on unlimited happiness, houellebecq interview paris review

I want to laugh at this photograph but can’t and don’t know why on either score…

Whoever decided to put this interview with Houellebecq -ostensibly around publication of La Carte et le Territoire [Flammarion 2010]- online in order to draw new/draw back old audiences to the let’s face it pretty wonderful Paris Review, must be pleased with themselves…

There are a few little things I quite like -though I’m just digesting some of MH’s thoughts here, no?

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doing a mahatma, james salter’s paris review interview online

The Art of Fiction No. 133 ManuscriptOh the lengths I indulged to get a copy of this a few years ago! I love an excuse to return to Salter and his Paris Review interview from the Summer 1993 issue [127 The Art of Fiction no. 133] being online now is enough for me. Here’s a tiny bit of it extracted from my rather long essay [Meeting James Salter];

In the Paris Review interview of 1993 Salter said “I’ve never had a story in The New Yorker, everything has been rejected.” Of the 11 stories in Dusk -half of which are classics of the form- 9 were rejected by The New Yorker. He didn’t think to submit the other two.

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the model hip! hip! ben sonnenberg

Edward Said and Ben Sonnenberg mid-80s [Photo Alexander Cockburn]

I liked and admired Ben Sonnenberg [though can’t claim to be one of his many close friends, nor did I ever meet him]; a man whose mind encompassed [and published] Anne Carson, James Salter and Edward Said, who understood what money was for, someone who left his beautiful and brilliant Grand Street magazine as the model of a good mind at work.

This [here] is a link to a very warm remembrance of BS [1938-2010] following his memorial service, by his friend Alexander Cockburn which I recommend to you. You might also dig up Salter’s account of BS in Burning the Days; his much-admired aplomb in general and in the face of MS. AC quotes BS taking an elegant lance to The New Republic mag in 1989; oh for “puckish” courage of that kind today.

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settlements app, the actuality is significantly worse

The Guardian reports [here] on the launch by American Friends of Peace of an app -Facts on the Ground- designed to keep the shameless growth of illegal settlements to hand. The idea is that, just as with previous historical examples of massive or sustained crimes against humanity, you can’t say you didn’t know. [Re; imminent end of temporary freeze, expect another shorter one with various exclusions -and renewed slaughter somewhere or other- by the masters of exceptionalism. Or out and out resumption of same. They won’t actually stop, they will have to be stopped, actually.]

iPhone Screenshot 1

So it’s very welcome; you can check the number of illegal settlers of a hyper-nationalist or -religious persuasion and how much of the settlement is classified as “private Palestinian land” just as easily as you can check how many Boris Bikes are at each stop. My only complaint is that even with this to hand the actuality is underplayed. How do I know? Because I’ve walked around these very settlements, onto overlooking hills and photographed them only this summer. I’ve witnessed the actuality and know the truth. Just as every Palestinian imprisoned in the otherwise gorgeous hills knows -something you might ponder.

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the great game, raouf haj yihya in liverpool

If you can’t get to Liverpool for the current Biennial [18th September-28th November 2010], and especially to the Future Movements Jerusalem section of the City States show at the Contemporary Urban Centre [curated by Samar Martha], then at least you can sample one of the art works here [Press image to play, it takes a few seconds to load].

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mourid barghouti, i was born there, i was born here

ولدت هناك، ولدت هنا   مريد البرغوثي

This is the front cover of my very own copy of Mourid Barghouti’s latest book I was Born There, I was Born Here, published by Riad El-Rayyes Books in May 2009. In Nablus you can pick up a cheaper pirate copy, but this one is the original with an embossed cover from Dar al Shourouk in Ramallah again.

I excuse my own excitement because I remember when Mourid first mentioned that he was writing this and have been waiting impatiently for its account of the period post 1996 when he was first able to return home -as recounted in the classic I Saw Ramallah- all the way up to and beyond the 2006 elections.

At this stage my Arabic makes reading this very slow work indeed, so I’m glad that Humphrey Davies has been appointed translator of the book and that the American University of Cairo Press [AUC] are scheduling the English translation for November 2011. I know that Bloomsbury were anticipating publishing the book in the UK and will update on both fronts when I receive confirmations. [Yes! Fall 2011 is the scheduled publication date for both.]

Meanwhile, there’s an intriguing 2000-word blog on the book, a first English language review including quite extensive translated passages, here, which I recommend to you.

Finally, given the familial dimension of this book -Mourid visits the alleys and suqs of al Qds/Jerusalem as well as the village of his young life Deir Ghassanah with son and poet Tamim- I can’t resist sharing my pleasure at seeing that novelist, academic, wife and mother Radwa Ashour has a newly translated novel, Spectres [Atyaf], forthcoming from Arabia Books [UK], who have a page here. I hope this will mark the beginning of good translations of all her works into English. In any case the arrival of this one is a major event.

Riad El-Rayyes Books [Arabic] website is here.

AUC Press is here.

Arabia Books here.

Nur Elmessiri article on Radwa’s Atyaf/Spectres in Al Ahram [1999] here.

My earlier post on Mourid’s Midnight and Other Poems, which Radwa translated -and for which I wrote the Introduction– is here.

‘Mourid and Tamim Barghouti with Ahdaf Soueif’ event at the Southbank Centre London, Saturday November 6th is here.

on not meeting edward said, who was right then and is right now

I enjoy unlikeliness and it seemed unlikely to me that Candia McWilliam would find herself in Edward Said’s memoir of his early life; Out of Place: A Memoir [Granta 1999]. That she does so in her own memoir [What to Look for in Winter: A Memoir in Blindness Cape 2010/Vintage 2011] is one of many endearing things about it and its author. Also a high recommendation for Said and his own memoir.

I spent a number of mornings in June this year running past one end of Edward Sa’id Street in Ramallah, actualising the way he and his work feature near the beginning of my adult life and have been returned to repeatedly ever since. I’m posting an old review I did for The Independent of his collection of pieces The End of the Peace Process: Oslo and after [Granta 1999 -out of print/PenguinRandomHouseUS 2001 -linked] [BELOW]. Read almost anything of Said’s [especially on the question of Palestine] and the absence of a voice like his today makes you weep.

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