Sylvia Plath’s Tulips and Bill Murray Art

Emily M. Keeler is a writer and the editor of...

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Carol Anne Duffy, on editing a new collection of poems by Sylvia Plath: “A vocational poet like Plath gives life back to us in glittering language…”

In the wake of the breathless election night coverage, Virginia Heffernan’s most recent column, on mistrusting voting machines and the intimacy of the polling booth, is worth a read. Bear in mind that the column came out before this understandably viral polling station video.

Speaking of voting, what would you put on Canada’s ideal bookshelf? I’m asking for the National Post, which is running a contest in partnership with the artist Jane Mount, on the occasion of her new book with Thessaly La Force, Ideal Bookshelf. It’s such a lovely idea, asking notable word lovers to name some of their favorite books and making art out of the results.

And for no real reason at all, please allow me to direct your attention to these paintings of Bill Murray as Wes Anderson film characters for which he was not cast.

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Election Night in SoHo
At seven o’clock, the first polls closed and I arrived, thinking I’d be early, to the Housing Works Used Bookstore in SoHo. But it was already standing room only. The AIDS -charity-owned venue, tucked away on Crosby Street, is one of the last holdouts of the artsy, progressive SoHo before the ibankers moved in. It turns into a cavernous performance space most nights of the week. Increasingly, it is the last Manhattan foothold of the bookish creative class that has now largely decamped to Brooklyn, who are packed together like fair-trade sardines tonight. The place is all Strand canvas tote bags and hand-knit caps, most people double-fisting Brooklyn-Lager-with-phone and a paper cup full of chili, which had been highlighted in the ads for the event as much-needed “comfort food.” The average age has to be under thirty, though here and there I see beards of serious vintage.

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Rediscovering Winterson: On Her Bold and Painful Memoir
I’d sort of given up on Jeanette Winterson. I had discovered her novel Sexing the Cherry in a small independent bookstore in Montreal, when I was doing my BA at McGill, and it was a revelation. I didn’t know you could write a book like that—neither, apparently, did the literary world (such as it was twenty years ago), which was busy endowing her with praise and accolades. I ended up writing my honours thesis on it: “Post-structuralist Feminist Theory in Jeanette Winterson’s Sexing the Cherry and Virginia Woolf’s Orlando .” I was a big fan. I loved Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit , The Passion , Written on the Body , even Boating for Beginners ; but after Art and Lies, Gut Symmetries her writing had become too academic for me, and I was a bit sick of post-modern theory. And then there were the stories of her legendary egotism and her attack of critics. So I’m not sure why I bought her memoir three weeks ago, except that I was giving a reading at A Different Drummer Books in Burlington and wanted to support their business. I was attracted to the cover, but I also really loved the title: Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?