This is a splendid idea, wines which come with a story on the label.


Conceived and realized by Reverse Innovation in partnership with the Matteo Correggia winery, Librottiglia is where great wine and literary pleasure meet. The characteristics of every product are matched to a narrative genre to create an oeno-literary experience based on the perfect balance of the sensory impressions of the wine and the scenarios imagined in the stories.

Three authors have contributed to this limited collection of exciting stories that accompany the wine selection.

“L’omicidio” (“Murder”), by the journalist and satirist Danilo Zanelli, is a mystery tinged with humour that blends with the fresh and light spirit of the white Roero Arneis.

The singer and writer Patrizia Laquidara is the author of “La Rana nella Pancia” (“The Frog in the Belly”), an intriguing fable which complements the uncommon personality of the red Anthos; a dry Brachetto with a surprising sweet bouquet.

“Ti amo. Dimenticami” (“I love you. Forget me”) by Regina Marques Nadaes, writer and cultural producer, is the story of a life-changing love, as intense as the ruby red Nebbiolo Roero it accompanies.

You can see and read more at Librottiglia. The site is available in Italian and English.

Crucifixion’s A Doddle.


This is a real life detective story, stimulated by extraordinary happenings on the film set of ‘Monty Python’s Life of Brian’. The victim was Jesus Christ and the book slowly unravels who was the actual guilty party. You naturally assume that it was the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate! So we will reproduce here just four pages from the book that proves without a shadow of a doubt that Pilate was not, and could not have been involved in any way in the killing of Jesus Christ. Read and contemplate the full, astonishing implications of the irrefutable evidence that…

Jesus was still alive after Pontius Pilate left Judea.

You can read more at Julian Doyle’s site.



We voted here in town before heading to Bismarck, and the polling station was as it ever is, with some townspeople hanging out, having coffee and breakfast from the table laden with handmade goodies. Had a chat with people about the turkeys, and other stuff, then got to the business of voting. Small towns are great places to vote. Then it was into Bismarck, book store being the first stop. It’s been a while, but the radar was going off, and for good reason, too. I was thrilled to see another Brom – for those who aren’t familiar, Brom is a talented artist who started writing some years back. I highly recommend his first book, The Child Thief, which is based on Peter Pan, but it’s no Disneyfied retelling. It’s a dark tale, which deals with unsettling issues, such as child abuse. All of his books include colour plates of his artwork, usually key characters in the book. I was quite surprised to see the second book in Ken Liu’s dynasty series, this one follows The Dandelion Dynasty. That man is one fast writer! Very excited to get my hands Black Panther. Just started it, but so far, it’s very good, and I’m in love with Ayo and Aneka, they deserve their own book, and their own movie. The Carlisle Indian Industrial School arrived very quickly, and is so very poignant.

I also bought this little candle in a tin, tangerine, juniper, and clove, a scent I not only want to breathe in, but to eat and bathe in too. A brilliant blend. Also, a surprise package at the post office today – more wonderful smelling soap from Marcus, and a complete surprise – thank you so much!

Books: Carlisle Indian Industrial School.

Courtesy University of Nebraska Press Plans for cultural genocide as well as the stories of courage and oppression at the famous/infamous residential Carlisle Indian Industrial School appear in an unprecedented collection of essays, poems and photos entitled “Carlisle Indian Industrial School/Indigenous Histories, Memories and Reclamations,” recently published.

Courtesy University of Nebraska Press
Plans for cultural genocide as well as the stories of courage and oppression at the famous/infamous residential Carlisle Indian Industrial School appear in an unprecedented collection of essays, poems and photos entitled “Carlisle Indian Industrial School/Indigenous Histories, Memories and Reclamations,” recently published.

Plans for cultural genocide as well as the stories of courage and oppression at the famous/infamous residential Carlisle Indian Industrial School appear in an unprecedented collection of essays, poems and photos entitled “Carlisle Indian Industrial School/Indigenous Histories, Memories and Reclamations,” recently published by University of Nebraska Press and edited by Jacqueline Fear-Segal and Susan D. Rose.

