Present. If you're interested, tune into streaming audio or download the FREE podcasts from either itunes U or a podcast directory site called Learn Out Loud. The lectures address such questions as, "What is the similarity in sense of self between Dostoyevsky and Kierkegaard?" and "How does Plato's view the universe resemble (remarkably) some modern day philosophers?” Be sure to get the handouts he references here: The last movie, Breathless, is available free on Google Video. For those of you less interested in philosophy, the lectures are well worth listening to for the method of close reading Professor Dreyfus uses. It’s really a delight. A wonderful opportunity to read or re-read the books he references and get more out of them and to apply the knowledge to your own life or gain insights into your current reading. I’ve included the links and to purchase books online. Start your home Philosophy in Literature lessons today.

                      Thursday, October 15, 2009

                      Whistler Reads: BICYCLE DIARIES (Whistler Reads)

                      What if you were a famous band member who traveled around the world? And what if you liked to take your handy fold-up bike with you when on tour, and get out into the streets and neighborhoods of cities like London, Sydney, Manila, Berlin, Buenos Aires, San Francisco, Detroit, New York? And what if you kept a diary of all the landscapes and architecture you saw, the fashion, culture and art you experienced, and the people that you met? That would be kind of interesting, don't you think? Well, Talking Heads band member, David Byrne did just that. A resident of New York city who started riding his bike exclusively in the 1980s, David has also been touring, cycling, and writing about it from this unique perspective for the past two decades. His notes, photos and musings were published last month in a book titled, Bicycle Diaries. It's a "highly personal mixture of humor, curiosity, and... views on urban planning, art, culture and postmodern society in general." According to Byrne, “Our values and hopes are sometimes awfully embarrassingly easy to read. They’re right there – in the storefronts, museums, temples, shops, and office buildings and in how these structures interrelate, or sometimes don’t… Riding a bike through all this is like navigating the collective neural pathways of some vast global mind“. As candid and engaging as it is cerebral and informative. If you like the band, touring by bike, or are interested in this unique perspective of world cities from a bicycling urban-planner point of view, get Bicycle Diaries. Whistler Read founder, Paula Shackleton says, "This is our 26th book title and it's going to include: chapter readings from the book, videos of Talking Heads band in concert, and our partnered affiliation of Whistler's Off Road Cycling Association - WORCA members talking about their own adventures on bikes. Venue is the FIREROCK LOUNGE, Westin Hotel, Whistler Save the date: November 25th, 7:30-9:30 pm - That's the day before the Whistler/Blackcomb ski mountains open to the public and the beginning of the Winter Olympic Ski seasons commences. The mood will be celebratory! We invite all visitors to Whistler to drop-in, as well as those people curious to see what goes on at a village book group discussion, and extend a warm 'welcome back' to all our regulars from near and far!" (See details for joining WR)

                      Thursday, October 08, 2009

                      Nobel 2009 For Literature Goes to Romanian Writer Herta Mueller (Feature Articles)

                      Better than the Oscars, this week is when my favorite literary prizes are awarded. First the Mann Booker (reported here), and now the Nobel Prize for Literature. This year's Nobel goes to a rather obscure German-Romanian writer, Herta Mueller. Born in Romania in 1952 the author fled her country due to the persecution and oppression she experienced after her first novel was published, under heavy censorship by the Communist government. A non-censored version was smuggled to West Germany where it received acclaim. Her writing centers on the injustices and politics of (old Communist) Romania with a strong prose style that is "lively, poetic, and corrosive". Mueller takes home a prize of $1.4million - a sum difficult to snort at. One imagines it offers economic freedom to writers enabling them to continue their craft - so with the Wrigleys gum advertisement in mind - that's two freedoms in one. What does this say about the Nobel Prize jury, who have been criticized for judging a writer's politics as much as their prose? Nobel wrote in his will that the prize should go to a person with "a lofty and sound idealism". It is the 20th Anniversary of the fall of Communism. Previous winners have been notable for their focus on revealing the injustices within their country and within their society. Herta is only the 12th woman to win the Nobel Prize for literature. She is in good company along with Nadine Gordimer, Doris Lessing, Toni Morrison and another German language writer, Austrian Elfriede Jelinek. The Nobel Prize has been awarded since 1901, 101 times; it was not awarded in 7 years when the funds were instead applied to the trust.

                      Wednesday, October 07, 2009

                      Wolf Hall wins the 2009 Man Booker Prize for Fiction (Feature Articles)

                      Hilary Mantel is tonight, Tuesday 6 October, named the winner of the £50,000 Man Booker Prize for Fiction for Wolf Hall: A Novel, (Fourth Estate, 650 Pg) It is the story of Thomas Cromwell, a man who rose from humble beginnings as a blacksmith's son to become the 1st Earl of Essex and the chief advisor, fixer, and administrator to King Henry VIII during his reign, 1532-1540.

                      Says Mantel when asked what she likes about the Tudor period, "It has sex, melodrama, betrayal, seduction and violent death - what more could you want?" In interviews Hilary has said that it took her 5 years to write the book. She does not claim to be a historian, but she does careful research into the man and the times and this time she decided to choose an intimate point of view for the story, one that has captivated both her readers and the jury. Says Mantel, "I don't write historic fiction, rather I write contemporary fiction about people in history." Says a blogger, "It's a study of a politician: flawed, and prepared to do things which are questionable, even immoral, to get the result he wants. At the same time his humanity is an important part of the picture, and that's why we see him so much with his family. She even manages to make that old monster Henry VIII understandable, if not sympathetic." Learn more about the author, download excerpts to your phone and access links to author readings from the shortlist.

                      Friday, September 25, 2009

                      Technology Corner: Carbon Copy Cloner, Worry-free Back-Up (Technology Corner)

                      I use a MacBook Pro with the Mac OS X operating system. I'm on this thing so much I've had to replace the "i" key twice and my space bar has been worn down like the sandstone steps of La Seu Cathedral in Barcelona. I run tons of software such that the 40-odd miniscule icons lined up on my tool docking bar at the bottom of my screen are barely recognizable. I use a separate hard drive to store all my media: photos, audio files, movies from my own in-progress files and completed archived projects. This helps to maximize pc speed and performance, and it gives me some peace of mind against the loss of important data. So far I've had next to nil computer crashes: Unlike my friends with non-Mac PC's who experience "the blue screen of death" regularly, and are forced to spend hours upon hours reloading and re-booting their machines. However, that is not to say that I have become cavalier in my approach to some future inevitability. The reason I am telling you all of this is to illustrate how important our personal laptop computers have become, and how any temporary glitch or—yee gads—crash to our system would prove catostophique (spoken with a shrill French accent). SO, as you all nod your heads in frantic agreement, I have a juicy piece of information to ease your now troubled mind. CCC. No, it's not a hockey equipment manufacturer, or a stuttering expository text message. The letters stand for Carbon Copy Cloner, and it's FREE. In just 4 simple steps: Clone, Synchronize, Schedule, and Backup, you will never have to worry about your precious [gratuitous Gollum reference from Lord of the Rings] again! Sign up for our RSS feeds.

                      Sunday, September 13, 2009

                      Sexual Ambiguity in Life and Literature (Feature Articles)

                      A recent article from the BBC News reported that the South African 800m world champion runner, Caster Semenya has tested positive to male genetics. This not only leaves her stigmatized with the ambiguous sex label, she could be banned from competition with women. In the face of this exposure, she withdrew from a scheduled race today. Media has sided on the outrage of a disclosure that should carry rights to the patient-doctor confidentiality agreement. The knowledge brings unimaginable psychological repercussions for Caster, because she has been raised female her entire life. While this very public medical debate takes place within the media and the IAAF, it reminds me of a collection of writers who tackled the topic by giving their characters intersex qualities and describing a scenario about its effect in their lives. Not only is it fascinating to learn what science currently understands, it is interesting to see how society handled sexual identity as reflected in literature at various periods of history. Learn about the four “types of sex” that current experts use to classify us, and discover (please help us add to the list) the novels, plays and poems that deal with intersex.

                      Wednesday, September 09, 2009

                      Buying Books: Yeah... Where DO You? (Feature Articles)

                      With so many options available, BookBuffet asks the question, "Where do you buy your reading material these days?" Our site has a Browse Books icon at the top R corner of our home page banner that is linked to, .ca, and .uk. for purchases. I ask this question because I just finished speaking with two friends who told me they use Amazon exclusively to purchase "thousands of dollars worth of books and DVD's each year," and I responded, "OMG, why not buy them through BookBuffet?" They answered, "Oh, you mean I can do that and you'll get, like, a commission or something?" "YES!" was my whole hearty reply. "It's not much but every little bit helps!" I went on to explain, "The reason we use Amazon is because they've got the biggest selection of books when we did our online retailer comparison. AND the best digital support and user features that compliment our work in directing readers to good books. The more you buy, the more we benefit. When you purchase a few books at a time, the shipping is FREE. Beats driving to the local store where you may discover they do not carry what you came for, and you'll have to place an order and return a second time. As well, when you shop Amazon you can shop -the world- in the markets where books first become available. I just bought

                      Tuesday, September 08, 2009

                      GRANTA Turns 30 (Publisher News)

                      Granta magazine is a literary quarterly from the UK that is turning 30 this year, and they’re asking you to help them celebrate by purchasing a subscription to GRANTA. Digital subscriptions fees have been wound back to 1979 for an annual cost of £3.50 – so there’s no excuse no matter where in the world you live. What’s inside?

                      Ian McAllister The Last of the Wild Wolves (Book Reviews)

                      Ian McAllister’s latest book, The Last Wild Wolves: Ghosts of the Rain Forest is a collection of photographs and stories from the Great Bear Rainforest about a family of elusive Coastal Wolves. Ian and his wife Karen live on Denny island, where they have been working tirelessly to preserve BC’s threatened forest and its inhabitants.

                      The book is a testament of patience as well as an urgent call to action. McAllister spent days, weeks and years building the trust of the pack and waiting for the intimate photo opportunities that read like a family album of portraits from a bygone era of raw wilderness. The Great Bear Rainforest is in fact the last remaining temperate rainforest, relatively inaccessible and therefore retaining its rare magnificence—for now.

                      Saturday, September 05, 2009

                      Manga That Rocks (Author Interviews)

                      Graphic novels are not just for kids. Manga is the Japanese version of this popular phenomenon and a Canadian duo by the name of Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki has joined forces to produce a work of art that blends poignantly funny text with award-winning graphics. SKIM (published by Groundwood Books, June 2009) has already been hailed by the NYT, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, Quill & Quire and Slate as a winner. The titular character, Skim, is being compared to Holden Caulfiel as, "a clear social commentator on adult and adolescent behaviour whose ironic observations on social hypocrisy ring sharp and true.“ The artwork has, "a swooping, gorgeous pen line — expressive, vibrant and precise all at once," say the journals. We took a look and couldn't agree more. If you've never tried graphic novels, this should be your first taste. If you want to understand the gestalt of the current generation, this should help you get a handle. If you're looking for looking for something to open the barriers of discussion with your teenager, what can I say, get this book. Listen to the podcast interview here (about a minute in after the musical intro).

                      Tuesday, September 01, 2009

                      Whistler Writers Festival 2009 (Events)

                      &creativeMore than twenty invited Canadian authors and editors will descend on Whistler this September as special guests of a weekend-long siege of word wielding and poetry slinging at the 8th Whistler Writers Festival. Guest writers include the 2009 writers-in-residence (who will spend the fall at Alta Lake Station House): Wayne Grady Tree: A Life Story and Merilyn Simonds The Convict Lover: A True Story, as well as 2009 BC Book Prize winner, Lee Henderson The Man Game, Vancouver author, Annabel Lyon The Golden Mean and Claire Mulligan, long listed for the Giller Prize for her book, The Reckoning of Boston Jim. Whistler writer Sara Leach will also be celebrating the publication of her first book, Jake Reynolds: Chicken or Eagle? a children's story. Buy your books at significant discount at the links provided here, and have them ready for signing when you attend the session!

                      Masterpiece Mystery: Lewis Series Taking Us Thru Fall (WGBH Boston)

                      As the longest-running primetime drama on American television, Masterpiece is committed to bringing viewers the best in literature-based drama, mysteries filled with eclectic characters, and groundbreaking contemporary works. Next up is seven 90-minute mysteries starting August 30th and running through to October 18, 2009. Don't miss Kevin Whately and Laurence Fox who return as Detective Inspector Lewis and Detective Sergeant Hathaway in all seven NEW episodes. Like Sherlock and Watson, it's all about the detective relationship as the duo face an intriguing list of crimes in the picturesque village of Cambridge. Author Colin Dexter is the original creator of the Louis Series, which were taken from his Inspector Morse novels. Fourteen novels inspired the adaptation into 32 films spanning 5 years. Masterpiece is excited to continue in the tradition. The setting is not surprising as Dexter studied Classics at Cambridge and the sprinkling of clues using Latin and Greek draw on his experience as an A-level examiner in English, Latin and Greek for the Oxford Board. For all you crossword freaks, he was also a national crossword champion. For dates and episode summaries...

                      Saturday, August 29, 2009

                      Get The Skinny On Canada's Proposed New Copyright Law (Feature Articles)

                      We've all done it. Downloaded an in theatres only movie from the net before the Oscars; nabbed a file from one of the Napster-type music sites; used a picture off of Flikr for our own web article. But now that there are so many sites offering easy, cheap pay options for copyrighted material, this should be happening less and less - right?! What happens when you take a famous image and photoshop it into something new, or parody someone on your blog? Get the latest on this issue when the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association in partnership with the UBC School of Journalism and Tyee Magazine host renowned copyright and internet law expert Dr. Michael Geist. The talk is in Vancouver at the University of British Columbia's "Wise Hall" on October 1, 2009. Dr. Geist is Canada's leading technology law expert and the guru of the Canadian movement to prevent copyright restrictions from infringing on key free speech principles including parody, artistic use, fair use, and device transferability.

                      A national innovator in using Web 2.0 tools like blogs and Facebook for campaigns for law reform and policy change, Dr. Geist's advocacy, in partnership with Cory Doctorow, resulted in more than 30,000 people joining a Facebook group opposing proposed Canadian copyright law changes and ended in the tabling of the proposed changes by then Industry Minister Jim Prentice.

                      To learn more about Dr. Geist's work, visit his website at

                      The time of the lecture and Dr. Geist's topic will be announced by the BCCLA. Check out their website for details! Here is the run down on Bill C-61, the proposed changes to Canada's copyright law.

                      Friday, August 21, 2009

                      Espresso Book Machine: Will that be one lump or two? (Technology Corner)

                      I guess Starbucks is unintentionally to blame for the catchy name of the new one-off book machines coming to a book store near you. After all, doesn't book browsing and expresso-quaffing go hand in hand? Maybe the tagline of the new technology will be, "Sip your latté AND self-publish your own book!" POD, or Print On Demand technology is coming to Village Books in Bellingham, Washington. Yup that little store in the upscale waterfront neighborhood of Fairhaven owned by Chuck Robinson. Chuck and his team have just returned from Northshire Bookstore in Vermont. That's the book store claiming to be the first book store in North America (and only one of a few around the world) to have a POD book making machine. Chuck and his staff were toured and ostensibly tutored at the art of book making - Espresso-style. A video on YouTube shows the whole process. Just enter the book parameters, press the button (don't forget to order your latté) and voila - your self published book awaits you with full color soft cover, hot glued or perfect bound. ("And," my professional publishing friends might add "...all the original spelling mistakes, punctuation errors, style no-no's and lack of editorial vision..." You get their point.)

                      Saturday, August 15, 2009

                      Whistler Reads: TOO MUCH HAPPINESS (Whistler Reads)

                      When Alice Munro publishes a new book of short stories, it becomes an international literary event. Too Much Happiness (available Aug 25th 2009, McClelland & Stewart/Canada; Knopf/US; and Chatto & Windus/UK) is her 14th book. Considered Canada’s most important living writer and a master of the short story genre, Munro's writing routinely receives accolades from luminaries of the literary world and she's bestowed with prestigious national and international awards: the Giller Prize twice, the Governor General award thrice, and in 2009 she was awarded the Man Booker International Prize for her lifetime body of work. (What next, the Nobel?) She has had an international following since the 70s and is described as "Canada's Chekhov" for her style of writing. Wouldn't you agree, it’s about time we all read Alice Munro? Read my review in the Pique and get your tickets ($15) here. Bring a friend and be entered into the draw for free books.

                      Friday, August 14, 2009

                      Les Paul Dies at 94 (Feature Articles)

                      There is perhaps no other person more renowned for the development of the electric guitar and advances to sound recording in the twentieth century than inventor and jazz musician, Les Paul. He died from complications of pneumonia today, surrounded by family and friends in White Plains Hospital, New York. Remarkably as late as last year, Les Paul age 93, played two sets every Monday night at a club in NYC. He was the inventor of mulit-track recording and the hard body electric guitar. The latter was first in commercial production by the Fender Guitar Company in a model called the Stratocaster. The following year, 1950 Fender's competitor the Gibson Guitar Company brought Les Paul on board to create their own solid body electric guitar bearing his name. Ironically, they had earlier turned him down when he first presented his design, named "the log" made with a 4 x 4 solid piece of wood, a bridge and strings mounted on top — back in 1941. A little know fact is that a near fatal car accident shattered Les Paul's left arm and elbow such that doctors said they could only repair it to a fixed position, and asked what he preferred. He told them to fix it in a 90 degree angle, and this disability is said to have contributed to the early design elements of the Les Paul guitar. Today the Gibson Les Paul is the widest used electric guitar in the industry. Paul McCartney used a "cherry burst left handed" Les Paul, Neil Young favoured his "Old Black" as did other guitar legends: Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton and Keith Richards. An award winning musician, Les Paul and his wife Mary Ford recorded dozens of pop hits that went gold. Tunes like, "Vaya Con Dios," "How High the Moon," "Nola" and "Lover." In February 2006 at the age of 90 he won two grammies for his album, American Made World Played and his wonderful comment was, "I feel like an old building with a new flag pole on it." Join us in listening to and learning about Mr. Les Paul. Following is list of book and CD recommendations. Watch this YouTube video of Les ripping it up.

                      Tuesday, August 11, 2009

                      Masterpiece Mystery: Lewis Series I and II Ends Summer Line-up (WGBH Boston)

                      As the longest-running primetime drama on American television, Masterpiece is committed to bringing viewers the best in literature-based drama, mysteries filled with eclectic characters, and groundbreaking contemporary works. Summer is mystery season at PBS Masterpiece. It started with the award winning Wallander detective series starring Kenneth Branah, followed by the ever popular Agatha Christie. This month is another detective series that is scheduled to take viewers through to fall when Masterpiece Classic takes over. It's based on the novels by Colin Dexter. Many of you will know

                      Tuesday, August 04, 2009

                      Bee Culture: Books and Buzz (Feature Articles)

                      We are considering keeping bees at the farm. It’s a passion I was first exposed to through literature: The Secret Life of Bees and Bee Season, with advice from the experienced beekeeper a few miles down the road. We’re currently planting a small orchard above our existing vegetable patch, and I envision a field of lavender (like the one pictured here) next to produce lavender scented honey. Bee keeping isn’t just a country thing – they’re keeping bees on the tops of skyscrapers in Manhattan, and even producing a variety of honey from them sold on Bleeker Street!

                      Friday, July 24, 2009

                      TED Global Conference in Oxford: Stunning Speech About Windmills (Feature Articles)

                      &lMaybe it's because I'm here at the farm and looking into windmill technology to harness this ample daily resource so I can pump water into our fields—because this TED story, the one that's creating such a buzz, has also caught my attention. TEDGlobal 2009 is meeting in Oxford in the UK right now. You can get all the updates on their Twitter page. The speaker who has blown everyone away (literally speaking) is William Kamkwamba from Malawai. Back at TEDGlobal 2007, he was a shy young man who'd built his family a windmill from scrap in order pump water from the ground to save his family from starvation. His story captured the world's attention. Today he walked onstage with confidence to tell his story from that point to this. It's all captured in his book, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope Join me, as I compare the topic of his book with my own research, on our own farm, into wind technology here in North America. It's an interesting study in contrast and comparison. Photo: William Kamkwamba at TEDGlobal 2009, Session 7: "Radical development," July 23, 2009, in Oxford, UK. Credit: TED / James Duncan Davidson

                      Wednesday, July 22, 2009

                      The Wilderness by Samantha Harvey (Book Reviews)

                      When I was first given this book the subject matter made my heart skip as I watched my grandmother deteriorate with Alzheimer’s and it could not have been more heartbreaking. She recounted full stories about her childhood, how her school had a netball court that was slanted, how my granddad sent letters when he was in the war which she posted in sequence all over the kitchen. At other times, in contrast, she couldn’t remember who my family was and would shout and scream, when she had previously never in our whole time together raised her voice. Alzheimer’s changes not only your memory but your behaviour and personality, and at times neither one of us recognised the other.

