Genre: non-fiction (true crime)
This book reads like a Le Carré espionage thriller!
Major theme is the death of Alex Litvineko 2006
and the final results of murder inquiry in London 2016.
Many names of Russian dissidents, double spies and ousted Russian oligarchs are mentioned. Victims were killed in drab suburbia (Alexander Litvinenko), often out in the open, on pavements (Boris Nemtsov), sometimes as the target was out walking their dog, or going shopping, with passers-by watching on in abject horror. (Sergei Skripal)
There seems to be a trend
…but who is the one giving the orders to kill?
Alexander Litvinenko – British naturalised Russian defector and former officer of the Russian FSB secret service who specialised in tackling organised crime in Russia.
(dead 2006, poisoning with radionuclide polonium-210)
“Badri” Patarkatsishvili – behind some of the most successful companies in today’s Russia (oligarch)
(dead 2008, collapse at his home, compounds known to be used by the former KGB can induce heart failure, but leave virtually no trace)
Boris Berezovsky – oligarch, agitator in Russian politics. He and Putin were sworn enemies.
(dead 2013, found in bathroom – death as “unexplained”)
Boris Nemtsov – outspoken critic of Vladimir Putin and his authoritarian, undemocratic regime.
(dead 2015, assassinated on a bridge near the Kremlin in Moscow, with four shots fired from the back.
Sergei Skripal – former Russian military intelligence officer who acted as a double agent for the UK’s intelligence services
(March 2018, poisoned with a nerve agent…survived)
Genre: non-fiction travel writing
- Flyspecks on a map….
- …forgotten towns with a creek or running stream
- …they were all backwaters literally and figuratively.
- Deep South by P. Theroux surprises me with every page.
- From North Carolina through Georgia,
- Tennessee and Alabama to Mississippi and Arkansas….
- in his first book to focus on his homeland,
- the veteran travel writer and novelist finds segregation
- still thrives in the old Confederate states.
- Paul Theroux is more interested in
- conversationthan sightseeing
- …the heart an soul of family narratives…the human wealth.
- Theroux captures the essence of the Deep South.
- At the moment in The Netherlands ( where this ex-pat lives) the news is
- all about the elderly who are becoming very lonely.
- People are living longer and must cope with a
- type of isolation due to physical health and mobility.
- NOT once in Theroux’s book is the word loneliness mentioned.
- Because it is ‘the Southern way‘ to always be of
- assistance regardless of class, color or creed.
- …or if you aree a stranger from the North taking notes (Paul Theroux)
- ” Kin Ah h’ep you….in inny way? is the motto of the Deep South.
- Sometimes I don’t want a book to end….this is that kind of book!
- Theroux is a traveler but also a lover of literature.
- He explores Southern Fiction (especially Faulkner) to give the reader
- access to the reflective interior of southern states
- …so passive….so mute.
Who is Afua Hirsch?
She is a writer born to a British father and an Ashanti mother from Ghana. She is a broadcaster, barrister and human rights development worker. Hirsch has graduated from the Cambridge University. She studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics at St Peter’s College, Oxford. She also took the Graduate Diploma in Law at the BPP Law School.
What was the ‘hook’ in the book that kept me reading?
The ‘hook’ in this book is the frank and honest prologue. Hirsch explains the different worlds that clashed when she began a relationship with her partner Sam. They lived just miles apart…but that translated into worlds apart. This was absolutely an open and sometimes brutal look at the influence one’s environment (council estates vs Wimbledon) has on future opportunities.
When did I read this book?
I could not have timed this book at a better moment
Today is the tennis clash of the year 2018: The powerful American sportswoman Serena Williams vs Siberian princess Maria Sharapova. In chapter 3 Hirsch gives the reader in ‘inside’ view of the whitest suburb in London during the whitest 14 days of the year: Wimbledon. Afua Hirsch reveals some of the most unkind comments hurled at Serena by commentators. It is heartbreaking to envisage this type of abuse. It is admirable to read how Serena Williams deals with “…the era of racism without racists….it the story of my life.” (ch 3) UPDATE: 04.06.2018 – Another blatant example: “A sports journalist has been forced to apologise after asking Serena Williams if she was ‘intimidated’ by rival Maria Sharapova’s good looks ahead of their French Open showdown on Monday.” UPDATE: 04.06.2018 – Ms Williams pulls out of the French Open due to a pectoral muscle injury.