This compelling gathering of work examines the legacy of the Carlisle experience through verse by noted poets N. Scott Momaday (Kiowa) and Maurice Kenney (Mohawk) along with essays by distinguished historians and scholars such as Fear-Segal, Rose, Barbara Landis and Louellyn White (Mohawk). It also includes the recollections and reflections of some descendants of the more than 10,000 Native children who attended the school between 1879 and 1918.

The book is divided into six parts—1) A Sacred and Storied Space; 2) Student Lives and Losses; 3) Carlisle Indian School Cemetery; 4) Reclamations; 5) Revisioning the Past; and 6) Reflections and Responses—and provides a panoramic view of the experience, including many poignant and heartbreaking stories.

The anthology starts out with a comprehensive introduction to the school, the historical context of Manifest Destiny, Native dispossession and a compelling re-imagining of how the Native children must have felt after being seized and sent far away to be forcibly “assimilated” into white culture. The removal of children, in effect the tearing apart of families and communities, was part of the attempt to “Kill the Indian, and save the man,” a seminal quote from the school’s founder and superintendent, Richard Henry Pratt who sought to change the children, beginning with their names.

One of the many themes in the book involves names, the white names given to Native children and the names on tombstones in the school’s cemetery.

“Names are especially important in Native American culture,” Momaday wrote in “The Stones at Carlisle.” “Names and being are thought to be indivisible. One who bears no name cannot truly be said to exist, for one has being in his name… In this context we see how serious is the loss of one’s name. In the case of the tombstones at Carlisle we are talking about the crime of neglect and negation. We are talking not only about the theft of identity, but the theft of essential being.”

The full article is at ICTMN. This goes right to the top of my reading list. The book is available from the University of Nebraska Press, and an excerpt can be read here.

The 2016 NAMA Winners!


The winners of the 16th Annual Native American Music Awards were announced earlier this month at the Seneca Allegany Resort & Casino Event Center in Salamanca, New York. Rapper and Black Eyed Peas member Taboo was inducted into the NAMA Hall of Fame while acclaimed Flutist Joseph FireCrow and Actor/Motivational Speaker/Writer/Artist Saginaw Grant received the Lifetime Achievement award and Living Legend award respectively. Comedy duo Williams and Ree, who were at the inaugural NAMA show in 1998, were voted Entertainers of the Year.

A highlight of the festivities hosted by Comedian/Actor Paul Rodriguez was a two-part tribute honoring John Trudell by two of his musical collaborators. Annie Humphrey performed DNA followed by Thana Redhawk with Ancestors Song featuring Trudell’s vocals.

A special appearance was made by the family of Joseph Flying Bye, who was nominated posthumously for his Putting The Moccasins Back On recording in the Best Historical/Linguistic Recording and Best Traditional Recording categories. His son, Allen and another ten family members drove from Standing Rock, North Dakota to the event. They received an overwhelming response of solidarity from the attendees supporting their opposition of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Seneca President Maurice John recently visited with Standing Rock Tribal Chairman David Archambault II and NAMA nominees contributed their songs to two free Water Is Life CD compilations to support the Standing Rock Sioux Community.

Twelve year-old hand drummer, Nizhoo Sullivan, the youngest NAMA nominee, was one of several Traditional performances that included Theresa Bear Fox and the Akwesasne Women Singers along with Joseph Fire Crow. Artist of the Year Shelley Morningsong sang and played the flute accompanied by her husband and musical partner Fabian Fontenelle resplendent in his regalia. Best Pop Recording winner Spencer Battiest and his brother Doc impressed the attendees with their renditions of a ballad and hip hop song.

