Sunday, June 30, 2019

Book Review: That Time I Loved You by Carrianne Leung

Update That Time I Loved You has been optioned for TV

Set in the year 1979, That Time I Loved You:  Life is Never as Perfect as it Seems is a linked stories collection about the Ontario suburb Scarborough. Away from the wildness of downtown Toronto, Scarborough is a "safe" place. Neighbours don't lock their doors. Children play on the street.

But what goes on behind those unlocked doors?

Suicides. Infidelity. Physical and sexual abuse.

Yes, but also... Love. Healing. Acceptance.

Author Carriane Leung grew up in Scarborough and concludes her author acknowledgments with...
'Lastly, while this book refers to suicide, I hope it's also a testament to the resilience we share when faced with the often-difficult work of living.'

I purchased my copy from Amazon

Published by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.
Published in 2018

won the 22nd annual Daunta Gleed Literary Award 

Eleven years old Chinese-Canadian June Lee is the main character. She welcomes us to Scarborough and informs us that other things may be happening in other places around the world but for her, the most important thing is what is happening in her neighbourhood. Over a span of two years, we watch June change as her neighbourhood does. She seems to be always there waiting for us to catch up to her. She is the glue that holds this collection together. And at the end of the last story, June bids farewell to Scarborough...
'Everything that matters to me...was here...I had assumed I would always want to live here, but now I knew that was childish...There were other places in the world, and I knew I would go.' (p. 211)


If you, like me, are new to linked stories you may be interested in these articles...

'Mayne Island's big sister program'
photo by ldyck

July on this blog...

Two short stories

Sharing Your Writing (July 7)

A story about sharing writing with your spouse and a list of places you could share your writing--other than with your spouse.

Toy (July 21)

A story that will leave you wondering what happened to your favourite toy.

 Two book reviews

An Ocean of Minutes by Thea Lim (July 14)
Published by Viking

A love story about time travel

Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini (July 28)
Illustrated by Dan Williams
Published by Viking

Author proceeds from this book are donated to helping refugees around the world.

Happening this month on Mayne Island...

photo by ldyck

This church fair is one of the most affordable places I know to get must-reads.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Playing With Your Muse (short story) (2 of 2) by Leanne Dyck

You, the writer, continue to listen and I, the muse, tell you a story about an elderly woman who...

Linked to part 1

photo by ldyck

Play With Your Muse (continued)

"Yes, knitting. The clicking of needles matches the rocking of her chair. Knit. Purl. Knit. P--. The needles fall out of her hands to the floor. Her body is thrown against the chair; her eyes roll into her skull. As if pulled by a string, she rises to her feet. Her body moves like she's made of wood like she's a marionette. The knitting basket stands in her way. Her right leg kicks out toppling it. Needles and yarn shower the floor. 

"Thud! Blind, she crashes into the wall. She stumbles back and moves over two inches. Second attempt successful, she leaves the living room and enters the kitchen. She passes fridge, sink, stove. Turning left into the utility room, she descends the creaking wood stairs to the basement. Knitted slippers on cold concrete, she faces a grey wall. Her right foot swings back, then forward and into the wall. She doesn't flinch. The wall crumbles to dust, revealing a tunnel four feet wide by six feet high. Unaided by light or sight, she finds a grooved path and, with arms outstretched, she enters the tunnel. Where others would have faltered, the blind elderly woman weaves past dangling roots and over rocks. Further down the path, she plows into the edge of her life. Sliding her outstretched hands up and down, and to the left and right, she searches for a gap, but the darkness is unyielding.  Spread eagle, she squeezes her fingertips and the toes of her slippers into the void. A piercing white light pours out of the dark, wraps around her and melts her body. Flesh and bone dissolve into a single water droplet. Transformed she travels in the winds of time--a silent witness, observing but not observed.

"One sky blue, sun-filled day, a little girl runs outside to play. That single water droplet falls from the sky, onto her hand and is absorbed. Enwrapped by unexplained happiness, the child smiles." Story finished I release you.

Morning light poured through your bedroom window and directs your attention to the bedside table. There between the lamp and a pen, a notebook held the words we'd shaped into a story.

Next  Sunday evening (June 30)

Book Review:  That Time I Love You (linked stories)
by Carrianne Leung

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Playing with your muse (short story)(1 of 2) by Leanne Dyck

Do writers sleep soundly? What makes them toss and turn? Who do they wake up for--too early in the morning?

photo by ldyck

Playing With Your Muse

You, the writer, were in bed, but you weren't asleep. The pillow was too lumpy; your knees too bony; the blankets too warm; the bed too cold. The deep breathing exercise you'd found online had promised sleep after four or five deep breaths. It might have worked for some, but not you.

