Monday, July 03, 2006

Time to go

I began Windy Weather in May of last year as an experiment. I wanted to see what it was like to run a website, and I also hoped the blog might attract visitors interested in various social, political, and philosophical ideas. With regard to the first objective, the experiment has been a success. I’ve enjoyed learning how to put together, or at least modify, a web page, and I think the result has been satisfactory. (For example, I like the look of this page, especially the title logo, which I created in the composite manner of Victor Frankenstein, but with happier results. And after much frustration, I figured out how to create a favicon for the site.)

On the other hand, in terms of tossing my messages-in-bottles out into the sea, it’s been a flop. Hardly anyone reads this blog. To the three or four people who have been coming here fairly frequently, I can say that without you Windy Weather would not have lasted this long. Most of the others who visit do so more or less by happenstance (for example, because they want to find out about “windy weather” in their area, or because they’re obsessed with a certain Mongolian beauty-pageant contestant, who’s name I once mentioned). There’s been no snowball effect, no feverish buzz in the blogosphere. (Or perhaps the fever melted the snowball.) I might have got a few more readers if I had enabled “comments”, but I figured that would result in my wasting even more time on the computer, and I doubt it would have made much difference anyway.

I had hoped that people might be drawn to all the useful links on the right-hand side here, which are magic portals into all sorts of fascinating and informative sites around the world. No such luck. Still, I often use these links myself, so it hasn’t all been for nought.

Now that I’m off to Europe for a while, I think it’s a good time to put this blog into suspended animation. Whether it will ever be revived, I can’t say. It would probably take a kiss from a beautiful princess or else an imperious command from the Galactic Overlords. Meanwhile, I hope that whenever I get the urge to write a brilliantly insightful commentary on what’s happening in the world, I’ll do something constructive instead, like going for a bicycle ride or popping open a cold beer.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Children's literature

During the last federal election campaign, fellow blogger James Bow invited his readers to forecast the results. As it turned out, I came fourth in the contest, and, as a prize, James generously sent me a copy of his just-published novel for young people, The Unwritten Girl. The story is a clever fantasy about a girl who must enter the Land of Fiction in order to rescue her brother from mental illness, and who, in the process, ends up learning about herself and about life. Bow writes well and the story has the ingredients of good children's literature: it has a moral, but the moral is integral to the story and doesn't get in the way of what is likely to prove a satisfying adventure for the young reader. I understand that this is James Bow's first published fiction as a professional; I'm sure it won't be his last. All those unwritten books of his look promising.

Speaking of books for young people, I also recommend just about anything by Kit Pearson. My particular favourite by her is Awake and Dreaming, a terrific story with vividly drawn characters, which blends fantasy and realism, and which won the Governor General's Award. Moreover, much of it is set just around the corner (literally, around two corners) from where I live. Another novel with a local setting, this one a historical fantasy, is White Jade Tiger by Julie Lawson. Travelling further afield, to the exotic U.S.A., there's the absolutely gripping quartet by Caroline B. Cooney that begins with The Face on the Milk Carton.