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Caroline Leavitt interviews Harriet Levin Millan...



Harriet Levin Millan talks about her profound novel-based-on-a-true-story, How Fast Can You Run, about a South Sudan refuge searching for the mother he was separated from when he was five.

“The best war novel told from a young boy’s perspective since Jerzy Kozinski’s The Painted Bird.”

—Nyoul Lueth Tong, author of There is a Country: New Writing from the New Country of South Sudan

Prepare to be amazed. When One Book, One Philadelphia asked author and Drexel University professor Harriet Levin Millan to choose ten of her undergraduate creative writing students to interview ten South Sudanese refugees for a special One Book writing project, she met Michael Majok Kuch, who became the subject of her novel. . Kuch survived the torching of his village in South Sudan, and was separated from his mother when he was only five. His quest to be reunited with her, and the plight of the refuge is both profound and moving. Thank you so much Harriet, for being here.

I always say every book starts with a yearning. What was yours?

My yearning was for Michael Majok Kuch, the S. Sudanese national, I based my novel on, to see his mother. They had been separated since Michael was five-years-old and their village was attacked in the middle of the night and they got separated. So by the time I met him, when he was a senior in college, he hadn’t seen her for nearly 22 years. [more…]

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    • The Vale of Cashmere

    • by Sean Elder

      green forest

      This story first appeared in Voice from the Planet, FREE from March 30 – April 3, 2017 at Amazon Kindle US, and Kindle UK among others.


      Truth was, she used to be able to organize her thoughts, until Floyd retired. Now he was always hanging around talking to her, asking what she was doing. Every time he went out, which wasn’t often enough for her taste, he would ask her if she needed anything and then look angry if she did. Sometimes he’d look angry if she didn’t. Now she looked for errands for him, just to get a moment’s peace. When she sent him off for milk this morning she could have lived without it. But she couldn’t have stood listening to him complain about the bus ride to Atlantic City before it happened, not non-stop for the next two hours.

      “You’re creating your future,” she told him. “Whatever you’re thinking and feeling, that becomes your reality.”

      “Don’t give me that shit,” he’d said, putting on his coat and hat. He had been wearing that same damned hat with the stingy brim so long it had come back in style.

      “It’s the law of attraction,” she’d continued. “You can deny it all you want but that don’t mean it’s not true. “Everything coming into your life you are attracting into your life. You’re like a magnet.”

      “Well, this magnet’s going to attract some milk,” he’d said before going out the door.

      He had made fun of her ever since she first heard Oprah talking about The Secret but deep down she thought that maybe he believed her. Or would, if he would just give it a try. He would come home so angry about something that happened out there – the security guy asleep in the chair, or someone who wouldn’t give his seat up on the subway – and she would tell him, “Every bad thing that comes into your life, you make happen.”

      Sometimes that really made Floyd angry. “Is that right? Every bad thing? I made happen every bad thing that came into my life, Marcy?” He would tower over her, breathing heavily, staring at the top of her lacquered hair until she was silent.

      She looked closely at the big digits on the clock by the bed. It was almost 8:30 and she still had not done her makeup. From the drawer in the nightstand on her side of the bed she looked for her own pill organizer and then realized she had already taken it out. She put it under the light, right beside that picture of her two boys, smiling in the lap of a black Santa, and looked at Wednesday. There were still pills in the morning box but the evening box was empty. Maybe she took the evening pills by mistake. Not that it mattered ‘cause they were basically the same. Or maybe she hadn’t filled the PM part.

      Looking at the rainbow colored compartments (Wednesday was green, Thursday red) she thought of Wilson, who had the hardest time with his R’s when he was little – “Weeding Wainbow,” he would say about his favorite show, and his brother would laugh at him. She felt overcome for a moment and then heard her husband’s keys in the door.

      She took the morning pills, four altogether, as Floyd shouted at her from the kitchen.

      “Do you know how much they wanted for a half-gallon of milk?” She imagined his face as he said the price and the way he would look at her afterwards. He might be looking that way right now, even though she wasn’t there.

      “Cost of everything is going up,” she yelled back. Then she stood and headed for the bathroom. “I got to get a move on.”

      “Ain’t you even going to drink your milk?” She heard him swear as she closed the bathroom door.

      The bus driver turned out to be some white guy who’d been sleeping in the back while people waited outside. The whole bus was talking about it, even after they got out of the Holland Tunnel and were getting on the turnpike, people tisking and hmm-hmming until Floyd wanted to yell, “Who told you to stand out there in the first place? It’s not even cold.” But he kept quiet and sat by a window, alone thank you very much, though Tommy insisted on sitting right in front of him, while Marcy huddled on the other side with a bunch of ladies. They outnumbered the men five to one anyway; he let Tommy represent, going back and forth across the aisle like some congressman making a deal. Each time he went over to the ladies he would say something so low that Floyd couldn’t hear and they would all laugh and holler.

      “I think it’s about time for some music,” Tommy said after one of his sorties. He had a gym bag with him that also said Mets on it, and from it he pulled a boom box that he tried to balance on the seatback in front of him. He pushed play and Johnnie Taylor started in on “Who’s Making Love” and the ladies all laughed, even though the sound was kind of wobbly. From the front of the bus the driver said something, they could see him looking at them in the rear view mirror, but no one tried to hear him. In fact Tommy stood up, with the boom box on his shoulder, and started to shake it in the aisle, which made the driver get on the mike.

      “Sir, I’m going to have to ask you to sit down.” He had some kind of accent, Russian or something, but no one really paid him any mind.

      The hits kept coming; it must have been some kind of collection since Floyd never heard a deejay. Tommy jammed the boom box between the headrest and the window so it wouldn’t fall down and turned around to look at Floyd, but not before looking at the driver, who had his eyes on the road again.

      “How ‘bout a little taste?” Tommy said, taking a half-pint in a brown bag from the pocket of his jacket.

      “Too early for me,” Floyd said, looking out the window. To him it always looked like New Jersey was halfway through being torn down.

      Across the aisle Marcy was in the middle of a conversation with the other ladies but she didn’t feel quite right. It started as soon as she left the building; she had picked out a brooch to go with her blue blouse, a little gold tree with red apples on it, but she had left it sitting in front of the mirror. Now she felt naked, all that blue stretching out below her chin like an empty ocean almost and she felt like she was being pulled back from drowning each time one of them stopped talking. That meant somebody was supposed to say something, you were supposed to jump in like it was a game of double-Dutch.

      “What I value most is the privacy,” Marcy said, but no one answered. She had a feeling she had said that before. The topic was assisted living and how to know when you needed it.

      “Until you wake up privately dead,” said the lady in the Kente cloth. Marcy didn’t remember meeting her before, a friend of Helen’s was how she was introduced, but she didn’t like her now. She had these gray and white streaks in her hair, extensions by the look of it, but it reminded Marcy of mud. Besides she was probably the youngest woman of the bunch, what was she talking about dying for?

      “My boy checks in on us every night,” said Marcy and immediately wondered why she had. It wasn’t true. Most times she had to call Eric and he never sounded too happy to hear from her. He did come to visit though, once a month at least. They saw less of him after his divorce, though you’d think it would be the other way around.

      “Where are we?” she said suddenly, looking out the window. Everything looked the same.

      “You keep asking that,” the lady in the Kente cloth said, or maybe she said. Marcy wasn’t looking at her and the music Tommy was playing made her feel lost.

      “Sending this one out for all you ladies,” said Tommy, like he was some deejay, and they all laughed but Marcy didn’t think it was funny. It was that song about sitting on a park bench that always made her sad. “I see her face everywhere I go/on the street and even at the picture show/have you seen her?”

      There was a hospital up there high on a hill and for a second she felt that the bus was going to take off and fly straight up to its doors. She closed her eyes and felt herself rise.

      They parked in the lot of the Showboat casino. Though they could have gone anywhere they wanted, the thirty odd passengers that disembarked made for the Showboat as if summoned, shuffling and limping toward the entrance in a broken conga line.

      “No one says we got to go to this casino,” Floyd said to the crowd of ladies leading the way.

      “The Showboat has a Mardi Gras theme,” said the lady in the Kente cloth. She turned around to give Floyd the fisheye, pulling down her glasses as she did. “Besides, we got coupons for the Showboat.”

      He fell in line sullenly beside Tommy who offered him another drink. Floyd took a swallow this time without pulling down the brown paper to see what it was. It tasted like mouthwash.

      “Jesus, what the hell you drinking?”

      “Little peppermint schnapps.” Tommy tried to slap Floyd on the back but the big man danced away, handing the bottle back as he moved.

      “What she mean by a ‘Mardi Gras theme,’ anyway?” Floyd said.

      Tommy shrugged. “As long as they got free drinks and blackjack I don’t much care.”

      Seagulls screamed overhead. Floyd saw his reflection scowling in the window of a parked Humvee. He went to New Orleans during Mardi Gras when he was in the Navy, how many years ago? He got lost and someone stole his wallet. A man dressed as a woman tried to put beads around his neck, he remembered. You could have your Mardi Gras.

      Marcy was among the first of the women to enter the casino and the air conditioning hit her like a cold wave. “Good thing I remembered my shawl!” she said but no one answered. The music and the sound of the slot machines, dinging and ringing with sirens going off every five minutes as if some crime was being committed, swallowed her voice.

      Marcy had thought to bring rolls of quarters and silver dollars. While the other ladies were getting change she was already pouring her silver into a red plastic cup provided to her by a girl in the shortest skirt she had ever seen.

      “You must be freezing!” Marcy said but the girl didn’t seem to hear her. Maybe she just got tired of people trying to talk to her.

      The slots area had thousands of machines and at noon it was already half filled, mostly old timers like her and Floyd. He and Tommy had set off in the other direction like there was a sign saying ‘Men, That Way.’ The carpets were in a pattern of red and orange and gold that reminded her of a kaleidoscope and the ceiling was made up to look like stained glass, though she knew real stained glass when she saw it and this wasn’t it. She felt like if she didn’t sit down she might just fall into the colors. She sat down at a quarter machine and began feeding it. She didn’t know where the other ladies had gone and looking over her shoulder left her none the wiser.

