“The Painted Drum” by Louise Erdrich

After panning her most recent novel I decided to give an author another chance, and boy did she ever! “The Painted Drum” by Louise Erdrich came out in 2005. The novel has two main parts, and then returns and integrates. Each is quite different but entirely complementary, and the first sets a frame to understand the Ojibwe story of the second part. The Ojibwe story is numbing and beautiful in its appreciation of the human condition and a person, a narrator, who uses simple, natural words/worlds to reflect on great pain and struggle. I had a hard time stopping while reading the second part. If you like your reading punctuated by sighs as you come up out of the inner world, and you look forward to getting back into the immersion, this is it.

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Future Home Of The Living God by Louise Erdrich

I have always enjoyed reading Louise Erdrich and when I saw she had a dystopia quasi-scifi novel I thought that might be a good reading experience. So I checked it out from the library and started reading. After fifty pages I started wondering, “Is this intentionally bad?”  Like Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music? She had a contract obligation to write a book and so she gave them this?  After a hundred pages I thought, “Hmmm, could it actually stay this bad the whole way through?”  Like a challenge. Can I maintain the same consistently bad writing for 250 pages?  The answer was yes.

This novel might appeal to a small audience, maybe people who have never read any science fiction, never read any dystopian novels, never read Children of Men, or The Handmaid’s Tale, or The Blind Assassin, never read other Louise Erdrich novels (her long short story Shamengwa is awesome in my memory- so don’t tell me it isn’t!).

NPR review agrees with me, LA Times reviewer thinks the book is great.

Posted in Book and film reviews

There was something that indeed bothered many readers of Philip Roth

Dara Horn nails it! I was the kind of boy who enjoyed reading Roth and Bellow when I was 16, and my mother read him religiously (pun intended). But part of my brain always knew the novels were trashy, in exactly the way Horn identifies.

Now Roth is dead, and in our current American culture, literature means little; the shared humanity that great literature inspires matters even less. What endures, sadly, is Roth’s lack of imagination, the unempathetic and incurious caricaturing of others that he turned into a virtue — and which now defines much of American public life. In the discussions since Roth’s death, we’re still talking about Roth, just like his works taught us to do. Yet in the years to come, the real meaning of his work will emerge not in how we judge Roth, but in how we judge ourselves.

Posted in Burkina Faso

Appoline Traoré, Naky Sy Savane et Amélie Mbaye : Leur film “Frontières” à Angoulême

Posted in Burkina Faso

You really should be watching live stream of Hawai’i lava flow for at least ten minutes

Gradually you get an idea that the plumes of molten lava shooting into the air are maybe the size of a ten story building. So much for us “ugly sacks of mostly water.”

Posted in United States

Resilient Social Contracts and Sustaining Peace from the International Peace Institute

Participants at this event discussed how social contracts manifest themselves in and adapt to different contexts, transcending from what are often unsustainable, ephemeral elite bargains into more inclusive ones with durable arrangements for sustaining peace. The findings of the research project “Forging Resilient National Social Contracts” were presented and case studies on South Sudan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Tunisia were featured. These case studies explore social contracting within contexts of conflict and fragility, highlighting the mechanisms through which agreements are forged that support prevention and sustaining peace.This event engaged with current policy findings and debates, and highlight how the UN can better understand the role of the social contract, and utilize this framing in its work, to support national actors in attaining and sustaining peace. It is hoped that by focusing on concrete examples and cases studies, this conversation helped member states and other key national stakeholders develop a shared and deeper understanding of what sustaining peace means in practice as they attempt to implement the above joint resolutions and deliver on their commitment to make prevention the core function of the United Nations.

Source: Resilient Social Contracts and Sustaining Peace | International Peace Institute

Posted in Burkina Faso

Libertarians need to think more about this tendency of humans to band together and discriminate

The argument that “the market” will erode or make less profitable discriminatory behavior has no theoretical support. It could, but it also could not. Lots of economics theory has been written about this.

In the hallways of a rural Oregon high school, gay and lesbian students were taunted with homophobic slurs. In the cafeteria, students pelted a transgender student with food. And when gay and lesbian students got into trouble, the school’s principal assigned a specific punishment just for them: readings from the Bible.

Students detailed those allegations in recent state investigative reports into the North Bend School District, a coastal area about 100 miles north of California. In the reports, gay and lesbian high school students described years of harassment and bigotry from school employees and other students, and a deeply religious culture that silenced their complaints.

The two reports, completed in March by an investigator in the Oregon Department of Education and made public this month, found that top officials in North Bend had for at least the past two school years fostered hostile conditions for gay and lesbian students, hesitated to intervene after reports of sexual harassment and retaliated against a school counselor who had cooperated with the state investigation.

Posted in Burkina Faso