                      The Wilderness: A Novel (published by Nan A. Talese 2009) throws the reader into a tangled web of memories and emotions as we follow the protagonist into the uncertain depths of Alzheimer’s disease. An architect by trade, Jacob Jameson is a Lincolnshire born, half-Jewish widower in his 60s. We follow him as he delves into the puzzle of his past, trying to decipher fact from fiction.

                      "In amongst a sea of events and names that have been forgotten, there are a number of episodes that float with striking buoyancy to the surface. There is no sensible order to them, nor connection between them."

                      Friday, July 10, 2009

                      Mid-Summer Reading Cattle-prod (Feature Articles)

                      OK, you've figured out I'm at the farm and so all of my metaphors today are going to reflect that. I am curious to know what escapes you have planned for the summer? Do you make a ritual foray up to the cottage on the lake? Do you take a driving tour of the local wineries in your region? Do you hop the big pond and immerse in the cultural offerings of Europe? Or, like me, do you turn off the Internet, your cell phone and all forms of communication and just hang out? My days at the farm are jam-packed. It's up with the birds at 4:30 am (yee gad) and after morning coffee, 3 hours of weeding the farmhouse garden patch, peeling a few logs for the bedsteads we're building for guests, I'm painting the new purple martin birdhouse to convince the swallows to relocate out from under the eves, take a drive in the tractor over the front 80... and of course, when the day heats up and my outside hammock under the cottonwood calls, I relax with a good book and perhaps a tall G&T. Isn't this what the lazy days of summer are all about? It's our chance to put away obligatory professional reading matter and the newspapers that draw us into world events, and instead allow ourselves to be transported to a fictional world, followed of course with the nonfiction title we've been saving for unfettered nights. Here's what's stacked in the shade next to my hammock...

                      Wednesday, July 01, 2009

                      Wine & Book Group Pick for Jun-Jul '09 (Wine & Book Club)

                      In 1965 Helen Gurley-Brown became the Executive Editor of Cosmopolitan Magazine. She earned the spot by coming up through the ranks as a secretary whose writing abilities were next scooped into the copy writing department at a prominent L.A. advertising agency. But what really tipped the scale for the position offered by Randolf Hearst's magazine was her first book, published at the unlikely age of 40, titled Sex and The Single Girl (1962) that is still in print and now labeled a cult classic. At the time, it was rare for a woman to choose a career over motherhood and a life of domestic bliss. (Yeah, yeah... we hear the criticism of those who say it was just a play at the secretary pool to seduce their bosses.) The magazine's profitability and circulation increase was as shocking as its content with its sexual preoccupation and encouragement of the emancipated woman. Heck, even I remember the stir in my young

                      Thursday, June 25, 2009

                      Twitterature: Classics in 140 Characters or Less (Feature Articles)

                      "Is there no end to Twittermania? Last week we saw the social networking tool Twitter deployed on the streets of Tehran. This week, moving seamlessly from the sublime to the ridiculous, it is being used to aid the digestion of the world's greatest literature." So writes Guardian correspondent Ed Pikington in New York. BookBuffet is delighted that our favorite (professional) social networking site is putting its technology to good use.

                      "Fans of the classics will either be delighted or appalled to learn that the New York-branch of Penguin books has commissioned a new volume that will put great works through the Twitter mangle. The volume has a working title that will make the nerve ends of purists jangle: Twitterature."

                      In it, the authors will squish the jewels of world literature - they mention Dante, Shakespeare, Stendhal, Joyce and JK Rowling - into 20 tweets or less - that is 20 sentences each with fewer than 140 characters.

                      The book is the brainchild of two 19-year-old first-year students at the University of Chicago who claim to be starting a cultural revolution from their college dormitory. Bashing their heads together one evening in their university digs, Emmett Rensin and Alex Aciman asked themselves what defined the grandest ventures of their generation, and best expressed the souls of 21st century Americans?

                      Pretentious, maybe. Precocious, certainly. The answer they came up with was double-headed. They identified high literature as a crucial pillar for any generation.

                      Saturday, June 20, 2009

                      Author Podcast: Sarah Thornton (Author Interviews)

                      The Contemporary Art market has been on fire and who better to talk about it than Sarah Thornton, ethnographer and author of Seven Days in the Art World published by Norton in 2008. Her book has been making waves as having the best insights into this fascinating subculture, market segment and art world phenomenon. Join BookBuffet's host, Paula Shackleton in this three-part interview with Sarah who joins us from her studio in London. The New York Times says, “Seven Days in the Art World by Sarah Thornton is a field guide to the nomadic tribes of the contemporary art world. The book was reported and written in a heated market, but it is poised to endure as a work of sociology… Where others would be content to gawk and gossip, she pushes her well-chosen subjects to explore the questions ‘What is an artist?’ and ‘What makes a work of art great?” Alan Yentob, creative director at the BBC says, “It’s like having your own spy in the art world. Thornton parachutes the reader into the fascinating nitty-gritty of how it all works.” Annalyn Swan, co-author of DeKooning: An American Master says: “A smart, engagingly written insider’s look at the machinations and manipulations of today’s art world…. A great read.” Grayson Perry, (artist) says: “Seven Days in the Art World” is a great page-turner, I worry that the book demystifies things so much that the next generation of artists will be overinformed.” Join our RSS feeds to get our interviews monthly, or click on the mp3 link for this segment, or just read along with the transcript.

                      Thursday, June 18, 2009

                      Miriam Toews: The Flying Troutmans (Book Reviews)

                      New out in paperback this month, Miriam Toews fourth novel, The Flying Troutmans (Vintage, June 2009) follows along the author’s well-worn path of funny-sad books about misfits who experience loss and misfortune, but somehow manage to deal with it. It is the story of two sisters, one functional, and the other eccentrically dysfunctional. All their lives the younger sister, Hattie has lived a mix of awe and dread for what spectacle or catastrophe her older sibling, Min would concoct that would either embarrass or frighten her. When Min carries the behavior over into adulthood and relinquishes her hold on life and motherhood to a paralysing depression that requires hospitalization, Hattie returns home to look after her sister’s two kids aged 14 and 11. Logan is a confused pubescent basketball-obsessed young man who writes precocious rants and his younger sister Thebes is a savant eccentric with purple hair, appalling hygiene and a penchant for quoting the dictionary and doing crafts like making giant novelty checks. Instead of facing their pathetic domestic non-routine with the spectre of their mother’s illness hanging over the household, Hattie packs the kids up for a road trip through the United States under the auspices of finding their long lost father who’d been driven out by their mother years earlier. What ensues is a poignant journey of discovery with frequent laugh-out-loud moments as they establish their fundamental bond and accept each other’s insecurities, deficiencies, and quirks. Ultimately they connect through their abiding love for Min. For anyone who doubts that an awesome road trip can't help but connect people, this book is for you. The insights into US-Canadian quirks is bonus.

                      Tuesday, June 16, 2009

                      London Literary Festival 09 (Events)

                      This is the 3rd annual London Literary Festival held at the Southbank Centre July 2-16. Enjoy the best in international writing, performance, music and debate this summer. What I like about festivals in the UK is the diversity of participants and the scope of the topics. And of course, it's not all books! When you hang out in London you get to take in some of the greatest museums, galleries and restaurants of the world, too! Be sure to stay at the Berkeley (pronounced Bark-ley) in Knightsbridge, go for a drink at the swanky, newly renovated Coburg Bar at the Connaught in Mayfair, where the bartender makes exquisite cocktails and the patrons are always fun and interesting. Jog or walk through Hyde Park around the Serpentine under the cool of the deciduous forest canopy beside the lake where the Serpentine Gallery is showing renowned contemporary artist Jeff Koons, and for shits & giggles book a reservation on the London Eye, that huge futuristic ferris wheel right next to the Southbank Center, and view the cityscape courtesy of British Airways. Uhoh—sidetracked! Back to books. For the full programme of events visit Tickets for the festival are still available and they range from 7-12. Here's a quick line-up of author events to mark on the calendar: Booker Prize winner, ARUNDHATI ROY, author of God of Small Things will headline the festival 2 July in discussion with Shami Chakrabarti on the topic of democracy. BUZZ ALDRIN 4 July On the 40th anniversary of the moon landing. One of the UK's poetry greats, BENJAMIN ZEPHANIAH 10 July will be performing new work and favourites. PETER ACKROYD 13 July Peter Ackroyd retells The Canterbury Tales. HANIF KURESHI, DCB PIERRE, KAMILA SHAMSIE & JEANETTE WINTERSON 14 July Come together with original stories.

                      Friday, June 05, 2009

                      A Right to Bare Arms: The State of Feminism Today (Feature Articles)

                      It is becoming increasingly hard to convince young women that feminism is relevant today. What short memories we have. Only 2 generations ago, women couldn’t vote (for women of color and native women, that right came much later) and had few rights even within the home , expected to “cater to [their] husband’s personal comfort,” “never complain” and “know [their] place.” (See Goodhousekeeping, May 19955) Our mothers’ generation was the first to “have it all” meaning they were “allowed” to have careers and families, but I’m sure any one of them will tell you being a “supermom” wasn’t a walk in the park, nor were they perceived or paid as equals for the most part. It was only a few weeks ago, after all, that Barack Obama signed the Equal Pay bill. That means that 4 months ago it was legally OK to pay a woman less based solely on her gender. We still get called—and worse, call each other—sluts and whores. We still think certain women deserve respect, and others (prostitutes, transgender women) do not. Shockingly, 1 in 7 think it’s acceptable to hit a woman if she is “nagging or constantly annoying,” and is responsible for inviting sexual harassment if wearing provocative clothing. A disturbing majority of teenage girls thought pop-singer Rhianna must have “made [boyfriend Chris Brown] really mad” for him to have beat her unconscious. Clearly, we have a ways to go.

                      Thursday, June 04, 2009

                      Masterpiece Mystery: Six Agatha Christies Starting in June (WGBH Boston)

                      BookBuffet and PBS Masterpiece WGBH Boston have teamed up to offer you more great book give-away tie-ins for their upcoming Mystery Series. Join our Book & Film Club (instructions follow) and be entered to win free copies of these mystery classics for your summer beach reading. Then regardless of where you are, commencing in June 21st-July 26th, you can still tune in each Sunday to PBS at 9pm ET to catch six television episodes of the world's most popular crime writer, Agatha Christie. (check local listings) "Transcending the mystery genre, Christie remains the most popular novelist in history, with her work appearing in 50 languages in over 70 countries and more than two billion of her books sold to date. Published between 1920 and 1976, her 85 volumes of detective novels and short stories include other sleuths besides Poirot and Miss Marple.

                      Monday, June 01, 2009

                      Whistler Reads: SEVEN DAYS IN THE ART WORLD (Whistler Reads)

                      Summer is a favorite season in Whistler. The days grow long, the valley heats up, and people spread out to hike, bike, golf, canoe, dine al-fresco and participate in the village's summer art programs put on by the Whistler Arts Council. This summer Whistler Reads is adding to the fun. On Thursday July 30th, 2009 at 7:30 pm at the Whistler Public Library we'll be discussing Sarah Thornton's award-winning book about the Contemporary Art scene titled, Seven Days In The Art World. "It's a literary-art event", says Founder Paula Shackleton "that starts with delicious Cedar Creek wines and light jazz entertainment, followed by an impressive five-member panel of local to international art specialists who will gather to discuss this book from their various perspectives within the art world. If you are an artist, a collector, a gallery owner or simply interested in this fascinating subculture, ask yourself: Why is the art market thriving despite the economy? What defines art? How does an artist achieve success and even fame? How do curators determine what to collect? Join us!

                      Use the link to purchase the book online today and slip it into your beach bag or suitcase for summer reading. If you're a local, pick-up a copy from Armchair Books in the village. "I can't think of a better way to celebrate the fusion of art and books," says Shackleton. Listen to BookBuffet's interview with the author, Sarah Thornton. (Podcast here.)

                      Saturday, May 30, 2009

                      For The Love Of Book-Art: Check-out Alicia Martin (Feature Articles)

                      I came upon an amazing sculpture by contemporary Spanish artist, Alicia Martin who uses books as the raw material for her works. If you love books as much as we do, you will delight in her installations. The curator at Galleria Galica who represents the artist says, "Symbols of culture, of memory and of communication, the books in her works end up being at times restless, at others ironic, poetic or even aggressive, but always intent on forcing us to think about certain central issues of contemporary life: the instability of knowledge, the fragility of memory and the need for it, the information Babel of the mass media, the difficult relationship between cultures. No longer shut away in libraries or reduced to a furnishing accessory, the books/work of this artist turn into a shapeless incumbent concretion that tenaciously clings to the walls of the gallery and seems to elude the laws of gravity. Never repetitive, the works of Alicia Martín manage to turn books into animated objects, full of symbolisms that act as powerful but ungraspable echoes." The sculpture pictured here required 5,000 books. Watch the YouTube video as the location is stunning and the books seem to come alive as pages rustle in the breeze, and almost speak to the circling observers.—Cordoba, Spain

                      Tuesday, May 26, 2009

                      Alice Munro Wins the Man Booker International Award Today (Feature Articles)

                      Canadian short-story specialist, Alice Munro has today won the biannuel Man Booker International Prize, worth £60,000. It is awarded once every two years to a living author for a body of work that has contributed to an achievement in fiction on the world stage. This is only the third time the award has been named. Ismail Kadaré won in 2005 and Chinua Achebe won in 2007. Munro's next collection of short stories, Too Much Happiness, (Douglas Gibson, McClelland & Stewart) will be published in October 2009. The judging panel for the Man Booker International Prize 2009 is: Jane Smiley, writer; Amit Chaudhuri, writer, academic and musician; and writer, film script writer and essayist, Andrey Kurkov. The panel made the following comment on the winner: "Alice Munro is mostly known as a short story writer and yet she brings as much depth, wisdom and precision to every story as most novelists bring to a lifetime of novels. To read Alice Munro is to learn something every time that you never thought of before." Wikipedia says, "Munro's work is often compared with the great short story writers. For example, the American writer Cynthia Ozick called Munro 'our Chekhov.' In Munro stories, as in Chekov's, plot is secondary and 'little happens.' As with Chekov, Garan Holcombe notes: 'All is based on the epiphanic moment, the sudden enlightenment, the concise, subtle, revelatory detail.' Munro's work deals with "love and work, and the failings of both. She shares Chekov’s obsession with time and our much-lamented inability to delay or prevent its relentless movement forward."

                      Wednesday, May 20, 2009

                      Some Days You're The Dog, Other Times The Hydrant (Feature Articles)

                      BREAKING WORLD NEWS… The promised US presidential pooch has been picked, US media reports say. The soon-to-be "First Puppy" is a six-month-old black and white Portuguese water dog that Mr. Obama's daughters have named Bo, The Washington Post reports. Churchill had Rufus, the Queen of England has her corgis, now America has Bo.

                      Why are we so in love with our dogs? What do we find so fascinating about something that slobbers, eats us out of house and home and requires us to pick up after it? And what encourages us to write about them?

                      Ever since my boyfriend and I got our puppy, our lives have not been the same. Before getting our little pup we borrowed books out of the library, watched training DVD’s, browsed You Tube videos and, of course, had the Dog Whisperer playing incessantly. We would discuss with each other the commands we were going to use, the techniques we would implement and we nearly blew a month's wages at Pet Smart. Now she's a fully fledged member of the family, if a bit of a hairy addition, and I can’t imagine my life without her. Like most dog owners I have a few stories to tell ranging from the funny to the cringe worthy. Most of the time whilst recounting these tales the audience either nods in agreement or cries with laughter. I recently reviewed a book called Queen of the Road by Doreen Orion (Broadway, 2008), which is the real life story of a couple traveling the states of America with their two cats and dog in tow, which also reminded me of John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley. "A dog, particularly an exotic like Charley, is a bond between strangers. Many conversations en route began with 'What degree of dog is that?'" Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck (Penguin: 2002).

                  In both accounts the dog plays a huge role in story, they are the companion, the friend, and often an ice-breaker in the most awkward situations.

                  Tuesday, May 19, 2009

                  Author Podcast: Patrick French (Author Interviews)

                  Patrick French is an English writer, historian and biographer educated at the University of Edinburough. His latest book, The World Is What It Is (Random House 2008) is his second work of biography. His subject is widely considered to be one of the masters of modern English prose, the Indo-Trinidadian novelist and essayist V.S. Naipaul who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2001 and subsequently knighted. People currently refer to him as Sir Vidia Naipaul. In an interesting, if not ironic twist, Patrick French was also offered the OBE for his literary contributions back in 2003. He turned it down. His comment was, "It is ridiculous that honours given in the 21st century would have the word empire in them. The motto that goes with the OBE is 'For God and the Empire'. Which God and which Empire?" He added that understanding the British Empire in history lessons is "crucially important" and that it was not "taught in enough detail in schools". But this argument about medals relates to the present. And so we have a citizen of Britain refusing the same honor that a colonialist (who he is writing about) has accepted with pride if not glee. Didn't the Duke of Edinburgh suggest, about 30 years ago, that "the word empire in the medals OBE, CBE etc should be replaced by the word 'Excellence'? 'The Order of British Excellence' has a good ring to it." At any rate, turning down the OBE hasn't stopped Patrick French from winning the 2008 National Book Critics Circle Award for this book, or being shortlisted for the prestigious Samuel Johnson Prize for Nonfiction 2008. BookBuffet caught up with Patrick French this past summer at the Southbank Centre on the banks of the Thames, London when he spoke about The World is What it Is and the issues of working with such a reputedly idiosyncratic personality.

                  Thursday, May 07, 2009

                  Masterpiece Mystery: WALLANDER Drama Series Aires May 10, 17, 31 (WGBH Boston)

                  OK, I must admit to having a certain soft spot for Kenneth Branagh. You too? Is it his thin lips or a lifetime of stunning acting, directing, producing and screenwriting achievements? Not surprisingly, we are not alone. PBS Masterpiece's Executive Producer, Rebecca Eaton admitted to a 20-year crush on him in Los Angeles this past April 29th when introducing Branagh at the Paley Center screening of, One Step Behind It's the first of 3 episodes in Series 1 that PBS Masterpiece Mystery airs this coming Sunday May 10th with Sidetracked and Firewall airing on May 17th and May 31st respectively. Each show is adapted from the "Wallander" mystery series written by Swedish uber-author, Henning Mankell. Kenneth Branagh produces and plays the lead character, Kurt Wallander, a a burned-out police detective in Sweden who has a deep empathy with the crime victims he comes into contact with. The show was a hit for the BBC last year and now it debuts in North America. Branagh admits he became entranced with the character after blitzing through all 9 novels in rapid succession. He later met the author in Sweden at an Ingmar Bergman Festival. With impeccable timing Branagh and the series have recently been bestowed prestigious BAFTA awards for Best Producer for Best Television Series 2009 respectively. (Check out the YouTube video Filmed on location in Ystad, Sweden where the scenery plays a big part in the fresh-otherness of the series, it uses a primarily British cast. Othe other actors include Jeany Spark as Linda Wallander, Sarah Smart as Anne-Britt Hoglund, Tom Beard as Svedberg, Tom Hiddleston as Martinsson, Richard McCabe as Nyberg, Sadie Shimmin as Lisa Holgersson and David Warner as Povel Wallander. Nicholas Hoult, star of the film "About a Boy", makes an appearance as Stefan Fredman in "Sidetracked".

                  Wednesday, May 06, 2009

                  What Is Obama Reading? (Feature Articles)

                  Isn't it nice that the USA has a President who openly admits to reading? And isn't it nice that his choice of books matters to the reading public. That is the conclusion that the publisher of Vintage/Anchor Books announced Monday when they tallied—the Obama effect—on a book they released last June as compared to sales this Thursday May 7th. There has been double-digit increase in sales since Obama revealed he was reading Joseph O'Neill's novel, Netherland (a highly praised novel about cricket, marriage and living in a post 9/11 world.) It all came about in a New York Times interview (article is free when you register) written by David Leonhardt, who spent 50 minutes in a one-on-one conversation with Obama. The whole article is worth reading because it encapsulates Obama's daily agenda since taking office, and it is both candid and intimate. When the president disclosed how much he was enjoying the book, sales hit the roof.

                  Learn more about the plot, the author (a dashing barrister-cricket player) and the celebrity effect on book sales historically. Then click to purchase this book as you'll be seeing the cover frequently in hands of your fellow commuters on the buses, subways and airplanes. It is sure to be a popular book group pick, and the topic of discussion around the office water cooler. Below is a synopsis of the book, a copy of the transcript posted on Amazon with the author and a bit of biographical background—your primer for many conversations to come! Hurry, the first printing was only 70,000 copies.

                  Tuesday, May 05, 2009

                  Author Podcast: Orlando Figes (Author Interviews)

                  Orlando Figes is one of the most distinguished historians of Russia today. He is Professor of History at University of London, having the distinction of graduating with a rare double-starred First in 1982, and completing his PhD at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was a Fellow from 1984 to 1999. He was a Lecturer in History at the University of Cambridge from 1987 to 1999, before taking up the Chair of History at Birkbeck College, University of London.