      “Y’all gonna have to find me,” she said and as if summoned a different lady in a short skirt appeared.

      “How you doing today?” she said. She had a tray filled with drinks and a notepad tucked into her belt. “Can I get you something to drink?”

      “Well I suppose you can!” Marcy turned in her chair to show her appreciation. “My name’s Marcy by the way, I come here from Brooklyn with a bunch of folks from my church group.”

      “Now isn’t that nice? My name’s Kim Sue. What can I get you?”

      Marcy smiled and opened her mouth. But she could not think of the names of any drinks, not just the fancy ones but any drink. She felt a trickle of sweat run down her back underneath her blouse.

      “It’s funny,” she said, embarrassed. “My mind’s just a blank today.”

      “Sure, no problem!” Kim Sue smiled back at her like one of those Chinese dolls, her name right there on her badge. “We have beer and wine and soda and mixed drinks.” She kept smiling at Marcy and continued. “I could make you a nice white wine spritzer, if you like.”

      “Oh, that sounds nice,” said Marcy, and it did sound nice, like a sprinkler in the summer time, the kind the boys used to play in. Kim Sue left and Marcy returned to the machine. Cherries and plums rolled past, never stopping at the same time.

      Eric used to chase Wilson through the sprinklers in the park and sometimes when Marcy wasn’t looking he would hold his little brother down and try to pull off his shorts in front of all the other children. She would get so mad at him, always teasing like that, knowing it would make Wilson cry and come looking for her, but she had a job then, looking after a little white boy named Oskar whose parents lived in Park Slope and worked all the time. Oskar’a parents didn’t mind too much when she brought her boys with her when she took him to the park. “As long as you remember,” the father said, “that Oskar is your first priority.”

      Well of course he is, mister doctor man! Why would my own flesh and blood come before your little prince? Good gracious, the things that man would say. If the wife heard him she would weigh in and try to soften the blow. “What my husband means is that we don’t want you to get too distracted. Three children is a handful.”

      Now that was the kind of thing only a white person would say. Where she came from three children was just getting started, even if she was done after Wilson, something her own mother could never understand.

      “Oh, don’t worry, ma’am,” Marcy would say. “I won’t ever let Oskar out of my sight.”

      All these people thinking someone was going to steal their child then, like the whole country had gone crazy. Soon they’d be putting their pictures on milk cartons and billboards and on TV during the news – “Have you seen Brandon?” Usually white kids. If a black kid went missing generally people know who took him.

      “Here you go, ma’am.”

      Kim Sue was back with her drink. It was in a big plastic cup with a straw that went in curlicues, like a roller coaster, like this was for a child. She started fishing in her coin cup.

      “Drinks are complimentary, ma’am.”

      Like I didn’t know that. She pulled out a Susan B. Anthony and put it on her tray. “That’s for you,” she said.

      “Very nice of you, ma’am. And if you need anything else you just let me know.”

      She turned to leave and Marcy was afraid to see her go. “Kim Sue, it’s like your momma gave you two names.”

      “Kim is my family name. Family name comes first in Korean.”

      “Is that right?” said Marcy. “Well I think family should come first, don’t you?”

      “Yes, ma’am.”

      Marcy thought that was something else she should write in her book but realized that she hadn’t brought it with her, and then forgot what she had said. “But they probably don’t spell it like that in Korea, do they? The Sue, I mean.”

      “No, ma’am, we have a different alphabet.”

      “Now isn’t that something?”

      She was balancing a tray full of drinks while she talked to Marcy so she let her go, disappearing into the big Tiffany lamp around them. A band was playing Dixieland and Marcy strained her eyes to see them. The music seemed to be coming from everywhere at once, “When the Saints Come Marching In.”

      “Let me tell you another,” she said, sipping on her drink. The lady at the machine next to her looked at Marcy and then moved away, taking her quarters with her. She watched as the drink spun up the straw when she sucked. Here we go loop de loop.

      Sometimes Eric would help her push the stroller as they went around the park, and Wilson would run so far ahead she would shout after him. “Don’t go where I can’t see you!” she’d holler, and Oskar, too big to be pushed around in a stroller, would try and stand up and yell after her. “Go where I can’t see you!”

      Wilson would hide like that at home as well; hide so good she couldn’t find him sometimes. They were living in Prospect-Lefferts, more house than they needed but you could afford those big limestone buildings then even on a Con Ed salary and Wilson would go into different rooms and be so quiet that she would get hysterical, be practically beside herself by the time her husband got home. Then they would hear him laughing. “Got you!” he would say and emerge from the cupboard or from behind the sideboard and Floyd would get so mad. That one time he came out of her closet wearing her bra and Floyd just about went crazy; took off his belt and chased him.

      She put in a coin and pulled the lever: a watermelon; a bell; the number seven in gold.

      “What numbers are you playing today?”

      She turned her head but nobody was there. Who had spoken? Just turning her head made the colors around her move and when she looked at the floor she saw the pattern there was moving too. It was like a flying carpet, the Vale of Cashmere –

      The Vale of Cashmere! That was the name of that strange corner of the park where she took the boys now and then. They were getting older; other boys took the place of Oskar, and Eric got too big to want to be with them. But Wilson kept her company as she made the rounds, bought them ice cream and wiped their sticky hands. People used to call it The Swamp and there was a muddy pond okay and some hanging trees.

      “How come you don’t play with boys your own age?” one of the kids had asked him once.

      “I just like to help my momma,” he’d said.

      He was the one who found out the real name of The Swamp, checked an old book out of the library and showed her on the map. There was a poem that went with it and Wilson stood up by the pond and put one finger in the air as he read: “Who has not heard of the Vale of Cashmere/With its roses the brightest the earth ever gave?”

      Another babysitter saw them by the pond once and came over to warn them. “You shouldn’t be down in there,” she said, afraid to come too close with her stroller in front of her. “They say men get together down there.”

      And after that Marcy noticed them, lurking about, standing in the trees. Once when she came down with Wilson and a stroller two men ran out, going in different directions.

      She didn’t think about it again for years, until Wilson was grown and still living at home, and he came back one night that first time with his face all bloody, drunk or high on something and smiled at her, blood on his teeth.

      “Hey, Momma, I been to the Vale of Cashmere!”

      That’s when Floyd said no more.

      “What numbers are you playing today?”

      She turned and the colors whooshed like a scarf being wrapped around her head. She saw her this time, a little woman, no bigger than a dragonfly like the ones the boys chased in the park, Wilson would put them in a jar with holes punched in the top, while Eric tried to cover it up with his hand so they would smother.

      “I’m looking for three sevens,” Marcy said to the dragonfly woman. “Are there some other numbers to play?”

      “That is the question, isn’t it?” said the faerie. “Are there other numbers to play?”

      And then she flew away, just like a little hummingbird, and Marcy got up to follow her, passing into the pattern of colors and leaving her cup of coins behind.

      Floyd went through all his money the first hour. Not all his money but all the money he’d meant to spend, the money he put in his shirt pocket, seemed to fly off the table. Dealer beat him every time: if Floyd had 18, the dealer had 19; if Floyd sat on a 19, the dealer hit him with two bricks.

      “I guess this lady feels like she has to show us what a blackjack looks like,” said Tommy, when the dealer drew her third in ten minutes. She apologized to them both, even though they didn’t tip her, and Tommy’s luck was better than hers: He doubled down twice and made a hundred bucks in the blink of an eye. All Floyd could do, once he had spent the money he had earmarked for this outing, was sit there and simmer in his resentment while Tommy’s chip pile grew.

      That was when Helen, the lady in the purple pantsuit, came and asked if he knew where Marcy was.

      “I thought she was with you,” said Floyd. It came out like an accusation.

      “Well, we agreed to meet for lunch at three,” she said, “but then nobody could find Marcy. We figured maybe you two went off together.”

      And that’s how well you know us, Floyd thought. “Maybe she just went off to another casino by herself,” he said. Even though he was losing, and wasn’t even playing at the time, he didn’t want to have to leave his spot and go look for his wife. “There’s no law says we got to stay here.”

      “Blackjack,” said the dealer, flipping another ace.

      But after a minute he did get up to look, as he knew he would, leaving Tommy, who still had a hot hand and no doubt wondered what all the fuss was about.

      “Did you try the ladies room?” he asked Helen.

      “That was one of the first places we looked. They have sofas in there, you know.” She paused. “Do you think we should call security?”

      The suggestion made his blood pressure rise. “No, I don’t think we should call security. Christ sake, grown woman goes off for a few minutes and you want to call the cavalry?”

      “Does she have a cell phone?”

      “Our son gave her one but she couldn’t figure out how to use it.” This was literally half true: Eric had given them each one last Christmas, and neither of them could figure out how to use it. By the time Floyd got the hang of it he realized that the only person he would call was his wife, which was kind of stupid since he saw her all the time anyway.

      They looked all the places that they had already looked and the lady in the Kente cloth joined them, acting more concerned that Floyd felt. “We need a system,” she said, as they circled the room for the second time. The place was more crowded than ever and Floyd could hardly hear what she was saying. “How about I go stake out the buffet and you stay here?” she suggested to Helen.

      “How ‘bout I go stake out the buffet?” Helen said. “I haven’t had lunch yet.”

      Floyd said they could both go feed themselves and take their time doing it; Marcy would turn up. He stood like a sentinel beneath the bells and sirens of the Mardi Gras slots, scowling most of the time. He hated slot machines; there was no sport in it, as he often told his wife. Blackjack at least you were playing the odds. Slots to him was just dumb luck, like a rabbit betting it wouldn’t get run over when it ran across the road. Twice he thought he saw his wife, and each time he took pleasure in anticipating just how much grief he was going to give her. But each time he was wrong.

