Tournament of Books 2020: All This Could Be Yours

All This Could Be Yours

“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” ― Leo Tolstoy , Anna Karenina
The Tuchman family is unhappy in its own way, as Jami Attenberg deftly portrays in “All This Could Be Yours“. The patriarch, Victor, is lying on his deathbed, and Attenberg creates a mosaic of family members around him, with each character radiating out to other characters, the narrative touching on them for a moment (a conductor on a streetcar, a bartender, nurses, a coroner) placing them in the city of New Orleans, the world at large, and then floating away. The result is a lyrical telling of the consequences the life of a monster has on the people around him, almost a mirror image of Alberto Luis Urrea’s wonderful and touching “The House of Broken Angels”.
Victor Tuchman is a monster, but we only see his shadow, his effect in “All This Could Be Yours”. Alex’s obsession with knowing the truth about his life, why her mother stayed with him, what he did is what mostly drives the narrative, which is very thin on plot. It is rich with vibrant and interesting characters, the verve and buzz of New Orleans, the tang of misery brought on by people acting as people tend to do.
These are rich white people having rich white people problems in the city of New Orleans, in the America of Trump. I expected to not care less about the Tuchmans and their collective misery (no real tragedy here). But Attenberg knows how to write a book, and she knows what she’s doing even though you might get a little distracted at times along the way. Take a look at what’s described and what’s not, whose childhood is narrated and whose’s not, and on which character doing what the main narrative ends. A cruel man starts the narrative, but kind women have the last word.

I read this as part of my Tournament of Books 2020 challenge, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, even though the narrative jumps and amount of characters can be confusing at times.

Tournament of Books 2020: All This Could Be Yours

Diamine Inkvent Calendar Day 25

Diamine Inkvent Calendar is an advent calendar with a tiny (7ml) bottle of ink behind 24 windows, and a larger, 30ml, bottle of ink behind the 25th window. All the inks are limited edition, and only available through this calendar. You can read more about the calendar here.

It’s the final day of the Diamine Inkvent calendar, and there’s a full 30ml bottle of ink behind today’s door. I guessed that today’s ink will probably be a shimmer and sheen ink, perhaps in the same shade of blue of the calendar. Then again, from the ink name there was a chance that it would be a green or a red, which I find less useful.

Turns out that my first guess was right. Day 25’s ink is Diamine Happy Holidays, and it’s a sheen and shimmer rich royal blue, just like the Inkvent calendar. The blue they chose is beautiful, dark but not so dark that it becomes black. It shades well, even though it’s saturated, and has a red sheen and light blue glitter in it.

 

You can see the shading. Where the ink pools there’s sheen, and if you shake the ink well before use (including in the pen) you’ll see a good amount of shimmer. I filled a TWSBI Go 1.1 stub with this ink and on Tomoe river paper this ink shines.

You can see the sheen and shimmer best when you tilt the paper slightly.

Even on Rhodia paper you can see the shimmer and sheen:

Diamine Happy Holidays is a lovely ink, and I’m glad that I now have a 30ml bottle of it. Is it the most unique colour in the calendar? No, it’s pretty close to the other four dark blues. However, looking over all of the other colours in the calendar, I don’t think that they could have selected a better ink for the last day.

I loved almost all of the inks in the Diamine Inkvent calendar (apart from Diamine Triple Chocolate). The calendar itself is a beautiful and well designed objects, the tiny bottles were charming (some of the labels had minor flaking problems, but who cares), and the sheer amount of unique inks produced for this is astounding. I know that Diamine said that these inks were made only for the calendar, but I would be glad to see some of them re-issued in larger bottles. If Diamine issue another calendar next year I will definitely buy it, probably even if it has the exact same ink colours. The Diamine Inkvent calendar is one of the best stationery products of the year, and certainly one of the most entertaining ones.

Diamine Inkvent Calendar Day 25

Diamine Inkvent Calendar Day 24

Diamine Inkvent Calendar is an advent calendar with a tiny (7ml) bottle of ink behind 24 windows, and a larger, 30ml, bottle of ink behind the 25th window. All the inks are limited edition, and only available through this calendar. You can read more about the calendar here.

It’s day 24 on the Diamine Inkvent calendar, which means that it’s Christmas Eve. Merry Christmas to all who celebrate!

Day 24’s ink is Diamine Purple Bow, a “standard” dark purple. After dip testing this ink I filled a Pilot Metropolitan (medium nib) with it just to make sure that what I was seeing wasn’t a result of the dip test. It wasn’t. This ink has a lot of sheen, and should have been labeled a “sheen” ink.

