The Fading Dream of Europe by Orhan Pamuk

A good commentary to read in conjunction with Tony Judt's book on Europe since 1945, Postwar.
The Fading Dream of Europe by Orhan Pamuk | NYRBlog | The New York Review of Books

The WikiLeaks revelations underscore just how confused European leaders are about their mission. Here in Spain the biggest scandal (of several) is permitting interference of the US State Department in the Spanish justice system, to prevent prosecution of the US soldiers who killed TV cameraman José Couso and another journalist. But even apart from US interference, German and French politicians (the ones who have most clout in the European Union) pursue self-defeating policies to placate sectors of their equally confused electorates. They don't seem to be willing to accept that Iraq, Afghanistan and Turkey (and every other country outside Europe, North America and maybe China and Japan) may have their own needs and agendas and are no longer (if ever)  simply willing to emulate the Europeans.


'Welcome to My Contri' again available

Buy here
My 1988 book Welcome to My Contri, described by the New York Times Book Review as a "powerful collection of short stories [that] leaves us thoroughly wrung out -- and aware that we are in the presence of a formidable new writer" (Sunday, November 20, 1988), is again available through Amazon.

These are stories of encounters and misencounters somewhere in Latin America, which foreign tourists sometimes think of as all one country — which is what the tour guide Joe slyly implies when he announces, "Welcome to my contri!" — a "contri" which turns out to be, in the following stories, many very different places.

The book has been almost impossible to get for years — but we recently located some brand-new copies which are now available through Amazon at the bargain price of US$6.00 (+ $3.99 shipping). You can find that $6 price here.

If you are on the east side of the Atlantic, I have a few copies available for sale at the equivalent price in euros, €4.60.

To see the original review in The New York Times Book Review, click here.


Turk Radio interview on "A Gift for the Sultan"

A Gift for the SultanHere you can hear the SF Turkish Radio interview of me about the novel, conducted by host Ahmet Toprak. Ahmet has also posted a link so that listener's can buy the book from that site. Thanks, Ahmet, and happy Winter Solstice and New Year to you and all my readers!

From self- to commercial publishing

Here's some Advice on self-publishing from Lisa Genova, author of Still Alice, a self-published book (iUniverse) by which she got enough attention to land a contract from Pocket Books and turn it into a NY Times bestseller. Encouraging story, an example of what can be done. See also the NYT article that she has linked to her site: 

Self-Publishers Flourish as Writers Pay the Tab by Motoko Rich, January 27, 2009.

Serious thinking about cities & us

Thanks to dear friend LouBette Herrick for recommending this piece by Jonah Lehrer in the New York Times Magazine, A Physicist Solves the City. Subject: “What makes a city grow and thrive? What causes it to stagnate and fall? Geoffrey West thinks the tools of physics can give us the answers.” Herewith a couple of quotes:
The end result is that cities aren’t just increasing the pace of life; they are also increasing the pace at which life changes.

But it turns out that cities and companies differ in a very fundamental regard: cities almost never die, while companies are extremely ephemeral. … As West puts it, “Companies are killed by their need to keep on getting bigger.”
Whether he's got all the details right or not, he's obviously on to something. This very different way of thinking about large agglomerations like cities and corporations should provoke us to come up with better solutions to urban and other problems. Almost makes we want to rush to order this book, but it's a little pricey.