It’s National Poetry Month. Why April, you may ask? I did. Seems it was started when in 1996 some members of the Academy of American Poets gave away copies of T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land outside of a New York post office. Canada NPMed two years later, making this the 20th annual celebration of April cruelty. I’ve celebrated by reading less poetry than I have since I started keeping track of my annual failure to read 95 Books in one year. I’ve followed Sandra Simonds on social media for a while. The other day she suggested to me on Goodreads that I might like her new collection Orlando and I thought that maybe I should read some of her already published stuff so I picked up Steal it Back and Further Problems with Pleasure, both of which, I should add, come with five-star reviews on Goodreads from Simonds herself. Who am I to argue? As it happens, I like both very much. Last fall one of my favourite people I’ve never actually met Sina Queyras AKA Lemon Hound released My Ariel, which Coach House described as “a poem-by-poem engagement with Sylvia Plath’s Ariel” so I decided that I should revisit Plath (whom I haven’t read since undergrad a lifetime ago) and also decided (since no one could have possibly thought of this before me) that I would read Plath and then the corresponding Queyras, which lasted all of three poems since Coach House are liars. Not to take anything away from Queyras; these poems are pretty great. These aren’t happy poems, but neither are the referral materials.
Don’t call it a resolution but this year I wanted to at least try to once in a while be a bit social and over a quarter into 2018 I haven’t done a very well so I decided this week that I would join the Vancouver Running Co. Thursday night Flight Crew run which sets out at a very reasonable 6:15 p.m. from 1886 West 1st Avenue (which is a very reasonable 2.5 KM jog from my place), for a very reasonable 10 KM weekday evening run. Except that I got Translinked on Thursday and didn’t get home until 6:10 so I missed out. Except that I should have remembered from the two or three other times that I’ve ever joined a social run that social runs never start when they say that they are going to, as Strava let me know later Thursday evening that the Flight Crew took off closer to 6:30. So maybe next week. This week’s long run I did some reconnaissance on the second half of the BMO half and finished feeling very confident that I will new or near my PR on May 6. Less encouraging is that Garmin dropped for the second time in as many weeks. I believe in second chances, which is why I believe it may be time for a replacement.
And so concludes the accidental trilogy encompassing how we got here, long view (Astrophysics for People in a Hurry), why things are shite (because Sapiens), and who’s to blame (hint: it’s men). Accidental because I had no idea how well these three actually fit together, and I totally lucked out choosing the correct order to read them. And, not unlike Sapiens, Mad Blood Stirring starts out strong and then falters, devolving into an autobiography with heavy focus on the Fairless’s mother and their relationship. There are five chapters. The first three are very good. The fourth could have been good, but goes sideways. The fifth attempts to tie into the book’s intended theme, but it’s a stretch such that by the end I wasn’t quite sure what the theme is. The title is a line from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, spoken by Benvolio — the guy that tries to play the play’s peacemaker. Throughout the intro and chapter one Fairless has a bit of a Benvolio-complex (I just made that up), but that disappears by chapter five (along with the editor, apparently). The intro and first three chapters are really very good, worth reading, and could easily stand on their own serialized elsewhere. Fairless’s style is to present a main focus then intersperse asides throughout the chapter. Sometimes it works very well. Other times not so much. The fourth chapter is good in the parts that he focuses on the chapter’s main theme and “the killer”. In the fifth our narrator loses the plot. Or maybe I do. Regardless, my thanks to Penguin Random House Canada for the review copy.
I went to physiotherapy on Wednesday and it seems that I really am on the mend because she doesn’t want to see me for a few weeks as long as I behave and as long as there are no disasters during my attempts to behave. So I’ve been behaving, which is evident by the paltry 25 KM I ran this week. I’m currently 37 KM behind pace to reach 2,018 KM in 2018. I’m trying to behave, and by behave I mean to follow the advice of my physiotherapist to slowly add back distance and maintain rest time between runs. But I’m also trying to decide what I’m going to do with the BMO in May as I keep going back and forth between thinking I should just run the half or maybe just run the full without a full training session leading up to it and see what happens. I think regardless of what I run on May 6 I’m going to run the Victoria full in the fall. So while I’m mulling over what to do what I’m keeping forefront in mind is that I just want to stay healthy.
