Monday, October 22, 2012

Canadian Journey - Into the Past

I'm not long back from a flying visit to Canada where I attended three reunions and a wake. As in that wonderful film Four Weddings and a Funeral, there were tears and laughter and many many magical moments. The 40 year reunion of my Canada World Youth/Jeunesse Canada Monde group - Malaysia Year One - was held in the Muskoka region of Ontario. Yes, that particular experience was the inspiration for My Blue Country. Hilarious to see all the photos from way back then and to acknowledge with some consternation that despite all the wear and tear of life we were not really that different! Here's a pic of me at 19 years of age with my first true love. Un beau jeune homme, n'est-ce pas? In fact, he was the inspiration for Jean in The Book of Dreams and it was after our 30 year reunion that he helped with the mythology of French Canada, sending me books about la chasse galerie (the flying canoe) and the loup-garou (French Canadian werewolf). My next post will tell of another reunion in Ottawa with my old navy gals.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Doris Lessing's Canopus Series

I'm reading four books at the moment (not bragging, I just need variety) and this is one of them. It's the fourth in the truly brilliant series Canopus in Argos Archives by Nobel Prize winner Doris Lessing. She calls the series "inner space fiction" and it is breathtaking in its scope, beginning with the microcosm of humanity and ranging out into the vast reality of the universe and universes. (In the second one, she has dimensional 'zones' attached to Earth or Shikasta/Rohanda not unlike the Buddhist notions of bardo realities.) Each book is quite different in tone and subject matter though loosely joined together by the over-arching presence and observation of Canopus. I thought at first this last one was boring and 'small' in comparison to the others, but the more I read it the more hilarious I realise it is. A scathing attack on the folly of humankind, more particularly man-kind, and the machinations of politics and the absurdity of sentimentalism. Most of all I have learned, myself, a lesson in the dangers of rhetoric and how one can get carried away by one's own words. She presents rhetoric as a form of illness, of madness. One has only to think of the ridiculous nature of political conventions with their meaningless speeches and infantile flag-waving calculated to rouse the rabble.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

AS Byatt at her Best

Just finished this book a short while ago. Normally I wouldn't read AS Byatt as she's so self-consciously and tediously 'intellectual' and so obviously aims to show off her knowledge. She's also the green-eyed writer who attacked JK Rowling and Rowling's adult readers - google Harry Potter and the Goblet of Bile, lol. But I liked the cover of this book and I was told it's based on the life of E. Nesbit, one of my favourite writers as a child. (C.S. Lewis was my favourite writer, still is, and when a librarian told me that Nesbit was his favourite writer as a child, I read all of hers. He didn't steer me wrong!)This is a great fat read, the kind you curl up with in an armchair on a rainy day. A cast of thousands, all memorable, amazing artists and theosophists and Fabians and feminists. You envy the children their childhood if not their parents. It's all about art and creativity and politics and people. You sense the shadow of WWI and then it strikes tragically. Yes, Byatt occasionally lectures on topics to show off her knowledge but one can just skip those bits if necessary. Two things struck me with a powerful lash; the desperate state of the poor and the working classes only a short time ago and the suffocating strictures on women of all classes. My God, we don't know how lucky we are!

Friday, September 07, 2012

Chronicles of Faerie in eBook form!

The Chronicles of Faerie (revised and expanded editions) are now available as ebooks for Kindle readers at, for the Nook ereader at, and for iOS devices (iPad, iPhone) on Apple's iBookstore. I haven't one of these myself - yet -but I'm rather pleased that I foresaw their existence in a passage in The Light-Bearer's Daughter, first published 2001. Dana meets the Chronicler, the Teller of Tales, who is leading a donkey laden down with panniers filled with books: There were paper scrolls and Egyptian papyri, tablets of wax and clay, manuscripts of vellum, hand-sewn texts bound in calfskin, some even inscribed on thin sheets of gold. There were modern books printed with glossy covers as well as talking books, computer disks and videotapes. A metallic box that glowed and hummed contained strange unrecognisable devices: laser, electronic and holographic books which Dana surmised belonged to the future. Have I changed my tune about ebooks? Of course I have. It just takes us old fogeys a bit longer to adapt to change.

Monday, March 05, 2012

I Want To Know

Here's an excerpt from People of the Great Journey, my new adult work of spiritual and speculative fiction. (Publisher and publication date to be announced shortly!) This is "Olwen's Song" from Chapter 32:
I want to know that there is a God or some Source of Love that cares for the world.
I want to know that there is a reason why everything exists; that life is not a random array of matter.
I want to know that the suffering and sorrow woven into the very fabric of life is not meaningless, but serves some good and noble purpose.
I want to know that evil, like suffering, also serves the Good.
I want to know that humanity is here for a reason.
I want to know that my life, regardless of whether it is a success or a failure, is of value in and of itself.
I want to know that I am not here by accident.
I want to know that I am loved by life.