Thursday, August 30, 2007


I've only very recently read the work of Monica Raymond, and I like it. Her play, THE OWL GIRL, is, in her own words,"a magic realist play about two families in the Middle East, both of whom have keys to the same house, and what happens when they try to live in it together." From her poem, In Cana, which was inspired by the wedding party that Israel bombed last Summer:
I like to think that maybe it's a wedding
of people from different sides, ordinary miracle--
two black-browed lovers, aflame like flowering swords.
Gladiola. Bird of paradise. What looks like a knife-edge sheathe till it unfurls in good
blossom. The angels each holding a stem of it
at the door of the fiery world, and they beckon to you.

They hold the flaming sword to protect the wedding,
and they want to include you in this miracle.
Not blood, but good wine that pours. Let us dream of it.
Go here for more info.

Thanks to Michelle for the link.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

I survived

I just received 16 hours of teacher training in the last 36 hours. This video perfectly describes how I feel:Granted, I don't actually have nuts; but still.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Dept. of Stupid Stereotypical Bullshit Masquerading as Art

Jihad: the Musical.

Need I say more? I was going to link to Youtube video from it, but it just makes me cringe.

Scanning the list of the show's writers, not a single one is Muslim, or Arab.

Instead of being angry, I think I'll suggest that we support good Arab-American theater, and help fund plays written by Muslims and Arabs.

Here's a good place to start.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

JC/Elizabeth Costello/JM Coetzee

With Diary of a Bad Year, Coetzee seems to have returned to the themes of metafiction and of the fallen man being cared for by nurse-like woman, evident in Disgrace and Slow Man.

The TLS reviews both Diary of a Bad Year and Inner Workings.

Related: See my review of Slow Man here.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Surfin' for Peace

From the BBC: "Dorian Paskowitz, 86, from Hawaii, handed over some of the surfboards himself. The retired Jewish doctor hopes a love of surfing will help bring Israelis and Palestinians together."

Link via Russell

Monday, August 20, 2007

I have just heard about the Debbie Almontaser fiasco via RAWI.

Almontaser was the principal of an Arabic-language school, which includes Arab and non-Arab students who want to be bilingual. The school itself has been under attack by peaceful, civil-rights defendants such as Daniel Pipes and Fox News and an organization called "Stop the Madrassa" (Madrassa means school; guess you'd have to know Arabic-- or learn it at an Arabic Language school-- to know that) which has called the school "badly managed and inflammatory."

When Almontaser was seen at a non-school function for the Arab Women Active in Art and Media, wearing a T-shirt (which the function sold to its members) that says, "Intifada NYC," she was attacked and forced to resign.

From RAWI: "RAWI views this intense pressure and Almontaser's subsequent resignation as symptoms of pervasive anti-Arab racism in the United States through which nonviolent, workaday Arabic terms have been stigmatized with sinister, albeit nonsensical, connotations."

Amen. I would also add that it's interesting that it's offensive to wear a T shirt with the word Intifada, which signifies the days in 1987 when Palestinians threw rocks at tanks and soldiers during a time when flying the Palestinian flag got you shot, while wearing IDF (Israeli Defense Force) t shirts is considered cool.



This is obviously about racists being against and afraid of Arabic and Islam being introduced in the schools. They were waiting for the principal or anyone involved to make a mistake, and I believe they won't stop until the whole school shuts down. Too bad, because its doors are opening this year.

Read Debbie's sweet article on moving to the US and working towards building understanding between NYC's non-Muslim and Muslim residents.

Listen to her talk on NPR last year about how she became a vocal activist for American understanding of Muslims in the U.S.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Show-Off Dept.

I just bought my tickets to the Bjork/M.I.A show in Detroit! Aw yeah...I can't wait.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Rejected Genius

In the LRB, Deborah Friedell responds to the recent Austen rejection fiasco (someone recently submitted Austen novels to publishers with characters' names changed and they were rejected): "Are publishers less perspicacious than they used to be? The first time a version of Pride and Prejudice, called ‘First Impressions’, was offered to a publisher, in 1797, it was rejected – no response but ‘declined by return of post’...
A few years later, Austen tried again, sending Northanger Abbey to a different publisher, Richard Crosby. He paid £10 for it, but didn’t publish it. In 1810, Thomas Egerton agreed to publish Sense and Sensibility on commission: Austen paid for her own printing and some advertising, and it found its readers. But what if Egerton had been of the same mind as Crosby? Of if Austen hadn’t been able to raise the money? Would she have kept trying – like William Golding, submitting and resubmitting Lord of the Flies 22 times? Or, what if, once Austen’s novels were published, no one noticed them? Moby-Dick sold 3180 copies in Melville’s lifetime – only two copies were bought in 1876 – and went out of print; he went to work as Deputy Inspector No. 75 of the United States Custom Service. Posterity made it up to him. But what about when it doesn’t?

