Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult

While reading the first chapter of Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult, a tale of the maudlin ups and downs of trying to make a baby, I’m thinking, okay, where is this story going. Let’s hope it picks up. And pick up, it does.

Nine years for the couple, Zoe and Max. Nine years of trying to get pregnant, a few in-vitros take, but end in miscarriages and a still birth. And then, the second chapter tells the story of those nine years again, from Max’s point of view. New font and all.

Continue reading

Atheists Unplugged

The publisher of The Atheist’s Bible: An illustrious collection of irreverent thoughts should have taken Mark Twain’s advice: When you catch an adjective, kill it. The word illustrious adds nothing to the subtitle. See Ben Yagoda’s When You Catch an Adjective, Kill It: The Parts of Speech, for Better and/or Worse. Actually, the entire subtitle is unnecessary. The Atheist’s Bible—nice and clean.

I was perusing The Atheist’s Bible at Starbucks and a passerby, with a look that he had discovered something sinister, interrupted me. Isn’t that—Atheist’s Bible—an oxymoron? he asked. I nodded yes, remembering the quote, “The total absence of humor from the Bible is one of the most singular things in all literature.”

Continue reading

Page Fright: Writers do it everywhere

I’m left-handed and writing with a pen almost always ends up being a messy affair. In the West, we write left to right, making my left hand drag the ink along and smudge the page. Even with a pencil, my hand tends to cramp as a left-handed person must write inward across the page. I’ve often envied right-handed people who can gracefully write outward across the page like a violinist with his bow extended to caress the sweet high and low notes.

The computer is an equal-opportunity instrument, though I imagine if I researched the origins of the QWERTY keyboard, I’d find it was designed not only for the slowness of mechanical typewriters, but also for the prominent right-handed population. Even though I prefer writing my first draft in longhand, I often start on the computer.

Continue reading

Tea according to Christopher Hitchens

Do I really need Christopher Hitchens to tell me how to make tea? Yes, it turns out I do.

After buying some high-end French Theodor tea that I squished into one of those spoon-type loose tea holders, I mused that something was not quite right with my method. The very next day, I hear the Hitch has written about the proper way to make tea.

I followed Hitch’s directions, which were really George Orwell’s, published in 1946, and sipped on my early afternoon brew. The tea was preceded by a salad of mango, avocado, and orange with bits of walnuts.

Continue reading

Life in the fat lane with journalist William Leith

Reviewers of The Hungry Years couldn’t quite classify it—memoir, personal diet book, literary journalism, creative non-fiction—and this intrigued me.

What would a sometimes-overweight and well-known British journalist do with the topical issue of fat? William Leith needed a good angle for Hungry Years: confessions of a food addict and he found it in his interview with Dr. Robert Atkins.

Leith, the last person to interview the infamous doctor before his death, went on the Atkins diet as any good fat journalist would do for research. And, to spice things up in the book, Leith also chronicles his fondness for cocaine, painkillers, caffeine, alcohol, as well as his penchant for women who smoke and shop too much. Leith is desperate one moment and funny the next.

Continue reading

What did Bill Clinton say to the vegan?

Is that Daiya on your dress, or am I having a flashback?

Macleans called Daiya “fake cheese that’ll make vegans swoon.” And Bill Clinton, a newly converted plant-based eater, is swooning over his 24-pound weight loss. He says he feels great since adapting to a plant-based diet, with a little fish now and again.

I was sceptical that I could ever love a vegan Caesar salad or a vegan nacho dish, but dining out with Earthsave’s Vancouver Meatless Meetup group, proved me wrong. I loved both the Caesar and the nachos.

Located on the upper eastside of Vancouver, the Eat, Drink and Perch at the Arc Café is an oddly shaped café with a balcony holding about six or seven tiny tables that seat three people each. Nice and cosy for a private party like ours. The balcony overlooks the bar and tables downstairs. This café on Powell Street, owned by the Wallflower on Main, caters to vegans, vegetarians and gluten-free dieters. But, it also offers meat.

Continue reading

An apple a day—wisdom or myth

The green apple on the cover of An Apple a Day caught my eye. But the subtitle caught my breath: The Myths, Misconceptions and Truths about the Foods We Eat. I panicked. I assumed that an apple a day was a good thing. As you can see in the book’s cover photo, there are some startling unhealthy sounding elements in apples.

The author, a scientist named Joe Schwarcz, is the director of the Office of Science and Society at McGill University. He knows his food chemistry. He also knows how to turn a dull technical subject into an entertaining read.

Continue reading