Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Pictures from the 2011 Elora Writers' Festival — worth a thousand words, at least...

Carole Kennedy, second-place winner in the Prose category of the Open
Writing Competition, being congratulated by our Open Writing
Competition Coordinator Julia Browne
On the right, Sarah Selecky in conversation with two audience members
Nicholas Ruddock and Cynthia Holz

Roxanne Beale with long-time Elora Writers' Festival fan Bert Simpson

Left to right: Alison Pick, Cynthia Holz, and Festival Host Adrian

Alison Pick and Cynthia Holz

Once again, Alison, Cynthia and Adrian

Johanna Skibsrud

Roxanne Beale of Roxanne's Reflections Book & Card Shop
Our audience: the real stars of the show...

Our thanks go out to writer/photographer Andy Williams for letting us use his fine collection of photographs from Sunday's event. For more information about Andy and all his endeavors, go to his website here.

Monday, May 30, 2011

"Lying, the telling of beautiful untrue things, is the proper aim of Art." — Oscar Wilde

Illustration: Michael Hale, Folded Sky Productions Ltd.

"[...] Given the universal compulsion to tell stories, art is the best way to refine and enjoy the particularly outlandish or insightful ones. But that is not the whole story. The key way in which artistic 'lies' differ from normal lies, and from the 'honest lying' of chronic confabulators, is that they have a meaning and resonance beyond their creator. The liar lies on behalf of himself; the artist tell lies on behalf of everyone. [...]"
— Ian Leslie, author of Born Liars: Why We Can’t Live Without Deceit (Quercus)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Forty-Eight Hours and Counting...

There is still time... you can be on the cancellation/waiting list for Dinner Tickets. Call 519-843-4391 right now. But if all else fails, "Readings Only" tickets are available at the door.

And don't forget:  YOUNG WRITERS CONTEST winners will be announced at a one-hour gathering on Sunday, May 29, in Aboyne Hall (no admission charge) at 11:00 A.M. (OPEN CONTEST winners will be anounced during the Readings Intermission.)

See you all there!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Listen. Digest. Dine.

Photo: Michael Hale

Tickets to the Festival are almost gone — the combination "Readings and Dinner" ($60) tickets, that is.

But if you pick up the phone right now, and call 519-846-4391 and speak to Roxanne, or any one of the fabulous crew at Roxanne's Reflections Book and Card Shop, you have a chance to vindicate your procrastination.

Think of it... an afternoon of readings by six of Canada's finest authors; (a chance to really talk to them); the gentle music of guitarist Bob Norris; appetizers; a glass or two of wine, a stroll in the Victorian Gardens steps away from Aboyne Hall — and then a sumptuous dinner prepared by Chef Derek Roberts of Fraberts Fresh Food in Fergus.

All for $60.00 per person, tax and gratuity included.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

"Similar in design and use to the girdle books of medieval Europe, a rare Arabian saddle book consists of separate pages of the Koran protected within four, nested, leather cases. Hung from the rider’s neck or strapped on his mount’s saddle, scripture was always near at hand. Easy access to the holy book was vital to the faithful, who believed that answers to all of life’s problems resided within the Koran." — The Smithsonian Book of Books
From: On Books

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Again... Turn off that cell phone and read a book.

A friend of mine used to tell all his young male acquaitances "if you want to meet chicks, join a choir." A new study suggests an added proviso: "Get their phone numbers but use a land line to call them." An addendum to this advice might go like this: "If you want to meet interesting and possibly unattached woman (with the long-term goal of starting a family) join a reading circle — but give up texting."
"Men who have been diagnosed with poor sperm quality and who are trying to have children should limit their cell phone use. Researchers have found that while cell phone use appears to increase the level of testosterone circulating in the body, it may also lead to low sperm quality and a decrease in fertility."
Queen's University

See an earlier post about the dangers of cell phones...

Friday, May 20, 2011

A Moment of the Mind

"[...]There she is, the goddess, not needing to please her audience or her man, just living inside the book. The vulnerability is there, but also something we don’t often see [...] it is that reading is always a private act, is intimate, is lover’s talk, is a place of whispers and sighs, unregulated and usually unobserved. We are the voyeurs, it’s true, but what we’re spying on is not a moment of body, but a moment of mind. For once, we’re not being asked to look at Marilyn, we’re being given a chance to look inside her." — Jeanette Winterson in The Guardian

What was on Marilyn Monroe's bookshelf:

The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
The Unnamable by Samuel Beckett
Paris Blues by Harold Flender
Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson
Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
The Fall by Albert Camus
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
Once There Was a War by John Steinbeck
From:Media Bistro
See also: Women Reading
Photo from: Breathing Books

Thursday, May 19, 2011

If the world ends on Saturday, Festival dinner tickets are free — reserve yours now!

