As part of a new marketing blitz to begin soon, I have changed the cover of Fathom Lines. Here it is:
I think it reflects the story a bit better than the previous one--some of the setting of the story is represented, as well as a few thematic passages. So, what do you think? Honestly, please! If no one likes it, then this is not a step in the right direction and I would really like to know.
Today, I ask you ... what could you make with just your mouth, a few claw-like fingers and spit? I'm guessing it won't be this marvelous or this functional.
"The nest and eggs specimens, collected over the last two centuries, were photographed at The California Academy of Sciences, The Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, and The Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology. While few nests are collected today, these nests and eggs are used for research, providing important information about their builder’s habitats, DNA, diseases and other survival issues." --from photographer Sharon Beals
This is a relatively new word (coined in the last century) that you probably aren't familiar with, but have experienced more than a few times.
noun 1. A misunderstood or misinterpreted word or phrase resulting from a mishearing of the lyrics of a song.
Etymology: 1950s: from a mishearing of the phrase laid him on the green, from the traditional ballad ‘The Bonny Earl of Murray’, as Lady Mondegreen
Source: Oxford Dictionary
So, there's a word for this phenomenon. I still sing Creedence Clearwater Revival like I did when I was six. Down on the corner, out in the street, Willy and the Coke boys are singing, Willy can 'git those happy feet. Oh John Fogerty, why must you sing with your mouth full of marbles? Here are some others that I think are pretty hilarious (via kissthisguy.com):
What are your mondegreens?
A couple of years ago, I culled my books--a collection of over 500 wiped out to almost nothing. At first, I found it horrible to pick off the books one by one, and pack them off to the charity book sale. I loved my books and what I thought they said about me, this collection of mainly 20th century novels, with a handful of travel, historiography, philosophy and wine books evening it out. But it had to be done--it took up a lot of real estate in a very small living space--and once I started sorting through, I realized most of the books I owned didn't say that much about me. (Also, who were my bookshelves talking to, anyway? Ninety-five percent of the people that come over know me pretty well already, and it's not like I want or expect the guy who tests the fire alarm twice a year to be looking through the bookshelf for insight about me.) So, after the first twenty tough decisions were made, the process got easier, fun actually, when I imagined people reading these books again. Solomon Gursky Was Here... You might not think so, but you will suspend all disbelief. Fall on Your Knees... I hope you've got nothing to do for the next 8 hours. Ulysses? Ahahaha. Pity the fool.
Anyway, all of this long-winded ramble is meant to illustrate a point. Now, I own less than 30 books. Mostly, the books I kept say something to me, instead of about me. But this book does both.
You Might Have Missed ... Being Still with Pablo Neruda
Author: Pablo Neruda, Translated by Alastair Reid
Pub. Details: FSG Adult; Bilingual Edition ed., Jan 2001
note: because I am not a Spanish speaker, I will be quoting the poems as translated by Alastair Reid, but if you prefer the original, the Spanish is printed opposite in this text.
So, in terms of introducing some unknown talent to you today, this is a gigantic fail. I realize that Pablo Neruda is one of the very few recognize-by-name poets in the vast canon of literature. Still, I would venture that most people who have read Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair, or The Captain's Verses have not read what I think is his most reflective collection of poems, Extravagaria.
The original Spanish publication, Estravagario, appeared in 1958, after Neruda had travelled the world as a diplomat (later an exile), and returned to his native Chile. There is an obvious theme to these poems, one of stillness and being at peace, one of having silence enough to think about the big questions of life. For once on the face of the earth, / let's not speak in any language; / let's stop for one second, / and not move our arms so much.
There are also the mundane things that we see anew because he shows us their simple beauty--describing fog as "...waves [that] roll on in the air, / like invisible horses" or things washed up on shore "...violet claws of crabs, / little skulls of dead fish, / smooth syllables of wood, / small countries of mother-of-pearl..." For a writer, his poems are little injections of inspiration.
Of course, there is love--it's Neruda, after all--but this love is deeper and more mature, a testament to the sacred act of building life together rather than making love. "Now we need each other, / not only for the carnations' sake, / not only to look for honey-- / we need our hands to wash with, to make fire."
And don't worry--most of the poetry is tremendously accessible. You don't need to 'get' poetry to enjoy this book. You need no qualifications save for that you are alive and know how to read. No matter who you are, there is at least one thing in this book that will make you think about the life that you have lived so far, or about the life you want to live.
