Monthly Archives: February 2018

Getting Caught into Watching Television | Review of “Caught” by Lisa Moore (2013) House of Anansi

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There is something engaging when we read a book and then watch a movie or a television show based on that book. Many of us readers do enjoy comparing and contrasting the plot lines from the two medium. And as the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation prepares to air the latest production that comes from a work of fiction – Lisa Moore’s Caught – many of us readers are already familiar with the book and are keen to see it come to the screen.

Page 21 A Room with a View

Slaney walked up the wheelchair ramp that let to the side entrance of the bar. From there he had a view of rows of cabbages and fields of hay. The clouds tumbled backwards in folds and billows all the way to the horizon.

The door was held open a crack with a stone and it was very dark inside and stank of beer and cigarettes. Someone had been smoking weed. There was a yellow cone of light over the pool table at the far end of the room.

The bartender was a scrawny woman with long silver braids tied at the ends with read glass bobbles. Her skin was tanned dark and her eyes were pale blue. She ware bibbed overalls and had a pack of cigarettes rolled up in the cuff of her white T-shirt. Two pairs of eyeglasses hung from chains around her neck. She was emptying ashtrays form the night before.

If you’re here fro the dart tournament it was yesterday, she said.

Harold sent me, Slaney said. He said maybe there was a room I could crash.

Harold say anything about child support for his three youngsters by two different  mothers? The woman asked.

He never mentioned, Slaney said. She reached under the bar and shoved some things around on a shelf and came back up with a key on a wooden fob. She sent it sliding down the bar toward him.

There is something direct and bold in the story that Moore created in the story of David Slaney and his escape from prison in June 1978, but there is also something about the human condition that she has brought forward here. Yes, we get antics of a man on the run but at times we get the thoughts, fears, longings, hurt,  and other deep emotions that many of us endure in our day-to-day lives. It is going to be interesting to see if viewers of the TV show will empathize with Slaney and readers did with the book.

Page 109 Jennifer, Juniper

Before the first trip, they’d had their big goodbye on the sidewalk outside Jennifer’s Gower Street apartment, the Jamaican flag hanging in the upstairs window, sopping K-Mart flyers out the mailbox, her tears wet on his neck while she held him.

Jennifer had thought Alberta, not Columbia. Slaney had said he was going to Alberta for work and as soon as he landed a job he’d send for her and Crystal. He’d have a nice house set up for them he’d buy them everything they’d ever wanted, all the furniture and clothes and toys they could imagine. Jennifer wouldn’t have to worry about money anymore.

Slaney had bent down by the stroller and pulled out Crystal’s pacifier and kissed her and stuck it back in before she had a chance to scream for it. And Jennifer stood there on the sidewalk, one hand on the stroller, pulling it back and forth, waving with the other. She kept waving until the car had disappeared around the corner.

Moore’s descriptions in any of her works are vivid and direct and that is true of this book too. Any reader can visualize any scene or any emotion easily. And the story is bold yet unique. One can feel empathy for Slaney no matter what the situation that he finds himself in to be. In any case the book is a good read and the show should easily mirror the book’s great qualities as well.

Page 147 Skills

After four weeks and five days at the Mansonville cabin Slaney’s new passport was ready. He went to the office and picked it up, along with the driver’s licence and the birth certificate he’d mailed in, and then headed to the rain station and bought a tiecket.

The formality of the photography studio and the blast of the flashbulb had rendered an unfamiliar look in his passport photo. It was an odd angle. Something, perhaps the false name, made Slaney feel like he was not himself.

The large white umbrella in the studio had been set up to bounce light and there was the need to be unsmiling. There was a look of bafflement.

Bafflement is a precursor to wisdom, was that the picture made him think. The picture looked like someone who would have to wise up. They were embarking on the next adventure. They were going to be rich. Look out, world. The guy in the photograph was him and was not him.

The picture said, Look out.

Or it said: Bon voyage.

While it should be an interesting show, most book-fans will be eager to make comparisons to it and Lisa Moore’s book Caught. The book is bold and a unique read, which the show should be able to follow in it’s own right.

*****

Link to House of Anansi’s webpage for Caught

Link to the CBC’s website for the television series Caught

 

RIP William Whitehead | MT of “Words To Live By” by William Whitehead (2012) Cormorant Books

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I have been thinking recently that there is something missing in a lot of our cultural products these days. While there is passion and drive in a lot of what we read and view, there seems to be a level of dedication to craft something for people to ponder and reflect over. This thought really became apparent to me when I learned of the passing of William Whitehead. “Bill” had been a small fixture to many of cultural items I remember from my youth – from the number of Nature of Things documentaries he wrote for to being loving partner to noted Canadian writer Timothy Findley. And his 2012 biography Words to Live By documented his dedication to his crafts and his loves.

