Archive | October, 2011

Kipling on Writing

From The Long Recessional: The Imperial Life of Rudyard Kipling: As usual in his more mature work, [Kipling] obsessively excised superfluous words – and quite often words that would have made the sense rather clearer. ‘Wordiness is effeminacy, and unforgivable,’ he told poor Edmund Gosse, who had sinned: unnecessary words were ‘the enemy of vigour’ […]


Russell Peters in Beirut

Footnotes: 1. Arabic endearment ‘Habibi’ (?????) is as likely to mean “dude” as its literal sense of “my love.” 2. For more on BO18, read this excerpt from my book, a profile of architect Bernard Khoury


Kipling at Work

I love seeing writers’ rooms. I wrote my first (though, hopefully, not my last) book in a then-broken down, legally contested and now shut down-student flat in West Beirut with a lemon tree painted on the wall. A lot less glamorous, not at all Victorian, but a memorable sanctuary nonetheless.


Links 5 – 16 October

Elizabeth Gilbert’s Dec. 2000 GQ profile of Hank Williams III via Send Me a Story Atul Gawande in the New Yorker on how coaching has helped him reach a new personal best MERIP’s Maroz Tadros with an important report from the front lines of Egypt’s Bloody Sunday Translated Egyptian author Alaa al-Aswany on bigotry (original […]


Faces to the Music

Like most of my generation, I’ve grown up listening to the Beatles but not spent much time looking at them, perhaps because their images are about as omnipresent, and therefore as invisible, as wallpaper. Martin Scorsese’s collage-like documentary undertakes an unstructured if roughly chronological walkabout through the life and music of the “quiet Beatle” George […]


The Two-Sided Man

For those who lack the luxury of time to read all of Kipling’s works and draw their own conclusions, myself among them, the complexity of the man is suggested most evocatively, perhaps, in his own poem The Two-Sided Man, and articulated more clearly and directly by George Orwell. (Commonalities between the two authors inspired a […]


The Mountaintop

I just read the script and I can’t wait to see this play in November. Read up on playwright Katori Hall in The New Yorker (abstract) and The New York Times. Reading the play (and, I imagine, seeing it) makes this clip from Martin Luther King Jr.’s last speech all the more moving.


Poet of ‘East and West’

Oh, East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet, Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment seat; … But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth, When two strong men stand face to face, tho’ they come from the ends of the earth. […]


Researching, Writing and Meditating

Award-winning crime writer and journalist Matt Beynon Rees has several good podcasts on researching, writing and editing a book, as well as meditating for writers. Rees has lived in Jerusalem for more than a decade and is the author of the first Palestinian detective series, starting with The Collaborator of Bethlehem. I love how the […]