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Digressions with Dashiell Hammett

Thursday, Feb 28, 2008 at 2:27pm


Crime legend Dashiell Hammett was recently featured in a Guardian story on literary digressions. His "Flitwick Parable" from The Maltese Falcon was held up as a nearly perfect example.

In a scant three pages, Hammett's Sam Spade tells the story of real estate agent Flitwick who leaves his office for lunch, and never returns. When Flitwick is found, he is living under an assumed name, and leading a new life, much like his old, but with a new wife, house and responsibilities. The tale has nothing to do with the plot of The Maltese Falcon, but for the remainder of the novel the reader is left with the sense that anything can happen.

Categories: Discussions, buzz, Authors, Mystery & Crime

Dear Lord, Not Again

Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 5:29pm

The Australian newspaper claims that another literary scandal is brewing. They have recently reported alleged inaccuracies in A Long Way Gone, Ishmael Beah's memoir of his life as a refugee and child soldier during the Sierra Leone civil war.

Categories: Discussions, Authors


Raincoast No Longer a Canadian Publisher

Tuesday, Jan 08, 2008 at 4:59pm

The CBC is reporting that Raincoast Books will be shedding the publishing branch of its business. Citing the pinch the book industry has felt over the discrepancy between Canadian and U.S. book prices, Raincoast marketing vice-president Jamie Broadhurst said that closing the division was a difficult but necessary decision.

Categories: Discussions, Publishing News

Times UK: The 50 greatest British writers since 1945

Tuesday, Jan 08, 2008 at 4:47pm

Bookman Beattie points to the Times pronouncement of the 50 greatest British writers since 1945. These lists are always interesting, and most people disagree with them.

The top ten, as per the Times:
1. Philip Larkin
2. George Orwell
3. William Golding
4. Ted Hughes
5. Doris Lessing
6. J. R. R. Tolkien
7. V. S. Naipaul
8. Muriel Spark
9. Kingsley Amis
10. Angela Carter

Anyone care to weigh in on the 10 greatest Canadian writers since 1945?

Categories: Discussions, buzz, Book Lists

Self-Help Reading Groups

Tuesday, Jan 08, 2008 at 4:34pm

No, they're not groups devoted to reading the latest Dr. Phil tome.

The Guardian UK has a fascinating look at the growing phenomenon of "bibliotherapy." While the idea that reading can have healing power dates back to Plato, using literature and reading groups in an almost homeopathic way seems to be taking off:

Medical staff tell stories of the remarkable successes they've seen: the neurological patient who sat in a group saying nothing for months, then after a reading of George Herbert's poem "The Flower" ("Who would have thought my shrivelled heart/Could have recovered greenness?") launched into a 10-minute monologue at the end of which he announced "I feel great"; the brain-damaged young man whose vocabulary significantly increased after he joined a book group; the husband caring for his disabled wife whose exposure to poetry has proved not just a respite but a liberation. To outsiders, the outcomes might seem small, but to the staff and patients concerned they're huge breakthroughs.

Categories: Discussions
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