Archive for May, 2009

The Years of Talking Dangerously

years_talking_dangerRussell Smith mentions Nunberg’s new book in his Globe and Mail column:

The linguist Geoffrey Nunberg . . .  in his new book, The Years of Talking Dangerously , questions, “Is play the same word when it refers to a theatre play, a baseball play, a fair play and a stock-market play? Is it the same word in playing the violin, playing third base and playing someone for a sucker? Is player different words when it refers to Barry Bonds and Puffy Combs?” Nunberg argues that we like to believe stories that tell us English has the largest vocabulary and is the most influential global language simply out of chauvinism – in particular because Americans are proud of the international allure of their popular culture.

Smith’s column also mentions that the English language is scheduled to pass the million-word mark in 12 days — on June 10.  Lingtastic.

Published by Public Affairs


May 28, 2009 at 1:30 pm Leave a comment

Travel as a Political Act

travel_politicalCanwest News ran a great piece by John Mackie on Rick Steves, author of Travel as a Political Act, which has recently released. This  post comes from the Victoria Times-Colonist.  I found this tidbit about Steves particularly interesting:

. . . his mom grew up in White Rock, her family was from Edmonton, and Europeans often ask him if he’s Canadian because he has a bit of a hoser accent. Steve was in Canada recently to speak at The Great Outdoors Show in Abbotsford, B.C.

Well, actually, he was in Canada in March, but the book is available now.

Published by Nation Books

May 27, 2009 at 1:38 pm Leave a comment

That Made Ache/Translator, Trader

ayout 1 This is a tremendously satisfying read, which I highly recommend for anyone who’s read anything in translation, from Tolstoy to Murakami to Houellebecq and thought,  “I wonder if this is what the author really meant?”

Francoise Sagan, who rose to fame in the late 50s when she wrote her debut novel Bonjour Tristesse at the age of 18,  is the author of this lesser-known novel, La Chamade. The translator of this edition is none other than physicist Douglas Hofstadter, who wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid (which I admit I’ve never read).

If  you flip the book over, you get another cover and an essay by Hofstadter called Translator, Trader in which he details many of the parts of the book that he laboured over. Well, he laboured over the whole thing, having written it out entirely in longhand to translate it, but there are key phrases and dialogue to which he devoted special care, and it’s fascinating, even if you don’t always agree with his choices.

Published by Basic Books

May 26, 2009 at 5:08 pm Leave a comment

Books and buildings

Books and buildings

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I am doing some publicity work for Doors Open Toronto, the theme this year being right up my alley: Lit City.  At over forty of the nearly 175 Doors Open venues, there will be writers on hand, reading from their works, often inspired by the very spot on which they are standing. Most people, however will flock to the Don Jail, it not being a part of Doors Open for a few years — it’s a favourite.

Lots of radio coverage tomorrow, including CBC, JazzFM and Classical 96.3.

May 21, 2009 at 7:41 pm Leave a comment

Tasty treats from Ani Phyo


Yesterday I made a raw food dessert to bring to our friends’ Victoria Day party — they were a hit.  “Dreaming About Donut Holes” made with almonds, dates, dried pineapple and coconut — so amazingly delicious. And they actually look like donut holes — but much denser, and guilt-free. (Although with the amount of almond and coconut, they can’t be without a calorie or two!)

Ani has a brand new cookbook out called Ani’s Raw Food Desserts.  This recipe, however, came from an earlier cookbook called Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen.

Get (not) cooking!

Published by Da Capo PressIMG_1562

May 19, 2009 at 2:46 pm Leave a comment