Tag Archives: travel

What odds about Newfoundland lit?

The charm and beauty of this island is worth the long journey to get there. There are many writers and poets who live there, some who ‘come from away’ and fall in love with the place and many who grew up ’on the rock´. While there is much diversity in the stories and writing coming from Newfoundland, there are also some striking similarities.  The challenging weather (Manitobans can relate) and the remoteness of this place often come through in the narratives. And of course there are the many figures of speech Newfoundlanders employ which add a particular flavour.

If you are looking for some travel advice, Newfoundland and Labrador Book of Musts by Janice Wells will have some insider tips for you. The secret to travelling in Newfoundland is to be open to adventure, talk to locals and they will tell you the best trails to hike, fish to eat and pubs to gather at.

While you are flipping through the Book of Musts, you should also check out The Great Atlantic Canada Bucket List by Robin Esrock and Scenic Driving Atlantic Canada by Chloe Ernst. These books will help you plan your trip out east.

As most of my family lives in Newfoundland, I’ve spent many childhood summers visiting this magical place. Now that my parents have moved back, I continue to visit often. I’ve read my fair share of books by Newfoundland writers – both fiction and non-fiction. Here are a few newer books that will spin you a yarn and maybe have you yearning for more.

Our Homesick Songs by Emma Hooper
Hooper’s newest book is a gorgeous story told mostly from the perspective of 11 year-old Finn that examines rural outport Newfoundland in the 1990s after the collapse of the fishing industry. Families in these small communities were relocated by the government. Finn and his sister Cora create imaginary worlds on the island and their parents take turns working off the island in the Alberta oil fields to survive. 

Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club by Megan Gail Coles
This is a new release that I recommend you get your hands on. The book follows 3 main characters who are from the bay (small remote towns) and their intertwining lives in St. John’s (among townies) in the thick of February weather. The book centres on a restaurant and touches on foodie and chef culture in Newfoundland. Coles is deeply inspired by the #MeToo movement and confronts issues of racism, homophobia, sexism and class that shape contemporary Newfoundland society.

Wildness by Jeremy Charles
Speaking of Newfoundland food and food culture, this brand new cookbook is coming to our shelves soon. The recipes highlight local fare and have stories by the chef along with them.

February by Lisa Moore
This is another heart wrenching story of a Newfoundland woman who is tough as nails. The story follows Helen O’Mara, a woman dealing with the grief of losing her husband when the Ocean Ranger oil rig sinks in a February storm. This historical event is one that many Newfoundlanders remember vividly. Moore also has a newer book of short stories Something for Everyone, released in 2018, which has been well received.

Galore by Michael Crummey
This is novel which crosses multiple generations of Newfoundlanders living on a remote island called “Paradise Deep”. Crummey uses magical realism to explore the deep connections to ocean, land and inhabitants. You will likely need to use the family tree provided by the author but it is well worth losing yourself in this novel. 

Son of a Critch: A Childish Newfoundland Memoir by Mark Critch
It feels right to end this list on a funny book, as for all the difficulties of living in Newfoundland there is a collective sense of humour that is so unique. Mark Critch, of This Hour has 22 Minutes, has written a memoir that taps into this.

For your next good read I recommend you look all the way east to some of the fine writers hailing from Newfoundland. Yes b’y you best believe that Newfoundland lit is worth caring about!

– Kim

No Place for a Lady

School’s out and summer is in full swing. Some of you will be planning a trip to the lake, or perhaps to someplace even farther away. Others, like me, will be settling in for a staycation full of day trips to the beach and all the great summer festivals Winnipeg has to offer. Those of us who aren’t quite so lucky with our travel plans this year can still read about the adventures of those who’ve travelled far and wide. Popular travel memoirs, like Wild by Cheryl Strayed and Tracks by Robyn Davidson, tell the stories of women setting out alone in challenging environments. But many women of past eras also found a unique freedom on their own in unfamiliar places. Personally, I enjoy reading about other people’s explorations while relaxing on a patio with a cold drink!

Tracks and Wild

In her beautifully illustrated books No Place for a Lady: Tales of Adventurous Women Travelers and Dreaming of East: Western Women and the Exotic Allure of the Orient, Barbara Hodgson tells the stories of several women who defied the restrictive Victorian social conventions to become adventurers and explorers in their own right.

