The Cultural Gutter

beyond good and bad, there is awesome

"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars." -- Oscar Wilde

And They Call It Puppy Love

dogcat

I own several shares of a cat. It’s not a weird as it sounds. A friend with a cat travels travels a lot, so the kitty spends a fair amount of time with me. She’s spending this week with me in fact, while her owner is off swimming, running, and cycling hundreds of kilometres at a triathlon […]

These Are A Few Of My Favourite Things

inquiry

I always enjoy writing a ‘Best Of’ column, and this year it’s particularly timely. Not only do I work in retail (which is category 5 insane right now) but my week also included a bicycle accident and a broken water main. Frankly, I needed some happy time. It did me good to think about and/or […]

My New Weapon of Choice

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In April, the Guttersnipes like to mix it up a little.  This month, Comics Editor Carol Borden writes about romance. “You hit him with a frying pan,” he said to her.  “How come you didn’t grab a knife?” “The frying pan was closer.” Her eyes slid away.  “It’s not like I had time to pick […]

The Longing And The Short Of It

heart

 Ah, mid-February.  That time of year in which Romance authors are hounded by the media for sound bites and wink-wink, nudge-nudge style “advice” for hackneyed articles about Valentine’s Day, most of which will appear under headlines made awkward by ham-handed double-entendres*.  I’m all for Romance writers getting some press, but the box-checking, paper-thin nature of […]

The Many Faces Of Man. Or Rather, Men.

smalldavinci

Alex’s excellent article last week prompted Gutter Overlord Carol to suggest we each use this month to write about masculinity in our own particular capacity. Having been by odd coincidence right in the middle of reading The Male Brain by Louann Brizendine (a fascinating look at the physical and hormonal characteristics unique to, um, the […]

Top 10 of 2012

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It’s the end of the year; I work in retail; I have the flu.  All  of which means that for the past couple weeks I’ve been re-reading rather than reading. Mostly Eva Ibbotson, whose warmth reminds me not only that I love reading, but why.  Which makes this a good time for a retrospective list. […]

The Measure Of Success

I’ve been thinking about heroes and archetypes again (which is not actually news: story archetype is a sandbox in which I happily spend a lot of time). Feels like it’s everywhere these days.  A few weeks back I was on a panel at the World Fantasy Convention that discussed love and monsters. Alex and Carol […]

Hitting The Books, Hard

As I said this time last year, I like back to school season.  I love the energy of it.  I miss the sense of anticipation, of knowing I had lots of new things to look forward to.  At least, usually I do.  Perhaps I’m just feeling particularly curmudgeonly this season, or maybe summer was just […]

Lovers In A Dangerous Time

Recently, I’ve been thinking about danger.  Specifically, the kind of danger that runs through a certain subsection of Romance, often called ‘romantic suspense’.  These are the stories that drop the hero and heroine into physical jeopardy in addition to exposing them to all the emotional risks of falling in love.  When done well, they share […]

How Does Your Garden Grow?

I make a conscious attempt to not repeat myself with this column.  It would be easy to do:  my favourite writers are my favourites for a reason, and yay, they keep writing great books.  But I figure that wouldn’t be terribly interesting for anyone but me.  Besides, there are so many Romances published every year.  […]

A Decision to Self-Publish

Publishing powerhouse Jackie Collins explains her decision to self-publish and the business of books.

If You Leave, How Will I Strangle You?

Computers and I are not the best of friends.  We’re more like work colleagues who really don’t care for one another.  We may act all professional, but secretly we’re each making sarcastic comments about the other’s hair, clothing, and annoying personal habits. Okay, maybe that’s just me.

Don’t Know How She Does It

Several years ago I went to Disney World with friends who had a small child.  The three of us adults were almost enough to keep the little one from exploding in all directions, but afterwards I needed a vacation from my vacation.  So I headed off to Daytona Beach, intending to spend a few days […]

“Men Behaving Sadly”

In a lovely meditation, William Goss sees continuity between The Grey and Oslo, August 31st:  “I found myself reminded of the great beauty that movies can have, the universal truths that they could capture, the emotions that – if we’re lucky – they will convey and elicit.”

