Monday, September 15, 2014

World Reads, continued: short stories from the Caribbean + from Exile

The stories I read this week... were from many different place. Here's a photo that gives an idea, reaching from the Carribean to the Middle East and further, and including places that were "firsts" on my reading map. Like: Tobago. Or: Jamaica.

Pepperpot:  short stories from the Caribbean
So: Jamaica. And: Bahamas. First thing that comes to mind with those names is: long white beaches, ocean breeze, Sun. Reggae music. No real idea about the places themselves, though. It's great that the 2 publishers Akashic books and Peepal Tree Press teamed up and made this collection possible. It includes stories from:
  • Trinidad & Tobago
  • Jamaica 
  • Belize 
  • Barbados
  • Antigua & Barbuda 
  • Bahamas 
No easy island reads, but some rather tough topics included. I guess to every place, there is an outside / touristic view, and the view of the people who actually live and work there. This collection takes you there, to this other side.

Here's more about the collection: Publisher's page: Pepperpot: Best New Stories from the Caribbean

Story  links
The opening story is also online at Granta, and gives an idea of the different view the collection offers:

The Whale House by Sharon Millar, Trinidad and Tobago
"These offshore islands rise out of the water, rugged and black with deep crevices and craggy promontories. Her father used to tell the story of building the house. Dynamite under the water to blow a hole in the hill, a false plateau appearing like a shelf, the hill buckled up behind it."

And a second story link, from an online magazine that focuses on the Carribean, too,with a focus on poetry, but they also published some stories: Tongues of the ocean – stories

Here is one of them, one that stayed with me:

"Saving Rupa" by Lelawattee Manoo-Rahming, Trinidad
"Yesterday I decide I not running no more. I can’t manage with coming last again. Ever since that time when the boy hold down Rupa, it look like I use up all the speed Maha Devi give me for this life..."


Writing Exile
Last week, the new issue of Words Without Borders went live. And it was such a good suprise. The theme of it is: "Writing Exile".Which connects almost perfectly with my recent reads and the blog post about them: "Reading from Chile to Paris to Romania with Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Milan Kundera & Herta Müller, or: home, exile, and fiction (blog post link)"

Here are some lines from the introduction to the Exile issue:

This month we present writing about and from exile. Although not all exiles flee political persecution or war, they have in common an involuntary departure forced by adverse circumstances. In fiction, poetry, and autobiography, writers explore the notions of departure and absence, memory and loss.

Reading it, it made me think that violence is a theme that runs through these days, too - and that exile often is a form of violence: being forced to leave your homeland.

Story links
The issue includes authors from Syria, Cuba, Uzbekistan and other places, here are some direct links:

  • Fragile States: Artwork from freeDimensional: the issue also includes a virtual exhibition with artists from Iran, Burma, Cameroon, Zimbabwe, Indonesia, Syria, and Malaysia: "Fragile States explores the physical and psychological experiences of persecution and forced displacement."
  • Exiled in Europe: an interview with 3 women writers from the Middle East who currently live in Europe, with some surprise views of exile: "The Iraq that we see on TV today is not the one I was raised in and lived in. It’s like Noah’s Ark. The millions who left, not only for political reasons but in order to have freedom, took a little bit of Iraq with them and preserved it.”
  • Bag of the Nation: magic realism short fiction by Osama Alomar, Syria: "I took the big bag that I had inherited from my grandfather down from the attic. It was brightly colored like a storm of rainbows. I hoisted it onto my back and went out into the street. I closed my eyes and began to choose samples at random from everything that was inside: humans and stones and dust and flowers and wind and the past and the present and the future..."


Links + More

Reading the world:  the collected list of stories is online here: global reading, and a note on the reading journey can be found here:  reading the (missing parts of) the world 

Friday, September 12, 2014

sky friday: sun beams and a field riddle, solved

For sky friday: moments from a sunny September walk along some new ways. The route first led through forest. some parts were still green, but some trees were yellow. Such a play of light and color and sun beams. And i am glad i tried to catch that moment. didn't think it would work, but there it is, the touch of September sun:

From forest, the walk moved on through fields , and along a patch of apple trees with a view. The grass is so green, from all the rain we had, it also could be a spring image:

The walk also brought the answer to a field riddle i had come across: in several places, there are fields that look like sun flower fields at first glance, but with lots of other flowers and plants growing there, too. Almost as if the seeds had been mixed the wrong way, and then the farmer had let it kept growing anway:

Now I learned that the mix was exactly right: the patches are a nature project, to bring back more diversity for the field birds that live here, and provide places to nest, and feeding spots (here's more, in German).

