The Book Ferret: Bookworm fuel on

I don’t get to go to many literary events. There just aren’t that many in South Africa (or in most places, I imagine) and when you do happen to hear about one, chances are it’s not in your province or it’s not of much interest to you. And the likelihood of meeting international authors is slim. So naturally I got over-excited and went download crazy when I discovered, and their Books tag in particular.

On you can watch and download videos (or audio, if you want to conserve bandwidth) of authors giving talks about their works, discussions on books and writing, and lectures on philosophy, culture and politics. All the cool stuff your mind can’t otherwise enjoy because you can’t afford to fly your body all over the world. How did we ever live without the internet? describes itself as “the leading online destination for intelligent video programs on the people, issues and ideas changing the world”. Check out Neal Stephenson and William Gibson on sci fi, Neil Gaiman on his collection Fragile Things, and authors like Ian McEwan, and Zadie Smith. Find out more about how storytelling is changing in the 21st century or how journalist A.J. Jacobs tried to follow all the rules in the Old Testament (hilarious!). Salman Rushdie has several FORA videos, and he became one of my favourite speakers after listening to him on I also discovered how fun and funny Mary Roach can be –she’s the author of books like Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex and Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers.

Since this is a book blog and I am an unapologetic book nerd, I’ve focused on FORA’s book content, but the website offers far more – videos on politics, technology, music, science, art, the environment, religion… just check out their tags.

FORA was free when I first heard about it, and while you can still watch their content for free, I’m afraid you now have to pay for the privilege of downloading it, in either video or audio. Membership is priced at $4.99 for a month and $49.99 for a year. Which is fair, considering the opportunities you get in return.  FORA’s philosophy is “that there are brilliant ideas expressed everyday, everywhere, and [they] don’t want you to miss them”. I’m not going to say no to that.

The Book Ferret is a weekly feature on Violin in a Void that will showcase a cool or interesting book-related find every Thursday. Notable new releases, great bookshops, events, cover art, websites, gadgets and accessories – anything to make bookworms happy.

If you want to join in, grab the Ferret pic at the top of the page, link it and your post back here, and add your name to the Linky list. WordPress doesn’t allow me to show the Linky list in post, so you can also leave a comment here to say what your post is about.

Click here for The Book Ferret Linky

On Love and Death by Patrick Suskind

On Love and Death My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A very short book of Suskind’s musings on love and its relation to death, with some interesting insights for his famous novel Perfume (and possibly some of his others as well – I have yet to read them).

Love, Eros is described as a frenzy, “the finest frenzy there is… a mania inspired by and yearning for the divine” (15). Love is “a force instilling in human beings a desire for what they lack: beauty, virtue, happiness, perfection – whose reflection the lover sees in the beloved – and finally even immortality” (15-16)

Suskind looks at examples of Eros as an insanity that leads to poor choices, an intense desire in which lovers cut themselves off from the world and even scorn everyone else in their longing for each other. There is also a more noble example of a writer who falls in love with a waiter but never confesses it, turning his passion into creativity instead, using love to achieve immortality through his work.

About halfway through this little book, Suskind turns to the relationship between love and death. “[L:]ove in general is on easy terms with death” (42) he says – lovers kill themselves to escape the pain of love, others are willing to accept death as the price for a great love. Suskind turns to the poetry of Goethe and the suicide of writer Heinrich von Kleist to explore the idea of love finding “it’s highest and purest form, indeed it’s fulfillment, in death” (43).

Finally he compares Orpheus to Jesus Christ, both of whom tried to conquer death for the sake of love, and comes to the conclusion that Orpheus is more human and his story more touching because of his humility and his ultimate failure.

These musings are literary, not literal, making it a quick and interesting read for literature lovers and anyone interested in the association of love with death and insanity.