No Place Lady and Dreaming East

The Nomad: The Diaries of Isabelle Eberhardt is the fascinating journal of Isabelle Eberhardt, a 19th century Swiss writer who travelled widely in north Africa and through the Sahara desert. She scandalized her peers when she started dressing in men’s clothing and converted to Islam.

Englishwoman Isabella Bird wrote many memoirs of her time in America, Korea, Tibet, China, and elsewhere. Her stay in Japan is chronicled in her book Unbeaten Tracks in Japan.

Nomad and Unbeaten Tracks

In 1889, reporter Nellie Bly began a race around the world. Travelling in the opposite direction was another journalist, Elizabeth Bisland, sponsored by a rival newspaper. Eighty Days by Matthew Goodman tells of their competition to circle the globe faster than the character in Jules Verne’s novel.

Freya Stark began her extensive travels in the Middle East after World War I. She wrote more than two dozen books about her experiences. The first, The Valleys of the Assassins and other Persian Travels, describes her journeys through western Iran.

Eighty Days Valley Assassins

So if you’re stuck in the city this summer, pick up a good book and let one these interesting ladies show you the world!

  • Melanie

 

Novel Destinations through TV Series and Films

While we are in the middle of the Novel Destinations Reading Game, I’d like to share a few recommendations for your viewing pleasure that will allow you to travel and discover (or re-discover) foreign destinations. Though the series and movies below are all fictional, the filming locations are all genuine and help set the tone of the stories, as well as often providing gorgeous visuals.

Outlander is a TV series that allows viewers to be transported not only to a new geographical location, but through time as well. While on her second honeymoon, ex-World War II nurse Claire Randall is sent back to the 1740s, in the middle of the Jacobite Uprising pitting Scottish clans against the British army. Forced to adapt to an unfamiliar world and caught between two hostile factions, Claire must learn to survive in harsh conditions, all while growing close to a young Highlander whose wounds she treated, and unwittingly becoming his clan’s healer. The Scottish locations are beautiful, as well as the historical pageantry. Recommended for fans of romance and action/adventure tales.

Cover image for Henning Mankell's Wallander [DVD videorecording]

In Henning Mankell’s Wallender, Sweden is almost a character in itself and helps shape a unique atmosphere, with many panoramic shots of summertime seaside coasts, urban landscapes and cold wintery forests.  In the town of Ystad, veteran Inspector Kurt Wallander and his team take on cases that reflect dark themes. The series portrays its characters as human beings, not perfect superheroes, doing their best in tough situations that leave no one involved unscathed – least of all Kurt himself, who takes most cases he works on quite personally. The pacing is slower and more contemplative than most North American TV series, but this also adds to the realism. The series and the novels they are based on have created a small tourist industry in Ystad, where locations and streets mentioned in the stories are promoted to visitors.

Cover image for Death in paradise. Season one [DVD videorecording]

Death in Paradise is another detective series which sees uptight, by-the-book but quite competent London detective Richard Poole move to the Caribbean island of Saint-Marie to investigate the death of his predecessor. This is a fish-out-of-water tale where the protagonist has to learn how to work in a police department with a fraction of the resources he once had at his disposal but aided by resourceful colleagues. There is very much a mystery-of-the-week formula with an emphasis on seemingly impossible crimes being resolved though deductive skills, but there is a good mix of humor, sunny settings and interesting characters. Richard’s yin is contrasted with local detective Camille Bordey’s yang, as they learn to play to each other’s strengths while often clashing due to their very different personalities.

Cover image for Jack Irish. Set 1 [DVD videorecording]

Melbourne is showcased prominently in the Australian series Jack Irish, whose titular protagonist’s life as an upscale defense lawyer was shattered by the murder of his wife. Years later, fighting his demons with gambling and alcohol, he now earns a living as a private detective and debt collector. Jack is forced to return to his former life when a former client is found dead, and while a loner, he will have to learn to rely on new friends, many of them with shady sides but not lacking humanity or even heroic qualities, to solve the case and try to rebuild his life.

Abouna  (meaning “our father”) is a French dramatic comedy taking place in the city of N’Djamena  in the African Republic of Chad, about two brothers, Amine and Tahir, who discover one day that their father has disappeared. While most villagers, including their mother, believe he just abandoned them, they set out to try to find him, even going as far as stealing film reels they believe he appeared in, until their mischief leads them to being sent to a Koranic school. Will they be able to escape? This coming-of-age story is very much from the point of view of the children, their hopes and illusions, and about learning responsibility to themselves and the people around them. This is a film for those interested in discovering realities as the film avoids easy answers or sentimental contrivances.