Blurb – Back dustjacket

So – who is William Whitehead?

You probably know who Timothy Findley was – an internationally renowned writer know to friends and family by the initials of his full name: Timothy Irving Frederick Findley – Tiff. And if you ever attended one of his public appearances – a reading, a talk, a book signing – you may have noticed someone hovering nearby: someone tall, with a big smile, brown hair and eyes, carrying a bit too much weight and wearing a pen on a cord around his neck.

That was me.

While I had the pleasure of meeting Bill a few years ago, I had often seen him at Findley’s public events always giving a hand or a nudge when needed. But his dedication to life in general shone through in biography. Yes, he was “the guy” in Findley’s life but when I read his book, I realized how many documentaries and shows I had witnessed that Bill had been involved with. His work had influenced me, even when I never even noticed his name on the credits.

Words and Pictures  – Page 179

Another of the writer’s jobs was to devise a title, something I enjoyed. For a Nature of Things on the relationship of bodily fluids to the salt was from which we evolved, I suggested “Blood, Sea and Tears.” For a series on the uncertainties of youth employment” “Future Tense.” Once, when I was asked to write a script for a short film on the creation of soundtracks for dramatic films, I turned the job down, telling the producer that his documentary didn’t need a script. He was appalled. “But how will the audience be able to understand what’s going on?” I explained. Most of the film was split screen – half showing the dramatic action and half displaying the sound man creating the final soundtrack: coconut shells on sawdust-filled pads for hoof beats, smashing a cabbage onto a table for a blow to the head, etc. Then I said, “Look. Instead of hiring me to write a script, how would it be if I simply gave you a title and a subtitle, free of charge?” He was puzzled, until I told him what I had in mind: Track Stars: The Unseen Heroes of Movie Sound.

The unscripted film won a nice award – and certainly not because of the title alone. It was a good piece of work.

But, of course, Bill was involved with Findley and played an important role in his life and his work. In this book, Bill documented his relationship well, talking about the good times and the bad. More importantly he showed us that love – not matter who that person is – must be endured, and the reward for that endurance is a trust and companionship that comforts our existence through this life.

Words To Die For – Pages 214 – 215

As every successful writer knows, he is expected to do much more than just write the words. He must also help to sell them. this means weeks on the road, or on the water or in the air – living in hotels, rushing from interview to interview, often sacrificing lunch or – even worse -trying to answer an interviewer’s questions while also trying to take in some food.

The wors book tour for Tiff was in 1990, for Inside Memory. Nine solid weeks, with only one day free of travel or publicity work. Tiff had to go to an emergency ward in Halifax to deal with exhaustion and the flu. By the time we reached Vancouver, he was again close to collapse. At that emergency ward, the doctor – seeing me – suspected AIDS. While the blood test was being analyzed, he directed us to stand by in the waiting room. When he appeared, he looked grimly at Tiff – and suggested that it might be a good idea if I came along as well. This immediately signalled to us that what we were about to hear was dire.

It wasn’t. the results of the test were negative. Tiff could see that I was ready to explode with accusations centring on “Then why the hell did your attitude imply the reverse!” And he hurried us out of the room.

I began to wonder, though – were Tiff’s beloved words slowly killing him?

Bill has had a rich life in which he created – directly or indirectly –  some wonderful items for many of us to enjoy and learn from. There is a dedication he gave to his existence that was both light-hearted yet engrossing that feels unique and somehow missing from others as we regard their biographies.

Words To Die For  – Page 247

Will there be sun for me tomorrow?

I hope so. I’ve had the most wonderful life. Glorious people, fabulous place and more love and laughter than can be imagined. It’s hard to express how grateful I am for my life: grateful for everything, but not grateful to anything. I’ve never felt the need to imagine some all-powerful being who is responsible for creating everything I know and love. Many have been imagined. I view the various divinities that are worshipped in different ways by different groups, the various eternal paradises that are promised, as wishful thinking. I hope that all such worshipper will allow me to find my own way out of this life in much the same way I found my way into it: innocent of knowledge about how, where, when and why everything I know came into being.

I had shared the news of Bill’s passing on a few social-media fronts and there were many comments back of sadness and discussion threads about his life. But his autobiography is a testament of his life and his unique contributions to lives and loves around him. I encourage people to read William Whitehead’s Words To Live By and to consider and cherish his existence. As I cherish his book on my bookshelf.

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*****

Link to Cormorant Books webpage for Words To Live By