"Judgment Day is coming this Saturday, May 21, beginning at 6 p.m., according to Harold Camping, the president of the Christian broadcaster Family Radio. Could he be wrong? He wouldn't be the first. Here are five failed Judgment Day predictions [...] — from The Christian Science Monitor. Read more...

"All over New York, preachers armed with T-shirts, brochures, books and posters are preaching the end of the world. Using a complex numerical calculation from the Bible, there are even advertisements on the New York city subway warning of the 'great earthquake' that accompanies the advent of Judgement Day." Read more...

"In about five billion years the sun will run out of hydrogen, which will upset its self-regulating equilibrium; in its death-throes it will swell, and this planet will vaporise."
The Washington Post

See you at the Elora Writers' Festival, rain (of molten lava) or shine on Sunday, May 29 — get your tickets here.

Painting: Last Judgement Triptych (right inner wing)
by Hieronymus Bosch (after 1482)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Reserve one now — not the dancing girl, or the cigarette... an Elora Writers' Festival dinner ticket.
Get them here.

Philip Roth Wins Mann Booker International Prize Amid Much Controversy

"Author and publisher Carmen Callil has withdrawn from the judging panel of the Man Booker International prize over its decision to honour Philip Roth with the £60,000 award. Dismissing the Pulitzer prize-winning author, Callil said that 'he goes on and on and on about the same subject in almost every single book. It's as though he's sitting on your face and you can't breathe.'"— Guardian

His first book: Goodbye, Columbus (1959)

Read more here...

And here...

Read this: "Speed Read" (How many nanoseconds did that take you?)

The Art of Rapid Reading
By Walter Pitkin
(Grosset & Dunlap, NY, 1929)

"This 233 page handbook by Mr. Pitkin is designed to teach the reader how to get the most out of reading. There are chapters on the causes of poor reading, the improvement of word habits, and how to skim. Practice useful exercises for reading anything from light fiction to the most factual business reports."

"Surely such a practice is worthwhile, for 'A man will gladly sweat two hours a day for years in order to excel at tennis. And, having achieved this excellence, all he can do is beat his friends in the innocent art of swatting a rubber ball over a net.' Proper and improper reading positions are clearly illustrated. A dapper outfit and well-combed hair will add to your reading pleasure."- Read more at the Museum of Weird Books

And test your own reading speed here...

Monday, May 16, 2011

Get Connected...

Photo: Michael Hale

Become a part of our network of like-minded (mind liking?) book aficianados.
Are you part of a reading circle, book discussion group, book club, or just an informal group of friends who like to share their passion for reading? Let us know who you are, and be the first on the block to get the scoop on all-things-Elora-Writers'-Festival.

Or, if you're so inclined, spread your wings and let the community know about the mechanics and predilections of your specific reading (writing) circle.
And we're curious to know how many of you are out there. Readers tend to be a quiet bunch, less prone to self-aggrandizement — but that doen't make you any less important.
See the "CONTACT US" box below.

Devourable Books

"Do you know how people say that they read cookbooks like novels? For the most part the recipes in this one are ones that I'd rather read than cook (The sauteed brain balls that went into the mock turtle soup weren't a big hit with the dinner-party guests, either, apparently.)"
— about Fannie's Last Supper by Chris Kimball (from books as food)

"[...] slices of goose or duck reposing on a mattress of thick apple sauce above the canape, or partridge breasts resting on softly-mashed potatoes and some mushrooms buttered, grilled and added piping hot. Even the familiar slice of roast mutton from the family joint would acquire additional merit if supplemented by a creamy layer of mashed turnips, and nice little pile of capers or a soubise sauce to add zest. All these might appear as off-shoots from the family dinner."
— from Kitchen Essays by Agnes Jekll (1921)

As the day of the Elora Writers' Festival draws nearer (Sunday, May 29) we always look forward to not only an afternoon of stimulating and thought-provoking words from our roster of fine writers (every year you come away from the Festival with the sense that the readings were magically orchestrated into one, transcendent narrative, somehow) but also the wonderful dinner that rounds off the day: fantastic food and seemingly endless bottles of wine that fuel fertile conversation and good old-fashioned companionship.

And 2011 will be no exception. Our chef this year is Derek Roberts of Frabert's Fresh Food of Fergus. Needless to say, tickets are becoming scarce. The best way to banish disappointed is to phone Roxanne's Reflection at 519-843-4391 and reserve your tickets now.

$60.00 gets you an afternoon of readings by six authors: Scotiabank Giller Prize winner Johanna Skibsrud and Governor General's Award winner Richard Greene; Sarah Selecky; Alison Pick; Cynthia Holz and Nicholas Ruddock...

