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Blog Archive April 2009

J.G. BALLARD: Shaping Creative Memory in the East

Martin Amis’s article in the Guardian explores the life and writing of J.G. Ballard.

This observation caught my eye:


“His [J.G. Ballard’s]imagination was formed by his wartime experience in Shanghai, where he was interned by the Japanese. He was 13 at the time and took to the life in the camp as he would ‘to a huge slum family’. But it wasn't just the camp that formed him - it was the very low value attached to human life, something he saw throughout his childhood. He told me that he'd seen coolies beaten to death at a distance of five yards from where he was standing, and every morning as he was driven to school in an American limousine there were always fresh bodies lying in the street. Then came the Japanese. He said "people in the social democracies have no idea of the daily brutality of parts of the east. No they don't, actually. And it's as well that they don't.’ ”


Link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009/apr/25/jg-ballard-martin-amis


For many long-term expat who live in Asia, while they have unlikely seen coolies beaten to death in the street, have witnessed events, incidents and situations that have fundamentally changed their outlook on life. Writing from inside Southeast Asia for the last twenty years, I can attest to seeing acts of brutality, cruelty, and injustice as well as one of absolute kindness and compassion. Social arrangements shape the way we think and feel about each other. That is a running theme throughout my books.

Posted: 5/3/2009 10:27:39 PM 



The week of 4th May, my Spanish publisher, Paidós will release the Spanish edition of The Risk of Infidelity Index. The Spanish title is Alta Infidelidad 432 páginas. ALEA ISBN: 9788449322624.


Here’s a glimpse of the cover for Alta Infidelidad


You can find copies for sale on the Internet here and here.

Posted: 4/29/2009 4:53:39 AM 



Matt Beynon Rees who writes the international award winning Omar Yussef series interviewed me recently. If you haven’t read The Collaborator of Bethlehem, you are missing an insiders view of the dynamics behind the internal violence inside of Palestine. He’s walked the streets and knows the people, their history, culture and language. And his books give you a dimension of the human face behind the news headlines.  

The Writing Life: Christopher G. Moore

Readers love to discover an author whose work suggests they’re a kindred spirit. Novelists, engaged in the often lonely work of writing, enjoy it even more. That’s how I feel about Christopher G. Moore, whose path is in many ways similar to mine (as you’ll see in this interview). Based in Bangkok, he’s the creator of one of the most striking sleuths in crime fiction: Vincent Calvino seems a distillation of all the most intriguing expats you’ll ever meet traveling the world and at the same time utterly unique. Moore's “Spirit House” is one of the most riveting crime novels I’ve read, and I’m delighted that he’s the first fiction writer to participate in “The Writing Life” interview series.


Posted: 4/20/2009 11:28:03 PM 


The Echo of Laughter in the Secular World

Adaptation to the world has always been, Darwin teaches us, a struggle. And uphill battle where casualties are the norm. Many fall aside. And when that happens, it is often labeled failure to adapt. Terry Eagleton has written a piece that links the role of capitalism to the shedding of beliefs in the sacred. The contradiction is in the continuing emotional resonance of metaphysical values in daily life--whether they become a source of inspiration or one of parody. Jon Stewart’s Daily Show popularity suggests the preference is leaning toward the latter.


The Western audience in search of spiritual transcendence, at least in the traditional ways, has increasingly shrunk in influence in the modern secular world. Their voice is one voice among many. Again in the West, the central role and legitimacy of the institutions traditionally vested with a monopoly over spiritual values have eroded over time. The question is what scope is left for such institutions to play in the modern political world. That is the essential unanswered (and perhaps at his juncture unanswerable) question of our time. How it is officially answered is the line drawn in the sand between cultures.


“Modern market societies tend to be secular, relativist, pragmatic, and materialistic, qualities that undermine the metaphysical values on which political authority in part depends. And yet capitalism cannot easily dispense with those metaphysical values, even though it has difficulty taking them seriously.




“Civilization is precious but fragile; culture is raw but potent. Civilizations kill to protect their material interests, whereas cultures kill to defend their identity. These are seeming opposites; yet the pressing reality of our age is that civilization can neither dispense with culture nor easily coexist with it. The more pragmatic and materialistic civilization becomes, the more culture is summoned to fulfill the emotional and psychological needs that it cannot handle-and the more, therefore, the two fall into mutual antagonism. What is meant to mediate universal values to particular times and places ends up turning aggressively against them. Culture is the repressed that returns with a vengeance.”


Link: http://www.commonwealmagazine.org/article.php3?id_article=2488

Posted: 4/20/2009 10:26:59 PM 



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