December 10, 2012
As long as I can remember, I was always interested in other people's life stories. There is something almost mystical in being able to learn who was the woman that inspired a famous writer/artist/composer or what psychological childhood trauma formed the personality of a cruel dictator. Not only famous people have something to say. You can find magic in everyday life of ordinary people. While reading memoirs you can be hit by the fact that your own experience might not be completely unique, you are not alone, you are not lonely.
My favourite memoir of 2012 was Poser: My Life in Twenty-three Yoga Poses by Claire Dederer published by Picador. Don't judge too fast—this is not the book about yoga, or not only about yoga. You don't have to be a yogee or even know anything about it—you will still enjoy the book. At some point of author's life yoga helps her look inside herself, realize who she actually was and get strength to tell us about what she found out. Every time introducing a new yoga posture she tells us a new story. A story of her mother and other women in early 70th, of relationship between children and divorced parents, of different approaches to family, job and parenting, of struggles to find a healthy balance between all that. Is yoga able to help find the balance? The answer is “yes”.
There is another biography book I want to tell you about – Teresa Rhyne’s Dog Lived (and So Will I) from Sourcebooks. First Teresa’s beloved dog, the spoiled and cheerful beagle Seamus and then the author herself are being diagnosed with cancer. They need a lot of temper and courage to go through all pain and frustration caused by this deadly disease. With a great sense of humour Teresa tells us what cancer patients need from us healthy people, and what we should probably avoid in our striving for being supportive. Teresa also explains what her dog means to her and what she is ready to sacrifice for her pet. Do you also wonder why some people are ready to spend thousands of dollars for their dogs when others prefer expensive cars, vacations and exclusive club memberships? Read the book!
Every morning I drive my kid to school, then I head to the office and back home after work. I spend hours in traffic as many other people do. Does the fact that I can't read while driving mean I must listen to endless annoying advertising on the radio all the time? Not at all! Thanks to a smart person, who invented audiobooks, whose name is unknown to me (I say thank you every time I push the "on" button on the player.) Suddenly, a Knock on the Door, a great collection of short stories written by Etgar Keret, had been accompanying me in audio format a few weeks this summer. Unlike two previous books of my choice, this is nothing close to biography. The world of Keret’s stories is fantastic and ordinary at the same time, partly absurd and partly ironic. In his stories you will meet characters from your childhood lies, catch a golden fish and struggle for a right wish again and again, talk to animals, and despite all your life experience, deeply believe in a power of wish.
Street lights, please stay red, I have another story to listen to.
Larissa, Data Specialist
Architecture / February 29, 2012
Almost 2 years later, the award-winning domentary short is now available in its entirety online. Filmed just following his death at 93, Yoshihiro Takishita talks about the house they acquired together in 1967 (while Roderick was working as journalist for the Associated Press in Japan) and muses about the meaning of home:
Graphica / May 02, 2011
Chester Brown's controversial new book Paying For It — both a contemporary defence of prostitution and a memoir of his personal experiences — is out this week, and the Toronto author was profiled in both the Globe and Mail and the National Post this weekend. Brad Mackay also reviewed the book for the Globe:
As is the case in most of his other autobiographical comics, Brown sets himself up as the target of the jokes. Joe Matt, a good friend and recurring character in Brown’s work, gets the lion’s share of the yucks here. I especially liked Matt’s reaction after he learns Brown has visited a prostitute: “This is disturbing, but it’s also good gossip.”
Of course, the art is as idiosyncratic as ever. Brown forgoes the six-panel grid and turns down the cross-hatching that he used in Louis Riel for a small, rectangular eight-panel layout inspired in part by the comics of Carl Barks. These oblong panels house some of the year’s most effective cartooning, capable of lending dignity to even the most awkward sex scenes.
In Fall 2007, our friends at Princeton Architectural Press published Minka: My Farmhouse In Japan, the memoir of retired AP foreign correspondent John Roderick. Inspired by the story of this remarkable house and the memories it contained, and with seed funding from the Graham Foundation, Birdlings Films began work on a documentary film about John, his adopted son architect Yoshihiro Takishita, and the 250-year old house they shared.
The film is still a work in progress, but you can watch the trailer now and help support the completion of the documentary at the fund-raising site Kickstarter: