Category Archives: YOTF Tour Blog

Dead Author T-shirts

Responding to many requests for Dead Author T-shirts, prompted by my
remarks that authors cannot make a living from rock concerts and T-shirts, I
have now supplied the T-shirts, in four motifs: Dead Author, Dead Moose, The
Joy of Accounting, and Would Modernists Blog? Not to mention the tote bags,
the water bottles, the bumper stickers, the mugs, and the wall clocks! They
are at:

Have fun!


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Bunfights in the Dark: #C32

Here is the video of the Committee Hearing: (They saw me, I saw squiggly bits). In it you will note some guy — apparently Dean Del Maestro — yelling at me while I am silently opening and closing my mouth like a fish because he turned the mic off.

One of the things he yelled was that no one had ever suggested that educators would pay less to authors and that it was outrageous for me to say so. But the government said so its very own self:

In a government fact sheet on Bill C-32, entitled What the New Copyright Modernization Act Means for Teachers, the Government emphasizes that fair dealing for the purpose of education will be an “important” change to the Copyright Act and that “Extending this provision to education will reduce the administrative and financial costs for users of copyrighted materials that enrich the educational environment.”

“Administrative costs” means tracking the use of copied material, I can only suppose. “Financial costs” means paying for it. If the government doesn’t mean that, what in stars DOES it mean?


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Dubai to Ottawa by Video: Bill C32 in Squiggly Bits

At 8 p.m. Dubai time, I was sitting in front of a video screen on which I could see myself in a little box. The Committee Room — it must have been — for the Parliamentary Committee on Bill C-32, the copyright revision bill, was represented by a large box full of squiggly bits. I could hear the speakers in it but could not see them. I had been asked the day before to address the committee. This is what I said:

Thank you for inviting me. I address this committee from the position of an author who has been involved in publishing since the 1960s, both as writer and as publisher, and who has lived from the proceeds of writing – fees and royalties – since the early 1970s.

I am in the 10% of North American authors who live from writing. Even those within that 10% often end with tiny incomes. The loss of a thousand dollars is significant to them. A writer with a salaried position at a university may have a different view.

I frequently allow free use of my copyrights. When I make such gifts, that is my choice.

1. I will speak only about the extension of “fair dealing” to include “education,” however interpreted.

2. I am in favour of cheaper education for students.
But if cheaper education is a public good, all should contribute. Not just authors.

3. Removing authors’ copyright for “education” without compensation or choice would not be “fair dealing.” It is not fair (why only authors?) and it is not dealing (it takes two to deal).

4. A copyright is property. It can be owned, sold, licensed, and inherited.

There are only 4 ways in which property can be removed from its owner without consent: 1. Theft. 2. Expropriation, which does however include some payment. 3. Confiscation, as from criminals. 4. Requisition, as in a war.

If this copyright property grab is confiscation, what criminal act has the author committed? If requisition, what is the war? If theft, those authorizing the stealing should be charged. If this property grab is expropriation for the Public Good (as in land for highways etc.), the public should pay.

4. The author will be compensated, we are assured. How? There is no mechanism proposed, and no recourse for unfairness except through the courts. Given what I have said about tiny incomes, it is obvious that authors could not afford this. Whereas big educational institutions – floating as they do on public money – can.

5. Finally: If the government can snatch the property of authors in this way, without consent or payment, who and what will be next?

I have put the bold part in bold because later in the proceedings someone I could not see started shouting at me that it was outrageous for me to suggest that “educational leaders” — although some of these these have indeed spoken of all the money they are going to save by not paying collective license-to-copy fees to the authors’ collective — these folks would ever do anything so weird and bad as to rip off authors, and that they would –honour bright! — of course adhere to the “6 laws of fairness” as laid down by the Supreme Court.

I asked how these six guidelines were to be enforced: who’d be the policeman? There was no answer. Fact is — or so it would seem — If the law goes through as proposed, it will be up to the authors to monitor the educational institutions, then take them to court if they err.

Which the authors won’t be able to afford. Catch 22.

Or rather, Catch Bill C-32. Sorry, Author-living-below-minimum-wage, but that’s the breaks eh, and you alone in the whole educational food chain will lose out.