      By four o’clock they were back together, Tommy too, and they began to set out in search parties. They were a small group: most of the travelers didn’t want to leave their stations, since the bus was scheduled to leave at six and this whole business had already cut into their time as it was. The lady in the Kente cloth, who finally introduced herself as Niobe, took charge. She contacted the hotel security, who seemed to have some experience with old folks wandering off, and as the witching hour neared, and the day-trippers started heading back toward the bus, she went out and argued with the bus driver, who was pretty adamant about leaving on time.

      “You can’t just go off and leave an old lady alone,” she scolded him. The engine was already running, gently shaking the bus, while the AC gusted out the door in heavy welcoming breaths.

      “I won’t be leaving her alone,” the driver said. “I will be leaving you to find her.”

      He agreed to wait as they made one last search. A handful of them fanned out, going to neighboring casinos and restaurants, off the boardwalk and into the side streets. Floyd couldn’t help but think that Marcy was messing with him the whole time, and when he saw the impatient faces of the other folks on the bus – they’d lost their money and had their fill, they just wanted to go home – he couldn’t help but side with them.

      Most of the people he saw as he wandered were wearing shorts and T-shirts. Used to be people would get dressed up to go someplace. And when did everybody get so fat? Walking down the boardwalk, bag of French fries in your hand, what did you expect? The new motto for the city was “Always Turned On,” which he found kind of creepy. There was nothing that he saw that turned him on.

      Doors were open, air conditioning blasting out, cooling nothing. Floyd took to popping into places and doing a quick look around, not even asking half the time if they’d seen anyone who looked like his wife. One, they couldn’t hear you with all that noise and two, half of them couldn’t speak English.

      “You seen an old black lady?” he shouted at one girl scooping ice cream. Her nails were so long he figured they might end up in somebody’s cone. “Blue shirt, about this high?” She stared at him like he was the one with the language problem.

      He kept walking. Going in and out of the summer sun was making him dizzy, to say nothing of thirsty. He wished for the first time that Tommy was with him. That man would always stop for a drink. He saw people in those rolling chairs, being pushed by young people, girls sometimes. And you wonder why you so fat?

      Down at one end of the boardwalk he found what looked like a real bar. The crowd had trickled off as the sun sank lower in the sky. Go on, get out of here. A lot of good you been. Floyd ducked inside and felt the rivers of sweat roll out from under his hat and chill on his face and neck. His glasses steamed as he took a seat at the bar and ordered a gin and tonic. He perched on the stool and looked up at the game on TV. The waitress brought him his drink and man did that taste good. No skimping on the gin, either. He forgot to ask her about Marcy. His wallet was bothering him, he felt like he was balancing on it. When she asked him if he wanted to start a tab he simply nodded.

      “You got a phone?” She pointed to an old-fashioned booth in the back, kind Superman used to change in. The place was filling up, young couples waiting for dinner. Went back to the hotel to put your dress shorts on? Once inside the paneled wood booth he forgot who he was going to call. Eric, right. He searched the scraps of paper in his wallet for the number he never had cause to memorize and let it ring, go to voicemail, and then dialed again.


      “This ain’t no telemarketer.”

      “Hey, Pop.” He did not sound happy to hear from him and Floyd had already put enough change in the machine so he cut straight to the point.

      “We in Atlantic City and your mother’s gone missing.” He backtracked from there, explaining the whole afternoon in greater detail than Eric needed, but never did his son sound any more excited than Floyd felt. He asked the obvious questions – had they called the police? Who else was looking?

      “Did she have her cell phone?” he asked, pointedly.

      “That’s why I was calling,” Floyd said. “I figured maybe she’d called you.”

      Eric was silent, and Floyd knew that he knew he was lying. He imagined him at home, still in his work clothes, the sound on the TV muted, his eyes on the game. From his perch in the booth Floyd could see the TV over the bar. Jeter was trying to steal.

      “I’m sure she’ll turn up, Pop. I mean, where’s she gonna go?”

      “I know that.”

      “You got your cell phone with you? So I can call you if she does?”

      Floyd muttered something and got off the phone. That boy would go to his grave asking about those damn phones. He should just wrap them up and give them back to him for Christmas. Turn ‘em into salt-and-pepper shakers.

      When he got back to his seat at the bar Jeter got picked off and he ordered another drink. Now they could send the search party out for him. The tumblers were tall and when he turned in his seat he found he had company. Big old white dude with long hair and a pointed beard. He was sipping a Budweiser longneck and looking at the screen. His arms were covered in tattoos; dragons, snakes and skulls disappeared into his shirtsleeves.

      “Fuckin’ Yankees,” he said and turned to look at Floyd. “Nice hat.”

      Floyd turned to face his own reflection in the mirror behind the bar. “You wouldn’t believe how long I had this hat,” he said.

      “There isn’t much I wouldn’t believe,” the man said.

      They got to talking. Turned out he worked in a tattoo parlor on the boardwalk, which explained all the ink. Half way through his second drink and Floyd was feeling generous in his opinions.

      “Back in the day,” he said, “man had a tattoo it meant he’d been someplace. In the service, in the joint, you know.”

      “I hear you,” the man said. “These days it just means you been to the mall.” He drained his beer and held up the empty. “Buy you a drink?”

      “Let me buy you a drink,” said Floyd, and pulled out the fat wallet that had been giving him such a pain and laid it on the counter. Soon he had the pictures out and was showing him snaps of Eric, bragging on his job even if he wasn’t exactly sure what he did. Then one of the whole family, when everyone was young.

      “Where’s your other boy?” the stranger asked.

      Floyd made a face like he was sucking on a lime. “Wilson got killed in a hold-up ten years ago,” he said.

      “Oh, man, I am sorry. They catch the guy who did it?”

      “No, it was in Prospect Park one night. Lot of crime in there.”

      “That’s why I could never live in the city,” the man said, which struck Tommy as funny. Most people would be scared of him, even in Brooklyn.

      “So what happens when folks get old?” said Floyd, changing the subject. “Maybe they don’t want all those tattoos any more.”

      “Shit, you don’t have to wait ‘til your old to regret something stupid you did.” The man laughed and Floyd got a glimmer of a gold tooth in his head. “People come in all the time wanting to have tattoos taken off, usually the name of some girl that don’t love them anymore.”

      “Can you do it?”

      “Sure,” the man said. “Hurts like hell and costs twice as much. But we can do it. Easier just to change it, though.”

      “How do you mean?”

      “Well, there was this one girl who loved a guy named Chris and had it tattooed on her ass. Until she found Jesus and then we just added a ‘T’.”

      He didn’t smile at first and it took Floyd a minute to figure it was a joke. He smiled first. “Hey, I got one,” he said. The stranger’s eyes gleamed in anticipation. “There was this guy who loved this old girl so much he had her name tattooed on his Johnson.”

      “Now that’s gotta hurt!”

      “Hell, yeah.” Floyd wiped his mouth. “Then they broke up, you know, and soon he started missing her real bad. So he went all over looking for her, from Wisconsin all the way down to Jamaica. Then he’s in the bathroom one day and he looks over and he sees this other guy’s dick.” He stopped for a minute. The stranger kept staring at him. “Now I can’t remember that girl’s name.”

      “Is it important?”

      “Yeah, it’s the whole punch line.”

      “Uh, oh. Better have another drink.”

      He felt flushed and excused himself to go to the bathroom. There he stared straight ahead at the wall and read all the graffiti as if looking for a message. And by the time he got back to the bar he was not surprised to see the stranger was gone and with him his wallet though all Floyd could feel was a keen sense of disappointment: He remembered the end of the joke now. He had remembered that old girl’s name.


      voice from the planet

      ‘Vale of Cashmere’ was first published by Harvard Square Editions in Voice from the Planet, FREE from March 30 – April 3, 2017 at Amazon Kindle US, and Kindle UK among others. Sean Elder’s writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, National Geographic, New York Magazine, Salon, Slate, Vogue, Elle, Men’s Journal, Men’s Health, O: The Oprah Magazine, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Details and many other publications. The essay he contributed to the collection of men’s writings The Bastard On the Couch (Morrow, 2004) was reprinted on three continents; his essay on ecstasy, included in the collection of drug writings entitled White Rabbit (Chronicle Books, 1995) was called “seminal” by Granta; and a piece he wrote about being a stay-at-home dad for Oprah was included in her best of O collection, Live Your Best Life (Oxmoor, 2005). He has co-authored several books, including Websites That Work with designer Roger Black (Adobe Press, 1997) and Mission Al Jazeera with former Marine captain Josh Rushing (Palgrave, 2007). He also works as a book doctor and helped edit the forthcoming Making Rounds with Oscar by Dr. David Dosa (Hyperion, 2010). He lives in Brooklyn, New York with his wife and daughter.

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    • All at Once: Excerpt of the Novel

    • I step onto a wide stone platform surrounded by water and lie on my stomach to peer down over the edge. At my approach, tiny fish scatter like drops of colored light; crabs pause, wary, then scuttle along the sides of the basin, stuffing their mouths as fast as they can with alternate pincers. After a while, a kind of brown finger wriggles out from the shadows. Another one emerges, then two more, and finally the bulbous body of an octopus comes into view. It skims along until the water is too shallow then starts to walk, using its tentacles as legs. When the water gets deeper it pushes off against the sandy bottom to glide, once more, just beneath the surface. It circles round and round my platform.

      aao cover

      My back begins to prickle, and I realize I’ll be burnt to a crisp if I don’t find shelter pretty soonthe ocean breeze masks the sun’s virulence.

      Standing up makes me momentarily dizzy. The tide has gone out, uncovering rocks studded with barnacles or slick with thick green hair. I head back toward the flat sand and continue walking, looking for a place to rest. I’ve just about resigned myself to the idea of a plastic chair, when I spot a barraca that’s not open for business. The beach in front of it is empty, the small structure shuttered; its thatched roof casts a nice, wide stripe of shade onto the sand. Gratefully, I set up camp, taking out the water and crackers I brought, spreading out my towel to sit on, and leaning against the barraca wall with the empty backpack in between for cushioning. A sigh of relief.

