Thursday, September 30, 2004


Having just learned about Christian chick lit, I can only imagine what tripe it must be. My suspicions were confirmed after a quick search with the above string of terms, returning a multitude of titles that fall under this category, much like the heroine of a Christian chick lit novel falls under the heaving body of her perfect, god-fearing man, screaming, 'Jesus, oh Jesus!'.

Or is that an inaccurate representation of a typical work of Christian chick lit? A fun twist on this genre might have the heroine unable to fall in love with a mere mortal of a man because she is just too much in love with the Almighty, and is saving herself for him. Only problem is, He doesn't go in for the whole plastic persona that heavily characterizes the typical chick lit heroine [i.e. obsession with shoes, smoothies, and soy lattes]. She can often be heard saying, 'He doesn't even know that I exist!' with baleful woe. But of course, he does know that she exists, because of a small talent that allows Him to know all and see all simultaneously. In light of that, He knows about her little crush, and thinks it might be a good idea to keep this information from Mary M.

I'm guessing that this is not the way things might unfold in a typical sampling of Christian chick lit. Instead, I think the heroine might be, er, hellbent on finding a husband with steadfast Christian beliefs, good moral fiber, and an upstanding profession that allows the money to keep rolling in. If he enjoys drinking smoothies, all the better.

How boring! By my reckoning, there doesn't seem to be much of a difference between the genre of chick lit and the sub-genre of Christian chick lit. The insertion of random pointed words like 'faith', 'God', 'church', 'stigmata', and 'fish' might make the difference, but so what? I know chick lit is offensive, but is it really necessary to differentiate it from the usual brand of vacuosity by churchifying it?

Yes, I suppose that it is. Of course, I fully realize that this is an extension of Christian fiction being a genre of fiction in general, and a quick browse through a local Christian bookstore's online database indicates that it is no small offshoot at that. Admittedly, this is not news, but it is startling all the same. It must mean that there is some great demand for it, which must further mean that its readers are satisfied with a product that is essentially a ripoff of the original genre from whence it was born. As a genre of fiction, 'Christian lit' is about as authentic as a Cabbage Patch doll lying in the manger of a nativity scene.

Yet at the same time, I feel inexplicably comforted in the knowledge that I have a plentiful source of inspiration should I ever decide to stop reading real literature.

Saturday, September 25, 2004


For a very long time, I have had difficulty in reconciling the overtly similar yet covertly disparate activities of reading and writing. Despite their obvious connectedness, I still manage to convince myself that they are mutually exclusive to one another, and that their concurrence precludes any fruitful and substantive outcome, by which I mean, any writing endeavour undertaken while in the throes of reading is bound to be coloured by the prose at hand, the result of which is an inauthentic and tainted voice.

I no longer believe this exaggerated position to have any validity: this is the result of a directly proportional relationship that has emerged between my age and my reading interests, rendering me greedy and insatiable in the face of endless possibilities afforded by the availability of reading material that I deem to be worth my while. I can voluntarily drown myself in the abundant wit, intelligence, and insight of countless others who have succeeded in marching a few steps further than I.

Until recently, I insisted that my inability to put forth any prose of my own was the result of an inaccurate impression that there was nothing left to say, as everything had/has already been quite capably said by others. Now it is my belief that I must take in as much as I can in the short time allotted to me in this life, if I am to understand all that I want to understand [it is ironic to note that, socratically speaking, I am also aware that the more I know, the more I realize that I know nothing]. In light of this realization, there is no time left for writing.

Sadly, there is also no time left for reading. If reading precludes the ability to write, then the daily rigamarole of life precludes the ability to read. My brain wastes, and along with it, the jubilation that comes with reading something enlightening fizzles out.

Still, the promise of a time to read that may avail itself holds much excitement. The same can be said for the promise of a time to write. Two different promises: one will undoubtedly be broken.

Sunday, September 12, 2004


I would be remiss if I didn't link to the newly launched website for the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library at the University of Toronto. You'll notice the subtle presence of a man overlooking the mezzanine, silently keeping reverent watch over the collection. That's library director and bibliomane extraordinaire Richard Landon, whom I believe may very well die in this library, likely with a smile on his face and a cigar in his pocket. I could die happy here too.