Late singer/songwriter, Chairman of The Confederated Tribes of The Colville Reservation, and Native icon Jim Boyd won Record of the Year for his final recording, Bridge Creek Road. Boyd’s widow Shelly accepted the award accompanied by 15 members of his family including their children. The final performance of the night was a tribute performance to Chairman Boyd by Keith Secola with long-time Boyd drummer Alfonso Kolb, Annie Humphrey, and Sage Bond.

There’s much to check out:  Also, Women of Heart, who won Best Traditional Recording, have made their winning album free to download.


Dali in Wonderland.

Advice From a Caterpillar.

Advice From a Caterpillar.

While glancing at Salvador Dalí’s paintings one might get the sense that they’ve tripped down their mind’s own rabbit hole, all of a sudden dropped within a barren wasteland filed with abstract objects and creatures. The pairing then, of Dalí and Alice in Wonderland writer and mathematician Lewis Carroll, seem perfectly matched—two men whose minds travel far beyond the cutesy corners of an average fairytale. In the 1960s an editor at Random House realized this genius partnership, commissioning Dalí to illustrate an exclusive edition of Alice in Wonderland, of which Dalí signed every copy.

This rare edition of Alice was long coveted by rare book collectors and scholars, making only occasional appearances for study or the auction block. However, for the 150th anniversary of Lewis’ surrealist tale, this one-of-a-kind collaboration has finally been printed for the public by Princeton University Press. The deluxe edition, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, features an introduction explaining Dalí’s connection to Carroll by Lewis Carroll Society of North America President Mark Burstein, and exploration by mathematician Thomas Banchoff of the mathematics found in Dalí’s work and illustrations.

Mad Tea Party.

Mad Tea Party.

There are many more photos of Dali’s artwork at Colossal Art. I’ll definitely be adding this book to my overburdened book collection.

J.K. Rowling: The Colonial Heart of an Indifferent Bigot.


This is not the first time Ms. Rowling’s bigotry has come up, far from it, but it turns out it it’s much worse than I thought. Ms. Rowling is now far past the doubling down stage, she’s pretty much etched her bigotry and indifference in stone now. I would never have read any of the Potter books if it hadn’t been for the astonishing reaction of Christians, all in a frenzy of “Witchcraft and Demons, Oh My!” I was an adult, and don’t have kids. Anything that got Christians so remarkably riled up deserved a look, though. I enjoyed the books, even though they were repetitive, and on the problematic side of seriously white and straight along with tokenism. I probably enjoyed the movies more, which were fun, because who doesn’t like magic? They were fun, a nice nerdy escape. Also, I’m a massive Maggie Smith fan, I’ve had a crush on her since early sproghood. I had planned on seeing Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, but that’s not going to happen now. I already know just how angry and upset that would make me.

In April this year, I posted about Dr. Adrienne Keene’s post on Native Appropriations regarding Magic in North America. If there’s one thing I’d like to make very, very clear, it’s that there are many Indiginerds who love the Potterverse, which makes it all the more heart-breaking and infuriating to see Ms. Rowling’s use of bigotry to further her own ends, and refusal to listen to the many Indigenous fans she has, and her apparent indifference to all the bullying and stereotyping she is subjecting Indigenous people to by sticking to her bigotry. As Dr. Keene said:

It actually makes me kind of want to cry. Harry Potter was such a formative series for me, and holds such a deep place in my heart–and to see and hear this feels like such a slap in the face to me and other Native Potter nerds.

