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Goree Island. "The Door of No Return."

 A while back I was in Dakar, Senegal, and went on a group trip to Goree Island , the westernmost point of the African continent. It is infamous for the "Door of No Return," through which slaves passed to board ships for the Americas. Now the island is a tourist spot, and tourists are assaulted by souvenir hawkers both before boarding the ferry and after arriving. The island has several nice, beach-side restaurants and some elegant boutique hotels. I found this to be very odd, considering it is hallowed ground, believing that the island should be preserved as a memorial, not turned into a means of profit. Those tour guides who condemn the slave trade are now profiting from it. 
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The Late Essays of J. M. Coetzee

  I'm always on the lookout for something readable. I don't read that much fiction, probably because I always question why a writer wrote a passage or a sentence this or that way or question the plot. So I read more nonfiction, mostly from magazines such as The Atlantic and The New Yorker . I always enjoy the true crime pieces, and often the personal history pieces as well in The New Yorker. The Atlantic also has personal history pieces that are very good, but it tends to be more political. One recent personal history piece from the ghostwriter who wrote Price Harry's memoir, Spare, was exceptionally good. I came across the essays of J.M. Coetzee , a Nobel laureate, and after reading a sample on my Kindle decided to buy the book. It didn't disappoint. The essays, analyses of various writers, their lives, how their lives affected their work, the analyses of their work, are informative, entertaining, and might be helpful to anyone who writes fiction. The essays start o
I don't know what these sales figures mean, but soon after the release of my first novel, The Opium Addict , on Amazon Kindle, it was ranked #1 in historical Japanese fiction new releases and #3 for Asian fiction. It is outperforming a novel released by Simon and Schuster, The African Samurai. Many of the novels I see about Japan are cliche/convention. Look at the covers. Mt. Fuji, a geisha, cherry blossoms, a samurai and a sword. The novels appear to me to have been written by people who either have chosen to pander to an audience and know Japan, or either they don't know Japan except for what they have read. I've never had much interest in samurais and geishas, with the exception of those in Kurosawa movies.  I'm in the process of revising a novella, Love is Thicker than Forget, the title taken from an  e e cummings poem . I will self-publish it. Free download on Amazon and other platforms, my plan. Blurb:  With war between the U.S. and Imperial Japan looming

New Contrast's 200th Edition. Story: "Don't Cause Trouble."

New Contrast's 200 th   edition , which has a story of mine, "Don't Cause Trouble," about a retired Navy/airline pilot who goes on safari in Zimbabwe and finds a new, more meaningful life there is now out. Digital edition only 50 rand. As Alfred E. Newmans says in  Mad Magazine --"Cheap!" About $2.75. New Contrast is South Africa's oldest literary magazine and has published Nobel laureates, which is pretty good company to be in, I suppose. Also, I recommend that those who are fed up with the political orthodoxy of modern publishing subscribe to  The Heresy Press , which is a reaction to the madness in publishing in the U.S. today, things like only Native Americans can write about topics that are Native American; no people of a race different from the writer's; nothing that might offend a group, racial or religious. (I think there are readers, and viewers, who can make up their own minds about what they like. "Breaking Bad," A Clockwo

Singer Among the Ruins

Jerash , about an hour's ride northwest of Jordan's capital, Amman, is famous for its Greco-Roman ruins that were once stadiums where gladiators battled and chariot races were held; baths, and amphitheaters. Colonnades border roads paved with stones connect the various sites. One has to wonder when seeing these ruins, the columns still standing, the ornate scrollwork in evidence: How did the Romans build these places? It's a bit like walking onto the set of Ben Hu r, Spartacus , or, of course,  Gladiator . At one of those amphitheaters, several boys were sitting in the shade of a column up toward the top of the theater, the row for plebeians. It was a warm spring day, and they seemed, at first, to be a bit bored. They clearly weren't tourists but locals. Why weren't they in school? No idea. Then I would learn why they were where they were. They were lying in wait for tourists to come along. When my wife and I did, one of the boys—he was maybe twelve—went down to the
  In the May 2023 issue of The Atlantic , Judith Shulevitz asks the questions: Is It Okay to Like Good Art by Bad People? She is, in a way, reviewing the book Monsters: A Fan's Dilemma , by Claire Dederer. The article/review begins by juxtaposing how Oscar Wilde, “the darling of the LGBTQ movement,” has become an icon of that movement, while Paul Gauguin's reputation is, by some, being questioned. (He had sex with his fifteen-year-old models.) But Wilde had sex with young men, many prostitutes, and brief trysts with other young men, whom we would consider juveniles and, as such, his acts would be a crime today. The article mentions the amorality of Woody Allen (he had sex with his lover's—Mia Farrow's—adopted daughter, Dylan), the questionable relationships of Michael Jackson, and Roman Polanski's rape of a thirteen-year-old, whom he drugged and sodomized during the shooting of “Chinatown,” considered by many critics to be one of the best movies ever made. In th

The Opium Addict. Chapter One.

The first chapter of The Opium Addict was posted on , which I'm fairly happy about. It's nice when a complete stranger reads something I've written and likes it. I don't know when the novel will come out, though. The proofs are done. To be perfectly frank about this, once I've written something, I feel that I'm done with it. As I stated in an earlier post, there is writing and then there is publishing and the intersection between the two is slight. 

Living in Amman, Jordan

  Sido Alkurdi Mosque I had never been to a Middle East country before coming to Jordan as a Fellow in the U.S. State Department's English Language Program . I had been a Fellow at Africa University in Mutare, Zimbabwe, in 2019, and then along came Covid and the program shut down. I waited until I received another fellowship, which was in Amman. I had a positive impression of Amman before coming here, and that turned out to be pretty much accurate. It is advanced, and a person can enjoy a life here much as they would in the U.S., Europe, Japan, or other advanced countries. One thing that stands out is the number of electric cars. I take Uber often, and always request an electric car. Cost of living. Although Amman has a reputation for being expensive, I find it to be reasonably priced, and rent is certainly cheaper than it is in many countries. About 500 USDs, for a one-bedroom flat in a good area. Plenty of good places to eat. Olives, dates, and cheeses, lots. Good shopp

This Blog. Writing and Publishing.

I am starting this blog to connect with others who might find what I write to be of interest when it comes to their writing and publishing and to write about experiences my wife and I have living in this or that country. We're now in Amman, Jordan, where I am a Fellow in the U.S. State Department's English Language Fellow Program, assigned to the Jordan Media Institute , which is a master's degree program for journalists. More on living in Amman and other countries on other posts. Patricia and James First, about writing. My first novel, The Opium Addict , is out now for preorder on Amason. The novel will be released on June 19, 2023. I just finished correcting the proofs, which was a very tedious process but necessary. Before that, my editor, Tasha Shiedel (The Undead Reader), copy-edited the MS, which took more than a month, mostly because I kept making changes. I wrote The Opium Addict back in 2018, put it away, then revised it during the pandemic, when I was in Zimba