The idea of this blog is to facilitate the love of reading by collecting news about new books, or sometimes good old books. It is also dedicated to stamping out the scourge of e-books, Kindles, Kobo's, i-Pads, and all other such abominations.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Reading my way through Rome

October is a wonderful month to be in Rome. But is one ever prepared for one's first trip to this magnificent city? I found I was overwhelmed by the history, the art, the museums, the campos, and the churches. We had booked our trip some months in advance and our very comfortable apartment was on the tiny Calle Orbitelli just off Via Guilla, a street laid out in the 16th century. We were within walking distance of the Pantheon, Piazza Navona with it's magnificent Bernini fountains, Campo Dei'Firoi and its energetic outdoor market, St Peters and the hip Trastevere.

It took a day or two to find our way around the neighbourhood, locating a supermarket and vegetable stand, a wine bar and a pasticceria.

Before we left, I had assembled a sizeable bibliography of fiction and non-fiction set in Rome. It wasn't easy to choose 'THE' books for the trip. Heavy suitcases are responsible for havoc on vacations. I decided to focus on Caravaggio's paintings. Jonathan Harr's wonderful THE LOST PAINTING, and Sally Vicker's THE OTHER SIDE OF YOU, piqued my curiosity. I chose to bring Francine Prose'
CARAVAGGIO PAINTER OF MIRACLES. In 146 pages, she succinctly discusses his life which was chaotic, and guides the reader through his paintings giving us insights into why many people think he is the first modern painter. She highly recommends a long work, CARAVAGGIO A LIFE, by Helen Langdon, which I will read on my return.

My first stop to see a Caravaggio was the Palazzio Corsini, only to discover that they had shipped it off to Dusseldorf for a big show. I did enjoy this lovely palazzio built in 1510 and displaying paintings by among others, Rubens, Murillo and Reni. Reni painted at the same time as Caravaggio and Caravaggio disliked his work, but I loved it.

Not all the Caravaggio's in Rome had been shipped to Dusseldorf and I found some in the Borghese Gallery, The Palazzo Barbarini and the Vatican Museum. It was an education for me that I thoroughly enjoyed.

GENIUS IN THE DESIGNS, BERNINI, BORROMINI AND THE RIVALRY THAT TRANSFORMED ROME by Jake Morrissey was my next book. It was, if I say so myself, a brilliant choice.
Talented and ambitious, these two larger than life architects could not have been more different. While Borromini was difficult and prickly, Bernini had the skills of a diplomat. They met in the building yard of St. Peters and soon became bitter enemies. As the greatest architects of their era, they designed some of the most beautiful buildings in the world. Morrissey interweaves the lives of each with the politics of the time so dependent on the currrent pope's priorities.
This book proved to be a wonderful guide through St. Peters and the great Piazza.
Much of Bernini's work including The Baldacchino, the stained glass window, the sculpture of Alexander VII, was explained by Morrissey.

In Piazza Navona, home of the great Four Rivers fountain designed by Bernini we found, Sant'Agnese in Agone, the facade of which was designed by Borromini, using concave and convex shapes. Close by is a miniature masterpiece of Baroque, St. >Ivos designed by Borromini. In fact everywhere we went we found the brilliant creations of these two men.

MICHELANGELO AND THE POPE'S CEILING by Ross King brings alive the four years in Michelangelo's life as he created the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Visiting the Sistine Chapel was not the great experience I expected. The crowd and guards trying to keep everyone quiet took away from the experience. That aside, King in his book,
writes of the politics of the church, the pressure on Michelangelo, Michelangelo's own ill health and financial difficulties, and his differences with the young Raphael
I made the world of Michelangelo come alive.

More later on the guide books and maps we used as well as some fiction.

Bus Griffiths

Bus Griffiths was a gift to the book world. We met Bus and Marg when Harbour Publishing put out NOW YOU'RE LOGGING. It was our first fall in the book store and I expected a logger--one of those big strapping fellows. When Bus walked through the door, imagine my surprise, to find this slight gentle man introducing himself.
And what a lovely man he was--he doffed his cap and sat to exchange stories with some of the old loggers who dropped in. Some years later when we saw him again, he told the story of having an art show in Vancouver. Some of his old friends spent a very long time examining one painting. Then they came and said "You know Bus, I don't think you got that rope quite right." I expect they were wrong. The reviews for Bus's book commented on the the astonishing detail he included and praised dit as an invaluable tool for researchers. It was very special to have met Bus and
and learn about logging from a pro.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Windley makes the cut!

Break out the champagne! Nanaimo author Carol Windley has made the Giller shortlist!

Toronto, ON - Today, in a morning press conference that drew over 100 media and members of the publishing industry, The Scotiabank Giller Prize announced its 2006 shortlist. Selected by an esteemed jury panel comprised of The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson and distinguished Canadian authors Alice Munro and Michael Winter, the five finalists were chosen from 101 books submitted for consideration by 36 publishing houses from every region of the country.
The jury named the finalists. They are:

Rawi Hage for his novel De Niro’s Game, published by House of Anansi Press
Vincent Lam for his short story collection, Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures, published by Doubleday Canada
Pascale Quiviger for her novel The Perfect Circle, translation by Sheila Fischman, published by Cormorant Books
Gaétan Soucy for his novel The Immaculate Conception, translation by Lazer Lederhendler, published by House of Anansi Press
Carol Windley for her short story collection, Home Schooling, published by Cormorant Books