I wonder if the government really intends this effect. If it does not, it needs to re-think the way it has structured this part of the Bill.


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Tools of Change: The Publishing Pie, February 15, 2011

After a blisteringly energy-packed sets-hair-on-fire Book Camp 2, the O’Reilly’s Tools of Change #toccon publishing conference in New York rolled forth on February 14-16. I gave an author’s-view keynote on February 15 called ‘The Publishing Pie,’ which you can see at:

It’s a new experience for me, speaking to techfolk- they’re so sharp their brains poke through their skulls like the pins in the Scarecrow of The Wizard of Oz — but they were kind and indulgent and showed me some new toys. In particular, Pablo Francisco Arrieta from Columbia showed me the picture he drew of me on his Ipad, which you can see below.

Most intriguing for me are the apps that can be used to draw, colour, and paint, and I think I will test some out, though crayons, watercolours, pencils and pens are more my usual speed.

I hand-drew the PowerPoint pictures, some of which you can see below; though for context and the right order I’m afraid you have to look at the video, because no matter what I do I can’t get the slides to line up in this blog the way I want them to. 😦 The book covers include Double Persephone (1961), done with a linoblock carving and a flat-bed press (re: self-publishing!); The Circle Game (1966), done with Letraset and stick-on red legal dots; and Up in the Tree (1978), which I hand-lettered in two colours only, to save money in those early days of Canadian childrens’-book publishing, and which is now out again in a facsimile edition from Groundwood Books (Anansi).

Meanwhile I am at work on the Dead Author T-shirt – two colours, I feel – and will post a link here when it’s done and available on Café Press.

The conference itself was a swirl of ideas- they’re multiplying like amoebas in a well-stocked petrie dish – but the short message is: The book is not dead. Reading is not dead. The human interest in stories is not dead. But we are in the midst of a sea change in transmission tools, the likes of which we have not seen since the Gutenberg print revolution. As with that historical moment, there was a lot of turmoil, and nobody could foresee all the consequences.

(NB: Have now supplied altered Elvis & Hendrix slide, removing the offending ‘Jimmy,’ for which I just got poop. Never COULD spell. It’s Jimi, silly bat. With an i.)


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Book Camp #book2, February 13, 2011

Well, that was a workout! So electrified was I that all my hair stood up on end like the Bride of Frankenstein. (Yes, I know, it already kind of did…)

Off I went to New York on February 13 to be a keynote speaker of O’Reilly’s #toccon book-tools publishing conference. (Speaking about the author as primary source, a sort of small anchovy that en masse fuels whales – e.g. publishing companies — or a sort of dead moose on which more than 30 other life forms draw for nourishment… How many have made a living, so far, on Dead Shakespeare? You cannot count the ways.) (Arcane reference to E.B. Browning.)

But first I went to the premises of Open Sky on 18th Street for a pre-conference industry think-tank at which many bright souls were either holding forth or taking it all in. Publishers, bloggers, e-biz book folks, hopefuls, mopefuls – all sectors were represented, though not many elderly authors such as Self.

Yes, “publishing” (the transferring of stuff from one brain to another by means other than direct vocal contact or the Tube method, as in Young Frankenstein) – publishing, I say – and this is not a world-shaking new insight – yes, publishing, I repeat in Dickensian mode –that method of brain-creation transference that has, since Gutenberg, been using the paper “book” as the mass-transference tool – this “publishing” is in turmoil. And it was said turmoil that was the subject of many a discussion at #book2.

What about blogging, tweeting, and social networking in all its forms? Should authors be expected to do these things to promote their books, and what if they don’t want to? (See for instance Codrescu’s “Soapbox” in PW of January 31, included in our TOC kit, in which he poxes on all their houses.)

What about e-books and the purloining of content therefrom? Are paper books really in trouble, or is it just bookstores who are staring down the throat of Fenris? (Arcane reference to Norse mythology.) Can we credit a comparison between musicians – downloads have cut into the record biz, but just do a lot of concerts, like Lady Gaga? (I’d say not. Which writers would you pay to take off most of their clothes, paint themselves yellow, and cavort about curvaceously with a giant egg? Please do not answer this question. There is such a thing as over-sharing.)

