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by Dominic Umile

30 Aug 2011


Between third class train rides and afternoons at the racetrack, Ernest Hemingway filed “Living on $1,000 a Year in Paris” with an editor at the Toronto Daily Star in 1922. After a stint as a cub reporter at the Kansas City Star—where he was inevitably “forced to write a simple declarative sentence,” he later explained— the young writer was offered a job at the Canadian paper in 1920. Hemingway then took on a correspondent role at their Paris office and moved to France after marrying Elizabeth “Hadley” Richardson.

In less than 600 words, Hemingway tallies in “Living on $1,000 a Year in Paris” the considerable lengths to which he and his wife could go with the Canadian or American dollar in France’s capital city at the time. It’s due to “prices not having advanced in proportion to” the dollar’s “increased value.” Meals are compared to the “best restaurants in America” in his piece, and the lodging is “comfortable.” These are indeed the spare declarative sentiments of a dry newspaper report, and it’s a bit short for what appears to be a meaty collection of nonfiction at Byliner.com, where “Living on $1,000…” was submitted for perusal in early July of this year. Part social network, part digital publisher, Byliner launched in June. It connects readers to writers, but also to other readers, who are free to browse the hub’s digital archives for worthwhile narratives as well as submit links to stories not already collected at the site.

by Kerrie Mills

9 Jun 2011


From the TV show, Ann of Green Gables (1985)

I’m on a course of children’s literature lately, and have just finished Kate Douglas Wiggin’s celebrated Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. Also New Chronicles of Rebecca, which tells additional stories within the timeframe of the original.

There I am, reading along, enjoying the new insights that emerge when you reread a childhood favourite… when it hits me: this all sounds familiar. Very familiar. To wit:

by Kerrie Mills

7 Apr 2011


I’ve recently been re-reading Grimm’s Fairy Tales, the unabridged version, and I’m inclined to go stick my head in the oven, now.

I do not wish to shoot messengers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, here. They clearly did their best to faithfully preserve the rich folktale tradition of their native heath. My question, after re-reading this fine old classic of my childhood—during which its utter lack of suitability for anyone under about age 35 is becoming steadily clearer—is why they thought this was a good idea? Or, perhaps more to the point, just what the hell was going on in those parts, back then?

by Kerrie Mills

16 Feb 2011


In order to understand Oz fully, you have to realise that L. Frank Baum did not by any means set out to create the jewel-toned MGM utopia that is his legacy.

The Wizard of Oz was originally a one-off—a determinedly mundane fairyland, designed deliberately as an antidote to the vivid and grotesque European classics. (We will skip lightly over the fact that The Wizard of Oz nevertheless has a body count in the dozens, largely of animals who get their heads chopped off by the Tin Woodman. It’s entirely possible that in Grimm, he would’ve carefully kept the severed heads to put in the Wicked Witch’s bed later, where they would recite doggerel predicting her gruesome demise. So it works out.)

The first in the sequel was intended as a cash-in once the original became a hit stage play, and the others were written pretty much as a favour to the eager little fans—partly because, frankly, L. Frank Baum needed the money too much to refuse them.

by Kerrie Mills

20 Jan 2011


I’m not ordinarily a huge fan of novelists that use real historical figures. Even if the author is skilled enough to incorporate fact into fiction without coming off as annoyingly arch about their own cleverness, their affection inevitably starts to come off as blatant hero-worship, what I believe is known these days as a ‘Canon Sue’.

This happens to Bruce Alexander’s Sir John Fielding series after awhile. The first three or four, before Jeremy becomes fairly convinced that his boss is God or the closest earthly equivalent, are still very readable. When you then start slamming Benjamin Franklin, though… you’d better be wielding more than “younger brother of the guy who wrote Tom Jones”.

//Mixed media
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Exposition Dumps Don't Need Dialogue in 'Virginia'

// Moving Pixels

"Virginia manages to have an exposition dump without wordy exposition.

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