Monday, 31 March 2014

On Free Books

I'm giving away five free copies of my novel on Details below.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, Even by Chris F. Westbury

The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, Even

by Chris F. Westbury

Giveaway ends June 10, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Saturday, 29 March 2014

On the Final Cover of my Novel

My novel The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, Even went to press yesterday. Here is the final cover, designed by Michael Kellner. I love the design: it captures the quirky, off-beat feel of the story and pays homage to Duchamp in many different ways.

The excerpt on the back is the following: 
    “It didn’t take me long to make friends with the
    museum guard, a muscular young red-haired Irish
    Bostonian named Bobby Sheridan. He sussed me out on
    my first vigil in front of the ivory carving. After
    I had been sitting in front of it for about an hour
    he came over to ask me if I was OK. I told him I
    was fine, very well actually, except for having a
    minor mental illness. I explained to him that I had
    obsessive compulsive disorder and couldn’t touch
    anything, and also that I didn’t have to work because
    my mother had died and I had inherited some money,
    enough to live for a while on but not really a lot.
    I explained to him that I was planning to spend many
    months in his museum, not touching anything of course
    but mainly just looking at a particular single piece
    of art, namely the carving of Abraham and Isaac that
    was in front of me. And I also let him know that I
    always wore pretty much the same clothes but that I
    changed my clothes and had a shower every day, and
    that I was very careful about cleanliness as part of
    my OCD. I drew his attention to some of the things
    I appreciated so much about the ivory
    carving, especially the ample bosom
    and translucent wings of the
    tiny angel.”

Monday, 24 March 2014

On Bear-Breed Spirit Depth

One of the main characters in my novel, Greg, is writing a book based on his master's thesis, called Bear-breed Spirit Depth: Duchamp, semantic multiplicity, and the artistic life.

The first part of his title is an anagram for The Bride Stripped Bare. That's Greg for you.

Greg's book plays no role in my plot, so there is nothing in my book to say what it contains. The thesis is about the bizarre flexibility of meaning. Greg points out that one lesson from Marcel Duchamp's work is that the meaning of objects is not contained only in those objects. Meaning diffuses outward from any thing, from any set of things, to new times, spaces, and concepts. A (copy of a) nearly-worthless (possibly entirely imaginary) typewriter cover in Paris, France one day is a renowned and highly-valued piece of art history in the National Gallery of Canada a few decades later.

Greg edits and writes very slowly. He feels no need to ever finish writing the book. He is happy to spread his delight in working on Bear-Breed Spirit Depth across decades.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Saturday, 8 March 2014

On Doors Being Simultaneously Open and Shut

Perhaps one of Marcel Duchamp's most obscure pieces is his Door, 11 rue Larrey. This was a door that that Duchamp had a carpenter construct in 1927 in the corner of a room in Duchamp's apartment. Because of this location, the door closed one entrance when it opened the other, thereby contradicting the French proverb Il faut qu'une porte soit ouverte ou fermée ['A door must be either open or closed']. 

This reminds me of the fact that Duchamp once wrote in a letter to the French poet André Breton Pour moi il y a autre chose que oui, non et indifférent - C’est par example l’absence d’investigations de ce genre ['For me there is something other than yes, no, and indifferent - there is for example the absence of investigations of this kind.']

You can read more about Door, 11 rue Larrey here on

Thursday, 6 March 2014

On The Heights Of Despair

I enjoy reading and re-reading Emil Cioran, the Romanian/French 'philosopher of despair'. Although he is certainly not as funny as Samuel Beckett (whom Cioran knew quite well) and not as open to the possibility of grace as Simone Weil (whom Cioran apparently never met), he shares that lightness of being that goes along with a deep appreciation for "the inconvenience of existence" (his own term). Here's a sampler of his work.

In major perplexities, try to live as if history were done with and to react like a monster riddled by serenity.
       The Trouble With Being Born

The intrinsic value of a book does not depend on the importance of its subject (else the theologians would prevail, and mightily), but on the manner of approaching the accidental and the insignificant, of mastering the infinitesimal.
       The Trouble With Being Born

A moment comes when it seems futile to choose between metaphysics and amateurism, between the unfathomable and the anecdote.
       The Trouble With Being Born

The ideal being? An angel ravaged by humor.
       The Trouble With Being Born

I shall be reconciled to myself only when I accept death the way one accepts an invitation to a dinner: with amused distaste.
       Drawn And Quartered

A book should open old wounds, even inflict new ones. A book should be a danger.
       Drawn And Quartered

The only explanation for the creation of the world is God's fear of solitude. In other words, our role is to amuse our maker.
       Tears And Saints

The dead center of existence: when it is all the same to you whether you read a newspaper article or think of God.
       Tears And Saints

No man of vice can be condemned unless he ceases to look upon vice as a pretext and turns it into a goal.
       On The Heights of Despair

One of the great delusions of the average man is to forget that life is death's prisoner.
       On The Heights of Despair

Sunday, 2 March 2014

On the Fashion Sense of Sarah, Isaac's mother

I love this very odd image of Sarah, Abraham's wife and Isaac's mother, by the Flemish engraver Hans Collaert (1545–1628). This image is mentioned in passing in my novel The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, Even, which revolves in part around the story of Abraham and Isaac. I just cannot figure out what she is wearing, but I think it is a fashion faux pas. Call me a moderne, but I'd cover that belly, pull up the front of the dress, and not wear squares on my breasts.