So, if you’re a Potter fan, all prepared to be bristly in offense or defense, don’t. Just listen, please, because these criticisms are not coming from a place of hate. They are coming from a fellow place of love, and a deep well of disappointment. The Problematics of Potter came up on Ask N NDN at ICTMN, and Loralee Sepsey answered, in passionate detail. Here in the States, a great many people think Indians are dead and long gone, an almost mythical race of people, so everyone can play and be as bigoted as they like. I’ve encountered the belief of “oh, I thought Indians were dead” myself. There’s an article up at ICTMN about a young Indian, 12 years old, who wants to cut his braid off, because he lives in a primarily white suburb, and it’s not acceptable to be an ethnic Indian, and he’s tired of being teased, bullied, and stereotyped, at 12 years old. Non-native people, no matter how well intentioned, rarely think about such things. If they happen to be aware of the fact that Indians are not dead, they are rarely interested in the particular cultures, traditions, or languages of Indians. A great many non-natives are content to enthuse about “Native Americans” in the most embarrassing manner. There’s no knowledge to be had there, either. Quite the opposite, in fact. The ignorance can be appalling, and no, enthusiasm does not make up for it. Learning about a particular people, that would be a good thing to do. Understanding that there’s no such thing as one lump of ‘Native Americans’ would be a good thing. Understanding that Indigenous people care about how they are represented, and how their particular mythologies, cultures, and traditions are represented, that would be a great thing.

Ms. Rowling had a great opportunity in front of her. She could have not only learned herself, and met with members of the tribes she planned to write about, she could have helped to empower native people, along with showing basic respect, by allowing natives to own their own stories, their mythologies, their cultures, and their traditions. This story could have been a rich, strong, empowering, respectful, and accurate one. Instead, it’s the same old business of stealing from native people, disrespecting them, and promoting an appalling ignorance, deliberate lies, and propagating stereotypes. What will this latest installment teach children about Indigenous peoples? Nothing true. Ms. Rowling chose to go with using people as costuming, and having the same old colonial, white “saviours”, while not even bothering to give any native character a prominent role, let alone names, as only one native character is deemed worthy of a name. We get to be Ms. Rowling’s red shirts.

J.K. Rowling, with the release of the Ilvermorny School and Magic in North America stories on her website Pottermore, has joined the long list of people who portray indigenous cultures in a contextless and offensive manner, but she could become one of the most dangerous people on that list.

[Read more…]

Books, Wonderful Books.


I’ve recently read these three books by Nnedi Okorafor (and Binti, of course, but that was earlier.) Reading is a good occupation in between bouts of ‘not-quite-conscious’ periods of being concussed. It’s with relief and familiarity, laced with deep comfort that I sink into Ms. Okorafor’s books. As far as I know, I have no connection to any part of Africa, and while it can take time to get the rhythm of some works, such as Lagoon, it’s the indigenous mindset I sink into with ease. Like too many other people, I am beyond weary of stories with the same rapacious, colonial mindset, populated with the ever ubiquitous straight white males. Even authors who don’t mean to write in that mindset tend to slip into it, because we’ve all been trained that viewpoint is best, it’s good, it’s great, pat on the head, now sit down and be quiet. Ms. Okorafor’s protagonists are all too human, even when they aren’t quite human. They suffer with their flaws, and struggle to cope with them, as we all do. Her protagonists are often women, which is yet another comfort. I don’t have to struggle with often squirmy, unwelcome moments when a protagonist character is male, and does something cringe inducing and deeply embarrassing. This isn’t to say there aren’t such moments in these books, there are, because there are people like that all over the place, and we all have to deal with them. They are better in the background though, where we can’t always relegate them in real life.

These books coincided with my camp life, and a strong theme through all of them is the same one at the center of the protection going on here in Ndakota: Water Is Life. Aman Iman. Mni Wiconi. There’s a natural spirituality suffused throughout the books, and I find that familiar and comforting also, because it’s the spirituality of indigenous people all over the world. She understands the need to keep traditions alive, and the fight to remain community based while embracing the wider world. This leads me into contentious territory, but I don’t see a conflict, and I don’t see the need for one, either. People were having a good talk about these issues in this thread, and while I’ve had thoughts swirling about in my shaken brain, I haven’t felt the coherence needed to tackle it. I’ll complain yet again at what a remarkably lousy language English is when it comes to certain concepts. Even when it doesn’t suck, terms are so loaded with baggage that a great many people simply can’t move past the baggage to even try and understand.

