No Lease on Life/ Lynne Tillman/ Guy Mannes-Abbott The Independent 30 April 1998
While my fellow fruitiers were scattered between Ecuador and Sweden, I was able to visit archival regions unexplored for years. Principally I was in pursuit of a clean manuscript from a similar period as this which I want to restore to its original 78 subtle, molecular, daring fragments and, well, see. It got overrun by the immediate receptivity and success of my e.things to be straightforward about it, and though those grew out of much earlier actual experiments with all short forms, nevertheless I now see they were also directly enabled by the work on this novel manuscript for its tautness and the danger, to misquote a later e.thing, that it lived…
“Tillman is a writer of rare intelligence who knows that in writing a story, “the form of its telling will be part of its meaning”. She wants to challenge complacency, to “unconventionalise”, in the ultimate hope that we can “think beyond our limits”.
Continue reading “note_20 On Lynne Tillman’s No Lease on Life, rearchive fever …” →
Take these essays at difficult things inside you, let them pulse through your body and mind. And to your heart, yes. It may require more courage – in Britain, in English- than even I conceived in the last months of 2004. Courage and none at all, because these are a range of essays -as the short review below makes very clear.
I’ve been trying to develop a measure of truth in the context of the Persian Gulf and the regime in Abu Dhabi in as universal way as possible from an inventorised location in London and in English. I settled on a millennium-old measure from an Arabic treatise on taste. More on that in links to publications to come, but it reminds me of the increasing difficulty of being able to recognise a Palestinian right to exist in Britain or in English. Continue reading “note_09 “It may require courage (but) take these marvelous essays to heart” Mezzaterra, Ahdaf Soueif” →
This is just a short review of Said’s The End of the Peace Process: Oslo and After published by Granta, and circuitously critiqued and celebrated by me in The Independent, 3 October 2000. This paragraph struck me forcefully when I stumbled upon it; such rare qualities are getting rarer just about everywhere… However, rareness breeds rareness, right? When we lament the loss of Said’s voice, we also attest to it (mind/ rareness/ qualities) and renewed possibilities in the ruins. I am a radical optimist. You?
“Katherine Boo’s debut about the vertiginousness of existence in a “Mumbai slum” is the antidote to mainstream books and films on the subject from the English-speaking world.”
Behind the Beautiful Forevers, By Katherine Boo.
Horror, and happiness: Mourid Barghouti ( Rex Features )
By Mourid Barghouti, trans. Humphrey Davies
GUY MANNES-ABBOTT | FRIDAY 04 NOVEMBER 2011
Mourid Barghouti’s first volume of memoir, I Saw Ramallah, is a classic of the genre and a uniquely clear-eyed account of returning home after 30 years of serial expulsion. Barghouti is also the poet of displacement in general as well as its specific Palestinian form. In between the first and this second volume of memoir came Midnight & Other Poems – a first selection from many volumes of his poetry.
I Saw Ramallah wove a life of enforced absences into a moment of return to that city and the author’s home village of Deir Ghassanah in 1996, with prose of poetic concision. It ended with Barghouti recrossing an indelibly memorialised bridge over the Jordan river to collect a permit for his son Tamim, so they could return together. “He will see it. He will see me in it, and we shall ask all the questions after that.”
I Was Born… is that collection of “questions” Continue reading “on my review of mourid barghouti’s i was born there… in today’s Independent” →
Deir Ghassanah from the restored ‘ruins of al Khawas’ tomb & masjid [Ph. G Mannes-Abbott 2010]
The much anticipated arrival in English of a second volume of Mourid Barghouti’s memoirs is now close enough to touch… Indeed, I have it here in my happy fingers. My efforts to try to read it in Arabic, with only a basic grasp of the language, met an honourable end without ever getting close to the uniquely precise presence of its author in his words…
Publication of I Was Born There, I was Born Here is November 7th and Mourid will be appearing at Oxford University, the Bristol Festival of Ideas, and London’s Southbank Centre. I’m reserving comment on the book for reasons that will become clear, but if you’ve never seen Mourid’s words come to life in his voice right in front of you then waste no time in getting hold of a seat or a ticket at these events… Continue reading “on mourid barghouti’s i was born there, i was born here due 7 Nov in UK” →
Brecht House 1 Lövstigen, Lidingö, Stockholm 1939-40 Ph GMA
In a wintery Stockholm [exquisitely lit but otherwise painful] a week ago, I managed finally to take self and camera to what turns out to be the site of the house that Brecht stayed in during 1939-40 -and where he wrote Mother Courage and Her Children- until Sweden lost its nerve before an apparently irresistible Hitler, and Brecht -the persecuted and fugitive leftist- had to move on… Continue reading “on mamma courage and the brecht house, 1. lövstigen, lidingö” →
Looking like Yaffa in ’48…
As Though She Were Sleeping, By Elias Khoury
Reviewed by Guy Mannes-Abbott
Tuesday, 9 August 2011
Journeying towards Mount Ararat, the Russian poet Osip Mandelstam wrote of cultivating a sixth sense, “the sense of attraction to a mountain”. Writing about food, American novelist James Salter quoted Brillat-Savarin approvingly on his notion of a sixth sense, “physical desire”. The other five senses, he wrote, are optimised only in “sexual union”.
The Lebanese writer Elias Khoury belongs in such exalted company in literary terms. His new novel also pivots on mountains – in Lebanon – and appreciations of sexual union. Indeed, it was one of many books banned by the Mubarak regime for its explicitness. Khoury writes about the scent of words, which take on such immaterial qualities that writing itself works like a sixth sense in his fiction.
Read more here or Continue reading “on elias khoury’s ‘as though she were sleeping’ in today’s independent” →
Suma Cy Twombly 1982
Cy Twombly was on my mind only last week as I worked on a short review of Elias Khoury’s new novel, As Though She Were Sleeping [MacLehose Press]. Khoury’s writing is highly distinctive and there are good literary cultural reasons for that, reasons I sketched in an interview based piece in 2005 for The Independent. Reasons I can’t keep on repeating, so I was trying to think of another way to describe his scratchy seeming but endlessly recircling, reconfiguring, rhythms of ideas, lines and words and a particular image of Twombly’s would not leave my mind. Continue reading “on cy and elias, death and a new novel” →
Excellent piece/interview on The Young Man Was…: Part 1, United Red Army, Naeem Mohaiemen’s film that was first shown at Sharjah Biennial X -and which I wrote about ‘live’ here. Naeem has a page on the film/project here.
Don’t miss the film whenever/wherever it screens. Interesting to see in some relation to Assayas’s surprisingly good biopic Carlos, which is still a very different project obviously [read Jonathan Romney here]. Continue reading “on unintended consequences, naaem mohaiemen’s the young man was…” →