I've often wondered about the many writers, especially women, most especially women who don't live in the West, who may have struggled like Austen did, and whose work we don't know about. Keep reading the article. The last paragraph is priceless. It startes with the sentence, "Many families are haunted by an unrecognised genius..."

Freud: Art Junk Junkie

There's an awesome review of Janine Burke's THE GODS OF FREUD over at the TLS. Freud collected art and little statues compulsively. "In his Viennese consulting room at Berggasse 19, seated behind his patients, listening to their free associations, his eyes were free to wander."
His therapy was shopping for his treasures. No trip – especially to his beloved Rome – was complete without the purchase of a small ancient trophy. In New York in 1909, while making his only American journey, he not only visited the Metropolitan Museum’s collection of Grecian vases but went shopping at Tiffany’s and bought a jade bowl and a bronze bust of Buddha. As the years went by, he could hardly rise from his desk for the press of objects and he rearranged them endlessly. Even when he left Vienna for his summer homes, he would take the bulk of his collection with him.
The review also has a creepy and cool description of a dream Freud once had about his mother, and how when he woke up he related it to Ancient Egyptian art (at the age of 8!). Most of his treasure-buying happened while he was writing Interpretation of Dreams. When Freud had to flee Vienna in 1928, his collection was undervalued (by a friend) and he was able to take it to London with him. I want to read this.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Stories of Partition

It's the 60th anniversary of India's partition. A few amazing first-hand accounts from refugees and others here.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Here's a heartbreaking article from Saturday's Times: "There are two pairs of lanes, one for each tribe, separated by a tall wall of concrete patterned to look like Jerusalem stones, an effort at beautification indicating that the road is meant to be permanent. The Israeli side has various exits; the Palestinian side has few."

A humble prediction: It won't work.

Also, Israel is so not a racist, apartheid country.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Good Old Hunter

Found in old BBC special on Hunter S. Thompson:

His editor's note:

"Due to circumstances beyond our control, the following section was lashed together at the last moment from a six-pound bundle of documents, note-books, memos, recordings, and secretly taped phone conversations with Dr. Thompson ...
In the meantime, we have suspended his monthly retainer and canceled his credit card. During one four day period in Washington, he destroyed two cars, cracked a wall in the Hilton, purchased two French horns at $1100 each, and ran through a plate-glass door in a Turkish restaurant."

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Guardian has a list of Top Ten Asian Crime Fiction. Says Catherine Sampson,
"If you only looked at size of population, you'd expect China and India to dominate any list like this, but in fact it is Japan which has taken crime fiction to its bosom. In China, politics adds a thick layer of complication. To write about crime in China - however fictional - is to advertise the fact that Chinese society is not an entirely harmonious and benign thing. Of course, China's leaders are a lot more tolerant than they once were when it comes to literature, but it's still sensitive, and crime fiction is a small but growing genre. The Beijing that I see around me, with its speed-of-light economic growth, its social dislocation, its constantly migrating population and its quagmire of corruption, is a verdant pasture for crime fiction. And its political claustrophobia is the perfect environment for a private eye who is an honourable man struggling against a system that threatens to overwhelm him."


“I think some of our foreign policy complications derive from our inability to locate a nomadic dynamic within contemporary political structures.” (From the NYT, "Ancient Nomads Offer Insights to Modern Crises.")

(Simplistic, I know...they also derive from our tendency to invade other countries, our inability to leave other governments be, or respect their inherently nomadic structures, etc.)

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


The Welsh Girl by Peter Ho Davies has made the Man Booker longlist. I hope it wins!

Friday, August 03, 2007

The Writing, the Novel, the Short Story Collection, etc.

My novel is now coming out in the Fall of 2008. This may be better than Spring since I'm still in school and this way it may be easier to do readings, etc.

The short story collection, which includes three previously published stories and thirteen new ones, is almost finished.

I'm teaching college writing in the Fall, and my syllabus includes the Iraqi constitution. I'll be looking for a Full-time teaching position sometime in the coming year.

For now, I am enjoying the last few days of silence before my child comes home from his dad's.