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Monday, March 19, 2007

Lloyd Best--one of the truly great men of the Caribbean, and one of our truly great minds--has died. Eulogists and obituary writers will labour to describe the Caribbean's intellectual debt to him. I am still struggling to understand how much I personally owe him, and why. I first met him a short five years ago, after I started writing for the Trinidad and Tobago Review. His genuine interest in me, my opinions, my experiences, surprised me at first, and then gave me an important kind of confidence at a time when I needed it. He did the same for dozens, maybe hundreds of others. We will desperately miss--because we desperately need, now more than ever--his hard-won but lightly worn knowledge, his insight, his optimism, his humour, his integrity. No one has understood the Caribbean better, and few have lived so selflessly. If I call myself a Bestian, it's because I realise how far behind him I was--but also because he was generous enough to make me think I could one day hope to catch up.

Friday, March 16, 2007

... it ought not to seem odd that I remember clearly now, this minute, in 2007, the morning, 30 years ago, in the backseat of my father's car, on the way to whichever school it was that failed to reach me in '77, the moment I came across George John--now, as of Wednesday, the late George John--writing as Holden Caulfield in the Trinidad Express.

--From B.C. Pires's tribute to the late doyen of Anglo-Caribbean journalism, George John

Thursday, March 15, 2007

...so much of writing is fed by vanity and the feeling that what you are doing is the most important thing in the world and it has not been done before and only you can do it. Without these feelings, many writers would not be able to write anything at all. If you think that what you're doing is not all that important in the larger scheme of things and that you're just an insignificant creature in the whole wide world, which is full of six billion people, and that people are born and die every day and it makes no difference to future generations what you write, and that writing and reading are increasingly irrelevant activities, you'd probably never get out of bed. You need to work yourself up into some kind of a state every morning and believe that you are doing something terribly important upon which the future of literature, if not the world, depends. Buddhism tells you that this is just a foolish fantasy. So, I try not to think too much about Buddhism early in the morning. From noon on, I think about it.

--Pankaj Mishra, interviewed in The Believer

Monday, March 12, 2007

Breaking news! A previously unknown play by Shakespeare turns up in a library in Port of Spain. Its plot "has an uncanny resemblance to events in Trinidad and Tobago this last week". JT reports on "Truth Shall Not Out; or, 'Twas Always So".

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Serious travel is an art, even if no writing is contemplated; and the special art in this book lay in divining who of the many people I met would best and most logically take my story forward, where nothing had to be forced.

-- V.S. Naipaul, reflecting on the writing of India: A Million Mutinies Now

Friday, March 02, 2007

suffrage

Serialising The Suffrage of Elvira in the Trinidad Guardian--in an election year? The only thing that could be more subversive would be, well, someone founding a political party with real ideas and real principles and a real chance of winning a couple of seats....

Hold on! Somebody make a mistake! They put part of the novel on the front page by accident today--look the headline, "Jumbie chair"--about a piece of furniture in Parliament that does kill anybody who sit in it.

Wait a minute--you mean to say that's a real news story?