Diamine Purple Bow is a deeply saturated, very dark purple ink that’s almost black. The magic is when you tilt the page and look at the sheen:

The golden sheen is especially visable on Tomer river paper, but it’s also noticable on Rhodia paper. I have no idea why Diamine Purple Bow wasn’t labeled as a sheen ink but it should have been. As it is, it’s an interesting ink that is dark enough to pass as a standard black on a cursory glance.

Diamine Inkvent Calendar Day 24

Diamine Inkvent Calendar Day 23

Diamine Inkvent Calendar is an advent calendar with a tiny (7ml) bottle of ink behind 24 windows, and a larger, 30ml, bottle of ink behind the 25th window. All the inks are limited edition, and only available through this calendar. You can read more about the calendar here.

It’s day 23 on the Diamine Inkvent calendar, and I love both the snowman and the inkwell snow-globe on today’s door.

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Day 23’s ink is Diamine Roasted Chestnut, a standard sienna brown with a good amount of shading. It’s more reddish than the yellow ochre leaning Diamine Gingerbread and pretty close to Diamine Nutcracker, but a tad lighter and less red.

I love the shading and the colour of this ink, but I wish that Diamine had called it Chestnuts Roasted 🙂

Diamine Inkvent Calendar Day 23

Diamine Inkvent Calendar Day 22

Diamine Inkvent Calendar is an advent calendar with a tiny (7ml) bottle of ink behind 24 windows, and a larger, 30ml, bottle of ink behind the 25th window. All the inks are limited edition, and only available through this calendar. You can read more about the calendar here.

Only 3 days left to the Diamine Inkvent calendar, and after yesterday’s wonderful Fire Embers I can’t wait to see what’s behind door 22.

Day 22 is Diamine Solstice a black ink with green shimmer. This is a charming combination, as the basic black ink is deep and saturated, and the green shimmer makes it come to life.

This looks like a fairly normal black, but tilt the page a bit and…

Party time! Subtle yet satisfying.

Here it is on Clairefontaine paper:

I love the combination, and I hope that Diamine will offer Solstice as part of their regular lineup.

Diamine Inkvent Calendar Day 22

Diamine Inkvent Calendar Day 21

Diamine Inkvent Calendar is an advent calendar with a tiny (7ml) bottle of ink behind 24 windows, and a larger, 30ml, bottle of ink behind the 25th window. All the inks are limited edition, and only available through this calendar. You can read more about the calendar here.

It’s day 21 in the Diamine Inkvent calendar and we’re down to the final five. Today’s door didn’t look promising but…

…day 21’s ink is not a blue, or a red, or a green! It’s Diamine Fire Embers, the orange I’ve been waiting for for the past 20 days, and one of the best and most practical oranges I’ve ever seen. How dare you call it “standard”, Diamine? This ink is exceptional!

Diamine Fire Embers is a dark, reddish orange that glows on the page, and dries dark enough to make it practical (i.e. readable). There’s a significant amount of shading while the ink is still wet, but it tones down a bit as the ink dries.

There’s still a good amount of shading to be had here.

On the Tomoe river paper above the shading is much more pronounced than on the Clairefontaine paper below, but that’s to be expected.

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Less shading, even when viewed at an angle.

Diamine Fire Embers is one of the better inks in the calendar in my opinion, and I’m not even a fan of orange ink. It’s so cheerful and vibrant, it’s bound to make you smile as you use it, whether for letter writing or for cards.

Diamine Inkvent Calendar Day 21

Tournament of Books 2020: The Challenge

Each year for the past 16 years The Morning News has run the Tournament of Books — a March Madness like competition for books published during the previous year. It’s fun and light-hearted and super interesting because unlike other literary prizes, you get to see the judges’ thought process as they decided which book progresses and which doesn’t.

Last year, for the first time ever, I read all of the books on the shortlist, 18 books in total. As I started a bit late and I was rushing to get to the March deadline, that meant reading six novels a month for three months straight. The rushing part was a challenge, and reading many of these books was a challenge. Some were technically difficult, others dealt with difficult topics, still others required me to do some research while I read.

Despite the challenge, I ended up enjoying most of the books, loving more than half of the books, and really disliking only two of the 18 that I read. That’s a very good ratio, as a friend pointed out, and that made me consider doing the challenge again this year.