All in all #book2 was livelier than a gaggle of fleas on the Hunger Artist (arcane reference to Franz Kafka), and indeed hunger was at the basis of most of my eldritch questions – all very well, said I, but who pays the artist to keep the poor thing in cheese sandwiches? Or at least enough of them so s/he can get on with the writing thing.

I did try not to say such things as “In the old days, we…” and, “Before e-books and Amazon, we used to…” or, “My generation invented the…” or, “People have been wrestling with that one for at least 1,000 years.” Yes, I did say them a bit. But the young were kindly, and gave me some grapes and cheese, so, being a Fox by nature, and fond of both, (arcane reference to Aesop’s Fables) I had a fine old time. Yes, cheap date, I know; but that is increasingly the problem, for authors: primary food sources are cheap dates.

Curious encounters of the #book2 kind:

Book Blogs: Ann Kingman Bethanne Kelly Melissa Klug and Laura Brown Callie Miller : mentioned by several Also mentioned Ron Hogan – one of the first : blog about publishing One of the guys was there, but which one? Toby Carroll! Combines music and books and much else. He was definitely there and known to all, but I didn’t get a card, and where is the name on the website? David Gutowsky! Smart Bitches, Trashy Books – reviews romance novels. One certifiably smart person was there – whether a bitch or not was unclear at that moment, but she seemed very nice to me. The O’Reilly’s blog.

Many mentioned Bookblogger Appreciation Week.

Also there was , which does e-serialization. mentioned as an aid to online stuff., readers read books out loud, sometimes well, a publishing platform

Amanda Katz, “bibliophile” column in the Boston Globe:

Old friend Philip Turner, Book Productions

And Michel Vrana, Book Designer, at

And more.

The death of the book has been greatly exaggerated.


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Three Poems About Cats

From The Door, 2007. Houghton Mifflin (U.S.), McClelland & Stewart (Canada), Virago (U.K.)

Written in honour of Blackie, who lived till 15; posted in honour of Twitter correspondent @marleycatt, who passed away last week.


My sister phones long distance:
Blackie’s been put down.
Incurable illness. Gauntness and suffering.
General heartbreak.
I thought you’d want to bury him,
she says, in tears.
So I wrapped him in red silk
and put him in the freezer.

Oh Blackie, named bluntly
and without artifice by small girls,
black cat leaping from roof to roof
in doll’s bonnet and pinafore,
Oh sly fur-faced idol
who endured worship and mauling,
often without scratching,
Oh yowling moon-
addict, devious foundling,
neurotic astrologer
who predicted disaster
by then creating it,

Oh midnight-coloured
faithful companion of midnight,
Oh pillow hog,
with your breath of raw liver,
where are you now?

Beside the frozen hamburger
and chicken wings; a paradise
for carnivores. Lying in red silk
and state, like Pharoah
in a white metallic temple, or
a thin-boned antarctic
explorer in a gelid parka,
one who didn’t make it; or
(let’s face it) a package
of fish. I hope nobody
en route to dinner
unwraps you by mistake.

What an affront, to be equated
with meat! Cat-like, you hated
being ridiculous. You hungered
for justice, at set hours and in the form
of sliced beef stew
with gravy.
You wanted what
was coming to you.
is, though. Ridiculous. And coming to you.
For us, too.
Justice is what we’ll turn into.
Then there’s mercy.)


We get too sentimental
over dead animals.
We turn maudlin.
But only those with fur,
only those who look like us,
at least a little.

Those with big eyes,
eyes that face front.
Those with smallish noses
or modest beaks.

No one laments a spider.
Nor a crab.
Hookworms rate no wailing.
Fish neither.
Baby seals make the grade,
and dogs, and sometimes owls.
Cats almost always.

Do we think they are like dead children?
Do we think they are a part of us,
the animal soul
stashed somewhere near the heart,
fuzzy and trusting,
and vital and on the prowl,
and brutal towards other forms of life,
and happy most of the time,
and also stupid?