Present-day Moscow and Paris are the destinations of the French film The Concert and provide a bittersweet portrayal of post-Soviet Russian society as well as scenes of great musical beauty. Andrei Filipov used to be an acclaimed conductor of the Bolshoi orchestra until he was purged for refusing to fire his Jewish musicians during the 1980s. Thirty years later, he stumbles on an opportunity to play in Paris, if he can reform his orchestra (all its members having moved in their lives as best as they could) and gain the participation of a French violin virtuoso, Anne-Marie Jacquet, with whom he shares a mysterious connection. Overall the movie is a light comedy, but it also deals with serious topics like living with regrets and misfortune, and trying to heal old wounds by correcting past mistakes. Those who are fans of classical music (particularly Tchaikovsky) or just curious about present day Russia should have a look.

Even if you are staying put this summer, it doesn’t mean you can’t do a bit of travelling!

Louis-Philippe

A Moveable Feast

“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”  Ernest Hemingway

Hemingwayfeast

Having returned from a visit to the City of Lights I can only concur with Hemingway and a multitude of other artists, musicians, writers and philosophers who have flocked to Paris to find inspiration.

In the early 20th century Paris had a reputation for open minds and lax morals. It was also cheap and the liquor flowed freely unlike Prohibition era America.  The streets are chockablock with literary landmarks including the apartment where James Joyce completed Ulysses, the restaurant where George Orwell worked as a dishwasher as described in Down and Out in London and Paris and the hotel where Oscar Wilde spent his final days cursing the hideous wallpaper with his dying breath. Our hotel in the Left Bank  on Rue de Les Princes was also known as “ Yankee alleyway” where Richard Wright, James McNeill Whistler and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow  resided.    The Polidor bistro on the same street was the location for a scene from Woody Allen’s homage Midnight in Paris and the haunt of Kerouac and Hemingway.

Here is a list of other must see sites with literary associations:

shakespeare and company Shakespeare and Company is the reincarnation of the bookstore run by Sylvia Beach who dared to publish Ulysses when no one else would touch it.  Henry Miller called it a “ wonderland of books” . It was and still is the refuge of struggling writers who can find a temporary bed in one of the many nooks and crannies of this utterly charming bookstore.

gargolyle Notre Dame Cathedral Located across the Seine from the celebrated bookstore is the home of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Victor Hugo wrote the novel to raise awareness of the deterioration of the once splendid Gothic cathedral. His wildly successful novel ignited a restoration project and saved the cathedral from destruction.

proust_bdMusee Carnavalet

One of the highlights of this museum is the cork lined bedroom of Marcel Proust. An asthmatic, Proust lined the room with cork which served to soundproof his room and absorb dust. Towards the end of his life he rarely got out of the bed  where he wrote most of his magnum opus, In Search of Lost Time.

 

Café_de_Flore_01 Café de Flore This café was the magnet for the lost generation the fabled meeting place for the likes of  Simone de Beauvoir and Jean Paul Sartre. Take a moment to savour the atmosphere and drink a cup of (highly priced) coffee.

 

jardin

Jardin du Luxembourg  While not a literary site, this is the most popular park in Paris where you can’t help but want to spend an afternoon reading Colette  on one of the sage green park chairs.

 

 

literaryparis   For more landmarks pick up Literary Paris or visit from your armchair with the witty Paris to the Moon  by Adam Gopnick, a chronicle of an American writer’s love affair  with Paris

 

 

parisruth

 

There is always Paris by Edward Rutherfurd.  Read it on the banks of the Red River while savouring  a croissant from a bakery in St. Boniface, our own petit Paris.

 

 

 

Jane

 

Going on a Trip, One Page at a Time

 

 

For most of human history, the vast majority of people never had the opportunity to see the world outside their immediate communities, unless they were forced to by circumstance.  Those who did travel faced an arduous and dangerous experience, even at the best of times.  Now, we live in a world where travelling for recreation, as tourists, is accessible to an ever larger number of people, whether those voyages take them to other countries or local vacation spots.

mark twain the innocents abroad 

Before there was such a thing as a tourist there were travellers and explorers, who left written accounts of their adventures and travels.  Marco Polo was the first European to leave a detailed written account of his voyage into 13th-century Asia, a 24-year odyssey that took him from Venice to deep into China (ruled by the Mongols at the time) and back.  Mark Twain wrote an account of his voyage through Europe and the Holy Lands in 1867 entitled The Innocents Abroad, which provides a good portrait of that part of the world in the 19th century from the point of view of a proto-tourist, and is also quite funny.  Freya Stark was another writer and explorer. She wrote many books about her experiences in the Middle East in the 1930’s, and was one of the first non-Arabians to travel through the southern Arabian Deserts.