      The ocean is now more white than blue. At the horizon, a wavering smudge might be a cruise ship or an oil rig. The great mass of water is barely disturbed by shifting waves, fretful and sluggish like a dog settling down to sleep. There’s an occasional bloom of white spray when a wave breaks against rock; wisps of cloud trail across the sky. I yawn, lie down on the towel, and close my eyes.

      Now the landscape is reduced to the rustle of wind in the palm thatch, the faint piping of a distant bird, and the dull roar of the ocean. I stretch my arms and let them flop back down. Rolling my head slowly from side to side to loosen the tension in my neck, I notice that this movement causes the pitch of the ocean to vary ever so slightly. Intrigued, I try it a few more times, just to make sure.

      There’s a lesson in that, I reflect: reality changes according to your viewpoint. I roll my head once more from side to side then lie still again, listening to the tiny, ceaseless fluctuations within the monotone.

      An insect lands on my footwithout opening my eyes I flex my toe to chase it away, and realize that the gesture produced an infinitesimal shift in the ocean sound. Bizarre! I can understand the position of my head influencing what I hear, but the position of my toe? (more…)

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    Ultima Thule?

    We are close.
    They’ve pushed it all as far as they could.
    As far as it could be pushed.

    They’ve pushed empire.
    They’ve pushed hegemony.
    They’ve pushed lies.
    They’ve pushed false flags.
    They’ve pushed proxy wars
    They’ve pushed Post-Truth norms.
    They’ve pushed Post-Human boundaries.
    They’ve pushed Post-Modernist delusions.

    They gave us, owing to the above, the only Amoral Society (yes, it is an oxymoron) that has ever existed.
    As a template, for others.
    And now what?

    Now comes the Pushback.
    It has to.
    Newton’s Third Law.
    It is still operative.

    The Great European War Machine, is all but out of gas.

    Now, like King Canute, they are resorting to commanding the waves.
    And they will be just as effective.

    Day by day, the world is changing track(s).
    The Old Hegemons will find themselves , if they persist, left behind.
    Far behind.

    From being the engine of history, they will fast become the loose caboose at the far end, about to be shunted off the rails.
    Sic transit gloria mundi?
    Not quite: there was nothing glorious about it, ever.
    But their innings is over.
    It is ineluctable.
    Except , there is still One Thing they can do.
    One Big Last Act of Madness.
    They can blow up the rails, for everyone.
    Sure, they can do it.
    Recall the Nord Stream Pipeline?
    As I have said, it is a Crisis of Hegemony, over-riding many other crises.
    But will they?
    That’s what remains to be seen.
    And if you think they might, I suggest you be well ahead of the curve.
    Else we might be faced with a likely scenario, on the evening news.
    It could go something like this.
    The World ends tonight at 9.
    Details at 11.
    And now, a word from our sponsors.


    © R.Kanth 2023


    Professor Rajani Kanth, is Author of Coda (A Novel), A Day in the Life (Novel), and Expiations (Verse), and Farewell to Modernism (Political Economy Tract).

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    Questioning The Matrix

    We live, be it in Africa, Asia, or Latin America, in a wholly European (I include the Americas within that term) world.
    That truth is so obvious as to be trite.
    Yet, few of us realise its enormous significance.
    One sub-continent managed, over 400 years , to set its epistemic , and ontic, stamp (which I term EuroModernism or EM)on virtually the entire world.
    Only tribal formations remain autonomous, thankfully, and outside its hegemonic spell.
    Irony is that even the most stridently anti-colonial regimes nonetheless adhere to its mores, institutions, legal, societal, and political systems.
    Parliaments, Courts, Media, Militaries, and Police, are all constituted in the Western mold, virtually everywhere.
    This is simply stunning.
    Europe managed to inflict a banal homogeneity upon the entire world, as though other cultures, institutions, ideologies, and practices, simply did not exist.
    Not all of this was achieved by force and fraud, though most of it certainly was.
    Even the erstwhile , adversarial, communist non-European world drew its inspiration from European extant political traditions.

    To oppose European dominance, in this or that domain, whilst daily breathing its socio-cultural ethos is a specially otiose undertaking.
    The so-called Multilaterals, that administer so much of the world, the UN, World Bank, IMF, WTO, WEF,et. al. are all little more than limpid rubber-stamps for Western agendas.
    The axial ideas of Growth and Progress, i.e., perpetual expansion , are quintessentially European ideas: and their consequences have brought the planet to the brink of resource exhaustion.
    Marginal, flash in the pan, pushbacks. like Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness notion are few and far between.
    No, contrary to the EM liturgy, we do not need to be ‘developed’ or ‘industrialised’ , nor be required to submit to any such set of tendentious, exploitative, ‘macro’ objectives, imposed upon the many by the few that rule over them.

    Those are merely the canny slogans of ruling elites who batten , with ever cumulating quanta of wealth and power, upon such specious stratagems.

    It is really high time that Non-Europeans recognised their own heritage , legacies, not to mention genius, and drew inspiration therefrom.
    Their intellectual slavery borders close to the shameful.
    Diversity, we must recall, is the original state of our planet.
    It would be good to keep it intact: for all of us.

    The prospect of an implacable EM consumerism, with its concomitants of mass society and mass drudgery for the millions, taking over the entire world, is far too dreadful to contemplate.
    Yet, it stares us in the face.

    Btw it may be instructive to know that the Bushmen(and women) put in, on average, a 2 1/2 day workweek(https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2017/10/01/551018759/are-hunter-gatherers-the-happiest-humans-to-inhabit-earth; also, https://stage2.ineteconomics.org/perspectives/blog/kanth-a-400-year-program-of-modernist-thinking-is-exploding).
    There exist – and have existed – far saner alternates – for us humans – to making war and making work , endlessly, on an exponentially advancing basis.
    It takes but a smidgeon of imagination to realise that.
    As I have oft hinted, the greatest human need may simply be to huddle?.
    A need-based society would have a very different configuration than a greed-based one.
    We need to know/understand who we are, in essence, as anthropic beings, before swallowing the toxic blue pill of EuroModernism(EM).
    A little realist anthropology serves as a powerful antidote to many of the delusions of European Modernism.
    A little history would help, too: it is precisely in the modern period that Europe carried out, demonstrably, amongst the worst carnages in all of human history: destroying societies, cultures, and habitats, under the gleaming banners of liberte and egalite.
    Maybe we might consider such matters before we start fancying our gratuitously complex , modernist, societal arrangements – ever gaining, by the day, in harshness, oppressiveness, and punitiveness – as god’s gift to the anthropic world?
    Perhaps, it’s time to think (not even rethink) , for the very first time: there may be not much time left, given the latter-day trajectory of the European world.
    Not to become more ‘enlightened’: but to save what remains of the anthropic world from the manic sweep of rapacious greed and implacable paradigmatic despotism -, as exercised by the European template of ‘Progress’, for 400 years.
    The constitution of the Lead EM Hegemon adjures one to engage in the pursuit of ‘happiness’: a well chosen word, surely.
    Chasing after chimera could be what all of idle EM sloganeering is tantamount to?
    More modestly , we may need to accept the plain fact that life may simply be about living: not with doing and becoming, and fulfilling lofty , concocted, idylls dreamed up in the elite salons of avant garde EM philosophers under the generous, even hallucinogenic, influence of free flowing claret.
    To repeat: Europe has been the locus, and the fons et origo , of Two Global Conflagrations, and is now, avidly, lusting for a Third, and Last (to finish the job).
    Does that not hold any caveats for us all not to tread their unsanguine pathways (this is not Europhobia: I would , equally, oppose Africa , or Asia, or any other continental force, if it indulged in any of the above)?
    Peoples , left to themselves, follow their own paths: that option was wrested away, by brute force, when EuroModernists conquered the entire world (barely 10 countries escaped full European colonisation and occupation), and imposed their will upon them.
    What remains to be Undone is the on-going colonisation of the minds of the ex-colonials.
    Let me state it another way: even if it were to be argued that EM ideas , institutions, and practices, were benevolent, noble, and virtuous, it would still be odious for the world to be compelled to accept and conform to them – by force.

    The ultimate, even mordant, irony is that the very system that denied free choice to virtually the entire world, any time it could, now claims to be the sublime paragon of ‘freedom’.


    © R.Kanth 2023


    Professor Rajani Kanth, is Author of Coda (A Novel), A Day in the Life (Novel), and Expiations (Verse), and Farewell to Modernism (Political Economy Tract).

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    The Offer


    They made an offer, with a snigger, for my time.
    Begrudgingly, I complied.
    They made an offer, with a smile, for my labor.
    Unhappily, I agreed.
    They made an offer, with a grin, for my talent.
    Wanly, I consented.
    They made an offer , with a smirk, for my heart.
    Sadly, I accepted.
    They made an offer, with a wink, for my values.
    Despairingly, I assented.
    They made an offer, with a simper, for my autonomy.
    In tears, I nodded.
    They made an offer, with a sneer, for my culture.
    In grief, I assented.
    Then they made an offer, with a leer, for my soul.
    And I said.
    You know not, mon ami, what you ask.
    You ask of me what you yourself, unknowingly, forfeited aeons ago, in your grand ‘enlightenment’.
    You took from me all you could take, if more than I could give:
    my time, labor, talent, heart, values, autonomy, and culture.
    But now you ask of me the one thing that is impossible, the one thing that is non-tradable.
    You cleared the underbrush of values, affections, and loyalties,
    and built a House on Greed alone, and termed it Progress.
    You sprayed its environs with the lethal toxins of raw materialism, to disinfect it, permanently, of any and all possible anthropic norms.
    What a grand mess of pottage, resulted: yes, a truly Gross, Domestic, Pottage!
    And where has it brought you?
    Look about you!
    To the very brink of assured , mutual, annihilation.
    So, I am sorry, but I intend to keep my soul.
    And one day, if we both survive, you will come to me, and trade all of your gaudy accumulations to savor, again, but a smidgeon of it; to recall what you surrendered on your way to the crass stupefaction of the senses , that is the vainglorious, profligate, coin of the realm of the ‘first world‘.
    And then, just possibly, you might relearn the primal mantras of anthropic decency: mutual care, consideration, and conviviality.

