On finding out your kid wants to be a writer…

A mother reflects on the parenting moment. My children say things like, “I think I’ll probably be either an architect or a writer” and it’s everything I can do to not grab them by the shoulders, shake them like a red-headed baby, and scream, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT’S HOLY ARCHITECT!!!

On the other hand, I’ve taught them well to spot shitty people, so if they ever get near an workshop, things should sort themselves out pretty quickly.

I want to be a writer when I grow up.

I say, “That’s nice.” But I know there is nothing nice about being a writer. I hug her anyway and tell her I am proud of her no matter what, and she kisses me hard on my cheek the way my late grandmother used to kiss me—a long, vacuuming sniff. The way Grandma used to kiss me right before she’d tell me that I had overcooked the rice or that I hadn’t julienned the carrots thin enough. It is the kiss of Judas. “Like you, Mama. I want to be just like you.” I already want to cry. I want to tell her, Have I not taught you well?! I smile again and tuck her hair behind her ear, and I take the breath all mothers take when their child has made a declaration that deserves pause (“I kissed someone” or “I am taking a gap year” or “I am dating my boss”).

‘ween ready author photos

I’ve long thought the creepiest author photo of all time was Shel Silverstein’s. I know nothing of the man himself, but he looks like he just got out of prison and ran straight to a bridge he knows so he could go under it to finish eating someone’s face.

And it’s not just this one. Do yourself a favour today and get your spine-tingling chill thrills on a Silverstein google deep dive.

Libraries should do more stuff like this…

…and less, you know, legitimizing hate speech. NL kid wins contest to be junior librarian for a day.

Obligatory Halloween post

Three authors talk about scary objects that inspired their stories. Sarah Moss writes:

The Wellcome Collection’s permanent exhibition, Medicine Man, has plenty of disturbing objects. Partly because I arrive in and leave London through Euston station, just over the road, I often stop by if I’m early for a train (this kind of casual visiting is one of the joys of free museums), and so I find myself gazing out of the window at Watford Junction and still thinking about a box of false eyes or an amulet. It’s good to be a little haunted.

…And don’t call me Shirley

The Quill interviews Mariko Tamaki about her new press imprint, Surely Books.

Surely Books will be dedicated to publishing queer creators and, although Tamaki targets her own writing at teens, she primarily plans to publish a wide range of fiction and non-fiction titles for an adult audience.  Starting in the spring of 2021, the imprint will publish three to four books per season, two seasons a year. The inaugural lineup will include a biography of American novelist and short-story writer Patricia Highsmith, a deep dive into the life of Revolutionary War hero Baron von Stueben, and a fictional graphic novel by Terry Blas and Claudia Aguirre.

On translating

Translating Japanese literature, a conversation at The Millions.

AC: Another thing that’s unique about Penguin Highway is how little of the book is actually specific to Japan. It’s as if childhood makes things immediately more universal. But The Night Is Short is chock full of extremely Japanese things, and some of them are pretty obscure even for readers familiar with Japanese culture. How did you approach those aspects of the translation?

EB: Well, looking at the finished product, I see that my editor approached many of them with stealth or not-so-stealth glosses. Personally, I wanted to explain a little less in many places. I feel like readers don’t usually need to be babied as much as we think they do? I read a story translated from Korean recently that had a few footnotes, but I didn’t end up looking at any of them until I reached the end where they all were. If I wanted to, I could have Googled at any time, but I was enjoying the flavor of things and understanding well enough through context.

Shame on Toronto Public Library

Well, despite the thousands of names on the petition and the hundreds of gathered protesters, the anti-trans talk was given last night at the Toronto Public Library, damaging their reputation with the community and solidifying the perception that they are a safe and legitimizing space for hate. Nice work, TPL! The speaker and audience members were jeered soundly by the gathered as police escorted them out. My favourite part is how Meghan Murphy, who appears to be the human equivalent of a lump of shit knotted in a tangle of ass hair, tries to do damage control, saying she’s been maligned and clarifying her position: which actually bolsters everything being said about her.

More on TPL controversy

Beattie has the rundown at Quill. PEN has sure had some dumbass moves the last few years, siding with predators and hate-mongers in the name of free speech, doubling down on the idea that anything flying out a mouth, with or without a brain behind it, is somehow sacred. We need to get some young people in there on their board to counteract the somnambulance that has to be going on in order to make some of these decisions.

The library argues that by allowing the third-party booking to go ahead, they are acting in defence of free speech. TPL’s room-rental policies stipulate that the library reserves the right to cancel a booking if it “reasonably believes” that “use by any individual or group will be for a purpose that is likely to promote, or would have the effect of promoting discrimination, contempt, or hatred for any group or person on the basis of … gender identity [or] gender expression.” However, city librarian Vickery Bowles states that since Murphy has never been found guilty of violating Canada’s hate speech laws, there are no grounds to prevent her from speaking.

Today, PEN Canada issued a statement of support for Bowles and TPL. “Ms. Meghan Murphy’s opinions do not meet a legal threshold for exclusion under the library’s rental policy, though they are clearly at odds with the inclusive spirit which should inform its enforcement,” the statement reads. “Recognizing that some views held by Ms. Murphy are repugnant to many, PEN nevertheless believes, as a matter of principle, that the Library cannot be forced to adjudicate which opinions – short of those which violate the Criminal Code – can be aired by a third party on its premises.”

And you know, I agree that they should be allowed to speak. Just not in a publicly funded venue, especially one that is revered by kids and adults as a place of great learning. To those not familiar with the stakes and issues at hand, not to mention the legal mechanisms at play, it appears to loan state approval/legitimacy to the speaker. Let them rent a private room across town.

tl;dr If it’s not hate speech, they can speak. Just not in a place I pay taxes to.