Still glad for the walk, which also brough a video moment (will dowload it and put it online this weekend). It also made me think that like the diverse field, the walk held all kinds of diverse horizons, from forest to fields to nature projects.


More skies in this blog: life as a journey with changing skies
More skies from everywhere: skywatch friday


listening to: FKA Twigs / Young Turks at Dazed
reading: Litro interview with Catalan author Marc Pastor 

have a beautiful sky week ~

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

machine meditations, revisited

Revisiting this video and blog entry made me remember that i wanted to experiment a bit more with video....

"from the series of "machine meditations" - after the washing machine, and the coffee machine, and the old clock, another of the machines who "live" here: my sewing machine.

and a note on the machine videos, from poet Rose Hunter:
"I like the machine videos. It makes me think, how astonishing it is we have all these machines in our lives, and (most of us/someone like me, not technically-minded) – no idea at all how they work. I find that's what occurs to me when I contemplate/meditate on, your little videos. :) I like it!"
it's same with me - this thought: how does this work? all those inventions that surround us, small ones and big ones. each coming from a line of development, adjustment, innovation. and even the manuals they have sometimes need an own manual."

reading: The Old Houses of Belgrano: Place and Memory in Buenos Aires, Argentina Part 1

listening to: Kiesza / Hideaway (to be able to dance like that..) (& watching it also made me think of this note in an essay on the web, that MTV could have been YouTube, if they had realized the potential.)

Sunday, September 7, 2014

nightfall & longreads

Nightfall... the new photofriday theme "nightfall" made me revisit some files from short trips. the first is from Erlangen, at the end of June, with the sky bright until late evening, and dusk arriving after 9:

the second is from last year in September, driving back from France, starting in the morning and driving all day, into the night, to arrive home after midnight. 

Longreads: this week, i followed various literary hashtags and arrived at funny ones, like mini stories from bookstores: #bookstorebingo, which reminded me of the days when i worked in a bookstore myself during university time, and the customers that arrived with puzzling questions: "Do you have that book, it was up in TV yesterday, can't remember the title but it had a blue cover.."

I also followed a hashtag that is for longer articles and stories: #longreads - and arrived at new magazines, and interesting reads, mostly non-fiction, here are some links:
more nightfalls from around the world: photofriday
more reads: reading the world

Friday, September 5, 2014

Violence, the world, "violent" links, and a new blue "bomb" in the supermarket

Watching the news these days is difficult. So many tragedies, the Middle East and Ukraine and Ebola, and all the small dramas that happen close and far. And the brutality of it. It feels, all this shouldn’t be happening, that mankind was on a more peaceful path at the milliennium, and got all off the path. 
But then, looking at the larger timeline, Europe for a long time was going through the violence that now is shadowing the Middle East. And maybe mankind at its core isn’t really a species that opts for the peaceful paths.
Still. There is all this technology and knowledge, and shouldn't we learn at some point? And is it helpful to show and watch the pictures of violence and of its effects, in the amount that is continually present in the news, and where does all this violence come from? 

I don't have the answers, but in the last week, it was a theme that was in my mind, and either there are more articles about it, or I noticed them more than before. Here are some "violent" links: 
  • What are all these violent images doing to us? - a blog post from a journalist, which includes this link in the comments: Tragedies & Journalists: "A 40-page guide to help journalists, photojournalists and editors report on violence while protecting both victims and themselves."
  • Coursera has a new course up, which is about violence. Started by a nurse, who was faced with violence and the injuries it caused - and who looked for patterns of violence, and for ways to prevent it:
    "Understanding Violence: Violence is among the top three leading causes of injury and death in the US and globally. We will focus on different disciplinary approaches and perspectives to understanding and potentially preventing violence."
    I watched the first parts, it’s approaching the theme both on a personal and global level, and is presented by two instructors and additional experts, which also adds to the broader view of this complex theme. 
  • Watch as 1000 years of European borders change timelapse map that shows how European borders have changed over the last 1000 years. and the maps don't say it, but probably most of the changes were the result of wars, or acts of violence  
Ironically, when I went shopping, I walked past the shelf with energy drinks, and even there the theme was present: "Bomba" is a new energy drink, which picks up the mood of the world, it seems.