                  All of his books on Russia are bestsellers and all are eminently readable. Figes borrows from a broad range of methodologies, including social, cultural and oral history, and his writing combines literary and academic qualities. His latest book is titled, The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin's Russia. At 784 pages you may want the hardcover version (published in the UK by Allen Lane 2008) and softcover is published in US by Picador. It is a treatise on the lives of people in Russia during Stalin's reign of terror. "One in eight people in the Soviet Union were victims of Stalin's terror—virtually no family was untouched by purges, the gulag, forced collectivization and resettlement", says Figes.

                  BookBuffet caught up with Orlando at the Southbank Centre in London when he was speaking, along with the 5 other shortlisted authors, on behalf of organizers for the prestigious Samuel Johnson Prize for Nonfiction in 2008. Listen to him in this podcast rebroadcast, then click to the links for the other authors' talks, and to discover the winner. This is the cream of nonfiction titles around the globe for 2008.

                  Sunday, April 26, 2009

                  The London Book Fair 2009 (Feature Articles)

                  The London Book Fair takes place each spring for three glorious days offering over 100 seminars and events for over 3,000 industry professionals. It is the global marketplace for rights negotiations and the sale and distribution of content across print, TV, film and digital channels. The LBF closed today to reports of moderate attendance, compared with years past, due to the recession and publishing house cutbacks, but the people who came, did so "with a mind to doing business" was the conclusion. Checking out the big book deals in London this year, one of the biggest involved the Swedish thriller, The Hypnotist by Lars Kepler - a pseudonym, according to rumours at Earls Court, for Henning Mankell. The title, which has yet to sell in the US, was at the center of a heated auction in the UK involving some of the country's leading crime publishers. Also, the British literary agency David Godwin Associates Ltd. has sold Tiger Hills, a novel by Sarita Mandanna, to Penguin India for the largest advance the house has ever paid for a debut. Sophie Hoult of DGA did not give an exact amount but said the deal was for seven figures. Hoult called Tiger Hills “a sweeping popular novel set in India between 1878 and the second World War” and classified it as “an Indian Thorn Birds crossed with Gone with the Wind.” Mandanna is a banker in New York. HarperCollins signed Prince Charles for two books, the first about stewardship. The Free Press and Holt both ink debut authors to six-figure deals. Umberto Eco flew to London specifically to present the sixth annual LBF Lifetime Achievement Award in International Publishing to his old friend Drenka Willen, senior editor, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Just over half of publishers surveyed at the London Book Fair have put plans in place to sell books in any digital form. The British are at least three years behind Americans in adapting e-books; and American readers are much more interested in romance, while more British readers skew toward literary fiction.

                  Thursday, April 23, 2009

                  Hitting the G (Grammar) Spot (Feature Articles)

                  Good grammar, just like good writing, is a lifelong pursuit. You can never give up! I continue to challenge myself with the intricacies of grammar and style, not merely for my own sake, (I confess to being a very late bloomer at this topic) but more particularly as the last-resort editor of this website with a responsibility for checking our contributors' writing. For reference sources I have three different books on grammar and style and two dictionaries. I often take one or another of these with me to bed—egad, I can't believe I just admitted that. But a reference book sitting on the shelf or at your bedside is of no use when most of your writing is done on your laptop or at your office computer. Hence, you can imagine my excitement in striking the motherload with the discovery of an excellent online grammar site that I now keep bookmarked at the #1 spot on my browser tool bar, (ahem, the aforementioned G spot). It's not Grammar Girl, the mainstream site for lightweight questions. It's not the pay site of The Chicago Manuel of Style, as I'm too cheap to pay when I own the book. It is a non-profit foundation out of Hartford Connecticut with a FREE site called, Guide to Grammar and Writing. More...

                  Monday, April 20, 2009

                  Canvey Island by James Runcie (Book Reviews)

                  How Water Marks

                  The news brings horrifying reports of floods in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, New Orleans and many other places. We are hit with images of people standing on top of their homes waiting for rescue while their belongings are swept away. In need of food, shelter and safety these people become refugees at the mercy of others. But what happens next? What happens to the survivors whose lives have been torn apart by this act of nature? James Runcie’s third novel Canvey Island (2006, The Other Press, NY) explores the aftermath of such a tragic event focusing on the struggles of one family over a forty-year time span in postwar England. It shows how a sound bite on the public's radar compares to the lifelong effect a tragedy evokes in the lives of the victims. It's also a book about uncommunicated truths. Secrets, both personal and political were handled differently in the '50s. Find out how. Runcie’s spare lyric style of writing makes this simple story a quiet thunderstorm on your weather map. Prepare to open the flood gates.

                  Thursday, April 16, 2009

                  Twitter Don'ts: #7 Don't Twiiter When Drunk (Technology Corner)

                  Spring is here and I have to confess - I've become twitterpated. No, not the Disney Bambi type, but the 140 character online social networking type. As opposed to Facebook, a site I check each morning to see what my friends and family are doing, I find that has become my lifeline to my professional network. It's a shout-out from friends at work telling me what they're reading of interest, what's happening in the backroom at Granta, NPBooks, and BookNet. Twitter is where all the big and small publishers, editors of fine literary blogs, a sprinkling of authors, and other people whose tweets I share, congregate off-and-on throughout the day. It's the virtual water cooler. Of course the authors I know write the best tweets. Susan Orlean cracks me up daily! Regarding Easter she writes, "Haven't told [junior] about organized religion yet but [the 6 year-old] tells me that Google has all the answers." Now that's profound! Whether you're a DJ connecting to other spinners of vinyl, or an architect keeping up with designer friends, other artisans or the textile manufacturer - Twitter can connect your network. As I become more facile with the advantages and disadvantages of the blue bird site, I have to agree with some of PC Magazine's Top 13 Twitter Don'ts with my comments annotated with a * Oh, by the way - my Twiiter ID is BookBuffet.

                  Tuesday, April 14, 2009

                  Hay Literary Festival 2009 in Granada, May 7-10th (Events)

                  Over the last 21 years, the Hay Literary Festival audience has grown from 1,000 people in Hay (near Herefordshire, England) to 250,000 visitors on three continents every year. One would think that the four locations offer UK book lovers a chance to meet authors from different locales who write, as one would expect, about their cultures, influences, and life experiences which become fictionalized or not in some form of book. However, the reality is that The Hay is a new form of British Cultural Imperialism transporting English lit and culture to warmer climates. This becomes evident when reading the line-up of events (a sampling provided below) at venues named for the sponsors: "The Guardian Stage", "The Barclays Wealth Pavilion" and "The SONY Screen". That said, it still looks like a rousing good time in locations with better weather and interesting tourist ops. The next location in the calendar year is Granada, Spain this May 7-10th, 2009. Here's their blurb, "The Andalusia is a fantastic setting to meet regional writers and readers. In the beautiful setting of the Alhambra Palace, writers and poets from Spain, the Middle East and northern Africa, as well as the UK, US and many others, share their voices and stories to make this a truly international festival of thought and word." Download the Hay Festival Program in pdf format.

                  Monday, April 13, 2009

                  The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz (Feature Articles)

                  The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is the story of a family from the Dominican Republic living in Brooklyn. It is a story about immigration and immigrants, integration and alienation, family and dictatorships—and how one thing doesn’t necessarily preclude the other. Oscar is a dorky, obese virgin obsessed with science fiction and fantasy books. He has a difficult time making friends and an impossible time getting girlfriends. In fact most of his life in the US is a string of embarrassments and disappointments, and his life is more or less insignificant.

                  "Our hero was not one of those Dominican cats everybody's always going on about—he wasn't no home-run hitter or a fly bachatero, not a playboy with a million hots on his jock. And except for one period early in his life, dude never had much luck with the females (how very un-Dominican of him)."

                  His sister Lola is fiery and rebellious, much like her apparently maligned mother Hypatia was, we learn later, in her youth. Lola marries Oscar’s one-time college roommate Yunior, the books most frequent narrator, and the story is told through his and each of the other 4 characters’ eyes variously throughout the novel. Because it’s usually Yunior, the Dominican college frat boy/jock telling the story, the language is a patois of east coast hip-hop inspired 20-something slang and Dominican expressions—you might want to have a Spanish-English dictionary handy, because asking the Spanish guy next to you on the plane what “galletazo” means resulted in a lot of blushing and awkward laughter (“bitchslap”) for this reader.

                  Friday, April 10, 2009

                  Vampire Obsession (Feature Articles)

                  "Awaken to darkness on this place we call Earth, One vampire's bite brings another one's birth. A vampire wakes with blood thirsty needs On the warm rich sensation he feels when he feeds. He stalks in the night like a disastrous beast, And what once was alive will soon be deceased. So when the last bit of sunlight disappears from the sky, You better watch out unless you want to die." -Victoria Boatwright

                  What is our obsession with Vampires all about? They have been lurking in the depths of our human history for thousands of years, their popularity never diminishing; a myth that is perpetuated and reinvented throughout time with astonishing resilience. Is it the promise of eternal life that draws us in, or the sexy undertones of a stranger coming into your bedroom in the middle of the night…

                  Thursday, April 09, 2009

                  Author Podcast: Tim Butcher (Author Interviews)

                  Tim Butcher is a correspondent for the Daily Telegraph. When one thinks about journalists covering all the conflict hotspots: Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, Algeria, Sierra Leone and Lebanon, you can think of Tim Butcher. After a four year tour of Africa for the Daily Telegraph Tim spent three years planning his solo return to the Congo retracing the river route of another Daily Telegraph journalist, Henry Morton Stanley. In part on motorbike, and in part by river barge and perugue (canoe), Butcher traveled almost 2,500 miles from the Eastern border and lake district of the DRC to the Western border on the Atlantic, thus crossing the width of the country. His resulting book, Blood River: A Journey to Africa's Broken Heart (Grove Press) was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize for nonfiction in 2008. Here is his account of aspects of his book and of course the perspectives he gained traveling and researching the country that is at the center of the continent of Africa. A former Belgian colony that passed into shakey independence in '62 and then kleptocratic rule under Mobutu as Zaire for close to 40 more years, the DRC or Democratic Republic of Congo has at last achieved political peace with hopes for continued stability and renewed prosperity through development of its ample natural resources with the return of foreign investment and aid. This is the first speaker in a 6-part series from the Southbank Centre on the banks of another great river, the Thames, London. Please listen to Tim Butcher and then follow along with the rest of the 5 shortlisted authors via the podcast. Click on links to purchase their books. You can subscribe to our RSS feeds for this and all audio content, or click on individual mp3 files to select authors or segments.

                  Tuesday, April 07, 2009

                  No Dribble From Drabble: Discovered Authors (Feature Articles)

                  A lovely essay in The Guardian (April 4 2009) caught my eye today, it was written by a person I did not previously know. The story is titled "The Missing Piece" and it is about how various people overcome their “black dogs,” (which could have been a direct Churchill quote, but whom she doesn’t reference). She does comment on various famous writers (Tennyson, Wharton, Henry James) who experienced periods of melancholia, and the methods they used to fight it: writing, walking. What I love about the piece is that she draws in personal anecdotes from her own family—her mother and other people’s mothers factor in there as ways not to handle melancholia, aging and the like. Read the piece and see what you think. The fact that I could think of at least 6 people to send the article to who are dealing with life issues and might take heart from an article that touches upon how not to give in, signifies to me that this is an important and inevitable part of the life process, and that from time to time we all need to be reminded that great people as well as the unwashed masses go through it. photo credit: National Portrait Gallery

         Poligamy (Book Reviews)

                  The 19th Wife: A Novel, by David Ebershoff (2008)

                  What in the world does polygamous community in the early Mormon Church (and the persistent remnants of the practice in modern renegade cults which refuse to banish the practice) have to do with having it all, today? This anwer is, a great deal and very little. At first glance, we are mystified by these communities. Recent and recurring media fascination with polygamist cults in the West reveals that the allegedly private exercise of religion often includes the underage 'marriage' of girls as young as 14 to men in their forties and fifties, and the teen pregnancies that inevitably follow. We cannot understand how the women in these communities can defend so staunchly a way of life that sentences their own teen daughters to such marriages. We see a concept of community gone awry—where admirable tenets of sisterhood and faith are twisted into a practice where women are often emotionally abused and where children hunger for scraps of a father's love and attention together with dozens of siblings, resulting in mass neglect. We can only assume that the women and girls in this community know no alternatives, and have been brainwashed into believing that their eternal salvation and, perhaps more significantly to a child, that their reunion in heaven with everyone whom they hold dear, depends upon their compliance.

                  Wednesday, April 01, 2009

                  Whistler Reads: SOUTH (Whistler Reads)

                  When Sir Ernest Shackleton was looking for men to join his expedition to the South Pole in 1914 at the outbreak of WWI, the advertisement read: "Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages. Bitter cold. Long months of complete darkness and constant danger. Safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in case of success." Over 5,000 people responded to fill 24 positions. What ensued was an epic journey that while a historic failure—has none-the-less become the stuff of legend. Shackleton's autobiography is required reading for every adventurer or outdoors enthusiast—be they ocean mariner, mountain climber, wilderness survivalist or just your average human being interested in epic tales and the bi-gone era of exploration on this earth. There are several versions of the story; the one told by Ernest Shackleton himself and by various historians. Movies and A&E hit television miniseries have been made, and all of them have the key elements of a gripping story: a hero, his quest, a cast of characters, the catastrophe that threatens to destroy them, and the skill, stamina, courage and perseverance required from each to deliver them to safety. This is a story whose ending cannot be spoiled.

                  This event is sponsored by One Ocean Expeditions with guest speaker Andrew Prossin, Ones' Managing Director who is as passionate as you could get about the polar regions, from his extensive 16 years of travel there. He is bringing along stories and stunning pictures from The South!

                  Pick up one of the recommended books and join local Whistlerite, Christopher Shackleton in discussion about this epic story about a fascinating man and his contribution to the 20th century. Whistler Public Library, Sunday May 31, 2009 from 3-5 pm. This is the 23rd book that the Whistler Reads public book group will be discussing. Everyone is welcome. Whether you live, work or come to play here, read what Whistler Reads!" Details on how to join, stay in touch with us, and attend follow. RSVP me if you plan to attend, and purchase one of the bulk order of books brought in to Armchair Books here in Whistler. email: paulas (@)

                  My Brush With Arnold: How I learned to Love the Tesla (Feature Articles)

                  Driving down the Pacific Coast Highway between Santa Monica and Pacific Palisades I pass Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in his Hummer. Well, he wasn’t the California governor at that specific point in time. He was just a movie celebrity slash retired body builder and husband to broadcaster Maria Shriver, on his way home from the studio. My kids were in the car and as we passed “the Terminator” casually smoking a stogy while driving in the slow lane, the site was just too much for them. Squiggling in their seat belts trying to attract his attention from the back of the car, Arnold sees that I am attempting to negotiate traffic and deal with their minor commotion. For one brief moment his eyes lock with mine across the lanes as I pull alongside him, and he breaks into his characteristic wide, broken-tooth grin and nods to me. Then he gives my kids "the terminator good-bye wave” the one that his character makes while sinking into the molten goo at the end of the titular movie, and my kids go wild and cheer and wave. I accelerate ahead into traffic. Read on to see where this leads to The Tesla and the current state-of-the-art in electric motor cars.

                  Saturday, March 28, 2009

                  Masterpiece Airs: Little Dorrit, Mar 29-Apr 26 (WGBH Boston)

                  Third in the Dickens Classics miniseries produced by WGBH Boston's Masterpiece and adapted by screenwriter Andrew Davies is "Little Dorrit" Dickens story about a woman, Amy Dorrit who spends her life caring for her father in the Marshalsea debtors prison. The five-part series features Claire Foy as Amy Dorrit, Tom Courtenay as Mr. Dorrit, Russel Tovey as John Chivary and the outstanding casts that WGBH Boston is known for. Check out the website's thorough resources, which include: cast and crew interviews, academic commentary by Tatiana Holway who received her Ph.D. from Columbia University, video excerpts of the films and extensive Dickens resources online. Don't miss our interview with Executive Producer, Rebecca Eaton in an earlier podcast introducing the series and BookBuffet's collaboration with Masterpiece. Join the Book and Film Club and stay in touch with other classic novel afficianados and receive updates on upcoming features. Andrew Davies and MASTERPIECE Producer, Erin Delaney also chat with Little Dorrit readers at the week of March 30th and April 20th, respectively.

                  Friday, March 27, 2009

                  How To Make An iPhone Version of Your Blog (Technology Corner)

                  You can create an iPhone version of your blog or website's RSS feeds in less than a minute. Why would you do that? Because trends show that most people in a certain demographic stay on top of important news throughout the day using their mobile devices. To make your own iPhone version of your blog - do what we did - follow Jon's 1-minute videoinstructions. Go to Enter your RSS feed URL and website title into the boxes. Then click on the ‘iPhoneize’ button. You have the option to upload a 57x57pixel avatar or photo that will appear as you button. The web application will generate a code for your weblog. Next you place this code between <> <> of your website's header code so that any iPhone or iPhone touch users will be detected and will be so directed to the appropriate version for them to view your feeds via their handheld. It is all hosted on server.

                  The originator of the video demo jon (pictured above) uses Vimeo to post his video content. It's a video site that allows you to post and share video content - but different from youtube. It's free and if you want a channel of your own, or more bandwidth it doesn't cost a fortune. Great place to connect to other video artists and filmmakers.

                  Elizabeth Gilbert: More Interesting Than I First Thought (Feature Articles)

                  OK, I'll admit it. I have been boycotting Elizabeth Gilbert. You remember her. She’s the author whose book all your girlfriends were reading and raving about two years ago. Yes raving. Like Oprah's book picks, I was highly skeptical and quite frankly annoyed. I mean, she charged over $10,000 plus first class travel expenses to come speak to a community not far from where I live, and the topic wasn’t something really very earth-shattering. Side bar: the highest paid writer-speakers are presidential biographers. Apparantly they can command $25,000 USD per talk, which is more than most authors make in royalties for the entire print-run of their book. But back to Elizabeth Gilbert and Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia (Viking 2006). I surmised that her book too easily became a popular (make that run-away) success, and was defacto best suited to the masses. The jacket blurb described a woman in pre-midlife crisis moaning about her ex-husband, traipsing around and gorging herself in Italy (Diane Lane already did that in “Under the Tuscan Sun”) and then channelling the divine in some remote cliché location, where again, the Beatles have been-there done-that, then she magically falls storybook-style in-love before the conclusion. Does that breath "fluff" to you? People were saying, “It’s so easy to read, and it incorporates travel with history and spiritualism. Oh, and it’s funny too.”

                  Wednesday, March 25, 2009

                  Picador Uses Twitter To Market Books (Publisher News)

                  Since its launch in 1995 Picador has rapidly established itself as one of the leading literary trade paperback imprints in the country. Working closely with the esteemed hardcover houses Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Henry Holt and St Martin's Press, Picador's stable of authors include fiction and non-fiction Pulitzer Prize winners: Michael Chabon, Michael Cunningham, Marilynne Robinson and Jeffrey Eugenides; National Book Award winners Shirley Hazzard, Susan Sontag and Jonathan Franzen; and National Book Critics Circle Award winners Jim Crace and Philip Gourevitch. Picador's bestselling authors include Anita Diamant, Augusten Burroughs, Salman Rushdie, Lorrie Moore, Atul Gawande and Tom Wolfe. The fun part is every Tuesday Picador will announce a new book pick and give readers two weeks to complete it. You could be one of the lucky people to win a free copy of the book. Book picks range from mystery to literary fiction to a work in translation. On the second Friday you'll get to correspond directly with the authors and editors of the book! Or you can submit questions before Friday to be addressed by the authors the day of the "discussion." Picador will pick books for every taste and reader. Read on to learn about Picador's Twitter program.

                  Saturday, March 21, 2009

                  BookNet Canada: 6 Projects That Will Save The Publishing Industry (Feature Articles)

                  Michael Tamblyn, CEO of BookNet Canada, describes 6 projects/changes/initiatives that could make things better for publishers, readers, and others with an interest in the future of the book. Watch the Video BookNet is the non-profit dedicated to innovation in the book industry supply chain. The talk was given at BNC's annual technology conference, which was attended by 225 industry people in Toronto. Overall the message from the conference was: use mobile devices to disseminate news and content; seek new distribution chains such as to distributes e-books on a fast track (not currently possible via traditional publisher streams); support the bloggers and freelance journalists [we second that]; add Web 2.0 capabilities such as hyperlinks in text to the e-books to make them more than just an electronic version of a traditional print book. For a list of video casts from the conference access the TWITTER stream from BookNet Canada and look for the series of video cast presentations upcoming on YOUTUBE and then check out their new website

                  Monday, March 16, 2009

                  Obama Spanks AIG: Will he get the money back? (Feature Articles)

                  American International Group (AIG), the faltering insurance giant, paid out $165 million in bonuses from their government bail-out check. Obama was quick to respond. (Watch the video) and the attorney general Andrew M. Cuomo of New York says that because AIG has received federal bailout money, it has to consider what is best for taxpayers. He will subpeona evidence and use every measure within his power to stop the payments. AIG says its hands are tied. They say that they are contractually obligated to pay the bonuses to their executives, including those who are part of the AIG division where the company’s crisis originated.

