Z e t e o
Reading, Looking, Listening, . . . Questioning

In his collection of essays, What the Twilight Says, Nobel prize-winning poet Derek Walcott discusses, among other things, fellow writers of the Caribbean, including the Marxist historian CLR James. In his short piece on James, Walcott explores the seeming contradiction between the writer’s unrelenting combat against Empire and the racism it engendered, and his love […]

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Sometimes you read a story so beautiful it stays in your head for days, and you keep going back to it, trying to understand how it got such a hold on your imagination. Kiss of the Fur Queen is that kind of story. Tomson Highway’s heartbreaking semi-autobiographical novel is about two Cree Indian brothers, Champion […]

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Just after St. Patrick’s Day is a good time to have a laugh reading Flann O’Brien, pseudonym of Brian O Nolan, one of the most satirical Irish writers ever. In the late 1930s and throughout the 40s, when there was nothing much to laugh about in the New Irish State, O Nolan kept up a […]

In Harvest, Jim Crace explores what happens in an isolated feudal village when a trio of outsiders set up camp on the common land and attempt to claim squatters’ rights. The villagers destroy the intruders’ makeshift camp and remain silent when they are wrongly accused of setting fire to the Master’s stable. The severe punishment […]

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Although set on a US Air force base on a small island in the Mediterranean during World War Two, Catch-22 is a satirical attack on the workings of modern bureaucracy that is still relevant today. It points out very clearly, and with great accuracy, how organizational goals get diverted and perverted by the ferocious competition […]

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Categories: Catherine Vigier, ZiR | 1 Comment

In a recent interview in The Paris Review, Annie Proulx said that she regretted writing Brokeback Mountain. She said she wished she’d never written the story, and that it had “just been the cause of hassle and problems and irritation since the film came out.” This was because of the way readers — especially male ones […]

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Amnesia begins with a hacker known as Angel. She releases a computer worm which opens the gates of CIA-sponsored prisons around the world. Many of these are in Australia. Some suspected terrorists manage to escape; others are shot by prison guards. Angel goes on the run. Her mother, a well-known actress, asks investigative journalist Felix […]

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  With all France stunned and sickened by the assassinations at Charlie Hebdo magazine, the political establishment is scrambling to present the situation to its best advantage. A tweet from the French President at the Elysée Palace, reproduced in Vanity Fair, shows François Hollande on the phone. The subtitle says Obama expresses American solidarity. The […]

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Sixties icon Marianne Faithfull, who now lives in Paris, did a great concert in Rouen a few weeks ago. I was intrigued by ‘Mother Wolf’, one of the songs she sang from her new album, Give My Love to London. Mother Wolf, a character taken from Kipling’s Jungle Book, is of harboring a cub that […]

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Categories: Catherine Vigier, ZiR | 1 Comment

  For an unsentimental take on Christmas, and a view of not-so-loving, cat-and-mouse relationships between adults and children, I went back to Saul Bellow’s The Adventures of Augie March. In this scene the young Augie is in the Chicago department store where he has been hired as one of Santa’s helpers for the Christmas season: […]

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With market analysts predicting that another London real estate bubble is about to burst, I turned to Margaret Drabble’s The Ice Age for a sardonic representation of the 1970s property crash in the UK and the people responsible for it. Drabble is excellent in her depiction of Anthony Keating, a Liberal Arts graduate who has […]

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Recent Comments

Asano_Takeji-No_Series-Snow_at_Iwashimizu_Hachiman_Shrine_Kyoto

With market analysts predicting that another London real estate bubble is about to burst, I turned to Margaret Drabble’s The Ice Age for a sardonic representation of the 1970s property crash in the UK and the people responsible for it. Drabble is excellent in her depiction of Anthony Keating, a Liberal Arts graduate who has […]

ZiR

July 16, 2018

Thanks a lot, Steve. And, continuing the segue-ing, here's an old (and traditional) Gary Snyder poem I just came across yesterday: Seaman’s Ditty I’m wondering where you are now Married, or mad, or free: Wherever you are you’re likely glad, But memory troubles me. We could’ve had us children, We could’ve had a home— But you thought not, and I thought not, And these nine years we roam. Today I worked in the deep dark tanks, And climbed out to watch the sea: Gulls and salty waves pass by, And mountains of Araby. I’ve travelled the lonely oceans And wandered the...

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Asano_Takeji-No_Series-Snow_at_Iwashimizu_Hachiman_Shrine_Kyoto

With market analysts predicting that another London real estate bubble is about to burst, I turned to Margaret Drabble’s The Ice Age for a sardonic representation of the 1970s property crash in the UK and the people responsible for it. Drabble is excellent in her depiction of Anthony Keating, a Liberal Arts graduate who has […]

ZiR

July 16, 2018

A very nice piece, William. I am reminded of a Sung Dynasty poem that D.T. Suzuki quotes in one of his books. I'm not sure of its relevance here, but it seems to resonate somehow. Misty rain on Mount Lu, And waves surging at Che Kiang. When you have not been there, Many a regret you have; But once there and homeward you wend, How matter-of-fact things look! Misty rain on Mount Lu And waves surging at Che Kiang.

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Categories: Essay | Add a Comment
Frank Kermode, August 2000, photo by Charlie MacDonald

With market analysts predicting that another London real estate bubble is about to burst, I turned to Margaret Drabble’s The Ice Age for a sardonic representation of the 1970s property crash in the UK and the people responsible for it. Drabble is excellent in her depiction of Anthony Keating, a Liberal Arts graduate who has […]

Essay

June 14, 2018

The time that takes place in stories compared to the time that we actually live is radically abbreviated. It briskly sweeps aside all the commonplace moments that make up the long stretch of toilsome time and focuses instead on the interesting and compelling. With a mere section break or a simple transitional phrase, days, months, and whole years are disposed of as if they had no significance at all. “Then time passed slowly until the day arrived when….” A lot of important living is hidden in such a phrase. From the moment-to-moment flow of time, the storyteller lifts out only those narr...

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