Thursday, May 28, 2009

For those with stong opinions about Ian McEwan....and other book notes

The 30 April issues of the London Review of Books has several articles of interest. "James Woods writes about The Manipulations of Ian McEwan".
Colin Burrow has a review of Hilary Mantel's new book Wolf Hall, about Thomas Cromwell. If you have not yet read any of her work, get thee to a bookshop! In the 23/24 May 2009 Life & Arts section of the Financial Times of London (FT),there is also a review of Mantel's book by Julie Myerson. Both reviews are glowing....the reviews are themselves well worth a read.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Alice Munro Wins the Man Booker International Prize

The announcement today, by the Man Booker Committee, of the recognition of Alice Munro's lifetime achievement of consistently outstanding work is just fabulous! All of her short story collections contain gems of observations of relationships, difficult situations people find themselves in, and how they manage their emotions. Each story unfolds in ways unexpected. Each peeling of another layer of the onion leads to tears. One of her most poignant stories, one of the first pieces of fiction to deal with this topic, was about how a couple dealt with the onslaught of Alzheimer's and even the best and most planning can not only go awry, but close and open very unexpected doors.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Russians' Mask Is Slipping Further & Further....

The Baltic nations and all other Eastern European countries which are trying to keep Russia at bay have been put on notice by Medvedev/Putin: if they deny that Russia "liberated" them from the Nazis, travelers from those nations will be barred from entering the Soviet Union, er Russia (oops, Freudian/Orwellian slip). An article in the Telegraph is a chilling reminder that teeth of the Russian bear are being bared. When this legislation in enacted, perhaps a group vacation should be planned by those of us who believe that there is no substantial difference between Fascists and Communists...both groups maintain power through brainwashing, fear, and social control.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Horsey Does It Again

David Horsey is a Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist at did great series on the Bush years as well as the Clinton years. Check out his portfolio for great political humour and browse the comments of his will be amused and amazed.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Cross Cultural Musical Innovation & Exploration

Musicians are a wonderful breed of humans: they enjoy learning from each other, sharing their knowledge, and defying purist snobs and nationalists. Two groups recently discussed on PRI's The World are Chinagrass and Stockholm Lisboa Project. And hooray to the Garfield High School Jazz Band for taking first place at Essentially Ellington! The music program in Seattle Public Schools continues to produce fabulous musicians despite continuous cuts.
Garfield High School Jazz Band performing at Lincoln Center, New York. Go Bulldogs!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Women Step Up

Aung San Suu Kyi. Roxana Saberi. Women's Funding Alliance and Women Moving Millions. Women taking a stand. Women speaking up about the need for change. Women raising money to help women take a stand, speak up, change their lives. Check out these stories; look at the faces and the lives of these people of courage and integrity. Take action.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Two Philosophy Giants

Isaiah Berlin and Elie Kedourie are lauded by Martin Sieff in an essay he wrote in Covenant magazine. Their politics were considered to be on the opposite ends of the spectrum, yet Sieff sees many similarities. It is well worth reading Michael Ignatieff's excellent biography of Berlin, Isaiah Berlin: A Life. On a different topic, Ignatieff's book, Blood and Belonging: Journeys into the New Nationalism, is also excellent.
Martin Kramer has written an informative article on Elie Kedourie in the Encyclopedia of Historians and Historical Writings.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A visit to Botswana (even vicariously) is always a treat

Tea Time for the Traditionally Built (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, Book 10) Tea Time for the Traditionally Built by Alexander McCall Smith

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
As with all the other books in this series, this is a gentle read, evocative of time and place, and a good story with insights into the small dramas in all of our lives.

The Okavango Delta in Botswana has a history rich in art and culture as well as glorious animals and scenery. Only once have I heard of a dire tourist event: a Seattlite was calmly canoeing in the Delta, minding his own business, when a croc snatched him off the boat for a quick lunch.