A pretty great debut work of experimental fiction that strikes rather of creative nonfiction. I found it difficult to get lost in the book because I found the writing style a lot of work, especially in the first third of the book. I can’t say if I got used to the style, or if there is a shift; Ada’s teen years forward until the story’s conclusion I found easier to read, harder to put down, and, for its content, difficult to enjoy. But I found the story compelling and the writing ambitious and exceptional. This novel found its way onto many “most anticipated” lists and for that it doesn’t disappoint. I expect it will end up on a few 2018 best ofs and award nominations, too. Thanks to Grove Press for the review copy.
Easing back into it after the knee twist, I ran three times this week, with subtle increases each session and surprisingly pleasant results. Speed is way down, but I hardly care about that right now. Knee has been cooperative, and optimistically, it has felt better-than-okay the evening and day after. I’m trying not to get my hopes up too high. On Wednesday I will discuss with my physiotherapist and determine what I’m going to do about the West Van 10K next weekend. I feel pretty good about running it, but I don’t want to push anything too early and have another set back. Today I was looking back at my 2017 training log; I ran the first LSD of my BMO Full plan 50 weeks ago, which makes me think that I still have a bit of time to decide what I’m going to do with race day May 6. But for now I just need to focus on getting healthy first, and working on getting some speed back.
When number forty-five was elected president I believed (hoped, maybe?) that the west coast states would secede. Or at least break out into civil war. It still could happen. I’m not so sure about British Columbia joining Cascadia but whatever. But now with this ridiculous trade war over wine and oil that B.C. is caught up in with the petulant, spoilt child that is Alberta, who knows. American War imagines America has finally caught up with reality and sees no future in fossil fuels but the South loses its mind being told it has to drive solar cars and so there’s a civil war. Sounds familiar, except wine. Or maybe sounds ominous. The book follows the life of Sarat Chestnut, not a northerner and not quite a southerner either. I really liked this book — a post-apocalyptic hellscape sans the nuclear winter. The scenario actually seems more plausible than the impending radioactive mass extinction that we’re currently potentially facing. For better or for worse (as far as reading is concerned, for worse) American War drew me back into playing Fallout 4. As if I needed another excuse. I thought this book was great, especially for being El Akkad’s first novel. His depiction of the war-torn South is vivid and the characters are very well developed. Plus a strong female protagonist that I cared about in spite of disagreeing with her. This is a good read.
I took the week off running after the knee twist and shout at the First Half last week. A trip to physio and for some ultrasound and electroshock therapy helped a bit. Dr. Physio and I had an honest and frank discussion. I have three races on the horizon: West Van 10K is one I’m not happy to but willing to burn. My eye is still on the BMO in May, but I’m starting to think half instead of full, and then a full in Kelowna or Victoria in the fall. Then Helsinki is towards the end of May and I really, really don’t want to be traipsing around Skandinavia on a reruined knee.
Good news is that Dr. Physio ruled out ACL or any tearing, but clearly my meniscus is not so happy. She said I can swim, but I hate swimming, and she said I can ride my bicycle. I don’t mind riding my bicycle so I did a fair amount of that. But I also went for a tour of the YWCA Health + Fitness Centre down on Hornby — the one I walk past going to and from physio. It seems nice, and SC has been going steady there longer than with me. She seems to like it, and it’s nearly half the cost of the Robert Lee YM on Burrard. So I’m considering forcing myself to go swim once or twice a week, hate it or not, and it will be nice to have access to bikes for those rainy days, even if those bikes go nowhere.