(Why almost always cats? Why do dead cats
call up such ludicrous tears?
Why such deep mourning?
Because we can no longer
see in the dark without them?
Because we’re cold
without their fur? Because we’ve lost
our hidden second skin,
the one we’d change into
when we wanted to have fun,
when we wanted to kill things
without a second thought,
when we wanted to shed the dull grey weight
of being human? )


Crisp scent of white narcissus:
January, and full snow.
So cold the pipes freeze.
The front steps are slick and treacherous;
at night the house crackles.

You came in and out at will,
but this time of year you’d stay indoors,
plump in your undertaker’s fur,
dreaming of sunlight,
dreaming of murdered sparrows,
black cat who’s no longer there.

If only you could find your way
from the river of cold flowers,
the forest of nothing to eat,
back through the ice window,
back through the locked door of air.


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Seventeen Books About Birds

Seventeen Books About Birds
Suggested by Bird Lovers and Ecologists

If winter’s here, can birds be far behind? As the days lengthen the cold strengthens, my grandmother is said to have said. Nevertheless, we’re heading towards the migration season. So, looking forward, here are seventeen books about birds. This list is collected from various friends and aficionados. It is in alphabetical order. Please feel free to add more!

Cities in the Wilderness: A New Vision of Land Use in America, by Bruce Babbitt. (Island Press, Canada/UK; Shearwater Books, US) Secretary of the interior from 1993 to 2001, Babbitt advocates for a balance between development and conservation — smart growth— so that we retain the ecological functioning of the land.

A Walk in the Woods, by Bill Bryson. (Seal Books, Canada; Anchor, US; Black Swan, UK) A very funny personal memoir and delightful chronicle of the trail, the people who created it, and the places it passes through.

The Peregrine: The Hill of Summer; & Diaries: The Complete Works of J. A. Baker. Introduction by Mark Cocker & Edited by John Fanshawe. (Harper Collins) Cited as one of the most important books in 20th century nature writing, J.A. Baker meticulously documents a long winter observing peregrines and their surroundings.

The Bedside Book of Birds, by Graeme Gibson. (Doubleday Canada; Bloomsbury, UK; Nan A. Talese, US) Writings and images that celebrate the many ways people have engaged with birds over the centuries.

Mind of the Raven: Investigations and Adventures with Wolf-Birds, by Bernd Heinrich. (Ecco, Canada; Harper Perennial, US/UK) Heinrich involves the reader in his quest to get inside the mind of the raven. At the heart of this book is Heinrich’s love and respect for these complex and engaging creatures.

Ravens in Winter, by Bernd Heinrich. (Vintage Books) A charming, in-depth study of these very smart and sociable birds.

The Snoring Bird: My Family’s Journey Through a Century of Biology, by Bernd Heinrich. (Ecco, Canada; Harper Perennial, US/UK) An extraordinary memoir making science accessible and awe-inspiring.

Grass, Sky, Song: Promise and Peril in the World of Grassland Birds, by Trevor Herriot. (Harper Collins Canada) Herriot draws on twenty years of experience as an observer of nature to reveal the spirit of the grassland world and the uniqueness of its birds, discovering why birds are disappearing and what can be done to save them.

Findings: Essays on the Natural and Unnatural World, by Kathleen Jamie. (Gray Wolf Press, Canada/US; Sort Of Books, UK) Explores the value and vulnerability of an ancient yet ever new world now threatened by technology and human carelessness.

A Sand County Almanac, by Aldo Leopold. (Ballantine Books; Oxford University Press USA) A classic of nature writing, the almanac mixes essay, polemic, and memoir, and elaborates on the basic premise that nothing that disturbs the balance of nature is right.

Birding, or Desire, by Don McKay. (McClelland & Stewart; poetry) A celebration of nature’s abundance and the deep rhythms of family life.

The Sparrowhawk, by Ian Newton. (Harrell Books, Canada; Tarquin, US; Poyser, UK) A detailed account of this often elusive bird of prey and the impact of humans and the environment on the species in recent times.