Today, travelling is so common place, and can be so mundane, that we forget what an awesome thing it really is. Yet there also exists a vast demand for travel literature in the form travelogues, diaries, and guidebooks. People travel, or read about people who do, not only to discover the world, but also to challenge themselves and their perspectives. A simple road trip can be a fun and enlightening experience, especially in North America, which is blessed with both plenty of space and plenty of good roads to ride on.  William Least Heat-Moon has written extensively about his travel experiences on the road in the U.S., as well as abroad, and is highly praised not only for the content of his stories but also his command of the English language. His recently-published Here, There, Elsewhere: Stories from the Road assembles selected pieces of his previously published writing, as well as new ones discussing the importance of cars and highways in the American identity, some historical treasures hidden in plain sight (like a sunken 19th century steamboat), and many memorable encounters in South Asia and Europe through decades of travel experiences.

Emilia Scotto is a man who had a dream of seeing the world, and actually got on a motorcycle and made a decade-long, 457,000 mile trip that took him from his native Argentina to virtually every country in the world, and landed him in the Guiness Book of World Records. His tale can be found in The Longest Ride: My Ten-Year, 500,000 Mile Motorcycle Journey, a book filled with photographs and anecdotes about the places he saw and experiences he went through.  Some of the stories are actually hair-raising, as he tells of many close-calls and dangerous situations he had to negotiate.

 

But what about you, you may ask?  If you suffer from bouts of wanderlust, or just seek a good vacation spot, World’s Best Travel Experiences: 400 Extraordinary Places is an excellent book to browse through to plan your next trip.  The book lists locations all over the world, from familiar cities to the most extreme and isolated (but gorgeous) locations, and organizes them in categories like urban spaces, wild places, and world wonders, depending on what kind of experience a traveller would be looking for.  For the more adventurous types, in Once in a Lifetime Trips: The World’s 50 Most Extraordinary and Memorable Travel Experiences, author Chris Santella proposes trips that are all about experiences that are “unique, decadent and off the beaten path” and are intended to be unforgettable.  On the menu: exploring the Galapagos islands, diving to the wreck of the Titanic, riding the Orient Express to Istambul, and…yes, it’s in there, visiting the International Space Station on an organized visit.  We may not be able to cram all this in our busy lives, but reading about those who did is a thrill of its own.

Even today, though, travelling is far from being a risk-free enterprise, and bad experiences, both big and small, are also part of the experience.  Travel writer Chuck Thompson, the “guru of extreme tourism”, has written about the darker side of the travel industry in the past.  His second book, To Hellholes and Back, details his experiences travelling to the worst destinations in the world, to see if they deserved their bad reputations, and living to tell the tale.  His journeys take him to parts of the Congo, India, Mexico City, and even Orlando Florida and Disney World.  Mr. Thompson is never in grave danger throughout his voyages, but he does go places where few, if any of us, would, and manages to be pleasantly surprised on occasions (especially in Mexico City).  If you like narrators with caustic humor mixed with genuine curiosity about their subject matter, this book will be an interesting read for you.

Whether you are planning to go on a trip or just read about it, the adventure is out there.  Do you have any suggestions for good travel reading?

Louis-Philippe

 

 

 

 

 

 

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

New Orleans is unlike any city in America. Its cultural diversity is woven into the food, the music, the architecture – even the local superstitions. It’s a sensory experience on all levels and there’s a story lurking around every corner.                                                                                 –Ruta Sepetys

New Orleans has always seemed like a mythical city to me, something along the lines of Shangri-La or Cibola. Perhaps that’s because of the many names the city is known by – Crescent City, the Big Easy, the Big Sleazy, NOLA, Nawlins…with so many names it’s possible to believe that they all refer to different places. But, no matter what you call it, given the joyous traditions of music, food, and celebrations it’s easy to understand why some people refuse to live anywhere else.

There’s definitely a dark side to New Orleans that somehow adds to the fascination of the city. With a history of discrimination, poverty, corruption and violence, New Orleans has not always been a fun place to live. In spite of the dark times, or perhaps because of them, the allure of New Orleans continues to captivate people. My New Orleans: ballads to the Big Easy by her sons, daughters and lovers is a collection of essays that explores all that there is to love about this legendary place.