I don’t believe in gods. I don’t believe in an afterlife. I believe in the physical world, I believe in the universe, and I believe in life. There’s plenty of room in that for spirituality, and without any need whatsoever to worship anything, or be a Crystal clear running rainbow unicorn summer rain star type of person. Atheists often bring up Carl Sagan, and he always struck me as a very spiritual person, who often spoke of the numinous, a word used in an attempt to get away from the overly laden ones, like sacred or divine. Sagan was science based, but he also lived a life in appreciation and awe of life, all life. He got it, he grokked what was important – the connection of all things, of all life; the importance of all life, and the need for responsibility, care, and respect. Indigenous people believe we are obligated to care for our earth, and it’s a responsibility which has always sat seriously albeit lightly on the shoulders of indigenous people. That responsibility has become a terrible burden ever since colonialism came into the picture, bearing down with a ruthless brutality and no respect at all, for anything. If anything, the colonial attitude and way of being has become increasingly rapacious, with care for nothing except money-filled pockets. Those of us without money-filled pockets find ourselves constantly bruised from being tossed about by marketing and the propaganda screech of always needing more, more, more, more. More and more people find themselves in living situations where they have none to little contact with nature in any way, and have no sense of community, either. There are whole generations now who don’t have the slightest idea of what a community is like. That came up a lot at camp. I met people from all over the U.S. who did not want to leave, as they had never experienced anything like the camp, the community which has grown there. They were blown away by how community works, and many people were fired up and determined to go back home and start building a community there. I saw people who had definitely felt they had been missing something, but didn’t know what. When they came to the camp, they found it – community. So, can you have a sense that’s there’s a hole in you somewhere? Yes, of course you can. Will being part of a community fix everything? Nope. It will sure as hells help though, and simply being part of something larger can help to heal much of what ails people. Being a bunch of communityists is good for our non-existent souls.

There’s every reason in the world to work on a spiritual connection to our earth. When you have that, when you understand that all life is sacred, important, and connected to you and all other life, respect happens. When you have respect, you have care, awareness, mindfulness. When you have respect, you have thankfulness. Thankfulness for the energy the sun provides, for the light and the warmth. Thankfulness for the water, which is life. Water to drink, water to bathe yourself, water to cook, water to create. Thankfulness for the air, and all the plants and trees which give us so very many gifts. Thankfulness for the earth, which provides us with a foundation, and the means to grow and nourish ourselves. Thankful for all the species we are related to and their gifts to us. When you have respect and gratitude, sustainability and care are built in. It’s part and parcel of your everyday beliefs and actions. When you have that spiritual connection, you understand that you need to give at least as much as you take. A balance must be kept. This does not mean you need to turn yourself into a credulous, babbling critter. It does mean you are aware of life, all life, and the connectedness and importance of that life. Indigenous people don’t find themselves afflicted with a sudden societal based mania to poison the land they live on to destroy dandelions, or decide to pour poison all over to get rid of groundhogs. That’s because there’s a deep understanding of how things work on our earth, and they aren’t removed or disconnected from it, the way many people are now. It’s not wrong to question these idiocies, like having to maintain a golf course lawn, or why anyone would want to do that in the first place. Allowing native plants to grow is good for many other beings, like all the pollen gatherers and transporters, who in turn, help to nourish our crops so we can feed ourselves. It’s one tiny chain among many which  maintains health in all of us.

Sometimes, sitting on the sidelines and listening to people talk (translation: reading along without commenting), I’m often bemused by the atheist voices I’m part of. Over the years, it’s been increasingly popular for atheists to adopt a dictionary only not in the least emotional stance. I’ll admit to being befuddled by that, because it seems a sterile isolation to confine oneself to, for no particular reason. If that really makes a person happy, okay. I have my doubts about that making anyone happy though. I’m an atheist who finds the dictionary only argument to be utterly idiotic, and it’s seriously not my thing. I want things to be better. I want people to be better. I want people to be content, more self sufficient, more thoughtful, more community based. I want people to care, and I want to effect change. That means changing myself, too. I don’t see the attraction in sitting around, sniffily denouncing this, that, and the other, while claiming not to give a damn about anything at all. I don’t see the point of that, either. There’s already enough resigned apathy afflicting people, and I don’t see any virtue in promoting that as a way of being. It’s not impossible or wrong to be spiritually connected as your way of life, your way of living.

