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review 2016-04-08 02:39
The One Grapes: Addressing Hospital Food with Crude Doodles - Joseph Picard
The One Grapes: Addressing Hospital Food With Crude Doodles - Joseph Picard
It's time for this month's entry in the Indies Unlimited 2016 Reading Challenge. For April, I am reviewing a humorous (or is that humourous?) book.

Author Joseph Picard is a paraplegic. In early 2015, he developed a pressure wound that landed him in the hospital for two months. So he had a lot of time to, um, appreciate the food -- and to ponder the meal order slips that the kitchen always attached to his tray. Early on, one of those slips listed, "1 EA GRAPES". As a creative kind of guy, Picard couldn't let that slide. So he doodled One Grapes having an existential moment and sent it back down with the empty tray. He heard the ladies in the kitchen liked it. So he started doing doodles on every slip, and snapping a photo of each one with his cell phone before his tray was whisked away.

With that much material, The One Grapes was practically inevitable.

I found the sketches witty enough for at least a chuckle and their descriptions charming. Picard's narration features a self-deprecating style that springs from a kind heart. Must be because he's Canadian.

If you've ever been hospitalized, you'll appreciate this book. If you know someone who's in the hospital -- or, hey, someone who works in a hospital kitchen -- this would be an awesome gift. Highly recommended, in other words, for just about everybody.
Source: www.rursdayreads.com/2016/04/the-one-grapes-addressing-hospital-food.html
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review 2014-09-25 18:13
Restoration London
Restoration London - Liza Picard

This rating (4 1/2 stars) is for Picard's Restoration London: From Poverty to Pets, From Medicine to Magic, From Slang to Sex, From Wallpaper to Women's Rights, which I can't seem to find in the database.  All of her London books are well worth a read (and tend to have interesting illustrations), and cover the social history of the city from Elizabethan through Victorian times (so roughly 1560-1870).


I'd love for her to do a "Chaucer's London," but am not sanguine (Picard is 87, I believe).

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review 2014-03-13 09:57
Dr. Johnson's London: Coffee-Houses and Climbing Boys, Medicine, Toothpaste and Gin, Poverty and Press-Gangs, Freakshows and Female Education
Dr. Johnson's London: Coffee-Houses and Climbing Boys, Medicine, Toothpaste and Gin, Poverty and Press-Gangs, Freakshows and Female Education - Liza Picard

bookshelves: winter-20102011, nonfiction, history, britain-england, published-2000, medical-eew, sciences

Read from December 18 to 21, 2010


 Home audio. You will need a strong stomach to take some of the medical stuff *shudders*

Narrator Fiona Shaw

blurb - Liza Picard certainly isn't tired of London. The lives that once thronged its streets are the stuff of her books, and Dr Johnson's London updates her 1997 volume, Restoration London, by one hundred years or so. Samuel Pepys gives way to Samuel Johnson and James Boswell, though, entertainingly, she shows no affection for the pair. She pursues them solely for their era, stretching 30 years from 1740 to 1770, pivoted on the publication of Johnson's Dictionary in 1755. Starting with a "virtual" sedan-chair tour of the city, she proceeds to elucidate every aspect of urban life, with particular attention paid to the poor, and the "middling sort", a fledgling middle class. This goes some way to redressing a balance which historically has tended to favour the rich and famous, who left behind the majority of buildings and ephemera.
Picard's conversational style, as bursting with rhetorical questions as a primary teacher, belies the breadth of her reading and research. Her informality breathes life into dry descriptions, and her sharp eye lends itself to shrewd selection from source passages. The familiarity of this Blackadder-esque London is borne out by its physical dimensions, with parks, hospitals and even bridges already starting to become recognisable to a contemporary eye, as well as its phenomena, such as lottery tickets and road rage. Although Picard sways between tenses with a giddy ease, adding a sprinkling of her own curious observations, her assimilation of information renders her prose sprightly, whether she be observing a meal in "real time", or delighting in the medical remedies, often involving quite the worst ingredients (though it's useful to know that powdered roast mouse is a reliable cure for incontinence).

