war and war's alarms
In Chicago we drove past a Palestinian protest and an Israeli counter-protest across the street. Both groups had their flags and slogans, made as pithy and telegenic as possible. (Left corner: "The Real Axis of Evil: Saddam / bin Laden / Arafat." Right corner: "LET MY PEOPLE GO." "[star of David] = [swastika].") On the scene were a television reporter and lots of cops on horseback, keeping an eye on the proceedings but not looking unduly concerned. Demonstrators don't throw rocks in America, not yet.
Francine Prose loves this Jonathan Safran Foer book; I beg to differ. I read that excerpt they published in the New Yorker summer fiction issue under the title "The Very Rigid Journey"or rather, I read half of it before giving up in frustration. The premise of the book, which is that it's being written by a Russian with minimal English skills and a thesaurus, was very funny for about four paragraphs, mildly funny for the next two pages, and infuriating thereafter.
I have a miniature brother who dubs me Alli. I do not dig this name very much, but I dig him very much, so O.K., I permit him to dub me Alli. As for his name, it is Little Igor, but Father dubs him Clumsy One, because he is always promenading into things. It was only four days previous that he made his eye blue from a mismanagement with a brick wall.
It's a cute idea, but barely sustainable for the length of a short story, let alone a novel. And the comparison to Burgess is ridiculous, particularly from Prose, who is after all a very smart woman (no matter what you thought of Blue Angel).
If you caught any broadcast clips from Gore's maiden post-election speech, you'll note that he tried to spice up his awkward oratory with Yeats: "The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity." As I get older it becomes easier to understand how tempting it was, at any given point in history, to believe that the world was about to end. "It's never been this bad," you say to your neighbor, clutching the sleeve of his coat. "Has it?"