I know this will get its fair share of sneers, disdain, and bad ‘jokes’. If that’s all you have in you, go for it. I have more inside myself, and I am not ashamed to care and expect others to care as well. I think it’s perfectly possible to be an atheist and to be spiritual as well.

I recommend reading Chief Arvol Looking Horse on the current situation we all face, the constant assaults on our earth, and the increasing destruction going on everywhere. I had the honour of listening to Chief Looking Horse at the camp several times. I first read the linked piece some time back on ICTMN, and wanted so much to share it, but I gave into fear because it is deeply spiritual, and all I could think about was mockery from those who would read, and I let that fear rule me. No more. This sickness must stop, and I must fulfill my responsibility to our earth. One of the lawyers currently working on the pipeline problem here and in Iowa has a good column up at ICTMN, which includes an excerpt from Bemidji Statement on Seventh Generation Guardianship:

“Who guards this web of life that nurtures and sustains us all?

Who watches out for the land, the sky, the fire, and the water?

Who watches out for our relatives that swim, fly, walk, or crawl?

Who watches out for the plants that are rooted in our Mother Earth?

Who watches out for the life-giving spirits that reside in the underworld?

Who tends the languages of the people and the land?

Who tends the children and the families?

Who tends the peacekeepers in our communities?


We tend the relationships.

We work to prevent harm.

We create the conditions for health and wholeness.

We teach the culture and we tell the stories.

We have the sacred right and obligation to protect the common wealth of our lands and the common health of our people and all our relations for this generation and seven generations to come. We are the Guardians for the Seventh Generation.”

For anyone who has missed the basics of what’s happening, Kyle Powys Whyte has an excellent article here.

Invisible 1 & 2.

In1Not too long ago, Jim C. Hines edited personal essays on representation in SF/F, and it was excellent and eye-opening. It was certainly uncomfortable at times, but that discomfort is just panicked relics of oblivious privilege trying to assert itself. I had more than a few stabs of serious guilt in reading this anthology, particularly the one about Albinism. (Having enjoyed that “evil Albino trope” more than a few times in the past, without ever thinking about actual people.) The essays in the first Invisible are:

Introduction by Alex Dally MacFarlane.

Parched, by Mark Oshiro.

Boys’s Books by Katharine Kerr.

Clicking by Susan Jane Bigelow.

The Princess Problem by Charlotte Ashley.

Autism, Representation, Success by Ada Hoffmann.

Gender in Genre by Kathryn Ryan.

‘Crazy’ About Fiction by Gabriel Cuellar.

Evil Albino Trope is Evil by Nalini Haynes.

Options by Joie Young.

Non-binary and Not Represented by Morgan Dambergs.

Representation Without Understanding by Derek Handley.

Shards of Memory by Ithiliana.

I Don’t See Color by Michi Trota.

SFF Saved My Life by Nonny Blackthorne.

In2If you missed Invisible the first time around, I could not possibly recommend it enough. While happily slumbering away under my rock, I was unaware that Invisible 2 had been put together and published. That’s been remedied, and like the 1st, this is excellent reading. As Jim C. Hines notes in the afterword, “They help us to become better readers, better writers, and better human beings.”

