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Pickle Me This

August 27, 2006

Private Universe

Our weekend has been full of little things. Reading and writing of course, and Little Miss Sunshine (which was brilliant), the orientation for my new volunteer endeavour at Culturelink, I got quite a haircut (and not by Stuart), a birthday dinner for Carolyn (which was hilarious), followed by a going-away party for Steve (which was well attended by some of my favourite people), The Big Chill on our way home, fun at Pedestrian Sundays in Kensington, and an entire watermelon (devoured).

I reread a number of books last week. In particular, The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields. I first read this book in the early 1990s; my mom bought it for me once when I was sick in bed, and I have this pre-Pulitzer, small, hardcover edition that I am awfully fond of. It’s a great book- so prescient. It was 1993, and Shields was writing, “When we say a thing or event is real, never mind how suspect it sounds, we honour it. But when a thing is made up- regardless of how true and just it seems- we turn up our noses. That’s the age we live in. The documentary age. As if we can never, never get enough facts.” A bit eerie, when I think of now. I loved this book for its factualness, though, that such fact can come from fiction. For a similar reason that I loved Possession last week. These stories are so firmly planted, in place and time. The authors have created an entire universe to accommodate their people, and that universe is so very similar to mine. The Stone Diaries, with its lists, photographs, family tree and extensive documentation; it is uncanny in its reality. I bet it drives some people absolutely mad. I’m now reading The Middle Ground by Margaret Drabble. Drabble also does some fine universe building. She has invented places and people that continually pop up throughout her body of work. Characters turn up, twenty years on from when we last met them, and they’ve changed accordingly. Her world is such a terribly intricate web, of incredible connections which are far too connected to be really plausible in fiction, and that’s what makes that world seem so very real.

On the L Woolf bio. Here for how to read a novel. New Can-Lit! I loved the Michael Ignatieff feature in The Globe, solely on the basis of it being a good story.

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