Date Archives February 2017

The “blue town” of Chefchaouen

Usually I try to tie my posts to a topic or theme, or expand my travel observations into an essay. This post isn’t like that. It’s just some photos of a town that’s blue. The town is called Chefchaouen, and it’s in the Rif mountains of northern Morocco. Why is it blue? There are various theories… One theory is that the blue paint is designed to ward off mosquitoes. Or maybe the tradition of painting buildings blue was brought by Jewish immigrants fleeing the Spanish inquisition in the 15th century… Or… Read More

The pull of the road

Back in the year 2000, Genie and I took our first trip together. We were living in New York City at the time, and we rented a car and drove up to Montreal. After a great long weekend there, it was finally time to start the six-hour drive back home. So what did we do? We drove another couple of hundred miles in the opposite direction and spent the afternoon in Québec City. Then we finally drove home through the night, arriving in New York at about five in the morning, ready to… Read More

Completism

Can you recommend a good book by an author whose surname begins with Q, U, X or Y? It’s a strange question, I know. The thing is, I’ve been documenting all the books I’ve reviewed on this site since it started ten years ago, and I’ve organised them alphabetically, and… Yeah, OK, I admit it. I’m a frustrated librarian. In another lifetime, I would have loved to spend my days quietly shuffling books around from shelf to shelf in a library or bookshop. My choices have taken me down a… Read More

Review: The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma

The self-fulfilling prophecy is an ancient and fascinating component of literature. From Oedipus to Macbeth and beyond, characters have wrestled with disturbing or tempting prophecies, often with tragic results. As we survey the wreckage of their lives, we wonder to what extent the events were indeed fated or foreseen, and to what extent the characters’ own actions brought about their downfall. It’s a great device for exploring the concept of free will. A recent addition to the literature is The Fishermen by Nigerian writer Chigozie Obioma. In a way, this is a simple… Read More