Montgolfiere Weekly

An exploration of culture in its many forms



A conversation about The Museum of Possibilities with Barbara Sibbald

Barbara Sibbald’s collection of short stories, The Museum of Possibilities, was published by The Porcupine’s Quill Press

First, I should declare that Barbara Sibbald is a friend, a colleague and a contributor to this blog. Second, like one of her characters who is reading a short story in “Things We Hold Dear,” “I usually don’t read short stories. I like a longer relationship with my fictional company.” In spite of my usual preference for a more lengthy narrative, I found the stories in The Museum of Possibilities highly entertaining, being tightly constructed and inventive, and featuring unsparing observation of the human condition in its mundane failures, though these are recounted with a dark and witty relish. Continue reading “A conversation about The Museum of Possibilities with Barbara Sibbald”

Lost books

By Patricia Lightfoot

When I say “lost books,” I don’t mean books that I once owned and can no longer find. I mean books that I once heard being read aloud, or read myself and returned to their rightful owner, but have no way of finding, having long forgotten the title and the name of the author. I remain sadly tantalized by fragments of barely remembered text and images. Continue reading “Lost books”

Moomin magic

By Patricia Lightfoot

As a small group of long-time fans of the Moomin books, we were inexorably drawn to “Adventures in Moominland,” which was advertised as an “immersive, interactive exhibition” hosted by the Southbank Centre as part of “Nordic Matters” – a year-long celebration of Nordic art and culture. After an agonizing last-minute search for the venue, having approached the Southbank Centre for our timed tour by the Millennium Bridge, that is, essentially from the wrong side, we positioned ourselves with only a few minutes to spare in front of the “book cover” that would be the entrance to the exhibition. At the appropriate moment, our guide opened the book, then turned a cloth “page” and led our group of about a dozen adults out of central London and into a darkened forest. Continue reading “Moomin magic”

Looking for Tilling


By Patricia Lightfoot

A walking tour of the little town of Rye in south-east England, not far from Hastings, led us through time to the happy, insulated world of Tilling, which is the setting of a number of entertaining social comedies written in the 1920s and the 1930s by author and thrice mayor of Rye, E.F. Benson. If you were to read just one of the books, choose Mapp and Lucia, in which these two redoubtable foes, Miss Elizabeth Mapp and Emmeline Lucas (Lucia), first appear together, Continue reading “Looking for Tilling”

Something to read

By Patricia Lightfoot

Two books that I found particularly engaging this year have a Ukrainian theme. The first one, Death and the Penguin by Andrey Kurkov (translation into English by George Bird. Really.), is set in post-Soviet Ukraine, where writer Viktor Alekseyevich is trying to make a living. He is engaged to write the obituaries of notable citizens,“…deputies and gangsters, down to the cultural scene — that sort of person — while they’re still alive,” that is, before a series of untimely deaths takes place. Continue reading “Something to read”

A place and time

By Amy Flora

Place: Scout Lodge, Hackney

Time: May 14, 2016

What was happening: I have always found the best use of a Saturday is to go stomping about. Living in large cities has afforded me the opportunity to explore near endlessly. This particular day took me through Hackney, a part of London that is very close to my heart. Exploring on foot is such a unique way to see side streets and tiny shops, but, more important, to stumble upon second-hand book sales. Browsing second-hand books is such an emotional experience, where you evaluate books on so much more than subject matter. The tactile experience is often the most important one, seeing how a book has been preserved and loved by another. Continue reading “A place and time”

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