I have to relax, you told yourself, I have that major presentation tomorrow. I have to be rested-- I have to get to work early-- I have to beat rush hour-- I have to--

You breathed out slowly. No, I don't. You smiled. I'm retired. Retired and living in paradise. No major presentations. No rush hour. No stress.

You visualized taking your last sip of grapefruit juice, depositing the glass in the sink and cutting a path through dew-kissed grass to your studio. There you reply to songbirds with clicks from your computer keyboard. With images of your happy place occupying your mind, sleep came.


The phone broke through your dreams.


"Fine," you spat, flicked on the bedside lamp, flung back the covers and climbed out of bed. 


Stiff legs carried you down the hall.


Your bare feet slapped the polished wood stairs--polished and slippery. You could have fallen--been knocked unconscious, died. You held onto the rail and made it safely down. 


You turned on the kitchen light and picked up the receiver. "Hello."

I have no time for niceties. "An elderly woman. Any elderly woman. This is important--she's an any-woman, but older. Wrinkles. White hair. The whole thing."

"It's too early," you groaned and I'm not surprised. You're not the most driven writer. "Not for everyone. I'll phone someone else," I warned.

"No, I'm listening."

"She's alone--not a soul around. Isolated."

"Got it," you said.

"I see her on a rocking chair. Her hands are busy... Busy... What's she doing?" Sometimes I have to really work for it.

"Knitting?" you suggested, grabbing your pen and notebook.

Part 2 of Playing with your muse

Next Sunday evening...
June 23
Please visit this blog next Sunday, for part two of How a writer sleeps.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Book Review: Fox 8 (illustrated short novel) by George Saunders

This 49-page illustrated short novel packs a powerful punch.

I purchased my copy from Bolen Books

Illustrated by Chelsea Cardinal
Published by Random House,
an imprint and division of Penguin Random House
Published in 2018

On the surface Fox 8 is a cute story--I laughed out loud (I haven't laughed while reading in a long time)--about a fox who becomes enamored by the human culture and teaches himself how to talk and write human.

Dig deeper...

George Saunders has won many awards for his writing, including the Man Booker.  In the hands of this skilled author, Fox 8 is an allegory. Fox 8 is an entreaty from a member of a disenfranchised group.

'First may I say, sorry for any werds I spel rong. Because I am a Fox. So don't rite or spel perfect.' (p. 3)
I identify with these words. 

-I have dyslexia. Learning to read and spell was challenging. I still have challenges with language.

And yet, in many ways, I'm also a member of a privileged group--I'm a white North American. I have a roof over my head, food in my fridge, potable water runs out of my taps, there's money in my purse.

How can I be more compassionate, more understanding?

Night after night, Fox 8 sits outside under the window as a human mother tells her children bedtime stories. And night after night, he slowly learns the language. 

Once obtaining mastery, he attempts to use his new skills to help his pack adapt to the ever-encroaching human culture. But, after witnessing unexpected cruelty, he is forced to leave all he has known and begin a new. 

Wrapped in a charming package, Fox 8 compels us to take a cold hard look at ourselves--how do we treat those we consider "other"?


About George Saunders

Imagine learning how to write short stories from George Saunders at Syracuse University.

Next Sunday Evening on this blog...

How a writer sleeps (short story) 
Soundly? Do we toss and turn? Do we answer that phone? Or let it ring? Who wakes us up too early in the morning? Who do we rise for--no matter the hour?

Sunday, June 2, 2019

3 films that emphasize the 'ability' in disability (list) by Leanne Dyck

photo by ldyck

When you think about someone who is disabled you may envision someone who is weak. You may think of someone who needs your help. But we disabled have faced a lot of adversity; adversity builds strength. We have a core of steel. Believe in our ability to "stand". We will succeed. Our success may not look like what you imagined, but it will be what we believe. When you try to protect us; when you doubt our capabilities you keep us weak. Stop. Allow us to grow strong.

Three movies that emphasize the 'ability' in disability

Bird Box
novel by Josh Malerman
screenwriter Eric Heisserer

A sighted woman finds sanctuary in a community of blind people.

screenwriters Scott Beck and Bryan Woods

A deaf girl defends her family against an alien invasion.

written and directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber

A physically disabled man frees his family from a burning building.

More about films...
'Howie Sanders, the co-head of media rights at Anonymous Content, has seen a huge boom in episodic adaptation "Five years ago, I probably did about 75 percent film. Now I do 90 percent television," he said, explaining how streaming services had reshaped the landscape. "The market has changed dramatically. You can make a television deal now that his equivalent, if not surpass a film deal from a couple of years ago." -NYRF 2019:  Film Scouts Talk Trend

Next Sunday evening...

Book Review:  Fox 8 by George Saunders

Fox 8, enamored with the human culture, learns how to speak and write human. 

This short novel is an entreaty from the disenfranchised.