Quotable: Unfinished Business by Anne-Marie Slaughter

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

" ... If we want to move forward — for women and men, for our workplaces, and for our society as a whole — we must first step back and take a hard look at what we reflexively believe to be true. We must question the conventional wisdom, aphorisms, memes, and stories that inform or justify our choices and shape our worlds. We have to ask ourselves why we are so certain of our often-buried assumptions about the way things are, both for ourselves and for millions of others whose lives we can only try to imagine.

"We can only change and bring about change if we can genuinely open our minds to new thoughts and possibilities, for everyone."

Unfinished Business by Anne-Marie Slaughter, a passage that feels especially important after finishing two days of anti-racism and anti-oppression training at work

Review: The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

Monday, 28 September 2015
"Everything in this town is retro, which accounts for the large supply of black vintage items in Accessories. The past is so much safer, because whatever's in it has already happened. It can't be changed; so, in a way, there's nothing to dread."
— Margaret Atwood, The Heart Goes Last

In the centre of The Heart Goes Last, Margaret Atwood's first stand-alone novel in a decade, Stan and Charmaine are a young couple living in their car after an economic collapse crushes the middle class. Broke and living in fear of the roving gangs that populate this not-so-distant future, they're desperate for a solution. Charmaine jumps at the chance to enrol at The Positron Project, a social experiment that promises a refuge, at a cost. Residents in Consilience, the pristine town where The Heart Goes Last takes place, are promised a job and a home; however, there's a catch. They must spend every second month in the town's prison.

Modelled after the past, Consilience advertises a simpler life. Food is grown locally, television teaches family values, and Doris Day hits play on the radio. At first, Consilience seemed strangely familiar, though I couldn't place why. Its manufactured sense of safety and happiness made me recall one of my favourite children's books — The Giver — but, in true Atwood fashion, the dark underbelly of Consilience is anything but appropriate for children.

It isn't long before The Heart Goes Last becomes a twisting (and twisted) tale of adultery, blackmail, organ harvesting, and sex slavery created by unauthorized neurosurgery. Even babies' blood isn't safe in Atwood's vivid imagination in a book that also features robotic sex dolls modelled created in the likeness of dead celebrities.

There's no better way to say this (with deep respect to Ms. Atwood), but The Heart Goes Last is wonderfully demented. It offers satirical insight into capitalism, marriage, and the greed that characterize both, but it's also a hell of a lot of fun to read. It's always a treat to explore the worlds that exist within Margaret Atwood's head.

Hamilton Haunts: The River Trading Company

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Each used bookstore has a unique personality. The River Trading Company, a recent transplant from Toronto, is no exception. Its unique collection includes vintage science fiction and fantasy, literary journals, and, currently, "Cold War Reminders," a specialty section you're not going to find in any other bookstore.

The carefully curated collection that makes up the River Trading Company (at 559 Barton Street East) is the pride of siblings Mary and David McGowan. It's also watched over by two cats, Walter (who Mary says chose bookstore living when he wandered into the Toronto store) and Nickel, and a dog, Thor, who greets book browsers at the door.

The River Trading Company opened its doors in Hamilton in June, after four years in Toronto. It's a welcomed addition to Barton Street, surely one of the reasons CBC Hamilton recently asked "Can Barton Street become the next hip area of Hamilton?" When giving me a tour of her large shop, Mary said they're been delighted with both opening shop and moving to Hamilton. We're lucky to have them.

Give yourself a lot of browsing time when visiting The River Trading Company. Its collection isn't massive, but it's also filled with collectables, rarities, and gems that are an important part of the book-buying experience. It also boasts unique hours that make it easy to visit at night, outside of work hours (Sunday-Thursday: 12pm-7pm and Friday-Saturday: 12pm-9pm).

I can't sum up The River Trading Company any better than an excerpt from its own website: "The River Trading Company is an eddy. We have a net out which catches the books and a few other items that we find interesting. We hold them for others to find. It is also a pool where you can throw what you don’t want or need, so it can drift into someone else’s keeping."


Supercrawl 2015: Day Two and Day Three

Monday, 14 September 2015

Hamilton is one tough city. During a weekend of cold drizzle, many of us still took to the streets even though the sun refused to shine. Despite it all, we rallied, and we made the best of it, under ponchos and umbrellas. Here's my recap of Day One in case you missed it. Sorry this post is short on words. I'm off on a much needed night away, and luckily, today the sun is shining.

Day Two

Have I told you all yet that I'm addicted to Donut Monster? I'm addicted to Donut Monster. It's become our Saturday tradition whether we're at Cannon Coffee Co. on Ottawa Street, Relay at the Farmer's Market, or in Supercrawl's case, at the Mulberry Coffeehouse. They are brilliantly addictive. This week I had blueberry basil (on the far right). 

Hamilton Children's Choir 

Allegories at the Baltimore House 
Thank you to everyone who stopped by the gritLIT tent despite the sogginess. We have an event coming up featuring Padma Viswanathan and Farzana Doctor, who will both read from novels featuring the Air India disaster. Tickets available here

Day Three

New favourite band. Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer killed it. 

Man Crush Monday: Hayden. 

 This is what three days of standing in the rain will do to a girl. 

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