Thursday, March 29, 2012

Nabokov's Laughter in the Dark: A Dark, Dangerous Tale of Affairs

"Albinus was rich, respectable, happy...he loved, was not loved, and his life ended in disaster".(Nabokov 1)

Nabokov, Russian author and playwright, the genius behind the famous Lolita, has a definite art in storytelling, and Laughter in the Dark (1936) is no exception. Thirty nine short chapters detail the devastating impact of one loyal man's slip into the world of an affair, leaving his loyal, caring wife and daughter for a scheming, money-hungry, gorgeous woman that can give him the one attribute his wife lacks - passion. 

Deceit. Loyalty.Reality. Illusion. Nabokov takes the simplest, overdone themes and turns them into a page-turning, gripping novel.  Albinus, a film maker, meets Margot in the theatre; Margot re-encounters her ex-lover, Axel Rex in the cinema as well. Albinus, blind with passionate love, (and later literally blind) fails to see Margot's deceit; Margot seeks his hand in marriage and his wealth, both of which she deceives herself into believing she will have. Enveloped in realism, this novel destroys the notion of a "perfect family" and reveals perverse secrets in a dark, dark,violent tale. 

Nabokov (
 Fluent in Russian, French and English, and from an aristocratic family in St. Petersburg, Nabokov became  a professor of literature at Cornell, Harvard and Wellesley, moving to American after leaving Russia and then Germany during the First World War. The verisimilitude he creates in his characters is stunning - and each chapter will leave you breathless, waiting for more, anticipating twists and turns and yet still reeling with shock when they occur. Definitely worth the three to four hours it will take to immerse yourself in this adventure.

We're already three months into the year and I realize this is my first book review of 2012! The others I've read in pieces, admittedly most so I can better help my students and edit their papers, but once I finish them, there'll be full reviews on L'etranger by Albert Camus (French philosopher),  Perfume by Patrick Suskind (German author), Linda Barry's illustrated novel about a drug-addicted teen, Cruddy and hopefully, Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. Every book I read this year leads me towards dedicating a few weeks this summer to starting my own creative creation. Stay tuned for upcoming novel reviews!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Clever Rabbit, Duchess Bakeshop & An Amazing Sunday


 Sunday was an absolutely perfect day  - completely free of work, and full of time with friends, family and of course, Kiara. Sleeping in past 8am and joining friends at brunch at 10am was the perfect start.

Clever Rabbit Vegetarian Cafe  on 124th Street(no website yet!) is a new, fresh addition to Edmonton's culinary palate. In fact, everything in the restaurant is vegan-friendly and gluten-free friendly and SO delicious. With only a few items on the menu, as a table, we ended up ordering it all. Luckily, Joanne was in Edmonton for Saturday's Bust a Move event (which Edmonton Mixed Martial Arts was part of!), so she joined us for some long awaited catch-up time and conversation.  Meghan and Ryan, Jared, Joanne, Sean, Sean's friends Pablo and Tin (who we ran into at the restaurant) and I all absolutely loved it!

Duchess Bake Shop is the most European part of Edmonton, in my humble opinion. Wow --looks and smells like Paris! Meghan, who recommended this place to me months ago, picked the very best treats. The Duke, my pick, was MUCH too rich, but had a delectable cocoa taste that is beyond words ---like moist cake with a hint of pepper, flavour, and tang enveloped in a chocolate robe. Their espresso also fits the European bill --and the pastries ---well, the Chocolate Brioche is definitely the best! 

The Duke

YUMMY! That's the best word to describe Sunday...and makes me really want to take more Sundays off.  

The Paris Brest

Sean with a Lemon Meringue Pie

Coming up...April Long Weekend 2012! Three full days off for Easter in Calgary and Canmore with Julie and Joanne, and great new friends I'll be meeting in Calgary. Not to mention dinner out, cafes and definitely some shopping at Cross Iron Mills outlet centre.
Joanne and Sapna

 Plus, Julie and I will be running in the mountains. I'm running a 5km race this Sunday, a 10km race on April 29th with The Running Room Run Club and one in June with Julie in Calgary. Turns out running is actually fun - especially with a dog attached to you!

The rest of Sunday was Thai food with family (at home), and hanging out with my beautiful puppy Kiara.  Definitely check out Duchess and Clever Rabbit - the perfect Sunday hang outs!

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Rishi's Birthday - A Quarter Century Celebration at Chateau Lacombe


One week late, I realize, but here is a short note about my brother's 25th birthday celebration at the Crowne Plaza Chateau Lacombe hotel downtown  ---I will say, hotels who say specialize in "celebratory events" as they call them, do celebrate well!  While, of course, you pay a slight premium over a regular dining establishment, it's  about $10 more per person - and turns out to be a spectacular experience with soft live music, as the floor beneath you slowly turns, about one rotation an hour.

Flaming Kiss Coffee
(after the flaming part)
While I've been there quite a few times for brunch (with my family), dinner is definitely a different affair. A portabello mushroom grilled patty with a delectable sauce, fresh baked bread, and an array of vegetables, including squash - was amazing. The dinner was so filling though, that we could only handle about one bite of one dessert to share amongst the five of us. A note for Janice, a new vegan, - except for the bread (not that great) and dessert, you could have enjoyed this meal too! 

Of course, the waiter was excellent, and even made a show of flaming a flavoured coffee in front of us , like they do at resorts. I will say though, I have decided that merlot is definitely not my favourite type of wine. I'm a Shiraz girl, I think. Excuse the pictures - dim lighting and iPhones were all we had! 

Definitely a great place to check out! If anyone wants to do a Sunday brunch or Monday to Thursday dinner - especially in the summer when they have live jazz at 9pm, I have a coupon I'm ready to use. 

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Remembering Stephanie Wertz: One Year Later

It is in fond memory of Stephanie Wertz, and in the hopes that the written word transcends universes, crosses spiritual timelines, and reaches re-incarnates, that I write this letter. Loyal blog readers, if you step away for this ghostly post, I completely understand...

To access the glog for a more clear view, click here, or read the letter below.