Why is this book so engaging?
Afua Hirsch is brutally honest. She has revealed how many black people are outside their comfort zone every day in the way they feel their bodies as dictated by the standards of what is beautiful.
What made the most impression on me?
There were too many things to mention! I was amazed at details that Hirsch comments on….things I would never have known or noticed. She talks about the unspoken, unwritten rules one must follow being black at work. There are things that cannot be said for fear of making colleagues feel uncomfortable.
- With the impressive list of accomplishments and
- …degrees in philosophy, politics, economics and law
- …still her colleagues look at her askance.
- It makes them feel uncomfortable when they realize
- Afua Hirsch has so much in common with cleaners in the building.
- Luckily for us Hirsch has learned to channel all
- her skills to give us a book that must be read.
- Ms Hirsch has crossed the boundary between race and status.
- She has broken the rules.
- I am so happy she did and made me aware of the
- color-blind-racisim that still exists…
- “…racisim with a smiling face.” (prologue)
- #Powerful #MustRead
Author: Dorothy Chansky
Domestic labor has figured largely on American stages.
The genre “kitchen sink realism” both supports and challenges
the idea that the home is naturally women’s sphere.
1920’s – popular plays staged the plight of women seeking escape from the daily domestic grind
1930’s– recognized housework as work!
Awake and Sing (1935)
1950’s – maids gained a complexity previously reserved only for leading ladies.
Member of the Wedding (1950)
1960’s – problems and comforts of domestic labor in homes took center stage.
Raisin in the Sun (1960)
This is comprehensive analysis of kitchen and sink realism. Dorothy Chansky highlights plays that I never heard of – Mine Eyes Have Seen (1918), – Aftermath (1919) – and it took some effort to immerse myself in them. Chansky discusses more than 20 different plays! I did discover 2 female playwrights I would like to read:
Rachel Crothers – one of the most successful dramatists first part of 20th C.
Georgia Douglas Johnson – one of the earliest African-American playwrights. She was a participant in Harlem Renaissance.
If you are interested in drama and the societal impact these plays have had in the 20th C…this book is for you!
- Keane wants us to understand the forces that produced
- the Irish War of Independence and Civil War.
- Keane zooms in and tells us his personal story about
- his town of Listowel, North Kerry Ireland.
- They all joined the revolution:
- grandmother Hannah,
- …her brother Mick and his friend Con.
- They took up guns to fight the British Empire.
- “This was to be a revolution of steel not poetry” (pg 26)
- Land: ch 1
- It was an important theme in this book
- …who lost it, stole it, worked it and who gained from it.
- Nothing was so political than
- …the ground beneath your feet.
- Keane’s father would tell his son: “What you have, you hold.”
- Justice? ch 3
- It was not an easy life in Ireland 1879-1885
- ….famine and the start of the Land League.
- If a farmer declined to enter the organization
- he could expect to be boycotted,
- …experience cruel physical retaliation
- …or one day a bullet in his arm, if not his head.
- A network of secret groups sprang up across the country
- …to mete out the people’s justice.
- Auxiliaries and Black and Tans: ch 5
- This is the first book about Irish history
- …that I have read that has gone into such detail about
- security death squads and the
- …scale of brutality meted out to civilians.
- in the 1920’s…#Shock.
- Flying Columns: ch 6
- This was a small, independent, military unit capable of rapid mobility
- It is often an ad hoc unit, formed during the course of operations
- Political violence seems to simmer in Ireland…over centuries.
- Core tenet: Britian could only be drivan from Ireland by force.
Strong point: reads like a novel!
- The cover says it all Wounds…love and war.
- 50% of the book is a telling of the routine harassment
- …ambush, reprisal and assassination in the area
- Listowel, North Kerry Ireland.
- I expected a dry account of the Irish Troubles
- …but Keane has infused Irish history with journalist flair.
- The conflict between Republicans and Nationalists is fought out
- like a two-hander fist fight in front of the reader.
- I am proud of my Irish roots.
- But after reading this book…
- …now I know why I’m so proud.
- Ireland suffered through a War of Independence,
- a Civil War and has emerged as a country
- that has learned to respect and live with each
- other’s differences.
- Fergal Keane’s book reveals in the last 4
- ….chapters his very personal story.
- “Memory is no longer a penance” (pg 299)
Fergal Keane – Anglo-Irish Foreign correspondent with BBC News