                  What If: The World Without Us (Book Reviews)

                  What if? In his extraordinary book, The World Without Us (Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press 2007) Alan Weisner asks the question, "What if?" Imagine a world where suddenly humans didn’t exist, where we had suddenly vanished leaving the world as it is now. What would we leave behind? What would the world inherit from our existence? How quickly would nature take back the land we have borrowed? Do you think the Eiffel Tower would still be standing one thousand years from now, would the Panama Canal still be intact, would the Euro Tunnel have caved-in? Weisner takes the reader all over the world exploring different places and the effects we have had on them, and what effects we have set in motion for the future.

                  Saturday, March 14, 2009

                  The Perfect Stimulous Package (Feature Articles)

                  A recent post on talked about their sure-fire "Stimulous Package." I clicked the link and instead of finding advice on finance or the economy, I found a selection of books on... coffee! When it comes to book-selling clever marketing still rules the day. With editor Scott Laming's permission we've posted that list of books, but I also want to share what I've discovered about the site. is a blog about reading, buying and selling books. They claim to offer prices that are between 50 and 81% off list price at most stores and online venues. You can sell books to them as well, which is very handy for students wanting to off load textbooks. If you're looking to please a coffee-loving friend with a gift, one or more of these books along with a pound of organic locally roasted coffee beans, perhaps a set of those cute expresso cups and saucers and you're definitely going high-test. Throw one of those new fangled latte machines and you may never need your discount card clipped at the local java hut again! Just place her number on speed-dial.

                  Tuesday, March 10, 2009

                  Curious To Know What's On Your Friends' Bedside Table? (Feature Articles)

                  So are we! So as an experiment in social networking using the Facebook site, I posted an invite to my "friends list", an agreed distinguished but paultry list of 110 (gloat, all you people with over 400 friends) and to my surprise 67 of them joined the eponymous BookBuffet FB group. Of those, over 20 posted a note about what they're currently reading. It's a fascinating list both in its variety, and in what your friends have say about their on-the-go book(s). Lots of ideas!! Check it out. Regardless of whether you're a FB member, go to FB homepage and type "Bookbuffet" in the search field and our group will come up. Join and we'll post new results again here in a few weeks.

                  Sunday, March 08, 2009

                  James Patterson To Publish Collective Author Thriller (Feature Articles)

                  I've seen "collective novels" before, but this time uber-crime writer James Patterson will be kicking things off. Patterson will write the first and last chapters of AirBorne, a 30-chapter thriller that will be released one chapter at a time beginning next month. For all the chapters in between Borders and Random House held a contest to find 28 writers who could each create a fast-paced and thrilling chapter in less than 750 words. The contest closed just last month, and the judges are in the process of selecting the winners, each of whom will receive a copy of the finished book; one lucky author will also get a one-on-one master class by phone with Patterson himself. Once completed, AirBorne will be released one chapter at a time beginning on 20 March. Readers will be able to download each chapter electronically, but the final book will be published in print only for participants in the competition. Read on, as BookBuffet explores Patterson's career and his community works, as well as the ways he's using new media to market it all.

                  Saturday, March 07, 2009

                  Masterpiece Airs: David Copperfield Airs, Mar 15th and 22nd (WGBH Boston)

                  Fans of Dickens' epic novel David Copperfield get to have a sneak preview of actors David Radcliffe and Ian McKellen who star in the two-part episode on Masterpiece March 15 and 22nd. In the videotaped interview hear Daniel Radcliffe talk about what it was like to audition for his debut film role at the age of 9, and subsequently shoot the drama just as he turned 10. Harry Potter would become his next role. There's a short clip of Sir Ian McKellen describing why he likes playing Mr. Creakle, who we all know to be "the bad guy" in the story. (View Clip)
                  Meanwhile, the good people at WGBH Boston PBS have compiled a stunning list of resources to accompany your viewing/reading of this classic. The Teacher’s Guide for Dickens and the Book & Film Club resources for Dickens are live and also accessible from the home page. Join the MASTERPIECE BOOK & FILM CLUB today, and stay in touch with like-minded readers.

                  Wednesday, March 04, 2009

                  Amazon Loading Books On iPhone App (Technology Corner)

                  It was just a matter of time, but the word is officially out - Amazon has bowed to Apple and created a FREE app for its iPhone and iPod. As an iPhone user and an avid reader who is on-the-go constantly, I am thrilled to see the collaboration in place. I've been reluctant to purchase a Kindle to download Amazon digital books, as who needs another soon-to-be-obsolete electronic device? Users can shop for books at on a regular PC, and then transfer purchases over the air to the iPhone and iPod touch. Prices are the same whether books are purchased from a Kindle or from an iPhone, and the first chapter of every book is free. If you've already got a Kindle, you can download every Kindle purchase you've already made to the new iPhone app. The app also offers adjustable font size along with bookmarks and annotation features. Like on the Kindle e-book, you can bookmark pages, increase the font size, and access the table of contents. You can buy a book or download a sample directly to your iPhone, be it via 3G or Wi-Fi. Turning the page is as easy as swiping the iPhone's touch screen.To compare Kindle with iPhone, read Nicole Lee's article on CNet News.

                  Author Podcast: Stephen Lewis (Author Interviews)

                  Stephen Lewis is a consummate orator, which stems as he says from his days in the trenches as a "feckless politician" when he was NDP leader of the opposition in Ontario, Canada. A strong socialist reformer, his work took on global proportions when he became the Canadian UN Ambassador and Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa. Lewis has been working to help the continent since. His speeches are peppered with names, places, and people from all parts of Africa - from people in the smallest village in Malawi to the leaders and heads of state worldwide. His 2005 Massey Lecture became the basis for a best-selling book, Race Against Time: Searching for Hope in AIDS-Ravaged Africa has won many awards and accolades. The following presentation was sponsored by the Whistler Social Sustainability Society as part of their speaker series. Excerpts are with the permission of Stephen Lewis and the Stephen Lewis Foundation which funds community-based initiatives in Africa. TIME magazine listed Stephen Lewis as one of the ‘100 most influential people in the world.’ He was made a Companion to the Order of Canada in 2002.

                  Tuesday, March 03, 2009

                  Mulit-tasking with Firefox for the Morning Challenged (Feature Articles)

                  If you’re like me, you have whittled the morning rituals down such as to maximize sleep, allowing the absolute bare minimum time to shower, dress, and travel to work. If one step goes wrong; a late bus, an incognito set of keys, the entire operation is derailed and I am late. Thus the mornings are a time of great stress and panic. You can imagine, then, how delighted I was when I discovered the good people at Firefox have made an application for people like me, who can’t waste precious time by typing tedious URLs to read the morning news. Enter “Morning Coffee,” the app that allows you to click a steaming cup of Joe icon (and hopefully I have the same in my hand at this point as well) and get all your usual websites pre-loaded into tabs in one window. For example, I usually read the NYTimes, BBC News, the Economist, the New Yorker and of course Bookbuffet every morning, so with the click of a button they are all there, awaiting my somnambular perusal. You can even customize your Morning Coffee by day, so if you like the Tuesday Science section of the Times, on Tuesdays your Morning Coffee will go directly to that page. Enjoy! Morning people need not imbibe.

                  Sunday, March 01, 2009

                  Wine & Book Group Pick for Mar-Apr (Wine & Book Club)

                  This month's Wine & Book Group pick is Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell (Little Brown & Co 2008) the latest block-buster nonfiction title from the New Yorker staff writer who moonlights as a penetrating social anthropologist. His first two books, "Tipping Point" and "Blink", talked about things that combine to push us over the edge into a new paradigm, and conversely, the things that we conclude in a flash or blink of an eye based on all of our previously learned knowledge and assumptions. This time Gladwell examines success - both debunking our misconceptions and drawing upon new examples to explain why some people succeed where others do not. This should be a thought-provoking discussion and so we've paired it up with some complex, "heady" wines... Details of how to join the group and discussion points and added research enclosed. Why not discover great wines and good books together! Enjoy

                  Monday, February 23, 2009

                  An Evening with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (Events)

                  Just the mention of the Kennedy family name congers four generations of fame, tragedy, controversy and an intense dedication to public service. On March 4th 2009 the AWARE (Association of Whistler Area Residents for the Environment) is hosting An Evening with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in celebration of their 20th Anniversary. Through a twist of fate RFK Jr turned a private embarrassment into a public cause. Charged with 1,500 hrs of community service for his prosecution on a heroine possession charge, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. used his environmental law degree to build his reputation as a resolute defender of the environment, stacking up a litany of successful large legal actions. The organization retained him as council after his service was discharged, and he works tirelessly for them today. Mr. Kennedy was named one of Time Magazine's "Heroes for the Planet" for his success in helping Riverkeeper lead the fight to restore the Hudson River - New York City's water supply - from polluting companies, and returning access to the shoreline by the public. The group's achievement helped spawn more than 170 Waterkeeper organizations across the globe. Most recently, he was a frontrunner with President Obama to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. He is a renowned author, inspirational speaker, and active conservationist. Learn about this passionate man, his causes and this event put on by AWARE here...

         Passion (Book Reviews)

                  It's almost a cliché—mention heart transplant and we imagine dramatic deathbed scenarios with life-altering passion at their core. What is striking, and frankly somewhat surprising given its title, is that Stephen Lovely couches his heart-transplant story, Irreplaceable, in the lives of very ordinary and occasionally unlikeable characters. This is the February book review from the good folks at website, a source for consulting, speaking, training and mentoring women at all stages of balancing education, career, family and life.

                  Wednesday, February 18, 2009

                  Stealing Your Information: Facebook Does An About Face (Technology Corner)

                  If you haven't yet jumped on the bandwagon that is the social network revolution called Facebook, you've likely got your reasons: a stubborness toward technology or privacy issues. Well the NYT printed an article telling of the company's change in policy that has created an uproar among the Facebook community. It has caused the company to retract those changes for the meanwhile, but readers should know what they're signing on for when they create a Facebook presence and enter all that juicy information about themselves...

                  Saturday, February 14, 2009

                  Tomb Raiders of Books (Feature Articles)

                  Perhaps a little less glamorous than a theft in the art world, book thievery hit the headlines this week in the U.K. with some rather stunningly expensive and intriguing robberies. On average the BBC reports that shoplifters make off with around $750m worth of books a year, small change to these professionals. “Jacques is one of a handful of highly intelligent, well-educated criminals who operate in the somewhat murky world of international antiquarian book traders, collectors and curators. They successfully plunder priceless tomes, manuscripts and ancient maps, while the players in this closed world - the national and international libraries, the dealers and the victims themselves - largely remain silent about what is going on.”
                  Photo:King George III's library collection encased in its glass temperature-controlled column at the center of the British Library, St Pancras

                  Tuesday, February 10, 2009

                  Masterpiece Airs: Oliver Twist Feb 15th-22nd (WGBH Boston)

                  A new "Oliver Twist" has been adapted for television from master-storyteller, Charles Dickens' classic tale of an orphan boy's struggle amid 19th century London. The memorable characters: Oliver, Fagan, the artful dodger, Bill Sikes and Nancy (among others)are played by a stunning cast:William Miller, Adam Arnold, Timothy Spall, Tom Hardy and Sophie Okonedo. Don't miss this two-episode show, which airs Feb 15th-22nd on PBS.

                  Monday, February 09, 2009

                  What You Need To Know About The 81st Academy Awards (Feature Articles)

                  On February 22nd at 5 pm Pacific Time and 8 pm Eastern Time, the 81st Oscar Awards Ceremony will go off at the Kodak Theater in Los Angeles, hosted by the unlikely, Hugh Jackmon. Get a list of the nominees and download the voting ballot, then catch up on some of the history, hype and trivia with us here at BookBuffet. Of course our special interest (aside from the gowns and hairdo's) are the awards for screenwriting. There are two categories: Best Original and Best Adapted. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) has been organizing the annual event since 1929.

                  Wednesday, February 04, 2009

                  Whistler Reads: THE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALIST (Whistler Reads)

                  Don't miss the next Whistler Reads discussion March 19th at the Nita Lake Lodge library 2131 Lake Placid Road Whistler, British Columbia. Opening comments by John Weston MP Whistler, West Vancouver, Sea to Sky and Sunshine Coast with special guest speaker, Graham E. Fuller (bio enclosed) Tickets $10 ($15 at the door) and your first glass of wine is free. The book selection is The Reluctant Fundamentalist (Harcourt Press) by Mohsin Hamid. It's a short, provocative fiction title—a novelette actually—whose theme and deceptively funny writing style will intrigue you. It's a one-night-stand book. Easy, you think... however, it will leave you thinking long afterwards, and have all of us discussing its many facets at the next meeting!

                  The premise of "The Reluctant Fundamentalist" is two strangers meet, and over the span of several courses at a restaurant become acquainted. However only one of the two dialogues is represented in the book. The reader is left to envision the reaction of the other guest by the comments of the single narrator. There is a growing tension between the two men, and the climactic ending will leave the reader trying to surmise what may or may not have just happened, who was responsible and how "chance" the meeting was. Interested? Thought so. This book has been optioned by Director Mira Nair of Monsoon Wedding fame. I've read several post 9/11 stories, but none have struck me as such an accurate portrayal of...

                  Friday, January 30, 2009

                  The Groom To Have Been (Book Reviews)

                  The Groom to Have Been, Saher Alam’s first novel has been lingering in my head ever since I opened its bright cover. In essence it is a story about finding love, but with a twist that makes the modern world meet a much more traditional ideal. It poses a lot of questions that are sometimes hard to debate or formulate a good argument for or against. How does traditional religion fit in with our everyday lives? Are we shifting in such a way that these ideals no longer transcend along with our modern culture? What is love and how do we decide to stay with the same person for the rest of our lives? This book intertwines the lives of several very different characters all held together by the bond of family, religion and wanting to do the right thing.

                  Tuesday, January 27, 2009

                  The Poetry and Science of Snowflakes (Feature Articles)

                  Snow. When you live in a mountain community you see a variety of it. The temperatures that precipitation falls at along with the atmospheric conditions conspire to produce magical landscapes, or like this year in the Pacific Northwest, dangerous avalanche conditions. The natural progression from just living and playing in the snow is to explore the subject from the artistic and the scientist's perspective. Caltech physicist, Kenneth Libbrecht has published several books with images of snowflakes captured by a special photo-microscope that are exquisite. He says, "The most symmetrical crystals are usually found during light snowfalls, with little wind when the weather is especially cold." Libbrecht follows upon the tradition of scientific study of ice crystals that runs back to Johannes Kepler and includes René Descartes, Robert Hooke, the Vermont farmer Wilson Bentley (who recorded 5,000 different snowflakes) and the Japanese snow scientist Ukichiro Nakaya. Lastly, there are some works of literature whose main character is snow. Join us on the subject of snow.

                  Sunday, January 25, 2009

                  Pinto Books: From Economist and Consulate to Publisher (Publisher News)

                  It has been a while since I met Jorge Pinto at the Stanford Professional Publishing course in Palo Alto, California. His distinguished looks, meticulous dress, soft-spoken nature and unassuming demeanour belied an illustrious career in academia, the law, economics, foreign relations and business. At the time, Jorge had just launched his own independent publishing house, Pinto Books specializing in his four areas of interest and expertise: the re-issue of heady out-of-print classics, art books and illustrated books, and books translated from his native Spanish language. He now adds to that an interest in translating Chinese language fiction and has been making connections to the East in both publishing directions: through acquisition and translation, and via marketing and distribution. His relationship with books began when he was on the board of Latin America’s paramount commercial publishing house: Fondo de Cultura Económica de México. Of note, hee has had great success in marketing and sales using first-adaptor technology such as applications for iPhones. Discover this unique polyglot visionary who continues to inspire with his world vision and unquenchable appetite to learn.

                  Monday, January 19, 2009

         The Models of Yesteryear, This Week (Book Reviews)

                  The Models of Yesteryear, this week: The Best of Everything, (Reissued by Penguin, 2005) Rona Jaffe (1958)

                  When The Best of Everything was published in 1958 it was considered revolutionary. The book chronicles a shift in the social dynamic even as it was occurring, as young women began to enter the workforce in droves. Jaffe writes in her 2005 foreward to the reissue of the book, "I had the vision of the beginning of the book, which is all the hundreds and hundreds of girls walking to work."

                  Friday, January 16, 2009

                  MASTERPIECE: Our Interview with Executive Producer Rebecca Eaton (Author Interviews)

                  Behind every successful television production is a team of hard working, talented people. For the past twenty (plus) years, the woman at helm of WGBH Boston Masterpiece has been Executive Producer, Rebecca Eaton. BookBuffet caught up with Rebecca on her recent visit to California and we've podcast and transcribed our interview for you here. Listen to Rebecca tell us what she loves about her job, what's it's been like to nurture and grow the Masterpiece brand and to work with the incredible actors, writers and directors at the BBC with whom she has collaborated, and subsequently been awarded a bookcase full of Emmy, Peabody and Golden Glob Awards as recognition for excellence from her peers. Then register with the Masterpiece Book to Film Group and be entered to win one of several promotional give-a-ways: re-issued Penguin classic editions of the four Dickens novels adapted for Masterpiece with stunning new covers, and DVD's of the Masterpiece miniseries showing on network TV and for a limited time online during the series run.

                  Thursday, January 15, 2009

                  Canada Reads 2009: Race To Pick From Top 5 (Feature Articles)

                  Reads has announced its five picks for the countdown to the finalist. People are encouraged to plow through these books and make their vote for this year's Canada Reads selection. The five books are: The Book of Negroes, The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant, Mercy Among the Children, and The Outlander. We've listed a summary of the books and author bios with links to purchase and to vote. See which titles interest you, purchase and share your copy and your opinions with friends. Debate airs Mar 2-6.

                  The Book Of Negroes, by Lawrence Hill | HarperCollins Canada

                  In Lawrence Hill’s gripping historical novel, an unforgettable heroine recounts a life story that spans more than 50 years and three continents. As Aminata Diallo moves from slavery to freedom, she fights to keep her dignity and find a place she can call home.
                  Defended by: Avi Lewis

                  Sunday, January 04, 2009

                  Author Podcast: Stephen Vogler (Author Interviews)

                  With the 2010 Winter Olympics coming to Whistler, BC Canada next February, listen to long-time resident, musician, journalist, author and poet, Stephen Vogler who speaks with BookBuffet today on location in his home town. Stephen is a quiet blend of determined talent. He's a two-book author who's beautiful coffee table book, Top of the Pass: Whistler and the Sea to Sky Country (Harbour Press) tells the history and shares the majesty of his mountain community, "where gravity drives the economy and the lifestyle." Whether you're an enthusiastic sports person or not, you'll be interested to hear how a remote village catering to honeymooners and hippies became the decades' top North American ski resort with an international community of residents and visitors. The bonus of course, is that you'll be ahead of the media hype on the town hosting the next Winter Olympics.

                  Saturday, January 03, 2009

                  Biomed Experts Dot Com: Websites That Connect Specialty Groups (Technology Corner)

                  Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and Social Networking sites aren't just for programmers, technology buffs or citizen journalists. The staid institution of Medicine is getting on the band wagon. The other day my husband received an email announcing his enlistment on a website designed to connect biomedical specialists the world over. It has a lot of cool features that include the individual's research areas, their network of contributers, a mapping system to see how their life-work is linked around the world to other researchers or clinicians, and a list of their publications. The advantage is that researchers (or plain old doctors) can locate THE person in the world who is leading in a particular area of expertise. Check it out, and then find out how this and other web publications are changing how medical professionals communicate, connect and collect data. There is even a website that asks patients to give their inputs on disease symptoms and reactions to drug Rx and other treatment modalities.

                  Thursday, January 01, 2009

                  Wine & Book Group Pick For Jan-Feb '09 (Wine & Book Club)

                  The International Dateline sits in the Bering Straight. William L Iggiagruk Hensley was raised just north of the Arctic Circle on the shores of Kotzebue Sound in a sod house with an ice floor in the tradition of his people&emdash;the Inupiat. Just like Sarah Palin, he can probably see Russia from his house on a clear day. Let us not be embarrassed to say that it is because of Sarah Palin people are sensitized to know more about this frozen frontier, and the perfect book to bring you there is an autobiography called, Fifty Miles from Tomorrow: A Memoir of Alaska and the Real People (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2009) It is the epic story of Alaska told through the eyes of an Inupiat elder. Hensley is to Alaska what Joseph Boyden is to Canada (only the latter writes fiction, while the former writes nonfiction-but you get my gist). In this first-person history lesson witness a people going from a virtual icy stone age to the current petrostate with the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971, awarding 44 million acres of land and nearly $1 billion to the first Alaskans. making them shareholders in a series of regional corporations, some of which became Fortune 500 companies worth billions of dollars. Can you imagine that? As the Wine & Book winter selection, we've selected some delicious ice wines. So purchase this book online, gather your group beside a cozy fire while you sip the sweet elixir of the late-harvest vines, and together you will be transported to the land of the midnight sun.

