Monday, 20 June 2016

Some words on books

I never thought I would start a blog, but since several persons whom I respect have blogs, it might be worthwhile.  I have just done two lectures for Toronto Public Library's Great Books series, one on John Bunyan and one on Sinclair Lewis.  There were about thirty people in attendance for each, and they seem to have been well received.  At the Sinclair Lewis lecture was the son (I think) of the donor -- TPL had been given a substantial donation to keep the Great Books series running for several years.  This man came with his wife and three teenagers, who were very pleasant young folk and who did not fall asleep!  The last of this year's series is on June 23, on Ibsen's A Doll's House, which, appropriately enough, is being performed by Soulpepper later in the summer.

James Matthews came to both talks, which was good of him.  In the Bunyan talk he made a point about one scene being similar to one in The Wizard of Oz, and I told him he was stealing my thunder!  At the time it was amusing, but it is annoying when it happens repeatedly.  Last year after I closed The Others Book Club, he appropriated Bambi for his Classic Book Club.  Of course the book is for anyone, but I don't think he would have thought of it had I not done so first.  This year he is thinking of doing Sinclair Lewis's Main Street, and the same thing applies -- he would not have thought of it had I not done so first.  I find this irritating, but I don't think James gets the point.  He complains in his blog about receiving six books for the American group for next year -- at least, I think he is complaining.

On May 29 we had a big blowup in Reader Redux Toronto, with one lady being especially obnoxious in her behaviour.  To my astonishment, none of the other members, male or female, called her on it.  I wrote, after four drafts (!), a direct statement of how I felt, which elicited no reply.  She was going to leave the club, so I removed her.  There is a word for this sort of behaviour; it begins with 'b.'

We are going to interview a young woman who will catsit for us while we are on holiday in August. This person comes much recommended by our animal hospital staff.  She will come to our condo, which is much more suitable for our shy but beautiful little cat.

On Saturday we went to see Colin Firth, Jude Law and Nicole Kidman in Genius, about the relationship between Maxwell Perkins of Scribner's and Thomas Wolfe.  The film is based on A. Scott Berg's biography of Perkins, which won the National Book Award.  I was very interested to see the portrait of Wolfe, a writer who interests me; we shall be reading Look Homeward, Angel in my new American reading group next year.  The performances and design were all excellent, except that Kidman seems to be typecast as nasty women.  She seemed just to walk through her role.  It was the first feature film by British theatre director Michael Grandage, whose A Midsummer Night's Dream we saw in London three years ago.  


  1. Congrats on entering the world of blogging! Honestly, I'm not complaining about having all those American books to read--they look fascinating. And once again, I'm sorry about stealing your thunder! (I really didn't realize you were about to make the same point.) Of course, I've been getting book club ideas from you--I look everywhere for ideas.

  2. Welcome to the world of blogging! Always a pleasure to read about what's happening in the world of John Snow.

    - Marisse

  3. Good show John. Yet another form of communication that I don't understand. LOL

  4. As you see, it has been some time since I entered a word in this space, for whatever it is worth. There have been some developments in the bookclub world. I became very fed up with people signing up for clubs and never appearing or acknowledging messages. So my fourth (!) club was dissolved. We now have seven persons who will meet monthly. I am also exhausted from the to and fro of changing dates. With one person it seems like a battleground. I certainly shall not create another Meetup.

    FIour trips to the Stratford Festival, with one yet to come. The School for Scandal, a favourite, was performed excellently, with a fine turn by Brent Carver in a small role. The Canadian play The Komagata Maru Incident, which I saw because Sharon Pollock got her start in Calgary fifty years ago, suffered badly from a late opening due to the illness of a cast member. I think it is rather a weak play, too. Timon of Athens was very good. The Madwoman of Chaillot, in which I appeared in high school (ahem), was competent but I thought missed the subtleties of the play. I am seeing Guys and Dolls later in October.

    I am taking a University of Toronto SChool of Continuing Studies course now, on James Joyce. When it finishes, I shall do another, in Homer, then a third on Tolstoy. These are pleasurable experiences with no arguing. If the shoe fits, wear it.

    This morning I arose at the usual time of 6.00 p.m., cuddled my cat, fed my cat, fed myself, and perused the Toronto Star. I read online about the Nobels in LIterature (to a popular writer, heaven help us) and in Peace. Nobels in Literature are not for popular writers -- they are for obscure writers , edgy and unappealing, even scary in aspect. Look at Herta Muller.

    In closing, and as it says on popular televsion, "thank you for taking the time to read my [blog]." It will Snow again soon.