    No, I blame you not, in any of this.
    For the chains simply fell upon you, as you slept, deep in dogmatic slumbers, for centuries, imagining that you were building the “best of all possible worlds”.
    The most unbreachable prisons can oft be the ones that the inmates build themselves, lovingly, in their lapidary ignorance?.


    © R.Kanth 2023


    Professor Rajani Kanth, is Author of Coda (A Novel), A Day in the Life (Novel), and Expiations (Verse), and Farewell to Modernism (Political Economy Tract).

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    The Joy of Science?


    Nothing human that is not prey to corruption.

    All our ideologies – political , religious – are run though with verifiable distortion: from wishful thinking to outright deception.

    We are, stated simply, mythmaking animals.

    Religion, e.g., is replete with pure banana oil, sufficient to stagger the thinking mind.

    Yet, millions succumb to its drivel, either wilfully, or perforce.

    Political ideology is just as full of arid fantasy giving the hoi polloi the delectable Kool-Aid of the chimera of hope.

    You know the hoary litany : equality, democracy, etc.

    Both serve the same social function, admirably: of maintaining social order. and reconciling the downtrodden and the impuissant to their lot in social life.

    Both are solid testaments to human gullibility.

    As Einstein put it: I know of only 2 Infinities: that of space., and that of human stupidity. About the first, I am unsure. About the second, I am absolutely certain.

    I could not improve on that.


    But what of Science?

    How corrupt is that?

    Well, what passes for ‘social science’ in the EuroModernist genre is bunk.

    To understand this , one has to know the rich social history of Europe, inclusive of the struggles against the Church of Rome ( Luther, et. al) and the fear of the revolt of the masses (the Fr. Revolution), 1789 onward.

    In sociology, canonical figures like Comte and Weber , were wholly cognisant of what had to elided/suppressed, and created entire systems of ideas to blunt critical discourse about what I have termed EuroModernistEM – society (translate, if loosely, as EuroCapitalism).
    So-called ‘Economics’, per exemple, is a textbook example of apologetics: from the Ricardians , and Malthus, in their struggles over the Poor Laws and the Corn Laws, to latter-day figures like Friedman, et. al.

    Stated simply: its ‘Science’, since its inception, has been/ is wholly subservient to Policy diktats (See my Political Economy and Laissez-Faire tome)

    Knowledge of social history is a vital desideratum to evaluate such matters: and it is a knowledge that is rarely permitted to intrude into pedagogy.


    Indeed , I have called Economics the crown jewel of the hegemonic ideology of EM</em> (See my Against Economics Work).

    It is the latter’s very patois, its lingua franca : whence the patent absurdity of garnering a Nobel (Memorial) Prize , in return for its utterly specious services.

    And Anthropology was no more than a servile adjunct to empire: to ‘crack the codes’ of The Other, for conquest and appropriation.

    That is EM ‘social science’ , in a nutshell.

    Dull, and dispiriting?


    And yet, a serviceable Tool for System Maintenance?.


    How about the Natural Sciences?

    Only here, there is some latitude for serious inquiry, though held in check, as needed, by the usual funding constraints and tenure politics.

    The urgency here to solve real , practical problems: to develop military armaments (Dr Strangelove), and new consumer technologies, permits the latitude mentioned above.

    So, one should set aside the ‘Big Bang genre of pure speculation – that’s all it is – and look, instead, to the quantum-physics style of applied research, to assess real utility.

    So, natural science delivers utilities that can and do serve humankind, whereas social science , principally, delivers astute propaganda for the power elites.


    The real miracle is that science, in any sense , survives at all, given the existential realities of power and wealth.

    As a rather astute philosopher once observed, if the fact that the angles of a triangles add up to 180 degrees were to be inimical to the ruling elites, it would be denied/or/suppressed.

    The hyperbole, in the above , is essential to grasp the vital point.

    Still , I venture, it is the only human achievement that is worthy of note.

    With a nouvelle ‘neo-fascism’ – market fascism – around the corner, it remains to be seen whether it will continue.

    A new charlatanism, in the image of Lysenko and Eysenck may well drown it?

    We can but wait, and see?



    © R.Kanth 2023


    Professor Rajani Kanth, is Author of Coda (A Novel), A Day in the Life (Novel), and Expiations (Verse), and Farewell to Modernism (Political Economy Tract).

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    I am that
    still rapt in
    I am that
    fool named
    with the gold
    to dross
    Antic echoes
    with flaws
    weary wears
    I cannot
    due cause
    In sunrise
    I spy
    the sunset
    in profit
    I feel
    the loss

    In all
    I am not
    the man
    I was

    Though anarchy
    I still cling
    were I to
    a rolling stone
    fain would I
    the dudgeon

    I am not
    who I
    once was


    © R.Kanth 2023


    Professor Rajani Kanth, is Author of Coda (A Novel), A Day in the Life (Novel), and Expiations (Verse), and Farewell to Modernism (Political Economy Tract).

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    I am the
    the spirit
    I am the
    the skylark
    I am the
    of many things
    in deep
    plim with joy
    above diurnal
    and stings

    Like some
    its lumens
    and far

    lumens –
    near and far


    © R.Kanth 2023


    Professor Rajani Kanth, is Author of Coda (A Novel), A Day in the Life (Novel), and Expiations (Verse), and Farewell to Modernism (Political Economy Tract).

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    The Big Picture?


    Time to read the tea leaves?
    IF WW3 does not lay the human world waste.
    IF a Nuclear Exchange doe not devastate all life.
    IF Climate Catastrophe does not achieve the same.

    THEN, this is what we might expect.
    The West will turn Neo-Fascist, or more simply darkly Authoritarian.
    Rights will , increasingly, morph into privileges.
    The ‘liberal democracy’ modus will , over time, melt away.
    The East will embrace the China Model of a market economy, managed under the auspices of a benevolent despotism.
    Rights will be subject to communal norms and cultural values.

    In the former, private power will over-ride public power: in the latter, vice versa.
    The Rest of the World will, on and off, ally with one or other of the two modes.
    Without any question, the latter model will be far more successful,
    in simple material terms.
    NATO will shrink, radically, as will the EU.
    The UN, IMF, WTO, and The World Bank will be truncated, similarly, with parallel, and competing, Alternates arising.
    And the US, Australia, UK, Canada, and New Zealand will form a loose, de facto, alliance, to formalise the ‘gentlewoman’s’ agreement that always existed, implicitly.
    They are, after all, birds of a feather.
    It will be a multipolar world, with an end to any Unilateral Hegemony.
    Its significance cannot be over-rated.
    For 400 plus years, the West has ruled the world, the last 2 centuries under Anglo-Norman Hegemony.
    For better, or for worse, the current global situation is of their provenance, be it wilful or unintended.
    Typically, they are trying to ‘solve’ the crisis – a Crisis of Hegemony – using the same means/methods that gifted us WW1 and WW2.
    Violence was how they forged their rule – being the Undisputed Masters of War – , and Violence is how they hope to salvage (what remains of) it.
    This is to be expected.
    They are, like us all, creatures of habit, except their habits happen to be inordinately lethal.
    Living by the sword has its perks, but its ultimate trajectory is an ineluctable declension.
    As Napoleon had it, you can do anything with bayonets – except sit on them.
    That’s the Big Picture.
    I will leave others to print out the myriad local snapshots it is composed of?

    © R.Kanth 2023


    Professor Rajani Kanth, is Author of Coda (A Novel), A Day in the Life (Novel), and Expiations (Verse), and Farewell to Modernism (Political Economy Tract).

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    The Final Cause?

    I know it now
    as I knew
    It then
    The Force behind
    the Will
    of Men

    now that I
    know the
    Errant Cause*
    grieves me so
    to give
    due pause
    as it did
    when just
    a boy
    to know
    with even
    lesser joy
    why women
    and men

    It is the Bane
    of History
    and why
    we’re neither
    safe nor free

    * I have detailed this issue in many writings: most recently in, https://litvote.com/the-human-prospect/

    © R.Kanth 2023


    Professor Rajani Kanth, is Author of Coda (Novel) , A Day in the Life (Novel), and Expiations (Verse)

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    The Mirage


    So , do we, in this 13th hr of human history, still believe in the hoary litany of liberte, egalite, fraternite?
    Are we still drinking the EM (European Modernism) Kool Aid that has had us besotted for centuries?
    Is there no learning curve to our credulity?
    It is said that hope springs eternal in the human breast?.
    But so does ignorance and stupidity.
    Especially the latter.
    As the Masters of the Universe rush to wipe all planetary life off the planet in a WW3, as their last act of desperation, what are we, the people, thinking?
    Vote for the good guys, come next election (before, or after WW3)?
    You might as well lie in wait for Godot.
    That tomorrow never comes.
    It is all a monstrous hoax.
    We’re still a gaggle of turkeys voting for Xmas.
    As I have often said, humans are, above all traits, myth making animals.
    Religious, political, whatever.
    The Great Myths of EM we all learn in grade school.
    And, apparently, most of us never forget them!
    Time we did?
    Time we woke up.
    Here is Reality.
    Bad guys , of various shades, rule everywhere.
    As they always have.
    The transition from medieval to modernist polities only altered their uniforms , slogans, and ID cards – not their intent.
    The ruling elite is the ruling elite is the ruling elite.
    And, also, remains the ruling elite.
    Good guys do not seek power, for starters.
    And rarely make it to the top of that grim structure.
    They are usually suborned/subverted very quickly by the other kind we know so well.
    Beware the(wo)man who would be king (or president).
    I have referred to who we are, and what we might do , as the hoi polloi, outside that domain to protect ourselves.
    The context is horizontal, kindred, relations, bound by affective ties.
    I will again give the cites here: though this is only the tip of the iceberg of alternate societal thinking challenging EuroModernism.

