"A girl was never ruined by books," my mother used to say. I've spent most of my life trying to prove that wrong.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Weather in Bujumbura

 Thirteen years ago--as the world was growing crazy in the aftermath of 9/11-- I was getting ready to go to East Africa and the Great Lakes region to research my novel The Violets of Usambara.  

When the Twin Towers went down, there were those around me who thought I should call of the trip: my sister would send me e-mails daily telling me I was nuts to do so--but I'd bought my tickets and I decided it was now are never.  Actually things went very well--here's the link to my blog about the book and the trip--and tt was the first of several real travel adventures that I've been lucky enough to undertake as the old lady writes books.

That's why I was delighted today when I stumbled upon a report from Patrick de Bellefeuille, weather man for Méteo Media who is in Bujumbura this week, helping train local weather people in a place where weather bulletins have never been broadcast. Some good background in his reporting about a complex and fascinating country. 
 
The photos are two I took on my trip.  The top is  of cattle near Lake Tanganyika, brought down for safe-keeping during a time of some tension.  The botton one is the view out my hotel window. It thought I could recognize some of the buildings in de Bellefeuille's report: things obviously have changed there, but some haven't. 


Monday, September 22, 2014

One Small Victory: ERDC Starts Pay-Out Process

Just a head's up for readers who might also have been writers for The Gazette between 1985 and 2010: the Electronic Rights Defence Committee has started the process of distributing the settlement it received in a class action against The Gazette and its various owners.  For more information and details of how to file, click here.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Unexploded: Enough to Put You off WWII Novels

One should never say that there have been too many books about anything, but after reading Unexploded by Alison MacLoed I've been seriously considering calling for a moratorium on WWII novels.

I approached this book about life in Brighton in the months after Dunkirk with good expectations, thinking that MacLoed was part some how of Alistair MacLoed's clan.  And while she certainly is his kin in the grand scheme of Scottish affairs, her novel is orders of magnitude less interesting than other books by clan members.

The pedestrian story--kids who admire Hitler, a middle class woman who falls in love with a Jewish enemy alien, her Mosley-loving husband, their char with a heart of gold--has little new in it.  More importantly, the story is not told in a way that adds anything to our understanding of the period or of the human condition.

MacLoed and her editors are also extremely sloppy. How can you trust a book that  has a major character thinking about getting penicillin to cure a dental abcess and taking some parcetemol to counter the pain even thoug neither drug was available commercially until after the War? 

How it made the 2013 Man Booker long list is beyond me!