Appetizers, fine wine, a wonderful dinner; and conversation with some of Canada's — and the world's — finest writers. And if the weather holds up, a stroll through the gardens of the Wellington County Museum & Archives.

Don't forget... May 29 is also the day of the Food Cycle Ride. Proceeds from the ride will support Centre Wellington Food Bank programmes. Calories off in the morning; food for thought in the afternoon; and calories back on in the evening — who could ask for a better day than that?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Turn Off Your Phone and Read a Book — you could save the planet

"A new study by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology reports that honeybees are 'fatally confused by the electromagnetic signals coming out of cell phones.'"
" [...] mobile phones produce what the study called 'a dramatic impact on the behavior of bees, namely by inducing the worker piping signal.' A worker piping signal tells a bee that it's time to swarm — or that the colony has been disturbed."
"The first in-depth national study of wild bees in the U.S. has uncovered major losses in the relative abundance of several bumblebee species and declines in their geographic range since record-keeping began in the late 1800s."

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Read Six Books in Eighteen Days? Sure You Can.

Get them here and here... along with your tickets.

Going, Going, Gone...

Photo: Michael Hale

Godrej & Boyce Manufacturing Company of India was the last maker of typewriters in the world — till 2009, when it, too, ceased production.

“[...] All the manufacturers of office typewriters stopped production, except us. Till 2009, we used to produce 10,000 to 12,000 machines a year.” — Milind Dukle, General Manager-Operations, Godrej & Boyce Manufacturing Company
(From Business Standard)

Now take a few moments to view these photos of typewriters and the authors who depended on them. (From the Guardian)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Leaving a Mark

Photo: Michael Hale

Virginia Wolf's famous quote: "A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction" is turned inside-out by Wayétu Moore's memories of the Liberian Civil War in 1989.

"When Liberia was my home, they called it sweet. Sweet was the word I remembered the most during the war. I was five and my father, two sisters and I fled Monrovia and headed north on foot amidst panicked masses of criers — a journey that ended in a small coastal village where we hid from flying bullets and remains of dead families left on the roads. Every dawn while in hiding, my sisters and I joined my father on a cement floor and covered the pages of his small journal with words, using the lead of pencils he carefully shaved down with stones. My favorite word to write was 'sweet,' one that had the power to numb the reality of our 6-month abandonment by peace and civilization. [...]" — from The Huffington Post

"Earlier this year Wayétu Moore and her siblings launched One Moore Book, a publishing company that creates children's books for countries with low literacy rates. [...] Back in New York, Ms Moore is preparing for the next book cycles, which will include children’s stories in Haiti, Bolivia and Afghanistan. She hopes that words and books will serve these children as they served her and her sisters, when they were in hiding in Liberia. She hopes these stories will help “mute the sounds of the war outside.” — from More Intelligent Life

Festival Tickets Now Available at Words Worth Books in Waterloo

Photo: Michael Hale
Tickets for the Elora Writers' Festival — $15 for the Readings and $60 for Dinner (Readings included) — can be picked up at Words Worth Books in Waterloo (100 King Street S., Waterloo, ON N2J 1P5) or reserved by phoning 519-884-2665. The store hours are from 9 to 9 Monday to Friday; 9 to 6 Saturday; and noon to 5 on Sunday.

Their email address is: orders@wordsworthbooks.com

Monday, May 9, 2011


Aldous Huxley, author of Brave New World, died on Friday, November 22, 1963, the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated. It was also the day The Beatles' first U.S. album (With The Beatles) was released.

And here's a photo of Aldous Huxley with an Elora Writers' Festival brochure in his pocket. What a coincidence.

Photo courtesy of HiLoBrow.com

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Books — Changing Minds and Brains

Photo: Michael Hale

"Neuroscientists have discovered that reading on computer screens or Kindle e-reader screens causes changes in white matter, the nerve strands which help different parts of the brain communicate with each other. [...]" — from The Digirata

"[...] the physical side of reading depends not on the bad aspects of computer screens but on the brilliance of the traditional book — sheets bound on end, the “codex” — which remains the most brilliant design of the last several thousand years. Technologists have (as usual) decreed its disappearance without bothering to understand it. [...]" — David Gelernter (a professor of computer science at Yale University)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

"A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction." — Virginia Woolf

Photo: Michael Hale

A room, yes. But what sort of room?

"Although we're only starting to grasp how the insides of buildings influence the insides of the mind, it's possible to begin prescribing different kinds of spaces for different tasks. If we're performing a job that requires accuracy and focus (say, copy editing a manuscript), we should seek out confined spaces with a red color scheme. But for tasks that require a little bit of creativity, we seem to benefit from high ceilings, lots of windows and bright blue walls that match the sky [...]."

Tuesday, May 3, 2011