Don't forget to send an e-postcard to your favourite bibliophile.


Summer's hastening on
I'm trying to get a feeling from the city
But I've been unfaithful
I've been travelling abroad
We've got a fantasy affair
We didn't get wet, we didn't dare
Our aspirations, are wrapped up in books
Our inclinations are hidden in looks

--Belle & Sebastian, Dear Catastrophe Waitress

Alas, it is so true. Summer wanes, but not for lack of heat. The calendar in my apartment rests at August, not because I forget to change it, but because I don't want to. At the same time, I love September and everything that it brings with it: fresh apples, cool nights, the snapping and rustling sounds that twigs and leaves make underfoot while walking through woods, and the sky, the sky, the sky...

But lets not forget about the books. Those fresh books that the new school year necessitates, whether they be a weighty textbook, a blank hardback lab book, or a $4 pocket edition of Kafka's Metamorphosis.

I think I have been imagining that this autumn finds me back in school, having bought a superlative Semikolon; Tagesbuch [at the equally superlative Essence du Papier]. In addition to that, I have purchased no less than six books in the past week, which now adorn the table in my living room, arranged in a fashion that passes for neat but is ultimately less desirable than their desired destination: a third bookcase that I don't have and that I don't have room for even if I did have it. Oh, and I can't forget the fabulous bright orange book bag that I splurged on yesterday. Now I'm all set to go back to school. All I really need now is the Montblanc Franz Kafka pen and I'll be set. Well, I guess I need to be enrolled in a course or two for that to be the case.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Die alte Heimat

Hugo Hamilton says that the German are a lonely people. When they are abroad, he says they tend to forget where they come from and long to be invisible. In their attempt to exorcise their collective demons, they deny their heritage and essentially became homeless people, intellectually and otherwise. Oh, and they have guilt. They have so much guilt, of which they are reminded repeatedly.

At the end of it all, Hamilton hints that there is no German identity, which belies everything that has preceded his sad conclusion. The German are ashamed, guilty, and remorseful; this is their identity.

I was very close to showing this article to my parents, who happen to be German, but two reasons prevented this from happening:

1) Not wanting to raise their ire on a peaceful and otherwise guilt-free, remorseless summer evening, and

2) Their pending departure to a German club wherein they would meet their German friends, who collectively form a German choir that sings German songs, after which they would eat German food and drink German beer. Jawohl!

I sort of understand where Hamilton is coming from, but find his predisposition to generalizations at once exaggerated and distressing. I don't like that he uses Bernhard Schlink's The Reader as an example of the identity-less German psyche, which is also a work that heavily features so-called 'second generation' guilt in a post-war Germany. Why no mention of Sebald or Grass? Not every German that dares to speak forthrightly is shaking in his boots.

I realize that I probably don't completely get what Germans are living through and have lived through since the middle of the twentieth century. I am merely the Canadian offspring of immigrants who left a country called Deutschland forty-eight years ago. But I do get this: they feel no guilt and no shame, and of that I am proud.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004


If you want to understand the truly banal nature of the weblog, just keep clicking on the Next Blog button up there and to the right. I've spent the last ten minutes doing just that and am convinced that everyone has something to say while saying nothing at all. Me included. Only a matter of time before this here netritus disappears altogether. Need to make some space available for some other blowhole with an empty voice.

Ergo, silence.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004


I got my first taste of chick-lit today as I was reading over the shoulder of a wannabe fashionista on the streetcar ride home. It was a Sophie Kinsella book whose cover matched the reader's handbag [I've always been fastidious in matching sock colours/elements to shirt colours, but now must I match the colour of my book to my clothing as well?].

After sampling a few passages before and after re-shifting between sardine-like bodies, I really couldn't ascertain what all the fuss is about. It's essentially mindless drivel, along with lots of, er, banal conversations, and plenty of references to mango smoothies and coffee beverages. If I had been able to read along some more, I'm quite sure that the obligatory crantini reference would have also arisen.


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