Extravagaria survived my book cull, and would survive again if some crazy anti-book person told me I could only keep one book for the rest of my life. The pages of my ten-year old copy are dog-eared, the spine is beginning to split. It is a book I turn to all the time, like my own personal bible, when I need to remember what I'm supposed to be doing with life, when I need to be reminded of a bigger picture. Reading this book is as close as I will ever get to prayer.
A Birder's Guide to Everything, is "a coming of age comedy about teenage birdwatchers." From the trailer, it looks like an intelligent film about intelligent, quirky, and sometimes floundering characters, the kind that I typically enjoy quite a bit. It showed in Toronto very briefly at the TIFF theatre, but you can find it on iTunes now, I believe, for immediate download.
Anyway, partly because of this film and partly because the birds are flying back now, I've been thinking about how birding is really a perfect metaphor for the creative process. Some proof:
"At once the lost boys—but where are they? They are no longer there. Rabbits could not have disappeared more quickly. I will tell you where they are. With the exception of Nibs, who has darted away to reconnoitre, they are already in their home under the ground, a very delightful residence of which we shall see a good deal presently. But how have they reached it? for there is no entrance to be seen, not so much as a large stone, which if rolled away, would disclose the mouth of a cave. Look closely, however, and you may note that there are here seven large trees, each with a hole in its hollow trunk as large as a boy."
The Real Story: The photographer, Tsuneaki Hiramatsu, took multiple long exposure shots of fireflies and merged the images to show the flight paths. Magical and real.
Here's a beautiful warm word for a dreary day. If you're from Hawaii, you know this one (or if you know who Blanche Deveraux is).
noun 1. a veranda or porch
Etymology: Hawaiian lānai
Source: Merriam-Webster Dictionary
One of my resolutions for 2014 was to Read More, and I have! Yeah. (It's much easier to keep fun resolutions.) So far, of the 20 books I've read since January, I've loved three. So, here are some reading recommendations from me, in no order at all:
Here's where you get to take a peek at some of the non-glamourous, non-magical stuff that happens behind the curtain.
In order to publicize Fathom Lines, I'm putting together a little marketing package and one aspect of this package will be some representative quotes from the book. Of course, I have my favourite passages, but I'm not exactly unbiased. So, I'm asking readers (or wannabe readers) to help me choose which quotes I should use to market the book, keeping in mind that these pull quotes will be used with photographs, that I can choose four quotes at the most, and that this marketing is targeted for Toronto.
So, tell me what you think! Choose the one that you like best ...
A few things that I read/found this week that I loved ...
You may not be blown away by today's photo. A gull is something we see all the time, mostly in less-than-glamourous circumstances: circling garbage at the dump, swooping to catch fish entrails flung from boats, patrolling parking lots, crapping on everything in sight. But still, when I found this photo earlier in the week, a solitary gull on the wing, I knew I would use it today.
I love gulls. Certainly it has something to do with Joni Mitchell's Song to a Seagull. "Fly silly seabird, no dreams can possess you, no voices can blame you, for sun on your wings ... " (Let's face it, J.M. could probably make me like root canal if she sang about it) But also, to me, gulls are one of the first harbingers of spring. In Toronto, their call goes up early, in the shift from winter to spring, when there's still grungy snow on the ground but the sun is coming back around. Today, there is sun. (Never mind how much snow is still on the ground.) Perhaps I will hear you, silly seabird.
If you went to a quasi-religious summer camp like I did, chances are you already know today's word. Similar to whisper, it sounds just like quiet reflection should.
noun 1. a religious service in the late afternoon or evening
Etymology: c. 14th century Middle English, from Latin, vesper, meaning evening or evening star.
I love maps. And I also love photographs of how things used to be. So, it's obvious that I was always going to love WhatWasThere. They want to create a unique history of the world by tying "historical photos to Google maps, [and] allowing you to tour familiar streets to see how they appeared in the past."
This is a great innovation that everyone can use: residents can learn more about where they live, tourists can get backstory, educators can bring two somewhat abstract subjects, history and geography, to life for their students. And for writers of historical fiction---well, WhatWasThere is The Jackpot. It is an easy and direct way to the essential atmosphere of a place at a particular point in time.
From my own very rough calculations, I estimate WhatWasThere has mapped more than 36,000 historical photographs by time and location. North America and Europe are best-represented right now, but with a platform for anyone to upload photographs to the site, this amazing project could very well achieve their mission to "weave together a photographic history of the world."
Unfortunately for me, my work-in-progress novel is set in Toronto long before cameras existed. Might I make a suggestion? How about WhatWasThere: Historical Paintings version? Huh? Sound good? Too bad, I guess it's back to the archives for me.
Erin Bedford, writer.