Booknotes: Oscar and Lucinda

Screenwriting guru Syd Field often wrote/said: When you're writing a scene, look for a way that dramatizes the scene "against the grain." My book notes today are related specifically to this technique of going "against the grain", using Peter Carey's 1988 Booker-winning 'Oscar and Lucinda', as example. I have loved this novel since I first read it and still dip into my favorite bits from time to time.

Booknotes: Jane Eyre

UPDATE: April 21, 2017:

It’s Charlotte Brontë’s birthday today so I’m reblogging this from last year.


I recently watched the TV movie on the Brontës: ‘To Walk Invisible’. Written and directed by the wonderful Sally Wainwright, it is more faithful to the Gaskell biography version than to any other. This means it shows Branwell, the brother, as the main cause for the loss of their meager family fortunes due to his alcoholism and drug addiction, especially during the last three years of his life. While this was handled with great care to make sure he did not come across as some monster, I wish we had seen more of the sisters than we did of the brother. Read on for more.


jane eyreIn my book circles, the Austen vs Brontës debate has come up often. And, though I’ve come to appreciate Austen’s finer points over time, I have always preferred the Brontës. With the three Brontë sisters, there’s the Charlotte vs Emily debate (Anne, sadly, doesn’t get much airtime). This has been harder. For years, I stuck with Emily because I found ‘Wuthering Heights’ more poetic in terms of language — I never cared for the whole Heathcliff-and-Cathy psychopathology.

That said, I reread ‘Jane Eyre‘ recently and I am now firmly in the Charlotte Brontë camp. This is not just another Gothic romance. If you read it in the context of its times and its author’s life, it is a work of remarkable daring and independence. Jane Eyre is a strong-willed woman who manages to get past her plain looks and poverty and stand up to the…

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Marginalia: On Supporting Writers

Recently, I watched a writer-editor friend run a crowdfunding campaign for a book anthology featuring works by promising writers of color and get barely any response. I must confess I was not in a position to contribute monetarily myself. It got me thinking, however, of what else I can do, non-financially, to support writers. So here are ten things I try to do to support other writers -- both as a reader and a writer -- beyond buying their books and without spending money I don't have. Whether you're a reader or a writer or both, you might also want to consider some of these.