Tuesday, December 23, 2003

A tidbit for Naipaul-watchers: one of the small but interesting details of the honours system controversy currently raging in the British newspapers is that fact that Sir Vidia (who, it's been reported, once suggested that titles be sold through the post office) turned down a CBE in 1977, thirteen years before accepting his knighthood. The UK Guardian published a partial list of honours refuseniks yesterday. The Guardian left out Virginia & Leonard Woolf, both of whom refused either OMs or CHs, I can't recall which--their letters of refusal are included in their published correspondence.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

A hundred years ago, we discovered we could fly....

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Johnson manages to touch on the paradox of exile and alienation, not among writers living overseas, but among those like him, isolated in his own home. His stories are rendered better for the intimations of alienation that they reflect. It is this underlying consciousness of a certain disturbing placelessness that lends some power to a collection that is otherwise affected by a somewhat limited range of experience and a self-conscious literariness.

-- From Al Creighton's review of Ruel Johnson's Ariadne and Other Stories, published in last Sunday's Stabroek News (which I've only just read, because I couldn't load up the Stabroek website on Sunday). Creighton's assessment is rather more positive than the headline ("The apprenticeship of Narcissus") might suggest....

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Yes, all lists like this are publicity stunts, but here's something to amuse oneself on a lazy Sunday afternoon: Rolling Stone recently compiled its list of "the 500 greatest albums of all time", based on the votes of 273 music industry types. (Naturally, the Beatles dominate.) Eight Caribbean albums show up; unsurprisingly, all but one of them Jamaican; unsurprisingly, most of them by Bob Marley:

46. Legend, by Bob Marley & the Wailers

119. The Harder They Come soundtrack, various artists

123. Catch a Fire, by Bob Marley & the Wailers

169. Exodus, by Bob Marley & the Wailers

182. Natty Dread, by Bob Marley & the Wailers

260. Buena Vista Social Club, by the Buena Vista Social Club

319. Burnin', by Bob Marley & the Wailers

378. Funky Kingston, by Toots and the Maytals
I thought I wouldn't be a free man, I didn't want the squalor of children.

-- V.S. Naipaul, explaining his childlessness, quoted in a brief story about the BBC's new radio dramatisation of Miguel Street (adapted by Mustapha Matura, produced & directed by Guyana-born Rishi Sankar), published on India's

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Against My Old Age

The ancients purchase peace intent in towers
Watching for bursting light the east and Patmos.
They wither to spirit.

                                  The years quiet to stone
The tide that plunges and rages in the heart
And smashes boxwood craft.

The eagle has talons, they can pluck the sight
The dazzling star usurps the long-held spirit
The human topples over in divinity.

Oh that I mastered--but the blood must shrivel
Before the vast abysmal heart can heal.

--A.J. Seymour, p. 120 in the Collected Poems.
It's a couple of weeks old, & I don't particularly want to spend much time thinking about US politics right now, but I can't resist linking to this.

Monday, December 08, 2003

Some Monday afternoon reading:

-- "God of the Flat", a poem by E.A. Markham, in the Autumn 2003 Poetry Review.

-- a review, by Rajnish Wattas, of V.S. Naipaul's Literary Occasions, in yesterday's India Tribune.