Skip to content

Reflections of a working writer and reader



Presque vu XI

This, from The Independent, is something we already know about but it does no harm to keep reinforcing the message:

The 46-year-old schoolteacher tried to reassure his family that he would return safely. But his life was over, he was part-disembowelled and then torn apart with his arms and legs tied to motorbikes, the remains put on display as a warning to others against defying Taliban orders to stop educating girls.


I tried to read Michael Dibdin‘s The Tryst, a novel he first published in 1989, but it was heavy going and I slowly got bogged down, so much so that I couldn’t carry on as there was no pleasure associated with the endeavour. I read 40 pages and knew by then. Usually they say you should give a book at least 50 pages before you can be certain that it’s not working for you. But I can tell a long time before that. Often I can tell after the first sentence.

I’ll read Dibdin again if I get the chance. I haven’t read his Zen series, as I find the Venetian detective too unsympathetic for my taste, but some of his stand-alone novels have been excellent.


This is from Fernham:

It seems that Colette‘s father “passed his retirement in his study writing his memoirs and binding the volumes himself. While her father was alive, neither Colette nor any other member of the family was ever tempted to open one of the books, because of their unprepossessing titles: My Campaigns, the Lessons of ’70, Marshal Mahon Seen by a Fellow-Soldier, and so forth. After her father died, however the library was converted into a bedroom and Colette’s elder brother made a discovery:….Except for a dedication, the books contained all blank pages.”

(Victoria Rosner, Modernism and the Architecture of Private Life, Columbia UP, 2005, 91.)


One Response to “Presque vu XI”

  1. “is something we already know about but it does no harm to keep reinforcing the message”

    What message is that? Would it have been better for him to die like so many others – teachers, schoolchildren – bombed from on-high by our brave boys – and for their deaths to be celebrated by The Independent as a blow against “militants”?

    And of course the taliban were so much more humane when they fought the Russians with our money. I guess we had to oppose them now they’ve changed …

    jb says: Hi Steve, don’t interpret my comment as an endorsement for the wholesale bombing of Afghanistan. I’ve never supported that policy. The ‘message’ I was referring to was, I suppose, rather complex . . . but included the notion that conservative forces will go to almost any lengths to avoid even a small degree of change, irrespective of whether that benefits an enormous section of the population.

    One can only feel for the civilian population of that country, bullied and harassed by both the Taliban and foreign troops.