Hogath's depiction of cruelty clearly shows a parish workhouse badge worn on the right arm of the light coloured youth. It was the law of the times that these badges be worn."

Rake's Progress by Hogarth"
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photo 2014-01-01 00:33

A final one for tonight, because it's just too good to resist ...

Source: fbcdn-sphotos-b-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-frc1/q71/1558464_10202109599275538_1037395459_n.jpg
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text 2013-06-13 20:55
Writing Victorian London, my foundation books
The London Underworld in the Victorian Period: Authentic First-Person Accounts by Beggars, Thieves and Prostitutes - Henry Mayhew
Victorian London Street Life in Historic Photographs - John Thomson
Victorian London: The Tale of a City 1840--1870 - Liza Picard
The Good Old Days: Crime, Murder and Mayhem in Victorian London - Gilda O'Neill
City of Dreadful Delight: Narratives of Sexual Danger in Late Victorian London (Women in Culture and Society Series) - Walkowitz
RISEN (Dark Victorian, Vol. 1) - Elizabeth Watasin

WHEN I got the idea (as a break from my huge YA novel in progress), to write some Victorian pulp fiction for Fun, I knew I had to research. Stuff recalled from Holmes, Mary Poppins books, Paddington Bear (you get the drift), wasn't going to cut it. ;)


So I took about 3 months after conceiving of Dark Victorian: Risen to read 'foundation' books, ones that gave a very good overview of London---up to and even a little over the year 1880, when the Dark Victorian series is based.


As you can see in the books listed above, 'Victorian London' by Liza Picard was a good start, covering all the physical aspects of the city. Chapters are on 'Smells', 'The River (Thames)', 'The Streets', 'The Railways', etc, and covering social classes, sexes, food, clothes, health, and so forth.


Gilda O'Neill's 'The Good Old Days: Crime, Murder and Mayhem in Victorian London' was next, which was a well written read on the lifestyle (if it can be called that) of the poor, aspects of crime, with explanations of street and slang terms, sometimes on a personal level (O'Neill is perhaps descended from those who had to live in such conditions 120 yrs ago).


The venerable social study conducted by Henry Mayhew and gathered under different titles, one of which is 'The London Underworld', proved a sober read (especially as it's written in the period's style, and has that time period's privileged male attitude). But it's very comprehensive and being first-hand, as authentic as one can get. Mayhew had the bias of his class and sex, yet at times he could be very astute.


'Victorian London Street Life in Historic Photographs' by John Thomson is also a first-hand account of social conditions, which was a nice surprise and disregarding the earnest, florid writing style (again, of period), and desire to lend sympathy to its subjects, this is an extremely helpful 'on the street' look at the poorer people of London.


'City of Dreadful Delight: Narratives of Sexual Danger in Late-Victorian London' has a very lurid title but is written in a very scholarly style. It's so academic, the dryness is hard to ingest. ;) But it presents certain theories or interpretations of the 'other' London that most books don't address. After wading through all the dryness I found these aspects very helpful in writing the darker London I wanted for RISEN.


All this reading happened around winter 2010, I think, then in 2011 I knocked out the novella-sized Dark Victorian: RISEN, and YES, it was fun. :D


“Way will open."

She is Artifice.
A resurrected criminal and agent of HRH Prince Albert’s Secret Commission.
An artificial ghost.
A Quaker.

He is Jim Dastard.
The oldest surviving agent of the Secret Commission.
An animated skull.
A mentor to newly resurrected agents.

It is 1880 in a mechanical and supernatural London. Agents of Prince Albert’s Secret Commission, their criminal pasts wiped from their memories, are resurrected to fight the eldritch evils that threaten England. Amidst this turmoil, Jim Dastard and his new partner Artifice must stop a re-animationist raising murderous dead children. As Art and Jim pursue their quarry, Art discovers clues about her past self,  and through meeting various intriguing women—a journalist, a medium, a prostitute, and a mysterious woman in black—where her heart lies. Yet the question remains: What sort of criminal was she? A new beginning, a new identity, and new dangers await Art as she fights for the Secret Commission and for her second life.





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