Monthly Archives: September 2014

Celebrating the beautiful book object – The Children Act, by Ian McEwan

The special limited first edition of Ian McEwan’s latest novel, The Children Act, is not only a beautiful book object, but it offers some striking visual insights into the author’s creative and editing processes.

This edition charms right from the slipcover …


… which contains not one, but two pieces …


… the leatherbound edition of the book, plus an additional treat exclusive to the first 25 of the 100 copies of this specially crafted version.



The unique addition is a selection of facsimile pages of notebook manuscript and one page of hand-corrected typescript from an early draft of the novel, all supplied by the author – an intimate look into the author’s work and fascinating pieces to pore over and scrutinize.



See also:

Satisfying Clicking Sound, by Jason Guriel

“Avoid writing if you can. If you can’t, avoid cliché, and be precise. Don’t try to ‘express yourself’; self-expression usually amounts to expulsion. Try, rather, to connect with another: picture a smart but demanding reader, and try to hold her attention.”
– Jason Guriel … on hoarding and keeping your best lines off Twitter

I’m pleased to welcome back guest book reviewer Rebecca Hansford, who previously reviewed Margaret Atwood’s The Year of the Flood here on the the Bookgaga blog. Rebecca recently graduated from Queen’s University, where she studied Biology and Psychology. As she previously observed, “Majoring in science instead of English was a tough choice for me as I have an electric passion for reading. I particularly enjoy fiction that integrates scientific facts, environmental issues and dystopian societies.”


In Jason Guriel’s Satisfying Clicking Sound, the poet explores the contrasting elements of nature and technology currently existing in our society. Guriel’s style is of writing demands the reader’s attention in a profound yet disturbing way. For instance, Two Girls Splitting a Set of Earbuds describes two girls as flesh conjoined by an iPod, illustrating our dependence on our newfound technology and our inability to communicate without it. This brutal yet honest style of poetry is seen throughout his work, causing any reader to pause and ponder his thought, even possibly becoming repulsed at times. In his poem Poetry is Barbarous, Guriel fully exposes the vulgarity of his writing, as he compares a snowfall burying plastic swans and rabbits to real animals being buried to the throat. This vicious, yet captivating style of writing is seen throughout most of Satisfying Clicking Sound.

Although most of Guriel’s poems are blunt and difficult to digest, there was some free verse poetry with a more flowing style. In the Washbasin, Guriel compares painting and watery reflections to emphasize how the narrator feels he can live up to his father’s shadow. This poem was genuine, and the painting metaphor was beautifully tied into the poem. Dead on Arrival was another poem that appealed to me. Guriel remarks that stars are not aware of the fact that they burned out light years ago and therefore, they may not be aware of who they are themselves. Similarly, since we live our lives with the knowledge that we will die, is life futile? Will we ever know who we truly are?

In short, Jason Guriel’s Satisfying Clicking Sound is a fantastic read if you are interested in a more modern style of poetry. However, the last half of his work does bring forth some beautiful poetry with a less hard-hitting and vulgar style. Nonetheless, Guriel uses imagery in an astounding manner as he broadcasts his ideas regarding technology and society in a brutally honest manner. He will almost certainly hold your attention throughout his work.

Thank you to Véhicule Press for providing a review copy of Satisfying Clicking Sound by Jason Guriel.

Book traffic report #6 – an especially giving month


This household continues to brim with books – but is maybe starting to offer just a wee bit of breathing space – as we continue to take a year-long look at how books make their way into (and out of) this place. This report reflects the month of August, which even though it included a cottage week during which all we did was read books, we still somehow managed to have a record month in the “outgoing” column.

At the end of August, the two columns on my home office whiteboard tallied up as follows:

Incoming: 4

  • All incoming books were paper.
  • 2 of the books were fiction, 2 were poetry collections.
  • 3 of the incoming books were purchased in bookstores (Book City and Sunworks in Red Deer, Alberta).
  • 1 book was purchased online, directly from an independent bookseller in the UK.

Outgoing: 48

  • 32 outgoing books were contributed to three local Little Free Library boxes.
  • 7 books were given to friends.
  • 5 books (mostly technical references) were donated to a workplace.
  • 4 books that were damaged or grievously outdated references were consigned to the recycling bin.

It pains me to have to put a book in the recycling bin, but on occasion, that seems like the only sensible thing to do … that really, it’s just going to take up precious space in a Little Free Library box and really, no one is going to take that wrinkled, discoloured Windows 98 technical reference manual.

2014 to date: 74 books incoming, 138 books outgoing

The ratio of read to unread book incoming or outgoing is still pretty much 1 to 1, with slightly more outgoing books leaving here read rather than unread. As I mentioned before, this makes me feel like we’re sending mostly loved or at least acknowledged books back out into the world, versus having more books pass through our home to which we haven’t given any attention.

So far this year, 38 fiction, 15 non-fiction and 21 poetry books have arrived, and 61 fiction, 53 non-fiction and 24 poetry books have departed. One further observation to one I made in our last report: many of the departing non-fiction books are admittedly out-of-date technology or topical content that perhaps doesn’t have great historical value. We are consciously adjusting so that if we are going to read non-fiction or reference that might have a “best before” date, we more likely to borrow that from the library now rather than purchase it. Perhaps that’s a “well, duh” realization, but anyhow …

Our outgoing numbers continue to confirm that we have an abiding affection for our local Little Free Library boxes. If those didn’t exist, I wonder if we’d be carting more boxes of books to garage/yard sales and the like. Somehow, Little Free Library boxes seem more thoughtful, don’t they? (Do many books still make their way through Freecycle, I wonder?)

The whiteboard is erased and ready for another month as we head into the home stretch of our year of flying books …

Carrying a stack of books. Photograph: Thomas Barwick/Getty Images (via The Times)