Date Archives May 2011

Happy Birthday, Amnesty!

This weekend marks the 50th birthday of Amnesty International, an organisation I’ve been a member of since I was a teenager. It started with Peter Benenson being outraged at the imprisonment of a couple of Portuguese students for raising their wine glasses in a toast to freedom, and now has over 3 million members all over the world. Often it feels pointless writing polite letters to dictators asking them please to release a political prisoner. But if enough people do it, then it works – not in all cases by… Read More

“Letter to D” by André Gorz

D is the André Gorz’s 82-year-old, terminally ill wife, and this short book is a letter written to her about a year before they both committed suicide at the same time, unable to bear the thought of being parted. Letter to D a beautiful story, augmented by a few lovely photos of the couple (I wanted more, actually). The telling is often very beautiful and poignant, although occasionally it’s surprisingly long-winded for such a short book, particularly in the parts where he’s examining some hurtful lines he wrote about her… Read More

“Death At Intervals” by Jose Saramago

I love the premise of this book. One day, in a particular country, people stop dying. They still get old, get sick, get mangled in car accidents, etc., but they can’t die. At first this news is greeted with elation. It’s the end of Death’s age-old tyranny, the greatest fear suddenly removed. But then the complications begin. People still suffer, old people lie in bed on the verge of death but unable to cross over. Retirement homes go into crisis, as people continue to arrive but nobody leaves. Funeral homes… Read More

Luke Bitmead’s birthday

I had a message today from the mother of Luke Bitmead, the Legend Press novelist who died tragically young. 13th May is his birthday, and she would like to encourage people to visit his site in the days leading up to the 13th, in the hope of getting more than 13,000 visitors overall. Please check out the site, www.lukebitmead.com. If you can, please also consider supporting the Memorial Fund. It’s a good cause, as it works to create something positive out of the tragedy of Luke’s death, both by sponsoring… Read More

Admitting defeat

I don’t often admit defeat when I’m reading. I tend to slog away to the end of a book, even if I’m not enjoying it much. Partly this is stubbornness, partly pride, but partly also a belief that most books contain something worthwhile. Recently, though, I had to admit defeat. More specifically, I had to admit that although I was halfway through Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, I had absolutely no idea what it was about. I mean, I’d read the words and they’d seemed like sentences, but the result was always… Read More