                  2009 New Year Resolutions: Take the Reader Survey (Feature Articles)

                  You've popped the cork on the champagne to ring in the New Year, but does your 2009 resolution list include reading books and community interest? Last year we reported the alarming reading statistics from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) with a view to alerting people to this negative trend. This year I want to focus on you, the BookBuffet user, who admittedly is already an avid or at least a regular reader, to broaden your reading appetites and engage publicly in the literary arts. Ask yourself, "Do I challenge my reading palette or do I stick to similar books by similar authors?" "Do I include a provocative book on politics, history, economics or science?" "Do I reach into the list of classic literature for the best writing so I can compare all the modern novels I read with authors whose works have stood the test of time?" And finally ask yourself, "What do I do that positively effects the reading habits of others: my family , my friends, my colleagues?" Take the test below and see where you stand.

                  Sunday, December 28, 2008

                  2008 Yearend Review of Award Winning Books (Feature Articles)

                  This is the list of authors and books that won awards in 2008. I find that reading these titles (or other works by these authors) helps to mark time in a way that connects me to the literary Gestalt of countries around the world. See if any appeal to you.

                  Tuesday, December 23, 2008

                  Films You Gotta See Over The Holidays (Feature Articles)

                  With the holiday season upon us, and interest turning toward some easy cultural distractions why not treat yourself to one of these stunning movies at the local theatre? Go to the late matinee when there won't be a line up and tickets are a few bucks cheaper so you can splurge on a nice bottle of wine with your take-out on the way home. Here are my picks for some thought-provoking discussions over said take-out dinner.

                  Saturday, December 20, 2008

                  Whistler Reads: HOT FLAT AND CROWDED (Whistler Reads)

                  You'd be forgiven if you thought Hot, Flat, and Crowded is a nightmare vacation experience instead of the title of Thomas Friedman's latest book published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and rated #16 of all books on Amazon and bestseller lists everywhere. But if we don't all read this book, we may be in for conditions like this world-wide, and sooner than we think. This coming January 4th, 2009 Whistler Read's pick will be discussed by a panel of local Whistlerites and you at the Whistler Public Library 1:30-2:30. We hope you join us in tackling a serious discussion on the material brought forward in Friedman's book. The Boston Globe writes, "A compelling manifesto that deserves a wide reading, especially by members of Congress and candidates for President." Still not convinced? View this compelling video of the author speaking to Charlie Rose. See details for speakers and other resources and how to JOIN WR.

                  Author Podcast: Julie Angus (Author Interviews)

                  This week's author interview podcast is with the first woman on record to have crossed the Atlantic Ocean—in a row boat. She survived four hurricane class storms and documented her astounding journey in a book titled, Rowboat in a Hurricane: My Amazing Journey Across a Changing Atlantic Ocean. Named personality of the year by National Geographic, join us today as Julie recounts her incredible story and gives witness to the state of the one of the world's oceans. It will inspire you and make you think. This is the perfect gift for any adventurer or enviro-centric person in your life. Help us put Julie's book on the bestseller lists where it belongs with your purchase here today.

                  Sunday, December 14, 2008

                  How To Get Rid The Bah Humbug! (Feature Articles)

                  Having trouble getting into the spirit of Christmas, or the more politically correct holiday spirit? Then get yee down to the nearest reading of the Dickens classic A Christmas Carol and feel the "bah humbug" rattle right out of you. Ours happened at the local library with a bevy of readers lined up in their Sunday best to recite one of each of the five staves in their turn with all the flourish and sentiment they could muster. Interspersed were the voices of the children's choir singing carols and the crowd invited to join alternating songs using our best tenor voices held warbly-up to the too-high register of the children. Rather like church without the pews, we instead silently offered up our intentions to the snow god to bless our mountains so we could all get on with business-as-usual skiing and boarding in the winter wonderland. (This is Whistler, after all.) But more than anything, it is the comfort of the familiar words from the Dickens classic that thawed my icy exterior. Below are some of my favorite lines from the story, and a link to the full text online. Why not gather your family beside the fireplace amidst yuletide cheer and glogg, and do a reading together? (Full Text Online) Learn about BookBuffet's upcoming collaboration with WGBH Boston who is producing four Dickens productions for Masterpiece [Theatre] starting Feb 2009.

                  Wednesday, December 10, 2008

                  A New Way to Shop for Gadget Gifts for the Holidays (Technology Corner)

                  Stumped as to which digital technology gadget you should purchase this holiday? Check out this excellent interactive feature at the NYT by David Pogue, the technology guru and columnist. Called Pogue-o-matic. It's fun and easy. All you do is pick the category you're shopping for: cameras, camcorders, smartphones or TV's. Then check the box of a list of defining questions that cues a video-speaking David to walk you through your options using just the right amount of detail and information. Consider him your personal shopping assistant. At the end of the entertaining interactive session, you'll have a shortlist of products that you can then choose to have sent to your phone or email for ease of shopping. I had my camera stolen last summer and have been wanting to replace it with the next level up in professional quality and features. David Pogues video-chat session gave me my answer. See if he can help you through the digital product maze!

                  Wednesday, December 03, 2008

                  Author Podcast: Karen Essex (Author Interviews)

                  Join BookBuffet reviewer Dee Raffo in her very first author interview podcast. Dee speaks with Karen Essex (photo left), one of America's important contemporary historical fiction writers, who joins us from her home in Los Angeles. Karen is a mother, writer and we now discover, quite a feminist. She enjoys illuminating historic female protagonists with a view to educating readers on how far we've come in the pursuit of gender equality here in the West. Her captivating stories, exquisitely researched, bring history to life. The topic for discussion today is Karen's fourth novel, Stealing Athena published by Doubleday in 2008. It's a story where two characters 2300 years apart—one in ancient Greece, the other, 18th century Scotland—find themselves inexplicably linked with the Elgin Marbles, and the controversy and passion that surround them.

                  Monday, December 01, 2008

         Book Review: Giving Thanks for What Is (Book Reviews)

                  Following upon the American holiday of giving thanks, we bring to you two books recommended not only for their messages of gratitude but for the very differences in perspective that make them a forceful combination. At the core of these two writings is a belief in embracing one's reality that perhaps can resonate for each of us at a time when so many are anxious and fearful and experiencing the pain of dramatically altered lives. Here is the review of To Love What Is, Alix Kates Shulman Loving What Is: Four, Byron Katie

                  Sunday, November 30, 2008

                  The NYT 100 Best Books of 2008 Announced (Feature Articles)

                  Each year I look forward to seeing which titles make it onto the NYT Top 100 List of Books in 2008. As a book reviewer I enjoy comparing notes on the books that passed my desk courtesy of the marketing departments of the publishers, and look forward to discovering the books we missed. It's interesting to tally which publishers have the strongest showing because it indicates to me the strength of their editorial departments. Publishers Farrar, Straus & Giroux and Knopf factor frequently this year. Check out these titles from the larger alphabetized 100 list. Any book club worth its salt would want to read them. There's something of interest everyone; supernatural call girls, paralyzed dissidents, Aussi surf noir characters, and whole insect colonies.
                  —photo:The Times Skyscraper

                  Monday, November 17, 2008

                  Jack Kerouac Isn't The Only Author Calling For (Book Reviews)

                  There have been many books about the value of a good road trip. From Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values (P.S.) where the author finds spiritual enlightenment to his troubles and which has been a manuel to people since, to Jack Kerourac's, On the Road(Penguin Great Books of the 20th Century) from the 60s Beat generation when wanderlust was a Life Skill 101 class field trip and required reading. A new book has emerged to join them. Written by Doreen Orion Queen of the Road: The True Tale of 47 States, 22,000 Miles, 200 Shoes, 2 Cats, 1 Poodle, a Husband, and a Bus with a Will of Its Own (Broadway Books, New York 2008) pretty much says it all. And BookBuffet reviewer Dee Raffo reports that it is "One of the best feel good books [she's] read all year." So if the financial crisis has got you down and you can't quit your job because that mortgage underwater, pick-up a little escapism and start planning your next - ROAD TRIP!

                  Thursday, November 13, 2008

         Weekly Book Review: You Just Don't Understand (Book Reviews)

                  You Just Don't Understand: Women and Men in Conversation (Harper) by Deborah Tannen. Lunch with your girlfriends whizzes by as you update each other on work, kids, schools, and husbands, and it feels like you barely scratch the surface. You know the names, sports and personalities of your female colleagues’ children, and where they are applying to college. You discuss their dating challenges and your mutual concerns about recent losses in your 529 and 401k accounts. The sole male in the conference room seems to dominate the discussion even though he is not leading the meeting. Your boss banters with male colleagues about NBA playoffs and free agents in baseball, but your efforts to connect with him on a personal level wither because you are not a sports fan. Your husband reads the paper over breakfast and watches the evening news when he gets home. He doesn’t ask about the details of your day, but is quick to interrupt your story before you finish telling it to offer “solutions.”

                  Wednesday, November 12, 2008

                  Whistler Forum Hosts International Coalition (Events)

                  William Roberts is the founder of the Whistler Forum for Leadership and Dialogue and his connections to political, civic and humanitarian think-tanks run deep. Modeled on the Aspen Institute, the Whistler Forum just completed a weekend retreat with an interesting array of participants. The purpose was to discuss the current geo-political environment in the new Obama reign, and come up with a position paper that recommends how Canada needs to approach relations with our giant neighbors south of the 49th parallel. Participants asked the questions: What are Canada's values? What are the trends in the geo-politics? What should our priorities be in positioning ourselves in today's world? Issues of political stability and terrorism came up, as did the importance of global warming and development in the third world. Read more about the participants and the points they discussed. We'll see where it all goes.

                  Tuesday, November 11, 2008

                  BookBuffet Partners With WGBH, Boston a Public Broadcasting Station (WGBH Boston)

                  WGBH in Boston is the public television network that has provided outstanding programing for over 35 years. They're the folks who bring us, among other incredible programing, the series Masterpiece, which features the finest classic and contemporary works interpreted by the world's foremost actors. For years Masterpiece Theatre was hosted by the late and beloved Alistair Cooke. This January-May 2009 WGBH is airing a new series of films, adapted from four works of the classic Victorian novelist, Charles Dickens. It has been ten years since the last Dickens series was produced by Masterpiece. It featured such luminary actors as: Charlotte Rampling, Ian McKellen, Maggie Smith, Bob Hoskins, and HARRY POTTER's Daniel Radcliffe. WGBH's educational outreach department contacted BookBuffet to help promote the 2009 series to our members, as part of their Book & Film Club.

                  "This is a fabulous opportunity for BookBuffet members who are already familiar with our "books to film" feature articles to get a head start on reading or re-reading the most classic of all British authors - Dickens," says BookBuffet Founder, Paula Shackleton. "I'm dying to see who is cast in the new series, and who produces and directs it," she adds. BookBuffet members who join will receive a compliment of resource information to go with the series and a chance to discuss it online. In addition, BookBuffet will be producing our own podcast series interviewing people associated with the production and distribution, and our own book group pages. Here's how you can participate...

                  Wednesday, November 05, 2008

                  Couric Coverage of the Election: Embedded Live Video (Technology Corner)

                  For the first time in election history, a major television news network produced a widget that could be embedded on any person's website or blog which viewers could watch any place there is internet. I for one benefited from this as I have no cable or satellite TV where I happened to be on election night, and so I was thrilled to find live streaming video of the election online. It meant I could watch the election results on my computer screen. It was a "power to the people" sort of media move that was supported entirely by INTEL. (Intel of course being the computer chip found in virtually all computer technology.) This is another aspect of the success of people who embrace technology - as demonstrated by the campaign strategists in Obama's team. From the grass-roots fundraising campaign to the use of internet to distribute information and gather support, it represents a powerful message about the value of technology in media and politics.

                  Wine & Book Group Pick for Nov-Dec '08 (Wine & Book Club)

                  Distantly Related to Freud (Cormorant Books 2008) is Ann Charney's delicious novel about a Montreal girl named Ellen and her drive to control her destiny amidst generational codes and ethics. Set in the 50s and 60s this book explores the sexual morays of post-war European immigrants to Canada. "Sex is power," Ellen states after giving up her virginity with clear-eyed purpose. Distantly Related seemed like the perfect match for deep and delicious reds from the Niagara Wine Trail, which formally consists of twelve different wineries in the Niagara escarpment. We've singled out just three selections for you to track down and taste when you and your group discuss this book.

                  Tuesday, November 04, 2008

                  BiblioBurro: A New Take On The Mobile Library (Feature Articles)

                  Each weekend Luis Soriano gathers his two donkeys, Alfa and Beto and loads them with books that he takes to villages in nearby towns in Columbia. “I started out with 70 books, and now I have a collection of more than 4,800,” says Mr. Soriano, 36, a primary school teacher who lives in a small house here with his wife and three children, with books piled to the ceilings.His project has won acclaim from the nation’s literacy specialists and is the subject of a new documentary by a Colombian filmmaker, Carlos Rendón Zipaguata. This kind act has made Luis the best-known resident of La Gloria, a town that was the inspiration for the setting of the epic novel of Luis's more famous countryman Gabriel García Márquez, author of “One Hundred Years of Solitude.”

                  Monday, November 03, 2008

                  Author Podcast: Katie Hafner (Author Interviews)

                  Join me for this week's BookBuffet author interview with Katie Hafner, as we discuss her fifth book, A Romance on Three Legs: Glenn Gould's Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Piano (McClelland & Stewart 2008, Canada; Bloomsbury in the USA and the UK) The quest for perfection is always a fascinating story - and here you have three stories in one. Katie Hafner is a journalist and author who's been known to write about technology and its effect on social behavior. Inspired by the idea of "writing a story through the prism of an inanimate object," she came upon CD318, a concert grand piano crafted by Steinway. What was so special about this piano? What were the demands of its owner, and who were they both reliant upon? Hafner tenderly unveils this three-pronged mystery for you today. Meet Glenn Gould, renowned Canadian pianist and one of the most complex, brilliant artists of the twentieth century. Famous for his bizarre habits, Hafner describes Gould's obsessive quest to obtain the perfect sound. Meet the blind Saskatchewan piano tuner, Verne Edquist, who labors with CD318 to produce her exquisite tone and responsiveness.

                  Sunday, October 26, 2008

                  November is National Novel Writing Month (Feature Articles)

                  It's been said that every person has at least one novel in them. Here is your chance to find out. Whether you're an individual wanting to test the waters, or an educator bringing your whole class to the pool, for the month of November, you just have to log on to and follow directions. Don't let the name of this organization fool you; it's for adults as well as youth. The Young Writers Program of National Novel Writing Month is a fun, "seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing." Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write your novel by midnight, November 30. The philosophy is not to get hung-up on style or grammar. It's volume, baby, volume that counts. (Studies show that when you stop freaking about the former, you end up in a writing groove to which the all the other details can be fixed post-op.) The word-count goal for our adult program is 50,000 words. (That's 1600 wrd/day) The Young Writers Program allows participants who are 17 and younger to participate too. Set reasonable, yet challenging, word-count goals. What matters at NaNoWriMo is output. BookBuffet would like to take our class to the pool. On November 1st, email us here with your intent to participate. Nov 30th email us with a copy of the final manuscript that you submit to NANO. Our editorial team will tally the results from participants and offer our own recognition. Details on how to participate follow.

                  Sunday, October 19, 2008

                  Nobel Prize for Literature Goes to A Frenchman: Meet Him And His Publisher (Feature Articles)

                  To any writer the Nobel Prize for Literature is the ultimate award of the year because it recognizes the merit of not just one book or novel, but the work of a lifetime; the author's literary legacy brought to the attention of the world and placed among distinguished peers of past and present. This year the prestigious award goes to Frenchman, Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio. Jean-Marie has over 40 published works, 12 of which are translated to English. He is considered by some as one of France's greatest living writers and essayists. Here in North America we have a small Boston publisher to thank for his works. David Godine specializes in beautifully made books and hand selected literary properties and translations.Thank you David. (Read about DGB in next month's featured publisher.) The Swedish Academy praised Le Clézio as an “author of new departures, poetic adventure and sensual ecstasy.” Discover the 2008 Nobel Prize winner, and read excerpts from some of his books.

                  Tuesday, October 07, 2008

                  Books to Film: Revolutionary Road (Feature Articles)

                  Richard Yates, Revolutionary Road (Vintage) was first published in 1961. It rocked people’s worlds then, but drifted off the radar screen until now. December 26th it will be rediscovered by modern audiences through the release of the feature film starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslett, directed by Sam Mendes and written by Justin Haythe. It is the story of a young married couple, April and Frank Wheeler who live in the eponymous suburb that is a bedroom community of New York set in the '50s. Revolutionary Road is being compared in its film version to Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and significant Oscar buzz surrounds the lead actors. Take the opportunity to discover Yates now.

                  Sunday, October 05, 2008

                  Book Pricing: When Canadian and US Currencies Are At Par (Feature Articles)

                  I know I am not the first person to wonder why the sticker prices quoted on the back of books are still significantly higher for Canadians than Americans when it has been a full year since the US and CND dollar achieved parity. "So why don't books cost the same in Canada as the US?" Consider the list price on Alan Greenspan's The Age of Turbulence is $35 U.S. and $42 Canadian. Suggested retail prices for James Patterson's You've Been Warned are $27.99 and $32.50. I took a look at the history of the two currencies and what the Association for Canadian Publishers (ACP) and the Association of American Publishers (AAP) had to say. Read this and weigh-in with your thoughts. If you are a publisher, share your experience.

                  Tuesday, September 30, 2008

                  $100 Laptops: Yves Behar Designs Innovative Solutions (Technology Corner)

                  Yves Behar demonstrates the new XO Laptop in this convincing video. It's the result of a 2005 competition challenging designers and manufacturers to come up with an affordable, resiliant product for the One Lap Top Per Child program headed by Nicolas Negroponte (the founder of MIT lab) and consists of leading mathematicians, programmers, psychologists, engineers, musician/activists, businessmen and humanitarians. Design forward construction and materials that make even the happiest Mac user envious: a screen that you can see in full sunlight, light, compact, strong, requiring very little energy and having the ability to be powered by solar panels or cranks or foot pedals. Bono of U2 was involved in the project from the beginning and gives his unbridled support.

                  Monday, September 29, 2008

                  Three Cups of Tea: The Story of One Man’s Promise (Feature Articles)

                  Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time, By Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin is the prize-winning bestseller you have by now certainly heard of if not read. It has been the book of the month for many book clubs including both of mine, and before reading it I must say I was surprised at its popularity. A book about building schools in the Middle East is hardly the sort of terrorist expose we’ve seen hogging airport bookshelves since 9/11. It is a much simpler, yet far less reductionist story of a mountain climber cum philanthropist who made a sustainable impact in a part of the world known for its remote inaccessibility, both geographically and some would say ideologically. "Tea" succeeds in providing access to what is, of course, a universally human desire to improve the lives of our children.

                  Sunday, September 28, 2008

                  Two Great Events on Both Coasts: The NewYorker Festival & VIWF (Events)

                  On the West coast we have 100 international writers speaking at the 2008 Vancouver International Writers Festival, held October 21-26th. From André Alexis to Ting-xing Ye check out the entire list on the festival website. Then on the East coast, it's the annual New Yorker Magazine FestivalOct 3,4 and 5th.

                  Whistler Reads: A ROMANCE ON THREE LEGS (Whistler Reads)

                  What has 88 keys, is tuned by a blind man, and played by an obsessive compulsive genius? Answer: The object of desire in Katie Hafner's new biography A Romance on Three Legs: Glenn Gould's Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Piano (MCcLelland & Stewart). Meet CD318. A concert grand piano hand-made by Steinway; she's a little old, a little battered and almost forgotten when she's discovered at the back of the Eatons flagship store showroom in Toronto back in 1960 by the young iconic Canadian pianist, Glenn Gould. The third "leg" of the story comes from Verne Edquist, the near-blind Saskatchewan farm boy who possessed the ear and training to meet Gould's demanding standards. All three combined to produce the sound that would be recorded for posterity in the famous sessions of Gould's most productive 10 years of life before his untimely death. Join me Thursday November 6th, 7:30pm at the Whistler Public Library in discussing this three-pronged tale. You don't have to be a Canadian or a particularly sophisticated music lover to enjoy this story. I've just completed the author podcast, which we'll debut at the next Whistler Reads book club meeting. If we have sufficient early interest, we will bring the author herself to speak to us. I'll let you know when the first 20 people sign up to attend. As well, we'll view segments of a related film documentary and hear expert guest speaker Paula McLaughlin, Professor of Music from UBC. Visit Katie Hafner's website.