So many of these essays resonated, and others were serious wake up calls to stop being so bloody blinkered. Like the first anthology, this one is littered with highlights, bookmarks, and notes. Too Niche, by Lauren Jankowski about the complete invisibility of asexual people in SF/F was one of those that was a good smack on the head. In her essay, she mentions that Stephen Moffat declared Sherlock Holmes can’t be asexual because he’s too interesting. That left me spluttering and outraged. That’s an incredibly wrong, stupid, thoughtless, and insulting thing to say. Other essays which really hit home were Breaking Mirrors, Fat Chicks in SFF, Not Your Mystical Indian, Exponentially Hoping, and Colonialism, Land, and Speculative Fiction: An Indigenous Perspective. 

The Essays in Invisible 2 are:

Introduction by Aliette de Bodard.

Breaking Mirrors by Diana M. Pho

I’m Not Broken by Annalee Flower Horne.

Next Year in Jerusalem by Gabrielle Harbowy.

I am Not Hispanic, I am Puerto Rican, by Isabel Schechter.

No More Dried Up Spinsters by Nancy Jane Moore.

False Expectations by Matthew Thyer.

Text, Subtext, and Pieced-Together Lives by Angelia Sparrow.

Parenting as a Fan of Color by Kat Tanaka Okopnik.

Alien of Extraordinary Ability? by Bogi Takács.

Accidental Representation by Chrysoula Tzavelas.

Discovering the Other by John Hartness.

Lost in the Margins by Sarah Chorn.

Too Niche by Lauen Jankowski.

Fat Chicks in SFF by Alis Franklin.

Not Your Mystical Indian by Jessica McDonald.

Exponentially Hoping by Merc Rustad.

Colonialism, Land, and Speculative Fiction: An Indigenous Perspective by Ambelin Kwaymullina.

Nobody’s Sidekick: Intersectionality in Protagonists by SL Huang.

The Danger of the False Narrative by LaShawn Wanak.

Both these anthologies are excellent, if often uncomfortable, reading. Seriously recommended if you haven’t read them.



Binti, by Nnedi Okorafor is one of the best things I have read in quite a while, and I’ve read a number of very good books. Ms. Okorafor’s books resonate with me in a way that many other wonderful books don’t. That’s because these works have an Indigenous mindset and outlook. They are woven. And connected. Binti not only concerns itself with the main character’s decision to leave a finely woven net of family, tradition, and the earth, there’s the contentiousness of making that decision. It not only concerns itself with aliens who aren’t very happy with humans. It concerns the thoughtlessness which drives colonial actions, even academic actions, and the consequences of such thoughtlessness. Through all of this, there are wonders, questions, and harmony. At the end, I found myself wanting more of Binti’s story, and it was with absolute joy I found out there will be another novella, early in ‘017.


In this, Binti and Okwu travel to Earth. I can’t even say how very much I look forward to more of Binti’s story, and Okwu’s too. You can explore more at



A while back, I posted about this book. At that time, I didn’t have the book yet. I have it now, and it is a wonderful read, filled with great information. Some of it made me very homesick, like the entry for Hairy Manzanita (Arctostaphylos columbiana). The manzanita that grew in Idyllwild, Ca., is a different Arctostaphylos, but those differences are minor, and manzanita has always been used by Indigenous peoples in various ways. I love every single thing about manzanitas, and it makes me ache a little, just thinking about them. Patricia’s book includes a whole lot of plants I was not familiar with, and was not at all familiar with Indigenous uses of them. I learned a lot, and was delighted over and over again, like when I was viewing a photo of an older Indian woman wearing a pine nut apron.

The writing flows like water, and this isn’t just a story told, this is a text which provides learning, and a reference to all the wonders around us. You can order the book here, and I highly recommend it.

Shaun Tan.

Shaun Tan, photographed at the Illustration Cupboard gallery in London in June with the Fox, one of the characters from his new book

Shaun Tan, photographed at the Illustration Cupboard gallery in London in June with the Fox, one of the characters from his new book.

Shaun Tan, the latest artist to give form to these German folk stories collected in the early 19th ­century, is not one to shy away from difficult subject matter. Even so, the ferocity of the Grimms’ tales did give him pause. Take “Hansel and Gretel”, one of the first that Tan reread four years ago as he considered whether to take on the job of illustrating them.

