Eigg, Blues, Lafcadio Hearn, Tales, Elie Wiesel


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This Island Is Not For Sale

Patrick Barkham | Guardian | 26th September 2017

Report from the Hebridean Island of Eigg, to the north of Scotland, mismanaged by private owners until residents launched a public appeal to buy it in 1996. Now it is an “inspirational, sustainable community” of 100 people. “The ones who were heavy on the drink are still heavy on the drink, but the young people are back, balancing babies with a rich matrix of economic activities by which they hold their lives together and build their homes, unfettered by an absentee landlord” (4,800 words)

The Curses

John Jeremiah Sullivan | Sewanee Review | 25th September 2017

Essay on the origins of the blues, which quickly turns into a portrait of the amazing Columbus Bragg, briefly cultural critic for the Chicago Defender newspaper, cake-walker, playwright, preacher, and first known user of the term “blues song”, in 1914. “We should be hesitant to dismiss anything Bragg says about blues origins. He was on the minstrel circuit pretty much nonstop between 1892 and 1904. If anybody was present for the Big Bang of the blues, it was Bragg” (6,990 words)

The Survivals Of Lafcadio Hearn

Kenny Fries | Granta | 28th September 2017

Remembering Lafcadio Hearn, who gave Japan what it wanted from a Westerner and Westerners what they wanted from Japan. “Born in Greece and spending his childhood in Ireland, he became a news reporter in Cincinnati, New Orleans and the West Indies. In Japan Hearn found his subject. He used his dreams, delusions and desires to illuminate a place and culture that, at the time of his writing in the nineteenth century, was mostly unknown to the Western world. Hearn would change that” (2,100 words)

Glory Days

Armistead Maupin | TLS | 27th September 2017

Armistead Maupin remembers the beginnings of Tales of the City as a column in the San Francisco Chronicle. “The managing editor had to call me into his office and show me, with some mortification, a wall chart. There were two columns on the chart; one was headed Heterosexual; the other, Homosexual. He would enter the names and preferences of characters as soon as they appeared. The idea was that at no time should the gay people in Tales number more than one-third” (4,100 words)

Elie Wiesel’s Secret

Ron Rosenbaum | Tablet | 29th September 2017

The argument here is that the late Eli Wiesel allowed his “quietism” and “sanctimony” to be invented for him by his French translater, Francois Mauriac. Wiesel’s first draft of Night, about surviving Auschwitz, was an outburst of anger and despair directed against the cruelty of man and the cruelty of God. But Mauriac reworked the text into one of sadness and conciliation; and Wiesel understood that Mauriac’s approach was better suited to literary greatness. Thus Wiesel “gentrified the Holocaust” (7,400 words)

Video of the day: Trans-Siberian

What to expect:

Scenes from a two-week railway journey from Moscow to Ulaanbaator, by J.J. Guillermo (3’34”)

Thought for the day

Courage is a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die
G.K. Chesterton

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