Catching Up

Last February, I had a chance to talk to Julianne MacLean, a USA Today bestselling Romance author from Bedford, Nova Scotia.   We discussed her career development, her move to a new publisher, and her connection to the writing community.  Julianne was about to see the release of a brand new trilogy, all three books of […]

The Great and the Good

I was a little disappointed by how many Romances I liked this year.  Mostly because  I wanted to love so many more of them.   But as always, some titles managed to rise above the rest.  Here are some of my favourites from this year.

Money Talks

Did you ever bounce off a book when you first picked it up only to discover later that you loved it?  Back in high school that happened to me with To Kill A Mockingbird.  Really.  I’d picked it up during the summer to get a jump on the next semester, but it took until the […]

Hot For Teacher

I always get a boost of industrious energy this time of year, and a renewed sense of purpose.  All those years of back-to-school excitement have left me with a nigh-Pavlovian response to Labour Day.  I’m one of those (apparently rare) few who actually liked school from kindergarten onwards, so the beginning of a new school […]

Coming Up Roses

Susana Kearsley

Like many in the book business, I get most of my books for free or at cost.  While I rarely have the patience or skill to bargain for any other object, when it comes to books the thought of paying retail is, to me, rather absurd.  The major exception to my self-imposed rule is in […]

How To Write An Entry About A Naked Werewolf

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Some titles are born great.  Some titles achieve greatness, usually through the hard work of an editor, agent, or author (who probably ripped out chunks of her own hair in the process).  And some titles will never come closer to greatness than possibly containing some of the same letters.

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    The Royal Court Theatre hosts a conversation among former Anonymous LulzSec members facilitated by anthropologist Gabriella Coleman.

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    “Japan’s estimated population at the time of their last census was 127 million, and people have been living on this small collection of islands since the Jomon period (~12,000 BCE.) In an increasingly crowded country with a strong traditional belief in ghosts and hauntings, the question of avoiding a marauding ghost becomes impossible to solve, without outside help.”Atlas Obscura has more (with neat illustrations).

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    At Mostly Film, Blake Backlash writes about films “mixing of Hollywood’s Grande Dames with Grand Guignol.”  “Such cinematic mixing of Grande Dames and Grand Guignol had its heyday in the second-half of the sixties, and such films are sometimes (more-or-less) affectionately known as psycho-biddy pictures. They tended to feature an actress over 50 in some sort of peril, a melodramatic plot and a title that ends in a question mark.  But there is another, related tradition that goes back further that I think we could place these films in.” (via Dr. Giallo)

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    “I want to tell you about when violent campaigns against harmless bloggers weren’t any halfway decent troll’s idea of a good time—even the then-malicious would’ve found it too easy to be fun. When the punches went up, not down. Before the best players quit or went criminal or were changed by too long a time being angry. When there was cruelty, yes, and palpable strains of sexism and racism and every kind of phobia, sure, but when these things had the character of adolescents pushing the boundaries of cheap shock, disagreeable like that but not criminal. Not because that time was defensible—it wasn’t, not really—but because it was calmer and the rage wasn’t there yet. Because trolling still meant getting a rise for a laugh, not making helpless people fear for their lives because they’re threatening some Redditor’s self-proclaimed monopoly on reason. I want to tell you about it because I want to make sense of how it is now and why it changed.” Emmett Rensin writes more at Vox.

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    At Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, Elyse has some things to say about reading Romance. “In the end, it doesn’t matter what I read. It doesn’t even matter that I do read, quite frankly. What matters is that we live in a world where fiction aimed directly at women is perceived as garbage. That doesn’t say anything at all about me, it says a lot about what needs to change.”

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    Brain Pickings looks at the life and work of Tove Jansson and the wisdom of her character, Too-ticky. “Too-ticky, the sage of Moominvalley who solves even the most existential of problems with equal parts practicality and wisdom, was inspired by the love of Jansson’s life — the great Finnish sculptor and graphic arts pioneer Tuulikki “Tooti” Pietilä, Jansson’s spouse. The two women met in art school during their twenties and remained together until Jansson’s death more than six decades later, collaborating on a lifetime of creative projects — all at a time when queer couples were straddling the impossible line between anguishing invisibility and dangerous visibility.” (via Kate Laity)

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