                  Locals can stop into Armchair Books in the village where we have reserve copies for WR members at 10% discount. Get your $15 ticket now. (Your receipt is your ticket.) Tickets purchased at the door are $20. WR is a proud partner of the Whistler Public Library.

                  Wednesday, September 24, 2008

                  The Common Bond by Donigan Merritt, Other Press, NY, 2008 (Book Reviews)

                  Donigan Merritt is a graduate of the Iowa Writer's Workshop and the author of seven novels. He lives in Washington, DC. A world traveler who has lived a rich life, Merritt imbues his novels with the same variety and intensity. He writes of love and loss and adventure in many different settings. The Common Bond is set in Hawaii in the '80s. The protagonist, Morgan Cary is a s a commercial fishing boat captain, who trolls the Pacific for yellowfin tuna and blue marlin. After a decade of life spent in California, Morgan flies home to Hawaii arriving with a broken heart and an overwhelming sense of guilt surrounding the death of his wife, Victoria. He finds comfort in the wet green mountain slopes, the pearl-colored volcanic haze, and the tropical perfume of gardenia, plumeria, and eucalyptus, but he cannot escape painful and persistent memories. "Resonant with human emotion and insight, The Common Bond is an exquisite novel of precision and grace that captures the depths of the human capacity for guilt, and the traps of compassion and hope in redemption."—Other Press. Join BookBuffet reviewer, Dee Raffo who untangles the unconventional story line of this novel, and follows with her interview with the author over SKYPE.

                  Sunday, September 21, 2008

                  Wine & Book Group Pick for Sept-Oct 2008 (Wine & Book Club)

                  Step into Interior BC, Canada for this month's Wine & Book Pick. Red Dog, Red Dog by Patrick Lane is available in bookstores Sept 30th, 2008 but available online here. McLeland Stewart publishers write, "[This is] an epic novel of unrequited dreams and forestalled lives. Set in the mid-1950s, in a small town in the interior of BC in the unnamed Okanagan Valley. The novel focuses on the Stark family, centering on brothers Eddy and Tom, who are bound together by family loyalty and inarticulate love." It's shortlisted for the 2008 Giller Prize for fiction. We've matched local wines from the same region where this virtuoso debut novel is set. Road 13 Winery is owned by Mick Luckhurst and located near the town of Oliver, just across the way from the renowned Tinhorn Creek Winery which shares the same terroir. Enjoy these surprisingly true and tasty, "earthy" wines—a brilliant match for your October book group and tasting.

                  Wednesday, September 17, 2008

                  David Foster Wallace: Dead At 46 (Feature Articles)

                  David Foster Wallace, the author best known for his 1,000 plus page 1996 novel Infinite Jest was found dead in his Los Angeles home on Friday night, according to police. He was 46. Sadly, this ends his long battle with depression, in which his father says, "Everything had been tried." Michiko Kakutani, chief book critic of The New York Times wrote in 2006. “He can do sad, funny, silly, heartbreaking and absurd with equal ease; he can even do them all at once.” David has been called one of America's most important young authors and is often compared to Thomas Pynchon. Of course the best way to know an author is through their books, but if you haven't taken the opportunity yet, there are ample places to read and "meet" him. My most illuminating moment of Wallace was in his television interview with Charlie Rose, taped in March of 1997. His brilliance and vulnerability, his modesty and honesty were all mixed up in a somewhat defiant, verbosity that bordered on pressure of speech in places where his thoughts were coming faster than he could form the words. Here is a small tribute to David Foster Wallace with some links for further reading and viewing.

                  Author Podcast: Joshua Henkin (Author Interviews)

                  Edith Wharton satirized New York carriage society's attitudes to love, marriage and fidelity at the turn of the century in her novel, The Age of Innocence (Oxford World's Classics). Richard Yates captured married life in the bedroom communities struggling outside of New York in the '50s in his novel, Revolutionary Road. In this week's BookBuffet podcast interview we speak with best-selling author Joshua Henkin who tells us about his second award winning novel, Matrimony: A Novel recently published in paperback by Vintage, 2008. Matrimony: A Novel (Vintage Contemporaries) captures contemporary couples dealing with the complexity of relationships in today's age. Julian, Mia, Carter and Pilar meet in an East coast liberal college and the book follows their lives for the next twenty years as they navigate adulthood and the most important aspects of life: love, friendship, careers and commitment. If you love Wharton and you know Yates, then you'll enjoy meeting Henkin.

                  Tuesday, September 09, 2008

                  2008 Short-list Announced Mann-Booker Prize (Feature Articles)

                  The Man Booker 2008 Shortlist was announced today. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the most important literary prize in the English speaking world. Winners of the prize become household names. This year there are two debut novelists and a broad geographical representation of authors from India, England, Australia and Ireland. The works are being touted as "intensely readable, page turning stories." For the first time extracts are available for download onto mobiles - that's just in time for my new iPhone! LIsten to: The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga and five more. Details inside.

                  Wednesday, September 03, 2008

                  Having It All: A Website About Choices Women Face Today (Feature Articles)

                  Marguerite Dorn and Carol O'Day are the founders of a new website and consulting business that addresses the work-life and work-family balance that women face. Check out It's the age-old modern dilemna: stay home to be with your children or leave them to keep a job? There are likely as many variations to this spectrum as there are women with families. Everyone's circumstances are different. Some things are within your control, many things are not. How do we, as a society, rate on the scorecard of motherhood? Join us at BookBuffet as we explore the business concept that two former power-house professional women are carving out for themselves to help make a difference for the rest of us, while they maintain balance in their own lives.

                  Monday, August 25, 2008

                  Mapping Authors Through (Technology Corner)

                  Here is another creative technology websites that uses a unique mapping system to help readers find, compare and explore published authors. It's called and it works like this. Type the name of any writer you wish to research. The site will come up with a page listing that writer's name as well as all the writers whose work is similar to them. The closer the names appear to each other, the more alike their body of work is supposed to be, and the more likely - it is said - that you will enjoy the style, subject matter or body of work of the close relation. TRY IT! I entered John Irving and got this.

                  Whistler Reads: DEVIL MAY CARE (Whistler Reads)

                  May 28th was the 100th anniversary of the birth of Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond 007. To commemorate the date the Fleming estate commissioned renowned British fiction author, Sebastian Faulks to write a new novel for the series, released around the world in 21 languages amid a blaze of publicity not seen since the last Harry Potter book. It's titled Devil May Care (James Bond). It was the Whistler Reads pick for the summer, and members had frivolous fun at the September 13th party! Check out the event pictures and the resources we collected for you. Consider making a donation to Whistler Reads

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                  Thursday, August 21, 2008

                  Vicious Circle Hosts Whistler Writers Festival 2008 (Events)

                  The Vicious Circle Writing Group hosts The Whistler Writers Festival each September, and the marketing blurbs by Lisa Richardson just keep getting better and better. This year they have a host of classes planned on Saturday, Sept. 13th. Check out the 7th annual lit-fest offerings: 15 different seminars in fiction, non-fiction and magazine, and memoir/writing from life streams, with free sessions as well as ticketed events starting from $20. Participants can dabble and cross-genres, or devote a day to a particular focus. If the course content is half as entertaining as the creative titles - you'll be in for a treat! I recommend Shena Lambert's class. Shena attended BookBuffet's four author panel discussion last April. It's great to have her back in Whistler again!

                  Wednesday, August 20, 2008

                  What They're Up To Now: Writers We've Podcast (Feature Articles)

                  Reading, researching and interviewing an author whose book comes across my desk for review at BookBuffet is a fun process. It's fascinating to be able to speak intimately with authors about: the source of their inspiration and characters, their methods of writing, the values they attach to their work, and who their mentors are. When it's time to say goodbye, you really feel as though you've gained some insight into an interesting life. So when we hear back from writers about their latest book, film or television projects, we love to share the updates with you. Here are (in alphabetic order): Zoe Archer, Joseph Boyden, Kit Bakke, Julian Fellows, Margaret MacMillan, Kem Nunn, Susan Orlean, Jonathan Safran Foer, Tracy Quan and Michela Wrong. Find out about their latest novels, tv pilots, babies, academic appointments, and life in general. We've been sent review copies of some of their new books and will give you a quick run-down.

                  Saturday, August 02, 2008

                  Web Analytics: What They Know About You & The Websites You Visit (Technology Corner)

                  Web analytics are the gurus of online companies. They collect information about who visits their sites and they know your age, sex, income, education, marital status, what browser you use and system platform you use, and lots more. Why is that useful? If you are a website owner, it pays to know who your site visitors and customers are. If you are the web editor, it pays to know which articles people are reading, how long they stay on your site, where they browse and where they bail. It's not just for the purposes of matching future content to visitor tastes. It's key information in determining advertisement placement and maximizing revenue. All the big websites have a web analytics department. Even if you are a little guy—it is worth your while to pay attention to web analytics. The New York Times and NBC, to use two examples, track site visits minute to minute. They titrate content and advertising that is specifically geared to your viewing tastes, as breaking news develops or gains particular traction. The articles are repositioned on the page and the ads are matched to your past viewing tastes and geographics. The head of the companies meet with their analytics department each and every day and get regular updates throughout the day. For a taste of what you can learn, visit Quantcast Media Planner and key in your own search variables.

                  Monday, July 28, 2008

                  "Stealing Athena" by Karen Essex, Doubleday 2008 (Book Reviews)

                  BookBuffet reviewer, Dee Raffo enjoys the historical fiction genre. Here is her July book review: "As I pick up Karen Essex’s fourth novel, Stealing Athena: A Novel (Doubleday 2008) I am struck by its beautiful cover. It is an 18th century self-portrait by French painter Marie-Genieve Bouliard, as she envisioned herself as the Greek courtesan and philosopher, Aspasia. The cover certainly does match the dual narratives of the book, where two characters 2300 years apart, one in ancient Greece, the other, 18th century Scotland, find themselves inexplicably linked with the Elgin Marbles, and the controversy and passion that surround them."

                  Thursday, July 24, 2008

                  Serpentine Gallery in London Features Architect Frank Gehry (Feature Articles)

                  Each summer in London's Hyde Park the Serpentine Gallery asks a different modern architect to design and build a temporary structure for public display. This year it happens to be Canadian-born uber-architect, Frank Gehry. This is his first built structure in the UK. Known for his dramatic fluid titanium sheet metal skins on the amorphous Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao in Spain, and the Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, Frank has this year designed a pavilion of glass and wood that could easily be adapted to a garden space connecting buildings on your property. Find out more about his inspiration for the project and browse through a collection of architecture books and films on the master. (photo credit, Paula Shackleton)

                  Author Podcast: Kem Nunn (Author Interviews)

                  Summer is here and all the folks at BookBuffet who have surfing on the brain decided to re-post an earlier interview [Nov 13 2004] with Kem Nunn, the legendary surf noir novelist. In addition to his own novel adaptations, Kem has a successful streak of screenplays to his name, Wild Things and his newest collaborations are with HBO Producer David Milch on the show "Deadwood" and he co-produced the HBO series "John from Cincinnati", a surfing series set in Imperial Beach, California which premiered on June 10, 2007. Kem spoke to BookBuffet about the third book in his surf-trilogy, Tijuana Straits, Random House (2004)

                  Sunday, July 13, 2008

                  2008 BBC Samuel Johnson Award for Nonfiction (Events)

                  Each year the BBC sponsors the Samuel Johnson Prize for Nonfiction recognizing excellence in nonfiction writing. BookBuffet editor Paula Shackleton attended the discussion and provides audio excerpts with the five out of six shortlisted authors whose books vary in subject matter from the history of the Congo, to life in the Soviet during Stalin, to the biography of V.S. Naipaul, to an encapsulated view on the vitality of twentieth century classical music and its connections to popular culture, and finally to the first murder case in Victorian history that sparked an entirely new genre in literature and crime fighting—the detective novel and the professional crime detective. Meet Tim Butcher, Mark Cocker, Orlando Figues, Patrick French, Alex Ross and Kate Summerscale.

                  Saturday, July 12, 2008

                  Discipline in Jogging and Writing (Feature Articles)

                  Haruki Murakami has a wonderful article in the "Life and Letters" section of The New Yorker magazine (June 9 &16, 2008) that reveals the Japanese novelist's inner workings and how he became both a runner and a writer. It's not surprising that discipline, with a capital D is at the root of both, providing fascinating biographical insights into the author's life, his motivations and his writing. If you're a runner, a wannabe writer, or simply a lover of Murakami's books: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (1997) Kafka on the Shore (2005) and After Dark (2007) to name three titles for starters... read on.

                  Tuesday, July 01, 2008

                  Wine & Book Group Pick for Jul-Aug '08 (Wine & Book Club)

                  I've always been a fan of Glen Gould. His playing of Bach and particularly the Goldberg Variations is like trance for the piano—starting at the first variation one is swept away in space and time. I always imagine that my math skills are subliminally being enhanced just by listening to the contrapuntal melody. The other fascination I have with Gould is hearing the stories of his unusual personality quirks. Declared a child prodigy by age three when he demonstrated perfect pitch, it is said that he could read a music score through just once and play the piece perfectly from memory. He had an obsession with his hands. He always wore gloves, even in summer, and never shook hands with people. He would stand for long periods of time at the sink running warm water over his hands. This month I'm recommending the Wine & Book Group pick-up a new book about this fascinating musical genius. (Your dinner conversations will sparkle and entertain even the most die-hard pop or rock fan.) A Romance on Three Legs: Glenn Gould's Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Piano borrows heavily on a previous biography on the artist, but it also tells the story of Gould's relationship with a particular piano and the blind farm-boy technician he relied upon to keep the instrument tuned to his grueling specifications. See what you think as you read further, and download Gould's music from iTunes as a wonderful accompaniment. For wines to go with this selection we've chosen a few delicious ones from the Niagara escarpment wine growing region of Ontario. (Gould was a native of Toronto, not far away.) The area is as physically beautiful as this love story and the music. Enjoy!

                  Wednesday, June 25, 2008

                  Survey Shows Increasing Use of E-Books As Research Tool Among Students (Technology Corner)

                  Digital resources are used as often, if not more often, than print books says 6,500 students at around 400 institutions across the globe who participated in a survey by Ebrary, the Palo Alto-based digital content service and delivery company. Craig Morgan Teicher who writes for Publishers Weekly, (6/25/2008 7:00:00 AM) says that "while the survey does indicate some skepticism and ignorance about e-books in institutional libraries, it also clearly shows that students are increasingly using e-books and other digital reference sources for research and other assignments."

                  Saturday, June 21, 2008

                  Rose Tremain Wins 2008 Orange Prize (Feature Articles)

                  Rose Tremain has twice been a Booker Prize judge and this year she wins the prestigious Orange Prize for her tenth novel, The Road Home: A Novel (Chatto and Windus 2007) The story is about an Eastern Eurpean migrant worker who travels to London for employment that can support his family. He discovers London is awash with money, celebrity and complacency. The contrast underscores the new East-West economic dichotomy that exists between disparate EU countries resulting in the flow of population to Western urban centers who must then grapple with a cultural divide.

                  Friday, June 20, 2008

                  Galway Kinnell (Feature Articles)

                  Poetry, that exacting science of words, art, expression and sometimes distance, has spoken to me through the voice of Galway Kinnell. Well, actually through the audio excerpt at the Paris Review. To be bitten by poetry you need to have it read to you. To have the author read it, is a delight most exquisite. Treat yourself to 07:55 minutes of escapism today: A cigarette break for the imagination. Then click on the link to purchase your own copy and get to know more of Kinnell's words. A New Selected Poems published by Mariner Books (2008).

                  Sunday, June 01, 2008

                  Newest release by Pulitzer Prize Winner Jumpha Lahiri (Feature Articles)

                  One of my favorite authors is Jumpha Lahiri because she writes about people I relate to who have experienced things I could not. Her latest book is a collection of short stories and critics are hailing it as her masterpiece. She writes about family and generational interactions, about immigrants and aspects of cultural identity and assimilation from her Bengali perspective. She writes about human emotions in exquisite variety - all of it rendered in delicious prose. With mentors in Hawthorne and Hardy, how could she go wrong? Pick up a copy of Unaccustomed Earth (Knopf April, 2008) and take it to the cottage, the beach or read it in installments at the leafy park near your work place on extended lunch breaks.

                  Thursday, May 15, 2008

                  Canadian Feminist Writer Sarah Felix Burns Writes BIG Fish Story (Book Reviews)

                  Jackfish, The Vanishing Village (Inanna Poetry & Fiction) is not a regular fish story—but it will hook you. Clemance-Marie Nadeau is haunted by memories unraveling from a traumatic past. Her story begins as she boards a train bound for Sault Ste. Marie and falls under the spell of a charming stranger who promises her a life of adventure. Nothing she will experience could be further from that promise. Based on her own life and stories from the trauma/torture survivors that Sarah Felix Burns has counseled over the years, Jackfish will mesmerize and invoke a gamut of emotions. Not since, Bastard Out of Carolina will you be so moved by a book of this kind. Don't let your group miss Jackfish. The author writes, “This book is dedicated to all those people who battle with the demons of guilt, shame addiction, and mental illness.” Take a look at BookBuffet Reviewer Dee Raffo's review.

                  Wednesday, May 14, 2008

                  Dubai-based Translation Project Promises More Arabic Books (Feature Articles)

                  Last year the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH) of the United Arab Emirates launched “Kalima,” a project to translate books into Arabic; its stated aim was to translate 100 works. Late last month, the ruler of Dubai, Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, upped the ante: His eponymous foundation launched a similar project, albeit one that aims to translate 365 books in its first year – or, in other words, one per day.

                  Wednesday, May 07, 2008

                  Barbara Walters' New Autobiography (Feature Articles)

                  Since I don't have television, it's difficult to keep up with daytime shows like Oprah. But I happened to be traveling and turned on the hotel tube to see Barbara Walters' appearance on Oprah — talk about female power! Surprisingly, it sounds like Barbara has written an interesting book, which she titled, Audition: A Memoir because she's been doing just that her whole life. I picked up a copy and thumbed through it and here what is in store for all you BW fans. Auditions is published by Knopf May 6th,2008.

                  Tuesday, April 29, 2008

                  Author Podcast: CS Richardson (Author Interviews)

                  CS Richardson has worked in publishing for over twenty years. He is a multiple recipient of the Alcuin Award, Canada’s highest honor for excellence in book design, and a frequent lecturer on various facets of publishing, design, and communications. The End of the Alphabet: A Novel, published by Doubleday Canada, is his first novel and it has just been awarded the Commonwealth Writers Prize for A Writer's First Novel. Congratulations Scott!! [interview Feb 2008]

                  Who is Petri Liukkonen? (Feature Articles)

                  You may not have realized that the website you visit frequently for concise biographical information on world authors is coming from an obscure Finnish library near the Russian border!  Meet Petri Liukkonen, Director of The Kuusankoski Library, Finland.

                  Wine & Book Group Pick for June '08 (Wine & Book Club)

                  The cello is both the most beautiful and sorrowful of stringed instruments. And so, it is only fitting that The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway (Knopf, Canada April 2008) is a story of extraordinary beauty and imagination that will sweep you off your feet with its compelling prose. "One day a shell lands in a bread line and kills twenty-two people as the cellist watches from a window in his flat. He vows to sit in the hollow where the mortar fell and play Albinoni’s Adagio once a day for each of the twenty-two victims... " Entice your book group to read this month's Wine & Book selection, The Cellist of Sarajevo, based on the true story of Vedran Smailovic. Listen to the music while you taste the old-world wines from the region for a truly moving discussion and a memorable experience.

                  Thursday, April 24, 2008

                  Two Cool Events in NYC Not To Miss (Events)

                  The NYPL's "LIVE" series presents, BOOKS THAT CHANGED MY LIFE with a stunning line-up of authors: Annie Proulx, Olivier Rolin, Yousef Al-Mohaimeed, Antonio Muñoz Molina, Catherine Millet & Paul Holdengraber, moderator. And PUBLIC LIVES-PRIVATE LIVES from the PEN Society's "International Voices Festival". This year’s theme couldn't be more timely. How do we draw a line between our private and public selves? When must we tell private stories for the public good? How, as readers, writers, and citizens, do we confront threats to our privacy? What is still considered private in the Internet age? Do we need to redefine the meaning of public and private in the 21st century? The writers in this year’s Festival will mine this rich theme in a variety of literary conversations, panels, readings, and performances. Links and details inside.