Peace ~

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

L is for "A Like", or: a play with language/s

continuing the a-z blog series with a short story i once wrote: a play with language/s.

A Like

“Sea,” he says.
Her eyes are closed, her toes curled into his. “She,” she answers.
He doesn’t get it.
She paints the words into the air: sea, see, sie.
“They are alike,” she explains, “sea and see. And in German, it would be understood as sie, which means: she.”
“Homonym,” he says.
Now she doesn’t get it.
“Different words, same pronunciation,” he explains. “Definition of homonym.”
“Probably the very same word in German,” she figures, and searches for more of them.
“I,” she says.
“Eye,” he answers,
“And in German: Ei. Egg.”
Outside, a bus drives by, honks.
“One more?”
“Easy,” she answers. More. Is Moor in German: bog.”
“Okay,” he says. “Done.”
She beams. “That’s another one, actually.”
Dann. Then.”
“So then,” he says, his hand in her hair, and they both fall silent while their minds go hunting for more words that sound as alike as they feel that day.

more words: previous A to Z posts 

about the a-z blogtour: notes, map, links...

reading... Last Words from Montmartre by Qiu Miaojin from Taiwan,
online at Guernica

listening to.. The Sculpture Diaries 

Monday, September 1, 2014

reading from Chile to Paris to Romania with Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Milan Kundera & Herta Müller, or: home, exile, and fiction

The books I read this week... were chance reads, brought by the phone book box again. After the luck I had there with books the previous times (finding "The Lake" by Banana Yoshimoto, and an old diary, here's more), I stopped there again - and again was lucky. This time, Gabriela Garcia Marquez and Milan Kundera waited there:


Gabriel García Márquez -  Colombia / Chile
In the past, I tried to read Gabriel García Márquez's novel "100 Years of Solitude" several times, but unfortunately never got into it. The book that I brought from the box, about Chile, is a modern reportage: Littin is a film-maker, and exiled from Chile, but returned there illegally to create a film. In a different kind of "making of" story, Marquez spent several days, talking with Littín to "hear the story of his escapade, with all its scary, comic, and not-a-little surreal ups and downs. Then, applying the same unequaled gifts that had already gained him a Nobel Prize, García Márquez wrote it down. "Clandestine in Chile" is a true-life adventure story and a classic of modern reportage."

It's both a sad and powerful read, and the fact that there are too many totaliarian countries in this world, with citizens who live in fear of their own government makes it a painfully global read. There's more about the book here at goodreads.

Marquez himself is from Colombia, and while reading the book, looking for a more typical writing from him, I arrived at this magical reality short story: “The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World” 

Parallel to those reads, I also read an interview with Gabriel Garcia Marquez in the Paris Review, which was a perfect combination to read. So glad I picked up the Chile book, and finally arrived at Marquez and his work. He is a wonderful, thoughtful and surprising writer. Here's a bit from the interview, on the theme of fiction and journalism:
Interviewer: "Since we’ve started talking about journalism, how does it feel being a journalist again, after having written novels for so long? .... Do you think the novel can do certain things that journalism can’t?"
Marquez: "Nothing. I don’t think there is any difference. The sources are the same, the material is the same, the resources and the language are the same." ... "What I would really like to do is a piece of journalism which is completely true and real, but which sounds as fantastic as One Hundred Years of Solitude. The more I live and remember things from the past, the more I think that literature and journalism are closely related."


Milan Kundera: Czechoslovakia / Paris 
From exile story to exile story: after reading the Chile book, I tried Kundera and the "Abschiedswalzer", hoping that it would be a bit like the book he is most known for, "The Unbearable Lightness of Being", and after some pages, realized I looked for that Lightness... and so went and browsed my bookshelf. Couldn't find it, so I looked for an interview: A Talk with Milan Kundera. Like Littin, the film-maker from Chile, Kundera choose to go to France when he had to leave his home country. And in one of those good twists, the interview starts with an intro that mentions, of all authors, Garcia Marquez:
In the 1980's, Milan Kundera has done for his native Czechoslovakia what Gabriel Garcia Marquez did for Latin America in the 1960's and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn did for Russia in the 1970's. He has brought Eastern Europe to the attention of the Western reading public, and he has done so with insights that are universal in their appeal. After the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, Kundera lost his position as a professor at the Institute for Advanced Cinematographic Studies in Prague, and his books were banned. Little by little, life was made unbearable for him, and he was hounded out of his native country. His call for truth and the inner freedom without which truth cannot be recognized, his realization that in seeking truth we must be prepared to come to terms with death - these are the themes that have earned him critical acclaim. 
So I guess, it would be a good follow-up to this story chain to now go and look for Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn at some point. Or maybe he will pop up in the phone box?

