September 1st, 2003

toothybear

Iraq

Maybe old news for the true Iraq-junkies but another blog from Baghdad:

http://riverbendblog.blogspot.com/

this one by a woman, joining Salam Pax

http://dear_raed.blogspot.com/

Even better, the Aug 31 entry on dear_raid is a rebuttal to riverbend's posts about the death of al-Hakim. Notably because it's thoughtful and respectful, something currently absent from American discourse.

Now besides the obvious conclusions one might draw from these blogs -- that officials of the US government are either fantastically deluded or inveterate liars, or both -- they are both examples of outrageously good writing. They have a huge, dire subject to inspire them, for sure, but they just plain write well, and are a joy to read. For me, to read them is to admire them, and worry for their safety.
toothybear

RED FLOWER DADDIES

Review cut-n-pasted from the Times. I actually read it in a paper edition of the Sunday Times. Are we going to have "paper newspaper" as a back-formation now?

Anyway review of "A Dictionary of Maqiao" by Han Shaogong.

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To enter its pages is to cross into a world of bandits and ghosts, where ''rude'' means ''pretty,'' homosexuals are ''Red Flower Daddies'' and people don't die, they ''scatter.'' Cross-references abound, and slowly the novel emerges as one grand idiom. This is a meditation on the trapdoors of language and on the microhistories buried within words.
KATHERINE WOLFF

(and back-formation isn't precisely the right term; I mean terms like 'acoustic guitar' that required no qualifier before the advent of the electric guitar. See also 'acoustic-electric' and 'guest host', but I digress)