For a more visual selection, Very New Orleans: a celebration of history, culture and Cajun country charm by Diana Hollingsworth Gessler is a gorgeously illustrated book that brings to life all of the lush greenery and historic architecture that is at the heart of New Orleans.

The World that Made New OrleansRight from the start, New Orleans has been a city in a constant state of change. As Ned Sublette recounts in his book The World that made New Orleans: From Spanish Silver to Congo Square. New Orleans began in a brawl between England, France and Spain. Over the centuries, New Orleans has seen more than its share of trouble and conflict between people, however, the darkest time in New Orleans was caused by Mother Nature.

Not Just the Levees Broke Five Days at MemorialHurricane Katrina left a huge swath of devastation in her wake, which almost destroyed the city forever. Reading a book like Not just the levees Broke, a first hand account of surviving Katrina by Phyllis Montana-Leblanc or Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink gives a bit of insight as to just how bad things really were.

TremeIn spite of all the tragedies that New Orleans has endured, some things remain constant – good food and good music. New Orleans cookery take
s the best of all the many cultures the city is noted for, and mingles them together to produce flavors that can’t be found anywhere else. To bring a bit of Creole to your Canadian kitchen, check out Treme: Stories and Recipes from the heart of New Orleans.

Music has been a part of New Orleans since it was founded, but of all the music that the city has known, jazz could be called the city’s soundtrack. The DVD series Jazz by Ken Burns offers a taste of the sights and sounds spanning nearly 100 years in the birthplace of jazz.

Sookie Stackhouse, Dave Robicheaux and Lana Pulaski may not be actual people, but as book characters that live in or near New Orleans they embody the spirit of the city and bring it to life. If you prefer non-fiction to fiction, Sean Payton is an actual person whose biography on the return of pro football to New Orleans embodies the indomitable spirit of the city.

Let the good times roll!

-Lori

New language-learning features from Mango!

There have been some exciting new changes made to our Mango Languages service for 2014!

The first is a change to the dashboard interface, moving from their old “antique paper” look & feel to a new, sleeker dashboard called “Mango Connect.” When you launch Mango, you will now see a message asking if you want to use the new dashboard or stick with the old one. The old interface will remain accessible until June of this year, but after that the Mango Connect interface will become the default.   

welcometomango

New Languages: Mango announced the addition of 14 new language courses to their complete subscription: Armenian, Azerbaijani, Hungarian, Kazakh, Serbian, Yiddish, Bengali, Malay, Malayalam, Punjabi, Telugu, Scottish Gaelic, ESL Arabic MSA and ESL Armenian. These courses are also available in the Mango Languages for Libraries app for iPad/iPhone once users upgrade to version 1.3.0, released January 28, 2014. The new languages do not seem to be listed in the Mango app for Android, but may become available in a future app update. 

mangopremiere

Introducing Mango Premiere – Language Learning Through Films: One of the new features introduced with the Mango Connect dashboard is the new Mango Premiere service . This service is integrated with our existing Mango product and can currently be accessed through our Search a Database page.

Mango Premiere takes films in several languages and builds a language-learning system around the dialog of those films. You can either watch the film straight through with two sets of colour-coded subtitles on the screen, or use the intensive “engage-mode” to break the film down into scenes and delve into the sentence structure, grammar, culture of those scenes and more.

For more details, there’s a brief tutorial/trailer explaining the service:


Try Mango Premiere without creating a Mango account: For a limited time, Mango is making Kung Fu Dunk, one of its Mango Premiere titles, available immediately without an account for trial purposes. Go to  http://trymp.mangolanguages.com/ to take a test run of this service.

If you’d like to try a movie in another language, log in to Mango from the Search a Database page, create an account if you haven’t made one before (you can also log in as a guest if you’re short of time)  and click on the Learn tab and look for the “Apps” link in the middle of the page. The Mango Premiere courses appear at the bottom of the “Apps” screen. We currently have ten Mango Premiere courses available covering five languages – Spanish (Latin America), Italian, Chinese (Mandarin), Japanese and English for Spanish speakers. There are more films/languages listed on the Mango Premiere promotional site, but licensing restrictions in Canada mean that we currently only have access to a limited set.

మీరు ఆనందించండి ఆశిస్తున్నాము!
(That’s “we hope you enjoy”) in Telugu. :)

Sophie