Song of the Dodo: Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinctions, by David Quammen (Scribner, Canada/US; Pimlico, UK) Applies the lessons of biogeography to modern ecosystem decay, offering insight into the origin and extinction of species, our relationship to nature, and the future of our world.

Ecology of a Cracker Childhood, by Janisse Ray. (Milkweed Editions) A blend of memoir and nature study, Ray argues powerfully for the virtues of establishing a connection with one’s native ground.

Portrait Of An Island, by Mildred Teal & John Teal. (University of Georgia Press) Based on the authors’ own four-year stay on the virtually undeveloped Sapelo Island with its unique marine ecology and varied flora and fauna.

Living on the Wind: Across the Hemisphere with Migratory Birds, by Scott Weidensaul. (Fsg Adult, Canada; Henry Holt & Co. Inc., UK; North Point Press, US) Weidensaul examines the miracle of bird migration — that without temperature or hunger as triggers, birds migrate, sometimes more than 5,000 miles in one uninterrupted flight.

The Goshawk, by T.H. White. (New York Review Books Classics) Chronicling the battle of wills between the author and the hawk he is trying to train, this book opens the door into the natural life of the hawk.


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Ten Hopeful Technologies, Ideas, and Orgs

These are not “gifts” as such, but they do provide a kindly light amid the encircling gloom. Some folks are thinking hard, with what we hope will prove to be useful results. Here are my choices. Feel free to add your own, and to critique these if I’ve got it wrong. Chins up, and best feet forward! (All 8 of them, my fellow Octopi..)
Saltworks Technologies Thermo-Ionic technology produces sustainable energy efficient water by harnessing solar energy and heat.” As one of the looming problems is a shortage of clean, fresh water, a technology that can provide it cheaply and using only Solar would be most welcome.

Living with Lakes Centre, Sudbury: And speaking of water, here comes a brand new facility for studying it, regenerating it, living with it, in a fully biothermal and solar-conscious building with a Blueberry Roof. (Hey, the bears can’t get up there, eh?)

Global Thermostat: This is a potential game-changer. If you can attach this tech to a heat-emitting source, it removes CO2 from the ambient air, taking out two times as much as the emitting source churns out. For instance: giant internet server farms can serve as carbon-reduction engines…

World Book Night: On March 5, 2011, a million books will be given away in the U.K. and Ireland. These tiny carbon sinks will circulate through the population, impelled by a passion for reading… the gift that will keep on giving, one hopes.

Poetry in Voice: High school kids show a renewed interest in poetry out loud… The bards revive…

Forest Bathing. It is as your mother said: a walk in the woods WILL make you feel better.

Physiological Tests Confirm Therapeutic Effects of ‘Forest Bathing
We are happy to announce that JFS has started offering web videos with selected written articles on the JFS website. The video links are provided by NHK Eco Channel.

City of Toronto Biodiversity Series: We need something hopeful in Toronto. This series may not survive the city’s new mayor, nor may the birds it celebrates — other life forms being notorious pinkos, especially those dadblatted robins, and hey, if there weren’t any trees that would be the end of those pesky treehuggers — but meanwhile…

Do!Nation. This hasn’t happened yet, but it will. Let’s just say I found myself donating my organs – despite their elderly condition – live on a Quebec TV show watched by 2 ½ million people, so I can’t exactly get out of it eh? But Do!Nation will take awareness to a whole new level. Trust me. (David Cronenberg is involved. ☺ )

Electric Vehicles: From a correspondent: “Nissan has the Leaf coming this year, and GM the Volt. They are the urban way to go, if you must go by car – and electric vans are on the way as well. As you are no doubt aware, the skeptics wrongly point to the energy having to come from somewhere, but miss the fact that if you plug in at night, you are using power that is currently “wasted”. And if you don’t use your charged-up vehicle any day, you sell its juice back to the grid when need is highest, and reload again at night – I love the prospects of a million EVs acting together as a huge battery, selling power to the grid by day at peak demand time, and replacing with fallow cheap power at night…”

Longer and/or More Eyelashes. You may think this is frivolous, but try doing without eyelashes on a hot and gritty day. Help is at hand: May guard against the ravages of the dreaded
eyebrow mite

Add your own hopeful technologies, ideas, and orgs…
Any really good ideas about what to do about the huge floating island of discarded plastic in the Pacific Ocean would be more than welcome…


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Twelve Hopeful Gifts for the Holidays

Here are @ twelve hopeful gifts for the holiday season, with reasons for their hopeful qualities. Some of my choices may seem a little dire, such they also acknowledge the non-hopeful circumstances surrounding the hope, but each hopeful thing is what it is by way of its opposites, which I take to be – in general – despair, resignation, and cynicism.