    A Transvaluation of Values?

    Here’s what lies ahead, IF WW3 is, somehow , staved off.
    The West will turn , in various shades, neo-Fascist (or, more simply, authoritarian).
    The East will follow the China Model (a market economy governed by benevolent despotism).
    Others will take their chances.
    Most likely, the Chinese Way?
    Just don’t expect CNN or the BBC to explain all of the above to you.
    Their job is to perpetrate and propagate the Myths.
    If it came to announcing WW3,it might go something like this.
    World ends tonight at 9: details at 11.
    And now for a word from our sponsors.
    ? !

    © R.Kanth 2023


    Professor Rajani Kanth, is Author of Coda (Novel) , A Day in the Life (Novel), and Expiations (Verse)

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    On Exceptionalism?


    I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever…
    Thomas Jefferson
    They oft claim to be ‘exceptional’.
    I go even one step further.
    They are super exceptional.
    Or, exceptionally exceptional!
    What do I mean?

    I will let the data speak.
    Here are their ‘regime change operations’ overseas – just since WW2, and only through 2014.
    China 1949 to early 1960s Albania 1949-53
    East Germany 1950s Iran 1953 * Guatemala 1954 *
    Costa Rica mid-1950s Syria 1956-7 Egypt 1957
    Indonesia 1957-8 British Guiana 1953-64 *
    Iraq 1963 * North Vietnam 1945-73 Cambodia 1955-70 *
    Laos 1958 *, 1959 *, 1960 * Ecuador 1960-63 *
    Congo 1960 * France 1965 Brazil 1962-64 *
    Dominican Republic 1963 * Cuba 1959 to present
    Bolivia 1964 *Indonesia 1965 * Ghana 1966 *
    Chile 1964-73 * Greece 1967 * Costa Rica 1970-71
    Bolivia 1971 * Australia 1973-75 *
    Angola 1975, 1980s Zaire 1975 Portugal 1974-76 * Jamaica 1976-80 *
    Seychelles 1979-81 Chad 1981-82 *Grenada 1983 *
    South Yemen 1982-84 Suriname 1982-84 Fiji 1987 *
    Libya 1980s Nicaragua 1981-90 * Panama 1989 *Bulgaria 1990 *
    Albania 1991 * Iraq 1991 Afghanistan 1980s *
    Somalia 1993 Yugoslavia 1999-2000 * Ecuador 2000 *
    Afghanistan 2001 * Venezuela 2002 * Iraq 2003 *
    Haiti 2004 * Somalia 2007 to present Honduras 2009
    Libya 2011 * Syria 2012 Ukraine 2014 *
    Here is the Calendar of Wars since the inception of the Republic.
    They have been at war 93% of the time.
    Year-by-year Timeline of America’s Major Wars (1776-2011)
    THE DATA: *Source: https://www.globalresearch.ca/america-has-been-at-war-93%-of-the-time-222-out-of-239-years-since-1776/5565946
    1776 – American Revolutionary War, Chickamagua Wars, Second Cherokee War, Pennamite-Yankee War
    1777 – American Revolutionary War, Chickamauga Wars, Second Cherokee War, Pennamite-Yankee War
    1778 – American Revolutionary War, Chickamauga Wars, Pennamite-Yankee War
    1779 – American Revolutionary War, Chickamauga Wars, Pennamite-Yankee War
    1780 – American Revolutionary War, Chickamauga Wars, Pennamite-Yankee War
    1781 – American Revolutionary War, Chickamauga Wars, Pennamite-Yankee War
    1782 – American Revolutionary War, Chickamauga Wars, Pennamite-Yankee War
    1783 – American Revolutionary War, Chickamauga Wars, Pennamite-Yankee War
    1784 – Chickamauga Wars, Pennamite-Yankee War, Oconee War
    1785 – Chickamauga Wars, Northwest Indian War
    1786 – Chickamauga Wars, Northwest Indian War
    1787 – Chickamauga Wars, Northwest Indian War
    1788 – Chickamauga Wars, Northwest Indian War
    1789 – Chickamauga Wars, Northwest Indian War
    1790 – Chickamauga Wars, Northwest Indian War
    1791 – Chickamauga Wars, Northwest Indian War
    1792 – Chickamauga Wars, Northwest Indian War
    1793 – Chickamauga Wars, Northwest Indian War
    1794 – Chickamauga Wars, Northwest Indian War
    1795 – Northwest Indian War
    1796 – No major war
    1797 – No major war
    1798 – Quasi-War
    1799 – Quasi-War
    1800 – Quasi-War
    1801 – First Barbary War
    1802 – First Barbary War
    1803 – First Barbary War
    1804 – First Barbary War
    1805 – First Barbary War
    1806 – Sabine Expedition
    1807 – No major war
    1808 – No major war
    1809 – No major war
    1810 – U.S. occupies Spanish-held West Florida
    1811 – Tecumseh’s War
    1812 – War of 1812, Tecumseh’s War, Seminole Wars, U.S. occupies Spanish-held Amelia Island and other parts of East Florida
    1813 – War of 1812, Tecumseh’s War, Peoria War, Creek War, U.S. expands its territory in West Florida
    1814 – War of 1812, Creek War, U.S. expands its territory in Florida, Anti-piracy war
    1815 – War of 1812, Second Barbary War, Anti-piracy war
    1816 – First Seminole War, Anti-piracy war
    1817 – First Seminole War, Anti-piracy war
    1818 – First Seminole War, Anti-piracy war
    1819 – Yellowstone Expedition, Anti-piracy war
    1820 – Yellowstone Expedition, Anti-piracy war
    1821 – Anti-piracy war (see note above)
    1822 – Anti-piracy war (see note above)
    1823 – Anti-piracy war, Arikara War
    1824 – Anti-piracy war
    1825 – Yellowstone Expedition, Anti-piracy war
    1826 – No major war
    1827 – Winnebago War
    1828 – No major war
    1829 – No major war
    1830 – No major war
    1831 – Sac and Fox Indian War
    1832 – Black Hawk War
    1833 – Cherokee Indian War
    1834 – Cherokee Indian War, Pawnee Indian Territory Campaign
    1835 – Cherokee Indian War, Seminole Wars, Second Creek War
    1836 – Cherokee Indian War, Seminole Wars, Second Creek War, Missouri-Iowa Border War
    1837 – Cherokee Indian War, Seminole Wars, Second Creek War, Osage Indian War, Buckshot War
    1838 – Cherokee Indian War, Seminole Wars, Buckshot War, Heatherly Indian War
    1839 – Cherokee Indian War, Seminole Wars
    1840 – Seminole Wars, U.S. naval forces invade Fiji Islands
    1841 – Seminole Wars, U.S. naval forces invade McKean Island, Gilbert Islands, and Samoa
    1842 – Seminole Wars
    1843 – U.S. forces clash with Chinese, U.S. troops invade African coast
    1844 – Texas-Indian Wars
    1845 – Texas-Indian Wars
    1846 – Mexican-American War, Texas-Indian Wars
    1847 – Mexican-American War, Texas-Indian Wars
    1848 – Mexican-American War, Texas-Indian Wars, Cayuse War
    1849 – Texas-Indian Wars, Cayuse War, Southwest Indian Wars, Navajo Wars, Skirmish between 1st Cavalry and Indians
    1850 – Texas-Indian Wars, Cayuse War, Southwest Indian Wars, Navajo Wars, Yuma War, California Indian Wars, Pitt River Expedition
    1851 – Texas-Indian Wars, Cayuse War, Southwest Indian Wars, Navajo Wars, Apache Wars, Yuma War, Utah Indian Wars, California Indian Wars
    1852 – Texas-Indian Wars, Cayuse War, Southwest Indian Wars, Navajo Wars, Yuma War, Utah Indian Wars, California Indian Wars
    1853 – Texas-Indian Wars, Cayuse War, Southwest Indian Wars, Navajo Wars, Yuma War, Utah Indian Wars, Walker War, California Indian Wars
    1854 – Texas-Indian Wars, Cayuse War, Southwest Indian Wars, Navajo Wars, Apache Wars, California Indian Wars, Skirmish between 1st Cavalry and Indians
    1855 – Seminole Wars, Texas-Indian Wars, Cayuse War, Southwest Indian Wars, Navajo Wars, Apache Wars, California Indian Wars, Yakima War, Winnas Expedition, Klickitat War, Puget Sound War, Rogue River Wars, U.S. forces invade Fiji Islands and Uruguay
    1856 – Seminole Wars, Texas-Indian Wars, Southwest Indian Wars, Navajo Wars, California Indian Wars, Puget Sound War, Rogue River Wars, Tintic War
    1857 – Seminole Wars, Texas-Indian Wars, Southwest Indian Wars, Navajo Wars, California Indian Wars, Utah War, Conflict in Nicaragua
    1858 – Seminole Wars, Texas-Indian Wars, Southwest Indian Wars, Navajo Wars, Mohave War, California Indian Wars, Spokane-Coeur d’Alene-Paloos War, Utah War, U.S. forces invade Fiji Islands and Uruguay
    1859 Texas-Indian Wars, Southwest Indian Wars, Navajo Wars, California Indian Wars, Pecos Expedition, Antelope Hills Expedition, Bear River Expedition, John Brown’s raid, U.S. forces launch attack against Paraguay, U.S. forces invade Mexico
    1860 – Texas-Indian Wars, Southwest Indian Wars, Navajo Wars, Apache Wars, California Indian Wars, Paiute War, Kiowa-Comanche War
    1861 – American Civil War, Texas-Indian Wars, Southwest Indian Wars, Navajo Wars, Apache Wars, California Indian Wars, Cheyenne Campaign
    1862 – American Civil War, Texas-Indian Wars, Southwest Indian Wars, Navajo Wars, Apache Wars, California Indian Wars, Cheyenne Campaign, Dakota War of 1862,
    1863 – American Civil War, Texas-Indian Wars, Southwest Indian Wars, Navajo Wars, Apache Wars, California Indian Wars, Cheyenne Campaign, Colorado War, Goshute War
    1864 – American Civil War, Texas-Indian Wars, Navajo Wars, Apache Wars, California Indian Wars, Cheyenne Campaign, Colorado War, Snake War
    1865 – American Civil War, Texas-Indian Wars, Navajo Wars, Apache Wars, California Indian Wars, Colorado War, Snake War, Utah’s Black Hawk War
