Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood is one of my favorite story-tellers. I’ve been composing a lesson plan to read and study her recent story Stone Mattress (which is a great story, btw). I decided to browse some of her interviews and I just can’t stop watching them. She’s smart and educated, we all knew that, what’s more, she’s witty and she uses that deadpan voice, it’s so cool. When I’m old, I want to be like her (yep, a published and internationally acclaimed writer 😉

some rare and beautiful footages

Look, Sir Arthur, living and breathing! 1927!

And this is the guitarist numerous times mentioned in my favorite Nocturnes by Kadzuo Ishiguro. I love such vivid literature illustrations 🙂 I generally think it’s a great idea to listen to songs mentioned in the novels I like, look at the pictures, retrace the travel maps. Hey folks, we’re so lucky to have the Internet.

Today in Fiction

Nathan Englander reads John Cheever

The new school year started only 3 days ago but I already feel tired and a little lost. The new students from the tech university are a bit hard to adjust to, and I don’t feel like putting much effort because I sense they’re not going to appreciate it. Let’s wait until the philologists next week and see where it’s going.

Meanwhile I’m just going to say that I’m so enjoying Jonathan Coe’s Expo 58, it’s so sparkingly British! Great relief after The Prague Cemetery, uff.

Books about Town

Okay, I’m supertired from the psychological questionnaires for my research, I’m just gonna watch some cute pictures for a while.

For example, this supercool project for all tourists and book-lovers and, again, Londoners (oh lucky bastards): you take a route and not merely wander around but look for the bench painted with a scene from your favorite book set in London. Isn’t it great? Marvellous fun for those who want to go if not off the beaten track then at least off the beaten purpose.


(It just occured to me that it could be an entertaining classroom activity: showing an image and making students guess the title of the book it represents.)

Tim O’Brien and the Art of Storytelling

Another great longread on the Atlantic about the way a story must be told, written by Tom O’Brien, made me want to say a few words about the book I haven’t finished yet but already know it well deserved its place in the school curriculum.

I’ve been reading (well, in fact, listening to) The Things They Carried and it is absolutely amazing. Not the war thing, not the terror and fear and death and disgust thing, but the way he narrates those stories, the way they capture the reader’s attention, and you no longer care what is true and what is imaginary, you just know that until you hear the ending you will not be able to put the book (the earphones) down.

“That’s what stories are for. Stories are for joining the past to the future. Stories are for those late hours in the night when you can’t remember how you got from where you were to where you are. Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased, when there is nothing to remember except the story.”

In addition to the brilliance of the prose itself, Bryan Cranston‘s performance is incredible, I wish he would narrate something from Dickens or other guys sticklers to volume. Strangely enough, Tim O’Brien himself doesn’t strike me as a great reader (and I wish I could unsee his outfit).

On Haruki Murakami

A nice piece on The Atlantic about his newest novel: The Mystery of Murakami

I have to admit, I’ve been a fan since my early twenties, I thought it was a temporary crush due to the age but it just refused to fade. The novels still have their mesmerizing effect.

I like to assign Murakami’s short stories to the students of my translating class and to compare the existing Russian and English versions, trying to guess the original )

Here are some stories published by New Yorker: YesterdaySamsa in Love and Town of Cats (this one is an abstract from 1Q84)

Some Poetry

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling place.

And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!

by Lord Byron

It was Dead Poets Society that reminded me of this poem. I remember at the university one of my groumates copying the poem to a girl of our acquaintance, she didn’t figure it was not his and was quite impressed 🙂

and here’s a nice poetry podcast, may be helpful if you’re not too condifent in rhythm and rhymes:

Julian Barnes and cross-reference in teaching literature

Julian Barnes reads Homage To Switzerland by Ernest Hemingway

Julian Barnes writes Homage to Hemingway

Julian Barnes is cool.

Audiobooks Read by Famous Actors

Colin Firth, surprisingly, doesn’t sound very promising, but Susan Sarandon does, and I nearly wish I hadn’t read The Snow Queen before I learned there was an audiobook narrated by Claire Danes. I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that her husband, Hugh Dancy, had previously narrated By Nightfall 🙂

I’m also very excited about Bryan Cranston (aka Walter White, my what a powerful voice he’s got) reading whatsoever, though I’m not a huge fan of war stories, and there is Bridge to Terabithia narrated by Robert Sean Leonard. As a goodreads member puts it, imagine Wilson telling you a bedtime story!