Thursday, November 11, 2010


Apologies for having committed the cardinal sin of blogging. One mustn't go more than a week without a post or folks lose interest! We are an immediate gratification society after all. The problem is that I had nothing to say - believe it or not! I've been working and planting, walking and thinking, and, I'm in the middle of four books.

Almost finished with Christopher Hitchens' memoir and am marveling at the fact that it was much like a historical timeline of my life. The old adage, "may you live in  interesting times," certainly applies to those of us born in 1949. Think of the history involved in the last half of the 20th century!

Hitchens was in the middle of every major movement in Great Britain, from anti-apartheid, to anti-Vietnam, to the Northern Ireland terrorism. As a proud Socialist he wrote and debated all over the world, making a name for himself as an outspoken contrarian, all of which makes it difficult to follow his thinking that defended the invasion of Iraq. Toward the end of his book he does tell a poignant story that speaks to taking responsibility for our writings when he discovered that a young soldier killed in Iraq had many of Hitchens' writings in his possession and had expressed great admiration for, and a certain influence by, Hitchens' writings.

He talks at length about his correspondence with the young man's family, his trepidation at meeting them for the first time, his attendance at the funeral service. It's a very moving and responsible piece of writing and confirms once again for me that one need not be a person of faith to be a good person.

Speaking of contrarians, I was reading a review in this week's New York Times Book Review of V. S. Naipaul's latest The Masque of Africa. This is an author who has interested me for years and the fact that I haven't "gotten" to him yet makes me feel - well - not very well-read. This may be the book that I will get to. The Trinidadian Nobel Prize winner Naipaul has a reputation, particularly when it comes to his travel writing, of being less than sympathetic to the third world countries he tours, writing of Christianity vs. Islam and the plethora of tribal religions and customs.

The reviewer of this particular book, Eliza Griswold,
 notes that Naipaul may be relenting with age and softening his stance. At one point during a trip through Gabon, his legs give way and he has to concede to being propelled in a wheel barrow into a nearby town. There he meets and talks with an older woman in the community who, noting the chagrin with which Naipaul has had to cave in to the perceived indignity of his infirm body, confides that "in Gabon, when an old person dies, we say that a library has burned down."

This is my new favorite saying. I'm sharing it with you readers in hopes that you will pass it along. Andrea, thinking of you and the Storycorps project and how each person who shares their story is a treasure trove, a library if you will, of history and information. What a shame we don't honor our elders more.

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