                  Sunday, April 20, 2008

                  Farewell, My Subaru: Adventures in Green Living (Book Reviews)

                  "In Farewell, My Subaru: An Epic Adventure in Local Living, Doug Fine writes about his hilarious adventures in green living and some surprising facts he discovered about energy consumption; such as, it takes several thousand gallons of jet fuel to fly an organic banana from Honduras to Silver City, NM, or three times the amount of fuel he uses in his car each year. After graduating from Stanford, Doug Fine strapped on a backpack and traveled to five continents, reporting from remote perches in Burma, Rwanda, Laos, Guatemala and Tajikistan. He is a correspondent for NPR and PRI and the author of Not Really An Alaskan Mountain Man. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, Wired, US News and World Report, Christian Science Monitor, and Outside magazine. A native of Long Island, he lives in an obscure valley in Southern New Mexico alongside many goats and coyotes. Visit his web site at

                  Sunday, April 13, 2008

                  PEN Award Goes to Chinese Political Prisoner (Feature Articles)

                  With the news of world-wide protests over China's behavior in Tibet, and the resulting disruptions of the Olympic torch ceremonies for the Summer Games in Beijing, it seems appropriate that this year's PEN Freedom to Write Award go to imprisoned Chinese writer Yang Tongyan who is serving a 12-year prison term for posting anti-government articles on the Internet. What role does the PEN society perform and why should we care?

                  Monday, April 07, 2008

                  2008 Pulitzer Prize Winners (Feature Articles)

                  The winners of this year’s Pulitzer Prizes were announced on Monday, April 7, at 3 p.m. Eastern Time. The awards honor books in five categories — fiction, poetry, history, biography, and general nonfiction – though the judges may decline to give an award in any of them. The Pulitzer site,, has all the results. A special citation was awarded to Bob Dylan for his profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power. Click on quick links to purchase.

                  Sunday, March 09, 2008

                  Technology Corner: Take A Free Course From Stanford or Berkeley at (Technology Corner)

                  "Transforming learning from on campus to off campus to where there's no campus at all," that's what iTunes U is all about. Load up on lectures from the top professors at the top universities in the country. And it's FREE. This is the most thrilling discovery for me in years. I love the trend of podcasts and v-casts to access online education. Presentations, performances, lectures, demonstrations, debates, tours, archival footage — it's all about getting inspired. Listen to "An Evening with Leonard Cohen and Philip Glass" from Stanford U, watch a linear alegbra class at MIT, or catch a lecture by Thomas Friedman on how technology has made Beijing, Bangalore and Bethesda "next door neighbors." Just download to your iPod and listen on the way to work or in the comfort of your living room by plugging into your TV.

                  Saturday, March 08, 2008

                  Whistler Reads: THE AUDACITY OF HOPE (Whistler Reads)

                  The next Whistler Reads (WR) meeting will take place May 10th at the WPL. This is our eighteenth book pick. Alternating between fiction and nonfiction titles, we have chosen The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama. With the Democratic primaries heating-up in the neck-to-neck race between Hillary and Obama, this is going to be a stunning meeting. We have a political skit planned by a former Second City actor and his team. Conservative candidate John Weston (Sea to Sky Corridor + Sunshine Coast) will discuss the book and field questions. John is himself an author, and he is passionate about Obama's non-partisan politics. Listening to John's voice message I learned he is muliti-lingual, and speaks English, French and Mandarin fluently. Don't forget - Sunday is Mothers Day. Bring yours and we'll have a long-stemmed rose waiting for her.

                  Tuesday, February 26, 2008

                  NYRB Is Having A Sale (Publisher News)

                  The New York Review of Books (NYRB) is moving offices from their current location to Hudson Street in Greenwich Village. Take advantage of the 40%-60% discounts on excellent titles not often available at these prices. Sale ends March 9th. Just browsing the list of fiction, translated fiction, essays and criticism along with other genres, I have pulled a few titles from my own shopping list. Aside from personal reading interests, it's always nice to have a few extra books on hand for gift occasions in the coming months; these are books suitable for most everyone. Learn more about this important literary and publishing force in America.

                  Sunday, February 17, 2008

                  Introducing Video Book Reviews: Love A Book? Video A Review! (Feature Articles)

                  Put your FACE to a BOOK! It's a Whistler Public Library and WR-BookBuffet joint program. To celebrate the opening of the grand new Whistler Public Library, BookBuffet-Whistler Reads will be filming locals, resort visitors, World Cup and Olympic athletes as part of a video presentation putting your FACE to a BOOK. There is a child, teen, adult and athlete category. Everyone is welcome. Just pick a book and tell us, in about two minutes, what you loved about it. The video-book reviews will be compiled into a short feature film that will be previewed at the Whistler Library Opening Gala festivities April 12th-17th and available online here. Find out how you can participate below.

                  Thursday, February 14, 2008

                  20th Century Ghosts: Horror Fiction to Die For (Book Reviews)

                  It’s the variety that makes Joe Hill’s collection of 20th Century Ghosts, (William Morrow, 2007) stand out from the crowd of horror novelists. The stories range from the grotesque, to unnerving, even poignant and nostalgic.

                  Monday, February 11, 2008

                  Are You In For A Little Libration? (Whistler Reads)

                  Libration joins "celebration" with "library," though I'm uncertain whether it's a noun or a verb - possibly both! April 11th-19th. Details are inside, but Save The Date for Saturday April 12th when BookBuffet/Whistler Reads Founder, Paula Shackleton hosts four stunning Vancouver writers: David Chariandy, Shaena Lambert, Timothy Taylor and Teresa McWhirter come to Whistler. What do they have in common? They each live in Vancouver. They each published a new book in 2007 that is garnering popular and critical acclaim. Join us fireside at the WPL from 6-8 pm for "Writing On The Edge: Perspectives of BC Writers." What is it about Vancouver's geography, economy, politics, history, climate, multiculturalism, or our proximity to the border that affects these writers? Check-out the Libration poster for all the events and activities

                  Sunday, February 10, 2008

                  UK Announces 2007 Top Library Lends (Feature Articles)

                  It is interesting to consider which books and authors are most popular with lending libraries versus the bestseller lists and literary fiction. James Patterson has just made the top spot, reports the Guardian, having tallied over 1.5 million copies of his books lent in the past year. He is the third author to have earned the distinction since they began keeping such records in 1982. J.K. Rowling and Ian McEwan only made it to 107 and 252 respectively on the library lending list, whereas their novels, Harry Potter and Atonement made it to 1 and 13 respectively on bestseller lists for the year. What does this say about borrowers? Check out the top 10 borrowed books list and see for yourself.

                  Friday, February 01, 2008

                  Wine & Book Group Pick for March '08 (Wine & Book Club)

                  Cellophane (Dial Press) by Marie Arana is a novel set in the Peruvian rain forest during the 1930s where Don Victor Sobrevilla and his wife, Doña Mariana, venture to find a location for their papermaking factory. Along with the discovery of the secret to making cellophane (a fascinating story in itself) the family is drawn into an erotically charged landscape of surreal history and obsession. Nominated as a National Book Award finalist, Arana's writing has been compared to other literary giants, Allende, Marquez and Conrad. We think this novel is the perfect choice for February, when romance and exotic locations can sweep you away in the best literary tradition. Marie Arana, editor of Washington Post Book World Wines recommended for this book naturally derive from Peruvian sources. Enjoy!

                  Thursday, January 31, 2008

                  Rediscovering Robertson Davies (Classic Literature)

                  While browsing through the stacks at a favorite independent bookstore, I came upon a copy of Fifth Business, a Canadian classic by Robertson Davies, the first novel of his acclaimed Deptford Trilogy. I cannot resist a Penguin paperback—the combination of superior cover art and binding make them a pleasure to hold, read and collect. If you've not yet discovered Canada's prominent novelist, playwright, critic, and journalist, then pick up a copy of Fifth Business as it is his most autobiographical work of fiction. It tells the story of three characters—Dunstan Ramsey, Boy Staunton, and Paul Dempster, whose life paths are haunted by a single boyhood event. Davies' prose is reflective of his academic study of mythology and archetypes, his career as a repertory actor and theater advocate. He was one of the founders of the Ontario Stratford Shakespearean Festival, North America's leading classical theater.

                  Wednesday, January 16, 2008

                  Facebook Asked to Ditch Scrabulous (Feature Articles)

                  Facebook, the social network site, invites members to invent applications for its users. The most popular of these is an online game called "Scrabulous" which is based on the Mattel-Hasbro board game Scrabble. The software was developed by Rajat and Jayant Agarwalla, who are based in Kolkata, India. Lawyers for the board game say the online version infringes their client's copyright and must be removed. According to the Scrabulous website it has 594,924 daily active users - about a quarter of the total that have signed up to play it - meaning that at any one time in the day there are half a million people worldwide playing the game online. Users admit to having never played the board version, but after becoming hooked on Scrabulous...

                  Saturday, January 12, 2008

                  Starting a New Book Group? Here's How To Avoid The Pitfalls (Feature Articles)

                  If one of your New Year's resolutions is to start a book group -- you're in good company. But it's important to lay the ground rules early and get into good habits.  Here are some of the ways you can -- avoid the pitfalls.

                  Sunday, January 06, 2008

                  Marquand Books: A Publisher With Bragging Rights (Publisher News)

                  If you attended any fine art gallery shows this past year, chances are that the art book created for one of the collections was designed by Ed Marquand's team in Seattle, Washington. The New York Times this past December featured four Marquand titles in their "Ten Best Art Books of 2007" one of a series of "Bests" that the world waits to peruse before shopping for the bibliophiles on their holiday list. Marquand Books, one of the most respected companies of its kind in the United States, produces fine illustrated books for museums, galleries, publishers, artists, collectors, and architects.

                  Whistler Reads: OUT STEALING HORSES (Whistler Reads)

                  Our next Whistler Reads book selection is going to appeal to all the male (and female) members who joined last month who tend to nonfiction. Challenge yourself to some world-class fiction. To our regular members, you are in for a treat. The spare, haunting prose of Per Petterson, Norway's most prominent fiction writer, has been receiving critical acclaim worldwide for his third novel, Out Stealing Horses: A Novel. Published by Graywolf Press, this story will captivate you from the first page forward. The style is nothing like typical North American prose. Here is a book I would encourage you to read out loud to family or friends in segments each night,for the pure pleasure of capturing this beautiful translated work. Join us at the Whistler Public Library on Thursday, March 6th 7-9 pm. Discussion Questions Below

                  Monday, December 31, 2007

                  2008 New Year's Resolution (Feature Articles)

                  My 2008 New Year's Resolution is to take the National Endowment for the Arts "To Read or Not to Read" report seriously and take action. The NEA produces the most comprehensive and reliable survey on reading there is. It draws from consistent, widespread sources that produce measurable conclusions: Only one in four Americans read a book last year. "Despite improved reading abilities in elementary school . . . all progress appears to halt in teenage years at age thirteen. There is a general decline in reading among teenage and adult Americans, and they read less well. Even college graduates' regular habit of reading has declined. These declines have demonstrable social, economic, cultural, and civic implications." What can we do? Read this and find out.

                  Saturday, December 29, 2007

                  Wine & Book Group Pick for January 2008 (Wine & Book Club)

                  For January we thought you'd enjoy reading Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia (Viking 2007), the runaway bestselling memoir by Elizabeth Gilbert. Facing a difficult divorce and a punishing affair, the New York journalist decides to escape her personal hardship by traveling to Italy then India, finally ending up in Bali. At once funny and profound, Gilbert's self-indulgent journey can be your guilty pleasure this month, along with fine wines picked by our partners at Women & Wine. Paramount Pictures has acquired the rights and will star Julia Roberts, according to

                  Sunday, December 16, 2007

                  2007 Yearend Review: Award Winning Books (Feature Articles)

                  This is the list of authors and books that won awards in 2007.

                  Wednesday, December 12, 2007

                  Author Podcast: Lucy O'Brien (Author Interviews)

                  It is always a delight to speak with authors in the UK. BookBuffet caught up with Lucy O'Brien, who hails from London. Lucy is the author of several female rock biographies and female rock historical bestsellers. Her latest is the groundbreaking biography of pop icon Madonna. The Material Girl turns fifty in 2008 and in anticipation, Lucy has produced a thorough, sensitive, and illuminating treatise that will help demystify the woman who has made history as the most successful female singer to date.

                  Tuesday, December 11, 2007

                  Bookbuffet Holiday Pick List 2007 (Feature Articles)

                  In our household every member receives a book for the holidays. When the busy social schedule calms down and before we have to return to work or school, it's nice to read a hand-picked book. Check out our highly personalized gift list, and make your shopping easy with one trip to the bookstore or order online, (make that "express, wrapped and labeled with free shipping") and save yourself the hassle of parking, shopping, and schlepping.

                  Sunday, December 09, 2007

                  Xiaolu Guo's Third Novel is Set in London (Book Reviews)

                  A poet from the age of fifteen, Xiaolu Guo first came to London in 2002 as an experienced novelist and filmmaker from mainland China. Her observations led to her third book, the first in English, a remarkable mix of eastern and western ideals with a clever, funny, often profound and engaging writing style. Titled A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers: A Novel (Published by Nan A. Talese, September 4, 2007), The novel explores a subject that many people can relate to, the acquisition of a new language. This book was nominated for the 2007 Orange Prize for fiction. Read the review then listen to the interview, and view clips from her filmography. Xiaolu Guo is a talent we will see and hear more.

                  Saturday, December 08, 2007

                  Book Review: American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin (Book Reviews)

                  "Prometheus stole fire and gave it to men." -Apollodorus, The Library, book 1:7, second century B.C.

                  "My two great loves are physics and New Mexico. It is a pity that they can't be combined." So wrote J. Robert Oppenheimer, the enigmatic and mystic genius who managed to do just that at Los Alamos following his appointment as Scientific Director of the Manhattan Project.

                  The father of the atomic bomb was a unique polymath who can justifiably be credited with founding the foremost school of theoretical physics in America. Moreover, in contrast to many gifted mathematicians and physicists, Oppenheimer's intellectual curiosity extended well beyond the limits of his chosen career. He was a prolific reader and loved the arts, especially poetry. He was also fascinated by mysticism and with his remarkable facility to acquire languages with astounding ease, he learned Sanskrit so that he could study the ancient Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita.

                  Wednesday, December 05, 2007

                  Technology Corner: SMS Etiquette (Technology Corner)

                  Short Message Service (SMS) allows users to "text" a message between cell phone, pocket PC's. More than 500 billion SMS messages were sent across the world's global system messenging in 2004. But just like the annoyance we've all experienced in public places when someone is talking loudly, endlessly and personally on their phone, SMS has its own set of issues. Learn some SMS etiquette

                  Thursday, November 29, 2007

                  CS Richardson's Amazing Little Gem: The End of the Alphabet (Book Reviews)

                  The End of the Alphabet by CS Richardson (Doubleday, 2007) is a one-hundred-and-nineteen-page gem coming out in paperback that you can read in one sitting. Be prepared to be taken on a roller coaster of emotion. It is the story of a couple, one of whom has just been diagnosed with a terminal illness and told will not live past one month. It is a story of love, of courage, and of loss. It is a story you will read and pass on to friends, because we all admire this kind of love; we all fear this kind of devastation and find ourselves compelled to look into their abyss. The End of the Alphabet has just been awarded the Commonwealth Writers Prize for First Novel. Congratulations Charles!!

                  Sunday, November 25, 2007

         Offers Video Book Reviews (Feature Articles)

                  The folks at have a great idea -- one I've been working towards myself -- video book reviews you can watch in about a minute or two delivered by (what appears to be) regular folks. It's a great concept for those of us attempting to look past the hype of a book by mainstream publishing marketers and get a peer review of a new book. It's like taking the Amazon visitor reviews one step further. With you get to see the reviewer and determine their sincerity and honest opinion. Click on title for more details.

                  Thursday, November 22, 2007

         Is Looking to Crack the Top 100,000 Site Rank (Press Releases)

                  Help us with our goal to break the top 100,000 websites. Today we're at 115,886 which is up there with (117,423) and (168,348). Did you know there are over 140 million domains registered world wide. That places in the top 8.27%. How can you help? (a) Browse our latest features and click on the social networking links at the bottom of each to post it to Digg, Facebook or your own blog or favorite social networking sites. (b) Subscribe to our RSS feeds and get the latest book news, author interviews, member generated reviews and timely editorials. Our podcasts are a great way to discover new authors. (c) Register your book group. Easy as A B C - Click, Share, Join, Subscribe. Prizes to the lucky members who join on day 100,000! Stay tuned.

                  Saturday, November 17, 2007

                  Amazon to Launch An Electronic Reader Device Monday Nov 19th (Technology Corner)

                  Will libraries holding book stacks become a thing of the past? Amazon's Jeff Bezos plans to announce his new electronic book-reader device called The Kindle on Monday in New York City at the W Hotel's swanky Union Square location. The Kindle will cost $399 but the W Hotel has a corporate alliance with Amazon that will allow guests to check out devices like a library book, with downloaded books coming straight off Amazon's website. Marketing research by the company followed iPhone's launch strategy that used celebrity endorsement. Rumors have it the year-long awaited e-readers will come with a pre-loaded bestseller. Watch for the announcement Monday. For a re-cap on the battle between Google and Amazon technology click feature title.

                  Saturday, November 10, 2007

                  Norman Mailer Dies At Eighty-four (Feature Articles)

                  American novelist, playwright, journalist, screenwriter and film director Norman Mailer died on this day of renal failure following lung surgery at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award once, he was awarded the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters from The National Book Foundation in 2005. His break-out novel in 1948, The Naked and the Dead, published when he was just twenty-five, describes the face of war from his military experience when drafted into the US army serving in WWII Philippines theatre. It is on the Top 100 Novels List. Mailer and co-founder Dan Wolf started The Village Voice in Greenwich Village in 1955. Mailer was married six times and is survived by four children and one adopted son. For a list of his other creative works and links to noted obituaries, click feature title.

                  Tuesday, November 06, 2007

                  Wine & Book Group Pick for November '07 (Feature Articles)

                  Madonna is the most famous female pop artist of our time; singer-songwriter, dancer, record and film producer, actress, and a fashion icon. She has won multiple Grammy and Golden Globe awards and is known for her controversial music videos, stage performances, and use of political, sexual, and religious themes in her work. Discover the woman behind the mystery. Journalist Lucy O'Brien's groundbreaking biography, Madonna: Like an Icon (HarperCollins, Nov 2007) gets at the heart of Madonna's chameleonlike existence. Extensively researched and perceptively written, it explores the complex personality and legendary drive that made her "the world's most successful female musican" (Guinness Book of World Records). A great book to discuss with your group over equally provocative wines picked for you by our partners at

                  Sunday, November 04, 2007

                  Whistler Reads: THE AGE OF TURBULENCE (Whistler Reads)

                  Follow the example of Whistler Reads - a village book group that is now on its sixteenth book selection, The Age of Turbulence by Alan Greenspan. This discussion promises to be one of the most thought provoking of the year. It is a must-read for anyone involved in business, finance, economics, politics or who simply wants to understand how the world operates. Penguin writes, "This book is the distillation of a life's worth of wisdom and insight into an elegant expression of a coherent world view. The Age of Turbulence will stand as Alan Greenspan's personal and intellectual legacy." Hosted by BC Entrepreneur of the Year Lukas Lundin, and with special guest speaker Glen Donaldson PhD from the Sauder School of Business. With economists forecasting a recession, the changes to the Cnd-US currency exchange rates, and the banks reeling from the sub-prime mortgage crisis - it behooves you to attend this talk. Don't miss the chance to meet Mr. Greenspan at a sold out event in Vancouver later in January. Sponsorship generously provided by Lundin Mining. Plus, Lukas Lundin has donated two tickets to see Greenspan that will be up for raffle at the January 4th discussion.
                  Join WR and get your ticket for Jan 4th online today! $20 advance/ $25 at the door

                  Your receipt is your ticket.

                  Saturday, November 03, 2007

                  Financial Times Reveals Winner of The Best Business Book of All Time (Feature Articles)

                  The Financial Times last week unveiled the results of an online poll of readers to find the best business book of all time, and the winner, by a wide margin, was The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith's influential economic treatise published in 1776.

                  Friday, November 02, 2007

                  Whistler Reads: THE FEMALE BRAIN (Feature Articles)

                  What makes us women? Whistler Reads fifteenth reading selection November 1st at the Durlacher Hof was a resounding success as members new and old (with tourist visitors attending from Mexico and Switzerland) had a one-hour conversation with the author, Dr. Louann M. Brizendine, via speaker phone. Available as podcast shortly As a neurobiology undergrad at Berkeley in the '70s, Louann asked the question, "Why is there no research study results of female animal behavior and brain physiology?" Since that time, researchers like Louann have, along with advances in non-invasive MRI and PET scanners, learned a wealth of information encapsulated in Dr. Brizendine's book, The Female Brain. Written in an easy to read, "Ahhah!" format that weaves what Publisher's Weekly calls "a trove of information and stunning facts" and that Huffington exclaims is "bloody brilliant ... answers questions that have plagued me for years, as well as ones I hadn't even formulated yet."