I don’t have as much free time next year as I had this past year, so I doubt that I’ll be reading at the rate in 2020 as I did in 2019. I won’t finish the books in time for the tournament, but I don’t mind. Last year I got angry at the judge’s choices (well, the judge’s reasonings, more than their choices) so I stopped following the tournament. That didn’t matter, as the choice of the books and their pairing was enough to get my mind thinking.

Today I purchased the first book on the shortlist (All This Could Be Yours, by Jami Attenberg) and all three books in the play in round (Golden State, by Ben H. Winters, Oval, by Elvia Wilk, We Cast a Shadow, by Maurice Carlos Ruffin). Here’s for another year of interesting, challenging and good books!

Tournament of Books 2020: The Challenge

Diamine Inkvent Calendar Day 20

Diamine Inkvent Calendar is an advent calendar with a tiny (7ml) bottle of ink behind 24 windows, and a larger, 30ml, bottle of ink behind the 25th window. All the inks are limited edition, and only available through this calendar. You can read more about the calendar here.

It’s day 20 in the Diamine Inkvent calendar, and there are only 5 days left. No wonder the 20 is underscored.

Day 20’s ink is Diamine Midnight Hour, a dark, indigo ink with sheen. Wait, blue with a sheen? Haven’t we been here before? Yes we have. Take a look for yourself:

Diamine Midnight Hour

This is Diamine Midnight Hour. It’s a very saturated dark blue/indigo ink with a reddish-purple sheen.

There’s sheen, but not oodles of it.

If the sheen looks familiar it’s because it’s the same sheen you saw on day 15’s Diamine Festive Cheer. Diamine Festive Cheer is practically Diamine Midnight Hour only a shade lighter:

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Diamine Festive Cheer

Then again, Diamine Festive Cheer is day 4’s Diamine Polar Glow with a tad less red in the base ink and a tad more red in the sheen.

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Diamine Polar Glow

There’s bound to be some degree of similarity between inks, considering Diamine had to create 25 unique inks for this calendar, and three similar royal blues are more useful than three similar yellows (and better behaving in pens), so I’m not complaining. It’s just an interesting little game to see just how close they came to creating three bottles of the same ink with different names (I’m looking at you Lamy). If you place these samples side by side you can tell them apart, but if you’d be buying ink in a store you’d probably end up picking just one bottle and not all three. My personal favourite is Diamine Polar Glow, followed by Diamine Festive Cheer, with Diamine Midnight Hour last.

Diamine Inkvent Calendar Day 20

Diamine Inkvent Calendar Day 19

Diamine Inkvent Calendar is an advent calendar with a tiny (7ml) bottle of ink behind 24 windows, and a larger, 30ml, bottle of ink behind the 25th window. All the inks are limited edition, and only available through this calendar. You can read more about the calendar here.

It’s day 19, and we have a nice nib ornament, and a 19 that fooled me at first that it was a 12.

Day 19’s ink is Diamine Gingerbread, a standard ink that offers a nice amount of shading and is a welcome break from the red/green/blue streak. It’s a warm raw sienna colour that really evokes gingerbread.

Diamine Gingerbread is not the flashiest of inks, but it’s a nice, warm, honey brown colour that will really work well with cream coloured paper or cards. It’s also a colour that I’ll probably end up using for sketching, since it’s relatively close to raw sienna, already a staple in my watercolour palette.

Diamine Inkvent Calendar Day 19

Diamine Inkvent Calendar Day 18

Diamine Inkvent Calendar is an advent calendar with a tiny (7ml) bottle of ink behind 24 windows, and a larger, 30ml, bottle of ink behind the 25th window. All the inks are limited edition, and only available through this calendar. You can read more about the calendar here.

It’s day 18 and there’s just a week more left to the Diamine Inkvent Calendar. What’s behind today’s door?

Day 18’s ink is Diamine Holly, a dark green ink with blue undertones with sheen. It’s more green than Diamine Seasons Greetings and has a more standard (and less pronounced) red sheen.

The base colour is beautiful, and I’m only slightly biased because I love teal and blue-green inks. It shades and sheens less than Diamine Seasons Greetings, but you can see more of the base colour because of that, and that’s a bonus in this case.

Where the ink pools, the deep red sheen glows, which means you want to take your time and write slooowly with this ink, preferably with a juicy nib and on Tomoe River paper. This is a great ink for writing greeting cards with, and just to give yourself some holiday cheer.

Diamine Inkvent Calendar Day 18