Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Harry Potter Cover Secrets Revealed!

So, I see in the news that the Harry Potter cover has been revealed, and I read a bit of speculation about what clues the cover might hold. Like, Harry is unable to do laundry and has to borrow a robe from someone two sizes larger than he is? I high-tailed it over to to see what the British cover looks like, as well as to place my own order. The British cover provides a lot more clues than the American cover - check it out:

Ah ha! Harry, Hermoine and Ron are clearly going to be attacked by a shower of gold (Zeus?) which they ineffectually try to fight with a sword.

What is that? Hogwarts?

Ah HA! That's Harry's patronis! Maybe there are going to be more dementors?

Friday, March 23, 2007

Short, short sci-fi

Inspired by Hemingway's six word novel ("For sale: baby shoes, never worn."), a bunch of sci-fi writers submit their six word stories - they were published in Wired at the end of last year. I like the Margaret Atwood the best, but the Joss Whedon is really good, also (God help me) William Shatner's!

I like feminist sci-fi - so here's my own six word story:

War rages until women oust men.

Anyone else have a short short story?

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Books to Women in Prison

A friend told me about a program called Chicago Books to Women in Prison, they, well, provide books to women in prison. I recently cleaned out my bookshelves so I dropped off some books to them. They accept only paperbacks (?) and especially books "pertaining to parenting, recovery from addiction, self-help, lesbian/queer fiction and non-fiction, Spanish language materials, dictionaries, and fiction by people of color."

The books I donated don't necessarily meet those criteria although I guess one or two are about or by people of color. I sent two books by Amanda Craig, Love in Idleness and In a Dark Wood. Love in Idleness was a modern re-telling of A Midsummer Night's Dream, interesting, but not fabulous. I also sent Anne Ursu's Spilling Clarence, which was lovely. Cervantes Don Quixote, incredible, of course, but I don't see myself revisiting it soon. Monica Ali's Brick Lane, which was big a few years ago and quite good. I read it because it's about a Bangladeshi family living in England. Also, a trashy novel my grandma gave me a few years ago. It's primarily for reading on a beach vacation, but, alas, I don't have one of those in my future. Hmmm... now that I think of it, what if some poor woman in prison isn't interested in reading it for that reason either...

I had some friends in SF that worked for a similar non-profit - they jokingly called their organization Books for Crooks, which I found shocking and hilarious. Don't get me started on the US prison system, but I was happy to make this small donation toward literacy for women.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Iris Murdoch

Last night I watched 2001's Iris. It's as good a movie about books and words as I've ever seen (maybe Adaptation is number 2?) I haven't actually read any of her books (I'll rectify that soon) but I'm writing about the movie here because I was so moved by certain aspects of the movie - particularly the love story of Iris Murdoch and her husband John Bayley, and how their relationship changed after she began to suffer from Alzheimer's disease, but also by the main character's relationship to words and language. The young Iris claimed that words were so important to her because that was how she thought - that words and language literally defined her, and tragically, when she began to lose language, she lost her ability to understand her place in the world. And yet, despite losing language, and the ability to communicate, the character still found ways to enjoy the world on a completely sensory level. I've been spending much of the day wondering what it would be like to be without language, to lose it, like Murdoch, or to be pre-lingual, like a child (like my new nephew, much on my mind!)

I love words, of course (look at this AWAD from last week: omphaloskepsis (om-fuh-lo-SKEP-sis) noun, Contemplation of one's navel - Marvelous!) but I'm also a very visual person, and a tactile person. What if I lived a life just in color? At the risk of being all, if a tree fell... isn't it true that if you nuzzle the nose of a horse, even if you can't process the experience in language, it's still an amazing feeling? Well, that's what I've been thinking about today. Has anyone read Murdoch's work and can recommend one of her books? Otherwise I guess I'll start with Under the Net, selected by the American Modern Library as one of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. (!)

I also loved the part where Judi Dench quoted Psalms - sometimes I forget that the Bible has some really beautiful passages:
Whither shall I go from thy spirit?
Whither shall I flee from thy presence?
If I ascend unto heaven, thou art there:
If I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.
If I take the wings of the morning,
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;
even there shall thy hand lead me,
and thy right hand shall hold me.