First, three books:

The Age of Empathy: Nature’s Lessons for a Kinder Society. Franz de Waal.

This leading primatologist brings us the hopeful news that we are not the purely selfish, greedy, and power-mad, as certain now obsolete theories about our essential nature have been leading us to believe. Empathy – the ability to see and feel things from another’s point of view – is a human “given.” Thus it is not (always) true that when you scratch a philanthropist you see a hypocrite bleed, not is it true that those who – for instance –risk their lives by jumping into freezing rivers to save perfect strangers are doing it out of some weird kind of self-interest. Best news we’ve had in years! Empathy has its limits, of course. But so, it appears, does ruthless greed.

The Gift. Lewis Hyde.

What better to give than a book about gifts? I keep extras of this amazing book handy at all times, to give those who need it. It distinguishes clearly between the two methods of exchange: buying and giving. Here’s the blurb: “By now a modern classic, The Gift is a brilliantly orchestrated defense of the value of creativity and of its importance in a culture increasingly governed by money and overrun with commodities. Widely available again after twenty-five years, this book is even more necessary today than when it first appeared. An illuminating and transformative book, and completely original in its view of the world, The Gift is cherished by artists, writers, musicians, and thinkers. It is in itself a gift to all who discover the classic wisdom found in its pages.”

The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer. Siddhartha Mukherjee.

Not everyone might like to read about cancer over the holiday season, but on the other hand quite a few might, especially in this hopeful context. A great many of us know people who have had some form of cancer, or else we are those people. From the blurb: “… a magnificent, profoundly humane ‘biography’ of cancer – from its first documented appearances thousands of years ago through the epic battles in the twentieth century to cure, control and conquer it to a radical new understanding of its essence.” It’s a mystery story too, as generation after generation took a shot at trying to figure out what this killer was. Mr. Galen in the Library with the Black Bile?

Next, for this season of feasts, two hopeful food-centred gifts. How about a donation to:

The PEN Prison Farm Herd Co-Op (Canada). This herd consists of cows that were rescued when Canada’s federal prison farms were shut down. You won’t get a charitable donation receipt for this, but you will help in the upkeep of some heritage cows, in hope that they will one day be returned to prison farms and aid in the rehabilitation of prisoners.

Farm Forward: USA. “Farm Forward implements innovative strategies to promote conscientious food choices, reduce farm animal suffering, and advance sustainable agriculture.

Next, two bird organizations: “Hope is the thing with feathers…” Emily Dickinson.

Saving bird habitats also saves whole ecosystems, and helps indigenous peoples by preserving their traditional means of livelihood – and maintaining forests helps water management and conserves one of the big oxygen-producers on the planet.

A small one: PIBO. Located on Pelee Island, the Pelee Island Bird Observatory tracks migration through this crucial flightpath, gives tours and explanations of its work, and reaches out to kids through its educational programs. A little donation here makes a big difference.

See also Balzac’s Atwood Blend bird-friendly coffee. They got the name, PIBO gets a dollar a pound, the Smithsonian gets 25 cents for its bird-friendly certification work. Taste-tested it at our house, too!

A big one: Birdlife International. Birdlife is a large ground-up network that works with national partners in over 100 countries. It knows you can’t help birds without helping people in those habitats. Its U.S. Partner is the Audubon Society, its Canadian ones are Nature Canada and Bird Studies Canada, its UK one is the RSPB. For other countries, go onto the Birdlife website and find the country partner.

See also In the Wake of the Flood, the documentary made by Ron Mann of Sphinx Productions of the book tour I did in 2009, with raising awareness and funds for Birdlife and bird life as its goal. Profits from the sale of this DVD also go to Birdlife partners.

