Charlie Rose Interview with Amos Oz

I just saw a fascinating interview with Amos Oz, the Israeli writer, on Charlie Rose.  What an articulate man.

What he said really captured my attention.  Transcriptions are my own:

“The best way to know the soul of another country, is to read its literature”

“Curiosity is a moral virtue.  I even think a curious person is a better lover than a person who is not curious, but it is too early in the evening to discuss this aspect.”

“I take a morning walk in the desert.  The desert helps look at everything in proportion.  [How does it do that?]  What’s important, what’s not important.  When I come back from the desert and I turn on the radio and I hear a politician say ‘forever,’ ‘ever,’ ‘for eternity,’ I know the stones out there in the desert are laughing.

“James Joyce, in Ulysses, takes great trouble to count how many steps from the pub to the street corner.  And this is called fiction.  Whereas when a journalist says the skies over the middle east is covered with clouds, this is called non-fiction.  Why?”

The whole interview is here:

My reading list is getting really looooooooooooooooooooong.  Has anyone seen his stuff on Muni?


Spotted: Last Nights of Paris

Oh, Paris.  Even in the reluctant, it is a word that triggers images and feelings.  Hurried walks along slick cobblestone streets in the rain, arm-in-arm with some nameless special bohemian someone.   St. Sulpice in the falling snow, and how unbelievable it is that no one else is around.  Sitting at a café for hours, trying to convince yourself that you might be sitting in the same spot as Breton, and what that means for you.  Or him.


Now, of course, there is much more to Paris: both good and bad. It is, after all, a modern city that has evolved over the years.

But seeing this book made me think of the former image, even if it might be a simplistic out-dated caricature of a longing expat. And it sounds like reading the book, written in 1928 and translated by William Carlos Williams, will only reinforce it, since it deals with “the narrator’s obsession with a woman who leads him into an underworld that promises to reveal the secrets of the city itself.”

Might need to boire un verre de vin rouge and give this book a try.

Spotted: The Dressmaker of Khair Khana

I don’t have much to say about this, other than from all accounts, The Dressmaker of Khair Khana sounds like a really well-written depiction of a woman’s struggle for survival in Afghanistan.  When her male relatives are forced to flee after the Taliban take control, Kamila Sidiqi starts a dressmaking business to earn money to raise her five siblings. 

Stories of resourcefulness and perseverance like this never fail to move me.  If you feel like helping out a nascent business in a country less fortunate than our own, a loan through Kiva is a great way to turn those feelings into action.

Swedish Academy once again makes me feel unread/uneducated

Congratualations to Tomas Tranströmer, winner of the 2011 Nobel Prize for Literature!

Just kidding.  Though he is Swedish, he seems a bit less, um, creative in the kitchen. 

Image from the Guardian

Praised by the judges for “his condensed translucent images” which give us “fresh access to reality”, Tranströmer’s surreal explorations of the inner world and its relation to the jagged landscape of his native country have been translated into over 50 languages. 


Sounds like my reading list just got a little longer.


So as all three of our regular readers may have noticed, a larger-than-normal chunk of time has gone by since our last post.  For once, I have a pretty good excuse.  Anne of  Green Gables (who you may remember from some of her earlier posts before she started grad school) and I got hitched and promptly fled the country for our (gratuitous French alert!) lune de miel in Turkey.   

Our strolls through Istanbul reminded me of Orhan Pamuk’s novel Snow, that I read some years ago.  I’m not going to tell you that I remembered the book in any detailed fashion, but as we walked through the streets it was hard not to see the intersection of European and Middle-Eastern cultures, as well as secularism and Islam, that formed the backdrop for the book.   

Here are a couple photos in Hagia Sophia, which has served as a Christian Church, an Islamic Mosque, and a museum, during its 1,651 years on this earth.

As an only somewhat off topic aside, given Orhan Pamuk’s prosecution for “insulting Turkishness,” during our absence Banned Books Week came and went, which is second only to Shark Week in terms of popularity in our household to me.