Category Archives: Uncategorized

Waiting for the Barbarians

The poet Cavafy writes of a city waiting, in fear, for an invasion of Barbarians … which, in the end, doesn’t happen. There are no barbarians at the gate. The citizens are at a loss: ‘And now, what’s going to happen to us without barbarians? They were, those people, a kind of solution.’ Perhaps, for… Continue Reading

These are the countries the US has bombed since World War II

China 1945-46 Korea 1950-53 China 1950-53 Guatemala 1954 Indonesia 1958 Cuba 1959-60 Guatemala 1960 Belgian Congo 1964 Guatemala 1964 Dominican Republic 1965-66 Peru 1965 Laos 1964-73 Vietnam 1961-73 Cambodia 1969-70 Guatemala 1967-69 Lebanon 1982-84 Grenada 1983-84 Libya 1986 El Salvador 1981-92 Nicaragua 1981-90 Iran 1987-88 Libya 1989 Panama 1989-90 Iraq 1991 Kuwait 1991 Somalia 1992-94… Continue Reading

The Trip To Echo Spring

This is Olivia Laing’s … what? Memoir? Travel diary? Multiple biography? Disquisition on alcoholism? However it’s classed, it’s a fine piece of writing around six Americans – Cheever, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Carver, Berryman and Tennessee Williams – all, as Laing says, in thrall to alcohol. Only two managed (late in life) to conquer their addiction. And,… Continue Reading

Rating critics

We rate books on Goodreads and movies on, say, Rotten Tomatoes … maybe there should also be a site for rating critics? This isn’t personal; I haven’t had too a bad a time with these people. But I’ve read a couple of books recently (and many more in the past) which by any standard ranged… Continue Reading

Disposable people

David Simon, showrunner of The Wire, remarks that, under capitalism, there is a group of people who are disposable; surplus to economic requirements. Some barely survive, some are jailed, some die young. In future, as robot workers become cheaper and more versatile, we’ll have more and more disposable people. We could do something about it,… Continue Reading

Anna Burns

Anna is the author of two extraordinary novels, No Bones and Little Constructions. She’s just received a grant from the Royal Literary Fund to enable her to finish a new novel,  Milkman, her first publication for some years. It will be worth waiting for. Continue Reading