Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Moon Tiger and other stories

We began the cycling life again today, after purchasing helmets and locks from Canadian Tire. I got a new basket for my bike too and I love it. Our bikes are beat up and ugly, and mine has rusty spokes from being left out in the rain for three months in 2002. Stuart's came for $20 at a yard sale and nobody is ever going to steal either of them. Or if they do, they're welcome to them for it must mean the thief is very desperate. We ran a couple of errands by bicycle today, which was thrilling. We rode bikes everywhere in Japan and we've missed them since April. None of our friends had cars there, and we'd ride across the city in packs and it felt like we were twelve again, with an alien in our bike baskets just seconds from jumping over the moon. The freedom and efficiency of a bike really cannot be equaled and the size of a city just shrinks once you've got one.

Oh my. Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively. (This is the first time I've used Google Print by the way. I like it!) My Aunt gave me this book, perhaps more than ten years ago. It sat on my shelf for all those years, first it seemed too stuffy for me to enjoy and then, because I'd received it so long ago and it looked like one, I had decided it was a children't book and I wouldn't be interested. It was almost sold in my booksale in July, and then I remembered that I'd seen it numerous times on lists of great books by women. So I kept it, and I read it. And it's a masterpiece. I like it for the same reason I like books by Margaret Drabble. It tells the stories of twentieth century history, or the lives behind the history. I loved this book because it was so clever and educational, with so many new words, ideas and historical lessons. The story was heartbreaking but affirming of goodness. Books like "Moon Tiger" let me know I live in a time worthy of great literature, which in spite of all the danger, I do appreciate. It's the story of a woman reflecting on her rich and winding life, whilst on her deathbed. She is a historian, and she reworks the history of the world so that she is in the centre of it. Lively explores how our personal histories are interpreted by others, and how they are connected to History with a capital H. A rich and brilliant book. Now reading Brick Lane by Monica Ali.

A marvellous line from "The Ice Age" by Margaret Drabble. "Something has gone wrong with the laws of chance."

Here, an interesting article on the dynamics of book groups, exploring how the private act of reading goes public. On how fewer of us have novels in us than we think. The author expounds upon how perhaps the reason book deals prove so elusive to new writers is that many new writers are rubbish. Top Ten lesbian lit. Zoe Williams on why of how British MPs aren't ashamed to admit their summer reading is either crap or a children's book.

I got "Writing Away", PEN Canada's 1994 travel anthology for $5 at the airport on Monday. Yes, Monday. Though it was supposed to be Tuesday. Stuart's mom came downstairs about 3:15 on Monday and informed us that the days had been mixed up and their plane was leaving in just over 4 hours. In remarkable time, they packed their bags and we were in the car, and off on a race to the airport. We got to the airport from Peterborough in 1 hour and 45 minutes, which I consider a miraculous feat. It was a rather abrupt and disappointing way to say goodbye, but at least they got their flight and we did have a pretty great two weeks together. And these are the dramas that make our holiday stories more amusing.

Things I've learned recently is that "cupidity" is greed (comes from the same root as "cupid", both to do Latin "Cupidus" which means "desire". Also that Curriculuam Vitae means "course of life" and that the word "rent" has an old meaning of split, or break apart.

Becky of Something Blue has sent along a couple of photos and there will be more on her site soon. I think this picture of Stuart is absolutely gorgeous, though perhaps I am biased because I adore him.