    1866 – Texas-Indian Wars, Navajo Wars, Apache Wars, California Indian Wars, Skirmish between 1st Cavalry and Indians, Snake War, Utah’s Black Hawk War, Red Cloud’s War, Franklin County War, U.S. invades Mexico, Conflict with China
    1867 – Texas-Indian Wars, Long Walk of the Navajo, Apache Wars, Skirmish between 1st Cavalry and Indians, Snake War, Utah’s Black Hawk War, Red Cloud’s War, Comanche Wars, Franklin County War, U.S. troops occupy Nicaragua and attack Taiwan
    1868 – Texas-Indian Wars, Long Walk of the Navajo, Apache Wars, Skirmish between 1st Cavalry and Indians, Snake War, Utah’s Black Hawk War, Red Cloud’s War, Comanche Wars, Battle of Washita River, Franklin County War
    1869 – Texas-Indian Wars, Apache Wars, Skirmish between 1st Cavalry and Indians, Utah’s Black Hawk War, Comanche Wars, Franklin County War
    1870 – Texas-Indian Wars, Apache Wars, Skirmish between 1st Cavalry and Indians, Utah’s Black Hawk War, Comanche Wars, Franklin County War
    1871 – Texas-Indian Wars, Apache Wars, Skirmish between 1st Cavalry and Indians, Utah’s Black Hawk War, Comanche Wars, Franklin County War, Kingsley Cave Massacre, U.S. forces invade Korea
    1872 – Texas-Indian Wars, Apache Wars, Utah’s Black Hawk War, Comanche Wars, Modoc War, Franklin County War
    1873 – Texas-Indian Wars, Comanche Wars, Modoc War, Apache Wars, Cypress Hills Massacre, U.S. forces invade Mexico
    1874 – Texas-Indian Wars, Comanche Wars, Red River War, Mason County War, U.S. forces invade Mexico
    1875 – Conflict in Mexico, Texas-Indian Wars, Comanche Wars, Eastern Nevada, Mason County War, Colfax County War, U.S. forces invade Mexico
    1876 – Texas-Indian Wars, Black Hills War, Mason County War, U.S. forces invade Mexico
    1877 – Texas-Indian Wars, Skirmish between 1st Cavalry and Indians, Black Hills War, Nez Perce War, Mason County War, Lincoln County War, San Elizario Salt War, U.S. forces invade Mexico
    1878 – Paiute Indian conflict, Bannock War, Cheyenne War, Lincoln County War, U.S. forces invade Mexico
    1879 – Cheyenne War, Sheepeater Indian War, White River War, U.S. forces invade Mexico
    1880 – U.S. forces invade Mexico
    1881 – U.S. forces invade Mexico
    1882 – U.S. forces invade Mexico
    1883 – U.S. forces invade Mexico
    1884 – U.S. forces invade Mexico
    1885 – Apache Wars, Eastern Nevada Expedition, U.S. forces invade Mexico
    1886 – Apache Wars, Pleasant Valley War, U.S. forces invade Mexico
    1887 – U.S. forces invade Mexico
    1888 – U.S. show of force against Haiti, U.S. forces invade Mexico
    1889 – U.S. forces invade Mexico
    1890 – Sioux Indian War, Skirmish between 1st Cavalry and Indians, Ghost Dance War, Wounded Knee, U.S. forces invade Mexico
    1891 – Sioux Indian War, Ghost Dance War, U.S. forces invade Mexico
    1892 – Johnson County War, U.S. forces invade Mexico
    1893 – U.S. forces invade Mexico and Hawaii
    1894 – U.S. forces invade Mexico
    1895 – U.S. forces invade Mexico, Bannock Indian Disturbances
    1896 – U.S. forces invade Mexico
    1897 – No major war
    1898 – Spanish-American War, Battle of Leech Lake, Chippewa Indian Disturbances
    1899 – Philippine-American War, Banana Wars
    1900 – Philippine-American War, Banana Wars
    1901 – Philippine-American War, Banana Wars
    1902 – Philippine-American War, Banana Wars
    1903 – Philippine-American War, Banana Wars
    1904 – Philippine-American War, Banana Wars
    1905 – Philippine-American War, Banana Wars
    1906 – Philippine-American War, Banana Wars
    1907 – Philippine-American War, Banana Wars
    1908 – Philippine-American War, Banana Wars
    1909 – Philippine-American War, Banana Wars
    1910 – Philippine-American War, Banana Wars
    1911 – Philippine-American War, Banana Wars
    1912 – Philippine-American War, Banana Wars
    1913 – Philippine-American War, Banana Wars, New Mexico Navajo War
    1914 – Banana Wars, U.S. invades Mexico
    1915 – Banana Wars, U.S. invades Mexico, Colorado Paiute War
    1916 – Banana Wars, U.S. invades Mexico
    1917 – Banana Wars, World War I, U.S. invades Mexico
    1918 – Banana Wars, World War I, U.S invades Mexico
    1919 – Banana Wars, U.S. invades Mexico
    1920 – Banana Wars
    1921 – Banana Wars
    1922 – Banana Wars
    1923 – Banana Wars, Posey War
    1924 – Banana Wars
    1925 – Banana Wars
    1926 – Banana Wars
    1927 – Banana Wars
    1928 – Banana Wars
    1930 – Banana Wars
    1931 – Banana Wars
    1932 – Banana Wars
    1933 – Banana Wars
    1934 – Banana Wars
    1935 – No major war
    1936 – No major war
    1937 – No major war
    1938 – No major war
    1939 – No major war
    1940 – No major war
    1941 – World War II
    1942 – World War II
    1943 – Wold War II
    1944 – World War II
    1945 – World War II
    1946 – Cold War (U.S. occupies the Philippines and South Korea)
    1947 – Cold War (U.S. occupies South Korea, U.S. forces land in Greece to fight Communists)
    1948 – Cold War (U.S. forces aid Chinese Nationalist Party against Communists)
    1949 – Cold War (U.S. forces aid Chinese Nationalist Party against Communists)
    1950 – Korean War, Jayuga Uprising
    1951 – Korean War
    1952 – Korean War
    1953 – Korean War
    1954 – Covert War in Guatemala
    1955 – Vietnam War
    1956 – Vietnam War
    1957 – Vietnam War
    1958 – Vietnam War
    1959 – Vietnam War, Conflict in Haiti
    1960 – Vietam War
    1961 – Vietnam War
    1962 – Vietnam War, Cold War (Cuban Missile Crisis; U.S. marines fight Communists in Thailand)
    1963 – Vietnam War
    1964 – Vietnam War
    1965 – Vietnam War, U.S. occupation of Dominican Republic
    1966 – Vietnam War, U.S. occupation of Dominican Republic
    1967 – Vietnam War
    1968 – Vietnam War
    1969 – Vietnam War
    1970 – Vietnam War
    1971 – Vietnam War
    1972 – Vietnam War
    1973 – Vietnam War, U.S. aids Israel in Yom Kippur War
    1974 – Vietnam War
    1975 – Vietnam War
    1976 – No major war
    1977 – No major war
    1978 – No major war
    1979 – Cold War (CIA proxy war in Afghanistan)
    1980 – Cold War (CIA proxy war in Afghanistan)
    1981 – Cold War (CIA proxy war in Afghanistan and Nicaragua), First Gulf of Sidra Incident
    1982 – Cold War (CIA proxy war in Afghanistan and Nicaragua), Conflict in Lebanon
    1983 – Cold War (Invasion of Grenada, CIA proxy war in Afghanistan and Nicaragua), Conflict in Lebanon
    1984 – Cold War (CIA proxy war in Afghanistan and Nicaragua), Conflict in Persian Gulf
    1985 – Cold War (CIA proxy war in Afghanistan and Nicaragua)
    1986 – Cold War (CIA proxy war in Afghanistan and Nicaragua)
    1987 – Conflict in Persian Gulf
    1988 – Conflict in Persian Gulf, U.S. occupation of Panama
    1989 – Second Gulf of Sidra Incident, U.S. occupation of Panama, Conflict in Philippines
    1990 – First Gulf War, U.S. occupation of Panama
    1991 – First Gulf War
    1992 – Conflict in Iraq
    1993 – Conflict in Iraq
    1994 – Conflict in Iraq, U.S. invades Haiti
    1995 – Conflict in Iraq, U.S. invades Haiti, NATO bombing of Bosnia and Herzegovina
    1996 – Conflict in Iraq
    1997 – No major war
    1998 – Bombing of Iraq, Missile strikes against Afghanistan and Sudan
    1999 – Kosovo War
    2000 – No major war
    2001 – War on Terror in Afghanistan
    2002 – War on Terror in Afghanistan and Yemen
    2003 – War on Terror in Afghanistan, and Iraq
    2004 – War on Terror in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Yemen
    2005 – War on Terror in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Yemen
    2006 – War on Terror in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Yemen
    2007 – War on Terror in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen
    2008 – War on Terror in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Yemen
    2009 – War on Terror in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Yemen
    2010 – War on Terror in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Yemen
    2011 – War on Terror in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen; Conflict in Libya (Libyan Civil War)
    In most of these wars, the U.S. was on the offense. Danios admits that some of the wars were defensive. However, Danios also leaves out covert CIA operations and other acts which could be considered war.
    Let’s update what’s happened since 2011:
    2012 – War on Terror in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Syria and Yemen
    2013 – War on Terror in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Syria and Yemen
    2014 – War on Terror in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Syria and Yemen; Civil War in Ukraine
    2015 – War on Terror in Somalia, Somalia, Syria and Civil War in Ukraine
    We can update this through 2023: the pattern holds.
    They have officially 750 bases around the world which is three times as many bases as the rest of the world combined.
    Is that exceptional?