And two for animals:

Panthera: dedicated to the survival of the big cats, a group that is very much under threat.

And of course World Wildlife. That familiar panda logo has accomplished so many things already…

And one for fishes: Oceana: “Oceana seeks to make our oceans as rich, healthy and abundant as they once were.” An uphill struggle, but a crucial one. If the oceans die, we’re in grave danger.

And one for general green gifts: Treehugger

And finally, a connection between art and healing:

Art For Healing (San Francisco); and Art For Healing Foundation (Montreal).

Both place soothing and uplifting artworks in hospitals and jails. Yes, the science is in: it does have a hopeful effect…


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New York, Portsmouth NH, Portland OR: week of Sept. 20

Yes, this is out of chronological order, and I didn’t do so well with the picture-taking, but…

September 20, New York: A fine sunny day, in which I and Kim Sheu from Anchor (pictured with The Turnip) wandered the media labyrinths of New York, stopping first at the Brian Lehrer Show, WNYC, where we discussed shoes and ships and sealing wax, and whether TWITTER has wings….

Then — with a stroll through the architecturally-inventive Sukka City — we went to the Market in Union Square, to get a dress-up outfit for my friend The Turnip, who is still pondering on whether to run for Canadian Prime Minister. (See the SUN post, earlier.) He/she/it is usually the earthy type, a person who believes in being true to its humble roots, but it felt it should wear something special for the Anchor publishing lunch, ostensibly to celebrate the paperback publication of The Year of the Flood, but really an excuse for Nan Talese, LuAnn Walther, and Jen Marshall to sell The Turnip on the idea of writing its memoirs. It picked out a purple cabbage number, a little slick for it but you have to admit it looks as if it’s having a good time.

Then The Turnip accompanied us to Big Think, where Max Miller (pictured) was interviewed by it, or vice versa. I did some of that, as well.

In the evening, at the 92nd Street Y, I did an onstage event with very old pal Valerie Martin and visited also with traslator John Cullen, who has just won the French American Foundation translation Prize for Phillippe Claudel’s novel, BRODECK. Before that, we all had dinner with Russell Perrault of Vintage +, Twitter address: PerreaultNYC.

Backstage, I got my picture taken by Nancy Crampton, who’s been making writers look good for a loooong time.

We will not talk about how early I had to get up the next morning, but…

Portsmouth, NH: The Music Hall, a beautifully restored 19th C music hall for Writers on a New England Stage.
A special band (pictured) headed by played music from The Year of the Flood, Kathleen Shannon took overall came, I blathered, the interviewer interviewed, and old lit-pal Stephen King turned up backstage, with Dan Brown and Stephen’s son Joe Hill, author and comic-book writer (Locke and Key). What did we talk about? I’m afraid to say we discussed the boot fetishism of Wonder Woman’s creator, and the Jungian patterning in Batman’s classic enemies… Don’t tell me that Catwoman is not a Dark Anima!

Virginia Prescott of Word of Mouth did the great onstage interview.

And the next morning I had breakfast with very old friend Marie Harris
and was given a copy of her excellent memoir, Your Sun, Manny. Hadn’t seen Marie for donkey’s years but it was as if we’d just had tea the day before.

Then it was off to:

Portland, OR: Where I stayed at the writer-conscious Heathman Hotel, in one of the fine book cities of the USA. Portland Arts and Lectures put on the event, which was not a hair-pull over science fiction between me and Ursula K. LeGuin — she knows I love her – but more like a sort of quirky schmooze between two folks from a galaxy far far away who don’t give a rodent’s posterior what anyone thinks, or not in the weird lit. dept. anyway.

Jeff Baker did a story for

And here’s some radio:

This was more fun than a barrel of snail-eared mutants, and I dedicated my recent flagrant and inexcusable watching (on a plane) of the 1953 film Invaders from Mars to Ursula.

(“What claptrap!” “Yeees… but Iconic claptrap!”)

Now – what would you say if I told you I’ve just been invited to I-CON in 2011? You heard it here…


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