And following the theme of exile, while looking for online reads from Kundera, I arrived at this story excerpt from another of his novels, "Ignorance", which focuses on leaving and the longing for places left:
Ignorance By Milan Kundera / From Chapter 2:The Greek word for "return" is nostos. Algos means "suffering." So nostalgia is the suffering caused by an unappeased yearning to return. To express that fundamental notion most Europeans can utilize a word derived from the Greek (nostalgia, nostalgie) as well as other words with roots in their national languages: añoranza, say the Spaniards; saudade, say the Portuguese. In each language these words have a different semantic nuance. Often they mean only the sadness caused by the impossibility of returning to one's country: a longing for country, for home. What in English is called "homesickness." Or in German: Heimweh. In Dutch: heimwee.
The German "Heimweh", literally translated, it means "Home-ache". The counterpart of it is: "Fernweh" - "far-ache", or "distance-ache".


While browsing my bookshelf, I had a long look at his old map - in it, Yugoslavia is still one country, just like Czechoslovakia and Russia, while Germany was two countries....


... and I arrived at 2 other books that also connect to theme exil and home, and to this series of world reads:

Canetti: Marocco / Switzerland / England
"Marocco" by Elias Canettti is a book I read several years ago. Back then, I also read about Canetti's biography: Elias Canetti was born in Bulgaria, in his childhood the family moved to Austria. In 1938, Canetti and his wife migrated to England as a reaction to the nationalist turn of Germany and Austria.

Fiction 18: Contemporary Romanian Prose
This is an anthology from the book fair, from the Romanian booth, it features 18 contemporary Romanian authors and their new works, with excerpts from each included. The first story, by Daniel Banulescu, needs just 3 lines to take the reader right back into totalitarian Romania: "In 1981, Nicolae Ceausescu built himself a holiday palace on Lake Snagov. Shortly after the President began spending his Saturdays, Sundays and some weekday afternoons in his palace at Snagov, the lidos along the entire shoreline of the lake thinned out and then disappeared. The restaurants in the vicinity of the palace were closed down..." (story link)

So good to see that the Romanian authors are now free to write and express their stories and experiences. And I just saw that there is a website with the authors and excerpts: Romania Writers

Reading in the book made me also think of Herta Müller, who grew up in Romania and wrote despite her fear of the government, and the consequences their words could have for her - more about that in the previous blog posts about her: Herta Müller - and here are some quotes from her, on the theme of oppresssion and home country:
“I have packed myself into silence so deeply and for so long that I can never unpack myself using words. When I speak, I only pack myself a little differently.” 
“If only the right person would have to leave, everyone else would be able to stay in the country.”  
“They have good streets here, but everything's so spread out. I am not used to asphalt, it makes my feet hurt, and my brain. I get as tired here in a day as I do back home in a year. That's not home, other people live there now, I wrote to Mother. Home is where you are now... And Mother wrote back to me: How would you know where home is? The place where Toni the clockmaker tends the graves, that's home.”  (link)

Currently Reading + More Reads:

For 2014, i didn't join a specific reading challenge, but i try to read books / authors from different countries and continents, and this summer I am focusing on short stories.
Here’s more about it: Reading the world

On the left is a photo of the book phone box, it feels a bit like a magic shelf. So far, I always found books there that I didn't even know about, and that I really enjoyed.

For more reading notes in this blog, click here: life as a journey with booksand a reading list by regions is online at: World Reads by country

Other book blogs: It's Monday! What are you reading? 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

sun salt warmth

first of September. the start of autumn, after a summer that was too rainy and overcast. the new photo friday picks up the mood, and asks for moments of "Warmth"... which takes me back to Lanzarote once more:

and a second warm photo -
which looks cool like an ocean breeze on first sight,
but the basins of drying salt water tell another story 

and if you look closely, you can see the sea salt piles / pyramids
on the left side, right at the inner water edge

more warmth at photofriday

reading: The Evening and the Day by Dirma Pardo Carugati from Paraguay:
listening to: Brazilian indie