                  Monday, October 29, 2007

                  Technology Corner: iPhone Features (Feature Articles)

                  The iPhone is a multimedia and Internet-enabled quad-band GSM EDGE-supported mobile phone designed and marketed by Apple Inc. Its single-touch screen technology is so easy to use, they've sold more than 1.4 million iPhones since the release date on June 29th. To stop people from buying phones and reselling them, Apple announced last Thursday that it will limit sales to two per person (down from five) and you can no longer pay cash - they want to track credit cards and checks. What's so great about the iPhone? It's a virtual office enabling you to multi-task with a single finger. Take a look at what this amazing piece of technology can do, then read on to discover some of the perks and quirks of how people are using the phone.

                  Saturday, October 20, 2007

                  Noted Humanitarian and AIDS-HIV Activist Steven Lewis Comes to Whistler (Events)

                  I heard the first firecracker go off in the street outside my office window just now, reminding me that Halloween is approaching for all the happy, carefree school children here in the West. This is not the case for the millions of children in Africa. Last evening the third in a series of talks put on by Whistler Community Services Organization hosted world-renowned Canadian human rights advocate, UN ambassador and HIV-AIDS speaker, Stephen Lewis. The sold-out 800-seat crowd gathered in the Whistler High School gymnasium gave organizers a fright just two days away from the event when only a quarter of them had purchased their $20 ticket. Proceeds go to the Stephen Lewis Foundation. Click title for full article.

                  Thursday, October 11, 2007

                  Doris Lessing Wins 2007 Nobel Prize for Literature (Feature Articles)

                  Ms. Lessing, who turned 88 on October 22, never finished high school and largely educated herself through her voracious reading. She was born to British parents in Persia (now Iran), was raised in colonial Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), and now lives in London. She has written dozens of books of fiction, as well as plays, non-fiction, and an autobiography. She is the 11th woman to win a Nobel Prize in literature. Here is the latest coverage of the announcement with links to books.

                  Sunday, October 07, 2007

                  Author Podcast: Joseph Boyden (Feature Articles)

                  When Canadian Joseph Boyden came on the literary scene he wowed readers with his powerful historical fiction set during WWI about brotherhood, native identity, and the raw face of war. To meet and speak with Joseph is a pleasure. He's handsome, and has a quick smile and a generous personality. His self-effacing modesty makes him accessible to people despite his success and obvious talent. Please join me in listening to Joseph talk about his life, his writing, and his upcoming new novel, which will follow on the success of Three Day Road.

                  Monday, October 01, 2007

                  Wine & Book Group Pick for October '07 (Feature Articles)

                  With the harvest and Thanksgiving on everyone's mind, BookBuffet invites you to take a look at Barbara Kingsolver's nonfiction treatise Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life for this month's Wine & Book pick. It's about eating local, eating seasonal, supporting small farms, and saving the planet from extinction through your everyday purchasing choices of food that is not trucked, flown or shipped using fossil fuels to your market. Don't miss the opportunity to drink a lovely local wine along with this book when you meet to discuss it with your group. Women & Wine have lots of ideas on wine makers whose products are organic, too. Learn about wine as you read the wonderful titles selected especially for this group.

                  Tuesday, September 25, 2007

                  It's Film Festival Season: Check Out the Books to Film (Feature Articles)

                  It's Film Festival season in Canada again, which means right after Toronto, comes Vancouver and then Whistler. With so many excellent novels adapted to film we are going to list some of our favorites and introduce a "Books to Film" night on alternate months. Grab your book group members for a feature film in your neighborhood and meet for coffee to compare the book with the film. We'll provide details to spice up your discussion, but obviously everyone reads and views things from their individual perspective. Bring your expertise and share it liberally -- with the popcorn.

                  Sunday, September 16, 2007

                  National Punctuation Day is September 24th (Feature Articles)

                  Let's eat, John. (OR) Let's eat John. The first is a request to John about a meal. The second is suggesting that John become the meal. "A misplaced comma can be a big deal!" says Jeff Rubin, the founder of National Punctuation Day®. What a brilliant idea. If you despised all that grammar stuff in school, now is your chance to brush up on punctuation. While your spell check program can hide one bad habit, it only takes a few memorized rules to keep you out of punctuation purgatory. A properly punctuated document can mean the difference between getting your point across, or losing your audience (or client, or job) altogether. Take this one day to celebrate the comma, apply the period, learn when to use a semicolon or a colon, and ensure you know where to put the apostrophe or how use a dash. An ellipsis -- what's that? Check out this website dedicated to punctuation, and purchase a copy of one of these excellent resource books for yourself or someone in need.

                  Sunday, September 09, 2007

                  Whistler Reads: END OF EAST (Whistler Reads)

                  The Whistler Writers and Readers Festival takes place September 14-16th. This year event organizer Stella Harvey and her Vicious Circle team invited Whistler Reads to take part. Sign up for a class. Don't miss our readers and writers mixer, Saturday Sept 15th 8-10 pm at Millennium Place. This evening is arranged and moderated by Whistler Reads founder, Paula Shackleton. It's Book Club Night when you get to chat with author Jen Sookfong Lee about her wonderful novel that is set in Vancouver's Chinatown, The End of East (Knopf, Canada). Thanks to our sponsors who are providing door prizes. WR now boasts ~200 members. Everyone is welcome. "Whether you live, work or play in Whistler -- read what Whistler is reading." Join the WR Shanghai Tang After-Party, 10-12 pm at Ric's Mix Lounge located nearby. Tickets and how to join WR below.

                  Tuesday, August 28, 2007

                  Want to Raise Your IQ and Improve Your Memory: Exercise! (Feature Articles)

                  As a book group moderator in a ski-resort town, I like to say, "You already exercise your body, come exercise your mind!" in my bid to get people to join our village book group. But studies show aerobic exercise actually doubles blood flow to the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for neurogenesis (new brain cell growth, new memory). It works for everyone: from aging brains to children, and everyone in between. Exercise in combination with social stimulation is even better, they say. That old adage "the body feeds the mind" turns out to be true. Here are three excellent books on fitness for three age groups. Motivation for everyone. Click the title for the full article describing the science and some cool products to use while working out.

                  Sunday, August 19, 2007

                  Canada Gets a New Territory: Nunavik in Northern Quebec (Feature Articles)

                  They have been negotiating for decades, but just this week Canada, Quebec, and Nunavik came to an "agreement in principle" between the three sides, with a formal signing ceremony to follow within weeks. What does it mean for residents north of the 55th parallel in Quebec consisting of one-third of the land mass? Residents -- regardless of ethnicity -- will be given an opportunity to vote for their own government. A Nunavik Assembly of five members will act as the cabinet and elect a speaker. Each member will be responsible for one governmental department, such as health, education, and local and regional affairs. This treaty is different from BC's Nisga'a Treaty, which is based on ethnicity. Learn more about the treaty, the region, and the people with links to literature from the region.

                  Saturday, August 18, 2007

                  Booker Prize Long List Announcement: Get One, Get'em All (Feature Articles)

                  Now in its thirty-ninth year, the Man Booker aims to reward the best novel of the year written by a citizen of the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland. It has the power to transform the fortunes of authors and even publishers; last year's winner Kiran Desai has traveled the world since winning in 2006. The 2007 longlist of thirteen books -- the Man Booker's 'Baker's Dozen' -- was chosen from 110 entries; 92 were submitted for the prize and 18 were called in by the judges. Browse the list (below), click on book titles to purchase; challenge yourself to read as many as you can. Each book is a gem crafted this year by authors from around the world. See list below... -photo credit ManBooker

                  Thursday, August 02, 2007

                  Sacred: The British Library's Exhibit on Jewish, Christian and Muslim Faith Books (Feature Articles)

                  For the first time the rarest and most exquisite examples of the sacred texts of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim faiths are on display together at the British Library: Torahs, Bibles and Qur’ans. If you are in London this summer it is worth a visit. If not, browse the BL's interactive online exhibit for a look at what these texts have meant to "people of the book" all around the world for centuries. It includes videos with discussions by historians and religious experts, a chance to "flip through" the books that are on display, and more. In these troubled times, it behooves us to understand the similarities between world religions. Here is a taste of my visit...

                  Monday, July 30, 2007

                  Wine & Book Group Pick for August '07 (Feature Articles)

                  The Saxon word for pebble is chesil. Ian McEwan's brilliant new novelette, On Chesil Beach: A Novel is this month's Wine & Book Group pick. Set in 1962, it begins on the wedding night of a young virgin couple, Edward and Florence. After meeting and falling in love at a London college, they anticipate their vows as the entry into 'real adult' life; however, naiveté brings disappointment. The story is a touching examination of relationships, love, sex, the era, and how, despite best intentions, people somehow manage to get it wrong. McEwan asks, "Can the entire course of a life can be changed –- by a gesture not made or a word not spoken?" Despite differences in sexual politics today, readers will resonate with these two characters. Chesil Beach is an excellent choice for the last month of the summer. So pack your beach bag and slip in a delicious wine selected by our partners at Women and Wine. McEwan calls this a movie-length book that will take about three hours to complete -- just right for a lazy afternoon picnic!

                  Sunday, July 29, 2007

                  A LuLu of an Idea: Putting Your NOKIA Phone to 'Novel' Use (Feature Articles)

                  TORONTO (Reuters) - An Italian writer decided to put his mobile phone to good use during his daily commute to and from work -- by writing a book. Robert Bernocco, an IT professional, took advantage of his travel time by writing a 384-page science fiction novel, Compagni di Viaggio (Fellow Travelers), on his Nokia using the phone's T9 typing system.

                  Saturday, July 28, 2007

                  Last of the Potter Books Goes on Sale Saturday (Feature Articles)

                  Is it the pitter-Potter of little feet I hear? In case you are like me, the only person left on the planet who has not managed to run out on Day One to purchase a copy of the latest and last Harry Potter books published by Bloomsbury, here is an excellent round-up on BBC of all the books in the series. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. J.K. Rowling is richer than her Queen from the royalties earned from book sales and associated film and merchandizing revenues. Click on feature title for excerpts and links to purchase.

                  Thursday, July 19, 2007

                  Katanga: Land of Copper by Paula Shackleton (Feature Articles)

                  When Sir Ernest Shackleton was looking for men to join his expedition to the South Pole in 1914 at the outbreak of WWI, the advertisement is supposed to have gone like this: "Men wanted for hazardous journey. Safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in case of success." My initial thoughts wandered to that when I was asked to travel for a book commission to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in the spring of 2006. Just eight weeks shy of the first democratic election in forty years, Global Watch was reporting rebel bands still roaming the eastern countryside, preying on civilians after the civil war that brought rape, starvation and genocide to 4 million people. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned of malaria and a host of curable and incurable endemic diseases. What follows is an account of my trip and the fruit of my travels, a 217 page photographic coffee-table book with accompanying essays on - the history, land and people of the richest undeveloped copper region in the world - Katanga: Land of Copper (Marquand Books, Dec 2006) Take a look at this snap shot of a country on the brink of change with renewed optimism for peace and prosperity. There is no Lonely Planet guide to the Congo as yet, but there soon will be!

                  Tuesday, July 17, 2007

                  Moderator Tips: The 'Job' of the Participant in Book Group (Feature Articles)

                  Your job as a participant of a book group discussion is not to understand. It’s a search, a seeking. A close-reading and discussion of a novel or short story does not require conclusions. Some writers write against easy answers, and endeavor to explore the ambiguities and paradoxes of life in their fiction.

                  Sunday, July 15, 2007

                  Timely Reads from the Rand Institute (Feature Articles)

                  The RAND Institute is the original socio-political and scientific think tank. Everyone who read A Beautiful Mind by Sylvia Nasar, or saw the movie based on the book, is familiar with the story of the Nobel Prize-winning mathematician, John Nash. Nash worked at RAND, the scientific think tank established in 1946.

                  An acronym for "research and development," RAND is a non-profit institution that helps improve policy and decision-making through research and analysis. Much of this research is available to the general public through the institute's publications.

                  Residents in Whistler, BC are being treated to a visit by Graham Fuller - CIA and RAND Corporation Expert Sunday July 22 Spruce Grove Field House Public Talk and Forum at 4:30 Friends of the Forum BBQ at 6 pm. This event is being hosted by The Whistler Forum for Dialogue. Don't miss it, and come prepared with some light pre-reading material. (Click title for details)

                  Wednesday, July 04, 2007

                  Whistler Reads: THE INHERITANCE OF LOSS (Whistler Reads)

                  &deThe Whistler Reads group is set to discuss this year's Mann-Booker prize winner, Inheritance Of Loss by Kiran Desai on Thursday July 5th at 7pm at the Tandoori Grill restaurant in Whistler. With the group membership approaching 200, Founder Paula Shackleton is thrilled to see the support of the Sea to Sky corridor that includes the communities of West Vancouver, Squamish and Pemberton. "It is very exciting to see members from each of these communities participating in Whistler Reads. We welcome everyone - individuals, member of other groups, locals and visitors. Our mantra is, 'whether you live, work or play here'. Exciting opportunities are on the way!" Here is a list of research and discussion points the group will cover. Why not join WR today?

                  Tuesday, July 03, 2007

                  Michael Moore's New Documentary Earns 2nd Highest Box Office in History (Feature Articles)

                  Michael Moore's latest documentary "Sicko" deals with the healthcare debate in America. BookBuffet's Political Books Contributer, Loree Fayhe brought this excellent movie review by Isaiah J. Poole to our attention. It was posted on the affiliate website of the Institute for America's Future. Whether you agree with Moore's political bent or not, the film stirs the political pot and it will be interesting to see how the public responds and the pundits react. As Poole says, "Go see "Sicko" this week, and since members of Congress are in their states and districts, invite them to accompany you—especially if they think that the nation's medical care ills can be solved by Bush's little tax cut pills.

                  Sunday, July 01, 2007

                  Wine & Book Group Pick for July '07 (Feature Articles)

                  July is the month that promises long summer days and time to escape into a delicious novel set in far-away lands. This month’s Wine & Book Pick take us to Beijing, China, where Nicole Mones (bestselling author of Lost in Translation) brings us an enticing story of friendship, love and, cuisine The Last Chinese Chef (HoughtonMifflin, 2007)

                  Friday, June 29, 2007

                  2007 CBC Literary Competition (Feature Articles)

                  The 2007 CBC Literary Awards competition is now open! The deadline for submissions is November 1st, 2007. The Awards are Canada's only literary competition celebrating original, unpublished works in both official languages. There are three categories: short story, poetry, and creative nonfiction, with cash prizes totaling $60,000, courtesy of the Canada Council for the Arts, publication in Air Canada's enRoute magazine and visibility for the winners and their winning entries offered by CBC. To find out how to enter, visit their website at, email them at or call toll-free at 1-877-888-6788.

                  Author Podcast: Monica Magnetti (Author Interviews)

                  Stress is an endemic fact of life for people juggling career, family and personal needs. How do you recognize the signs, and how do you restructure your priorities to reduce stress and return to balance? Monica Magnetti is the author of, Outsmart Stress and Being in the Present Moment: How to Create the Blueprint of your Life, she is and the founder of Luna Coaching.  BookBuffet spoke with Monica about this social phenomenon and the ways her life coaching practice has helped clients. Listen to the podcast of this interview, and read along with the transcript. Then click to Monica's site for an appointment or book purchase.

                  Wednesday, June 27, 2007

                  US Authors Guild Receives $500,000 from Dutch Libraries (Feature Articles)

                  The Authors Guild is the nation's largest and oldest society of published authors and the leading writers' advocate for fair compensation, effective copyright protection, and free expression.  They have just been sent a check for $537,000 from the Dutch Lending Libraries for royalties on US books lent out. The practice is not done in North America - but it is in 19 countries in the EU.  Read on to see how it works. 


                  Monday, June 25, 2007

                  The NewYorker Conference 2012: View this Excellent Podcast Series (Events)

                  I am a big fan of the NewYorker magazine and many of their staff writers. Everyone who knows Malcolm Gladwell is familiar with his groundbreaking books, Blink and The Tipping Point. Gladwell (and others) made some fascinating presentations at their first "Conference 2012: Letters from the Near Future," on subjects ranging from the nature of genius, to morality, to gaming, to intellectual property. Don't miss these excellent podcasts. Some favorites below.

                  Thursday, June 14, 2007

                  Nigerian Author Wins the Orange Prize (Feature Articles)

                  One of the world's top literary prizes has been won by the twenty-nine year-old Nigerian novelist for her book set in the 1960's Biafran civil war. Meet Chimamanda Ngozi Adichel and  her winning novel, Half of a Yellow Sun (Knopf, 2006) 

                  Friday, June 01, 2007

                  Wine & Book Group Pick for June '07 (Feature Articles)

                  For June's Wine & Book Group pick we couldn't resist the novel that bumped The Da Vinci Code off of its number one spot on the New York Times Bestsellers List. The Birth House: A Novel (William Morrow 2006) by Ami McKay is a story about midwifery, with all its controversy and struggles, set in the 1900s in a small town in Nova Scotia with the story-telling tradition of Annie Proulx.

                  Monday, May 28, 2007

                  Summer Reading Suggestions (Feature Articles)

                  Look no further for your summer reading picks, as three of my favorite authors have new books out just in time: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver, A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseni, and Falling Man: A Novel by Don DeLillo. We've thrown in a sexy beach read and a beloved classic for good measure. Order any three online for ontime and free delivery.   

                  Saturday, May 26, 2007

                  What Does It Take To Make It In Literary Fiction? (Feature Articles)

                  As a person who leads book groups, meets and interviews new authors and reviews books,  I frequently get asked the question, "How do books make it in the literary fiction market?"  Rachel Donadio's article "Promotional Intelligence," in the May 21, 2006  edition of NYT reveals the window is smaller than a space shuttle trying to land in hurricane season—new authors have two weeks to make it.

                  Wednesday, May 23, 2007

                  Book Expo '07: Must Do's in The Big Apple (Feature Articles)

                  As a member of the torchered, ahem privileged people who call themselves "bi-coastal," I get to hangout in New York regularly. It is the publishing capital of America and my job requires that I meet with industry people. With Book Expo America taking over the city next month, there will not be a single hotel vacancy. I thought it would be fun to share a few of the things I like to do there.

                  Tuesday, May 15, 2007

                  Take the Whistler Reads Challenge! (Events)

                  Interested in meeting people and exploring new ideas? Then throw down the gauntlet and take The Whistler Reads Challenge!

                  Monday, May 14, 2007

                  Wine & Book Group Pick for May '07 (Feature Articles)

                  Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen is an imaginative story set during the American depression involving an orphan boy named Jacob and the tribe of circus performers and animals that become his world. Alternating between Jacob's early life and his final years in a nursing home, the story is sure to intrigue and stimulate interesting discussions. For wines we've picked labels with elephants! Join the Wine & Book Group and meet more hearty food, story and wine lovers!

                  Thursday, May 10, 2007

                  Whistler Reads: THREE DAY ROAD (Feature Articles)

                  The Path Gallery, owned by Brit Germann was the perfect location for this month's Whistler Reads (the village book group) discussion of Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden. This critically and popularly acclaimed novel is set in both Ontario and the trenches of WWI France where Canadians distinguished themselves in the courageous battle of Vimy Ridge. Three Day Road powerfully evokes this history from a Canadian Native perspective in the same way that Vonnegut's  Slaughterhouse Five has etched in our minds the bombing of Dresden WWII. Horrifying and beautiful, it will resonate with the group for a very long time. Take a look at the discussion of this novel, which is certainly destined to become a Canadian classic.

                  Tuesday, April 17, 2007

                  Interview with Shauna Hardy Michaw, Co-Founder of The Whistler Film Festival (Feature Articles)

                  What do you do if you happen to live in a small town with only one theatre that only screens one box-office blockbuster every one to two weeks? If you’re the red-headed dynamo Shauna Hardy Mishaw, you get your buns in gear and turn that paucity of celluloid vacuity into The Whistler Film Festival—Western Canada’s fastest growing cultural phenomenon, screening 80+ films (including top North American directors), $40,000 in prizes and commissions, and the country’s most innovative programming through the Filmmakers Forum.  All that and more in just five short years! Learn more about this vital regional addition to the world film festival circuit in this interview with the WFF Co-Founder and Executive Dirctor.

                  Sunday, April 15, 2007

                  Books to Film (Feature Articles)

                  Several films are coming to theatres starting this month that have been adapted from books you have either read or been planning to read. Check out these trailers and see how the screenwriters, directors and actors make artistic alchemy of the book on (or that should be on) your shelf. The Namesake: A Novel (Mar 9th), No Country for Old Men (Aug 2nd), Atonement: A Novel(Sept 6th), The Kite Runner(Nov 2nd) Time Travelor's Wife (starts shooting in Aug)

                  Friday, April 13, 2007

                  Kurt Vonnegut Dies at Age 84 (Feature Articles)

                  Playright, essayist, novelist and literary icon, Kurt Vonnegut died in Manhattan on April 12th of brain injuries sustained after several falls in the previous few weeks. He is survived by his wife Jill Krementz, his six adopted children and one biologic son. Vonnegut's "dark comic talent and urgent moral vision" produced novels like Slaughterhouse-Five