“It’s pure nightmare fodder,” says the Australian writer, artist and film-maker. “Starvation, abandonment, abduction, cannibalism, psychological torture and subsequent oven-based revenge: sweet dreams, little ones! But it’s also my favourite tale. The leaving of stones and breadcrumbs, the house made of cake and bread and sugar — the imagery is so strange and beautiful.”

You can see why Tan, a master of beauty and strangeness in his own right, decided to go ahead. Over the course of his two-decade career, the 42-year-old from Perth has established himself as one of the world’s most important children’s authors. This status was capped in 2011 when he won the SKr5m (£450,000) Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, the richest and most prestigious in the field of children’s and young-adult literature. Yet even the most cursory glance through Tan’s densely wrought, often highly political illustrated books is enough to dispel the notion that they are for children alone. Tan himself insists that he does not have a particular audience in mind as he works, preferring to think of what younger and older readers have in common than what sets them apart.

‘Harbour’, from Tan’s graphic novel ‘The Arrival’, 2006.

‘Harbour’, from Tan’s graphic novel ‘The Arrival’, 2006.

In the book that made his name, The Rabbits (1998), Tan collaborated with the novelist John Marsden to produce a fable of colonisation rich in retro-futuristic imagery and references to Australian history. His first solo project, 2000’s The Lost Thing, was a tale about a boy and a forlorn crab-machine figure that could also be read as a critique of “economic rationalism”. It would later be adapted by Tan and Andrew Ruhemann into a film that won an Oscar for best animated short in 2011. The Red Tree (2001), a powerful and ultimately hopeful meditation on childhood depression, has inspired musical and theatrical productions and even been used as a resource by professional therapists.

But it is for The Arrival (2006), a wordless graphic novel focusing on the struggles of refugees to remake their lives in unfamiliar, confronting ­surroundings, that he is best known. Drawing on research into Ellis Island and mass European immigration to the US, Tan’s hand-drawn sepia frames evoke family photo albums and, at first, locate us in an early-20th-century world that we feel we know. Yet the destination country is also a place of fantastical animals, indecipherable script and flying boats, to which freshly admitted immigrants are delivered in capsules suspended from balloons. The fantasy is disorientating, capturing the texture of the migrant experience in ways that straightforward realism never could.

FT Magazine has a wonderful in-depth article and interview with Shaun Tan: How Shaun Tan transformed children’s literature. I’ll just add that I think Shaun Tan’s books are by no means limited to children, wonderful stuff.

In Trump We Trust.


“In Trump We Trust.” Yes, that’s really the title of Ann Coulter’s latest book, a paean to what she calls the great orange hope.  Christ. Well, if that wasn’t enough to get the facepalm going, this certainly is:

She also attempts to answer for his past mistakes, including when he mocked New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski, who has a musculoskeletal disorder.

Coulter, in a chapter entitled “Disabled Reporter Joins Media Effort to Create More Disabled Americans,” writes that Trump wasn’t making fun of Kovaleski’s disorder; he was just doing an impression of a “standard retard”:

Trump denied knowing that Serge was disabled, and demanded an apology, saying that anyone could see his imitation was of a flustered, frightened reporter, not a disabled person. It’s true that Trump was not mimicking any mannerisms that Serge has. He doesn’t jerk around or flail his arms. He’s not retarded. He sits calmly, but if you look at his wrists, you’ll see they are curved in. That’s not the imitation Trump was doing—he was doing a standard retard, waving his arms and sounding stupid: “’Ahhh, I don’t know what I said—ahhh, I don’t remember!’ He’s going, ‘Ahhh, I don’t remember, maybe that’s what I said!’”

Right. Well, that clarification makes it…much, much worse. There’s an old saying that’s apt here: with friends like these, you don’t need enemies.

Via Jezebel.