Monthly Archives: July 2009

amazonian irony

Amazon remotely deletes purchases from Kindles.  Removes 1984, causing Orwell to promptly pop a 360 underground.

Amazon CEO Jeffrey P. Bezos has apologized to Kindle customers for remotely removing copies of the George Orwell novels “1984” and “Animal Farm” from their e-reader devices. The company did so after learning the electronic editions were pirated, and it gave buyers automatic refunds. But Amazon did it without prior notice.

Of all the titles it was 1984.  Sweet.

Apple setting sights on kindle

Perhaps Apple’s subtle emergence into the ebook market will drive Amazon’s incentive to make a more functional, and less expensive reader.

The talks come as Apple is separately racing to offer a portable, full-featured, tablet-sized computer in time for the Christmas shopping season, in what the entertainment industry hopes will be a new revolution. The device could be launched alongside the new content deals, including those aimed at stimulating sales of CD-length music, according to people briefed on the project.

Book publishers have been in talks with Apple and are optimistic about their services being offered with the new computer, which could provide an alternative to Amazon’s Kindle.

Exciting times.


Seeing as this is a library related blog, I noticed how many music related posts I have been making.  So I thought why not make a music reated blog in addititon to this one.  So I did, and called it alternator.  Just saying.

when you think of librarians…

Forwarded by a friend…Cat and Girl.

review – breath

breWhat Tim Winton does very well in his novel Breath is his convey his ability to describe the helpless suffocation of being poleaxed, not only by the unforgiving western Australian surf but also by the fleeting acquaintances who enter our lives and turn them upside down. Yes, Winton assuredly hints, we will thereby grow into better surfers and more complete human beings, but only after being thoroughly dashed and mangled against life’s currents, gasping for some sense of stability.

Pikelet is nary a teenager before becoming introduced to the world of surfing along the lonely Western Australian coastline.  Winton retraces Pikelet’s growth with his friend Loonie as they compete for the “wisdom” of the cryptic surfing master Sando. It’s a story that not only deals with the typical coming-of-age themes, it’s a story that deals with the concept of fear and the nature of accomplishment, both in and out of the ocean. It’s about finding and acknowledging that invisible line across which one will find themselves flailing helplessly when in search for the next rip-current of reality.  Moreover, it’s about our tendency to use and abuse our so-called friends in the process, and the sacrifices we make along the way (school, family, etc.). Specifically, the tension between Pikelet and Loonie is unnervingly palpable; not necessarily sinister, but dangerous nonetheless.

Breath is a concise yet moving novel that touches upon multiple facets of Australian and surfing culture. Winton writes in a style that’s similarly sparse to McCarthy, but flows well in clarity.  One complication of the work is that I feel he lingers a little too long on Pikelet’s relationship with Eva, Sando’s wife.  Though too much is left unsaid between the two, Winton dwells on several of Eva’s proclivities which could comprise a separate novella.  Otherwise, Breath is a sad, thoughtful yet worthwhile read.

review – other electricities

othFor those wishing to visit the Keweenaw Peninsula, I would suggest reading Ander Monson’s short but dense Other Electricities.  It is a complex yet fascinating collection of stories or vignettes composing the gestalt of  Michigan’s UP.  Sometimes direct, sometimes poetic, though always ethereal, Other Electricities deals with the hardness of living in a place as cold, bleak, and beautiful as upper Michigan.  Monson expertly expresses the weirdness and hardship through a formidable cast of characters which, while representing the whole of a small community, actually resembles that of a family.

It is a place where the only guarantee is that every winter at least one snowmobile rider will succumb to the ice, where a father, perched in his attic will become obsessed with speaking code into his radio throughout the night. A place where an abandoned schoolbus forms a hideout for a disaffected teenager, taking his confusion out on stray cats.  Where a weary snowplow worker reminisces over uncles dying in saunas and cousins holding up banks in the heart of winter, looking forward to nothing more than her stretch of the road. Where a schoolteacher is helpless to watch both the demolition of her school and her students.

Other Electricities is about a community of people and what they do to survive in an unacommodating environment.  It’s about the often unfortunate interconnectedness of their lives told from a stream-of-consciouness point of view.  Beautifully written and imagined, it’s an incredibly deep work, ominous like the lake surroundng the region it so coldly affects.


nicThe National Archives needs to hire Nicolas Cage. Stat!

WASHINGTON (AP) — Visitors to the National Archives here know they will find the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights in the main building’s magnificent rotunda.

But they can no longer find the patent file for the Wright brothers’ flying machine or maps for the first atomic bomb missions in the archives inventory.

Many historical items the archives once possessed are missing, including Civil War telegrams from Abraham Lincoln, presidential portraits of Franklin D. Roosevelt, NASA photographs from space and the moon, and presidential pardons.

Some were stolen by researchers or archives employees. Others simply disappeared. And more than that is gone.

What’s going on around here? You’d think this was the the National Museum of Iraq. Or something.

review – the domino men

domWhether burned or bloody, Jonathan Barnes does love to see London in complete chaos.  It happened in his last novel The Somnambulist, and has now continued in The Domino Men.  Few things crossover between the two, save the intriguingly bizarre characters constituting his uber-secret and not-so-normal civil service division called The Directorate.  Oh, and The Prefects, can’t forget them.

The story centers around Henry Lamb, a completely ordinary though perhaps even dull, clerk who through a series of extraordinary  though familial events is drawn into a hunt, a race to prevent London’s descent into utter ruin.  By all accounts he has no business within the Directorate or even approaching The Domino Men, the only ones who can either help or even destroy the chances for success.

Barnes excellently scripts his mystery around the fog that continually encompasses London, though he also lowers a fog over the reader’s mind as well, keeping us in the dark about the major players of the novel.  He offers breadcrumbs about the Directorate and the Domino Men, the comatose grandfather of Henry, and the ever over-confident mastermind Director Dedlock, though his description is never enough to quash the ever-lingering questions the reader may conjure. A frustrating yet gripping method.  We know of a battle waged for centuries and that the Prefects are dangerous to say the least, but Barnes, hopefully in anticipation of another novel, tells us only what were allowed to know of the process.  All that is requested is that we must “trust the process”.  And in the end, the distinction of who the villain was is not at all clear.

In several ways the Domino Men surpasses The Somnambulist; the ending is much more captivating though at times the pacing can be a bit slower.  His inclusion and description of the aristocracy (Prince Arthur in particular) is quite interesting, for it is neither kind nor overtly cruel. The Prefects, however, were a bit under-described as they were in the former. Their playfully comic nastiness, hinted to atmospheric levels, falls just short of their behaviour, though admittedly ruthless and reckless as the story hits its crescendo.  Their actions are more a vehicle of the story than the framework.  Overall, its another fascinating story about London, manipulated by all creatures forceful and ubiquitously normal.  Fun yet creepy, one can only wonder how many times and what twisted ways London has fallen and yet continues to rebuild itself in the mind of Barnes.