    Deaths caused by Military operations overseas?
    The U.S. Has Killed More Than 20 Million People in 37 “Victim Nations” Since World War II
    Copyright © James A. Lucas, Popular Resistance and Global Research, 2023

    Decidedly exceptional.
    In Their Own Words.
    A former Secretary of State (Republican)

    Another former Secretary of State (Democrat).

    So the Thesis is amply confirmed.
    Exceptional is right.
    Only a minor qualm: but is such exceptionalism desirable?
    I know: it’s only a quibble.

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    Yan Huang, Author of LIVING TREASURES:

    Erika Raskin, Author of CLOSE:

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    • Meet the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35

    • s-li

      Excerpted from the LA Times, September 29, 2016

      The National Book Foundation, which presents the National Book Awards, launched its 5 Under 35 program in 2006 to highlight the work of young literary talents; this year each writer gets a $1,000 cash prize and will be invited to participate in public readings.

      Many past 5 Under 35 honorees have gone on to further acclaim. Nam Le’s short story collection “The Boat” won the international Dylan Thomas Prize; Tea Obreht’s novel “The Tiger’s Wife” took the Orange Prize for fiction; and two honorees, Dinaw Mengestu and Karen Russell, were each later awarded MacArthur Fellowships….9781941861301-JacketGray.indd

      One of those writers this year is S. Li, who took up creative writing as a hobby when he was in medical school. The 31-year-old neurologist’s debut novel, “Transoceanic Lights,” was published by Harvard Square Editions, a small independent press.

      “I had sent the book to the National Book Foundation for consideration for the National Book Awards, fully knowing that my chances were zero,” Li said from his home in Burlington, Mass. When he received the email informing him he’d been chosen as an honoree, “I thought it was a scam. And then I realized it wasn’t. I had no idea this was even in the cards.”

      Li’s novel, about a Chinese immigrant family, is based on his own childhood. He was 5 years old when his family moved from Guangzhou, China, to Boston.

      img-41“I was sort of teaching myself the craft of writing,” Li said of his years writing fiction while also learning medicine. “And so it just made natural sense to go with material that comes easiest to you, and that’s your childhood.”

      Li is one of two immigrants honored in this year’s program. Yaa Gyasi, author of the critically acclaimed novel “Homegoing,” was born in Ghana and moved with her family to the United States when she was 2. [more]



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    • What are the best eco books for children and teens?

    • @EmilyDrabs, excerpted from The Guardian,


      Authors including David Almond, Frank Cottrell Boyce and Katherine Rundell plus teen site members share the books that made them think more deeply about climate change and environmental themes. Now share yours!

      This week we’re celebrating the positive power of stories, all kinds of stories, to bring home what we risk losing on our beautiful planet – and what we can do about it. Here authors and children’s books site members share the books that made them think. We’ll be feeding this blog with more recommendations all week, so please share yours – and keep checking back.

      Frank Cottrell Boyce (whose latest book is the remarkably green The Astounding Broccoli Boy)

      First book of Saints

      The book that made me realise that I was part of the environment was The Ladybird Book of Saints. On the cover was this brilliant image of St Francis releasing the caged birds he had he had bought in the market. For ages afterwards I would go into pet shops and zoos and itch to unlock the doors. In fact there are “freeing the animals” scenes in at least two of my books. There are so many environmental messages about how horrible humans are wrecking the planet – that’s obviously true in a way but this image made me feel that I belonged in the World too and that I could cherish and love it.

      David Almond, author of Skellig

      The Promise by Nicola Davies and Laura Carlin. It’s beautifully written, beautifully illustrated picture book. It shows a troubled darkened world being recreated by the human need for greenery, life and colour.

      Louise O’Neill, author of Only Ever Yours

      Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake is a speculative fiction novel that is very much concerned with the damage humans are inflicting upon the environment and the possible catastrophic results that could have. Written in 2003, many plot points now seem eerily prescient and it makes for a disturbing, powerful read. Highly recommended for older teenagers.

      Site member, Patrick

      Carl Hiaasen’s Hoot is true to its name in that it’s a supremely funny YA novel, and one that tends to be overlooked. There’s a real environmental streak running through all of Hiaasen’s works and Hoot is no exception, it deals with a Florida teen who bands together with a couple of new friends to stop the destruction of a burrowing owl colony. It’s a lot of fun with a solid conservationist message at its core and an abundance of charm to boot.”

      Candy Gourlay, author of Shine

      Long ago I wrote a short story called How to Build the Perfect Sandcastle for Under the Weather, the climate change anthology edited by Tony Bradman. About a white sand beach losing its sand because the sea is heating up … the same hot oceans that later whipped up the murderous monster that was Typhoon Haiyan in 2013.

      Perhaps the all too real climate change disaster in the Philippines has made me partial to flood stories. My favorite is Not the End of the World, the lyrical resetting of Noah’s Ark as a Tsunami survival story by Geraldine McCaughrean.

      Lottie Longshanks, site member

      The wild series by Piers Torday. So far I have read The Last Wild and The Dark Wild. Kester has the unusual gift of communicating with animals and it is his mission to save the animals from red eye the disease that is slowly killing them. It is a really exciting story and you soon guess who the villains are Selwyn Stone and his lackeys who want to dictate the way that everyone lives. The amazing rubbish dump in the second book in the series really makes you think about the damage that we are doing to our planet. I can’t wait to read the third book in the series,The Wild Beyond.

      White Dolphin by Gill Lewis Set in the south West of England the exciting story tells of children who take on the might of a powerful fishing business to stop dredging in the harbour because of the damage it does to marine life. I also love Moon Bear by Gill Lewis. This incredibly moving story shows how deforestation leads to misery for the animals whose habitat was the forest. And finally here is a recommendation for small children I read it to my cousin who lives in Oman when he comes to visit us. Dear Greenpeace by Simon James. Emily writes to Greenpeace to find out how to care for the whale that she thinks she has seen in her pond. Emily’s letters and the lovely replies she receives from Greenpeace will give little children a lot of information about whales. (Also see Lottie Longshank’s poem Our Precious world)

      SF Said, author of Varjak Paw

      I recommend Exodus by Julie Bertagna: a brilliantly prescient YA novel about climate change, set in a drowned future world. It’s full of unforgettable visions and characters, and it will stay with you forever!

      ItWasLovelyReadingYou, site member

      My book would be Breathe by Sarah Crossan. It made me think about how we take so many things for granted, such as oxygen. You can’t see it, we use it every day, without it we would not survive; yet many people do not really sit down and feel a sense of gratitude for these types of things, becuase we assume we deserve them, we see them as something that will never go away, we just accept it without question. Breathe really made me feel a sense of ‘imagine if we didn’t have oxygen, or we had limited supplies of it-”, it made me question my unconscious detachment from what keeps us alive, and really feel privelidged to have all of these necessities.

      Katherine Rundell, author of Rooftoppers

      Cosmic, by Frank Cottrell Boyce. Cosmic is a book that makes the world look like something worth protecting. It’s hilariously funny, and also wise – it makes its readers want desperately to go into space, but also to take care of the world while we’re on it. The Earth is, as one of the astronauts says, “some kind of lovely.” The Last Wild series by Piers Torday – these three spectacular books are about a world decimated by humans, and the possibility of that loss feels very real and urgent and frightening – and they’re also fantastic adventure stories, about bravery and animals and human capacity to do huge good as well as harm. And there’s a bossy talking cockroach.

      Site Brahmachari, author of Kite Spirit and Artichoke Hearts

      For me it has to be The Ring of Bright Water Trilogy by Gavin Maxwell. I fell in love with these books as a child because they are set on the West coast of Scotland – a place I love – where wildlife and nature are the biggest characters. It;s a humbling landscape. If you have a love of the outdoors and really want to study the nature of beautiful, playful otters… and can stand to have your heart broken …. you should read these stories. Although they were written 50 years ago they are as timeless as the shingle beaches they are set on. The author lived and breathed the paradise he went to live in… and so will you when you read these books… and afterwards you can watch the film (tissues at the ready!)

      OrliTheBookWorm, site member

      Breathe by Sarah Crossan is probably the book that’s impacted me the most in terms of the environment – it’s a dystopian novel, with people living in domes due to a lack of oxygen – the raw descriptions and harsh realities were wonderfully done and uttery thought provoking, and made me take a step away from my laptop and have a look outside my window…. It’s a brilliant book, which I guarantee will change your perspective on the environment around us.

      Piers Torday, author of The Dark Wild trilogy

      The Animals of Farthing Wood by Colin Dann – the original classic tale of a group of British animals seeking refuge when their precious Farthing Wood is threatened by human development. They overcome incredible obstacles and danger to make it to a wildlife sanctuary. But reading it today there is an extra poignancy – some of the animals in the story, like the red-backed shrike, are now extinct, and others – like the adder, hare and voles – are all under threat.

      BritishBiblioholic, site member

      Watership Down by Richard Adams – When the rabbits in Watership Down are forced to leave their home, it is due to its impending destruction by humans. This potentially can be seen as an allegory for the ongoing destruction for the environment in general – and unlike the rabbits, if we don’t save our environment, we won’t be able to find somewhere else to live.


      Mary, curator, eco-fiction.com

      Memory of Water by Emmi Itäranta: The novel takes place in the future after climate change has ravished economies and ecologies, and made fresh water scarce. The main character, Noria, is a young woman learning the traditional, sacred tea master art from her father. Yet, water is rationed and scarce in her future world. Her family has a secret spring of water, and, as tea masters, she and her father act as the water’s guards, even though what they are doing is a crime according to their future world’s government, a crime strongly disciplined by the military.


      NC front DR TinyNature’s Confession by JL Morin: The eco-novel is wonderful and reminds me of classic science fiction I watched or read as a kid. It was a genre that fascinated me then, and this book has joined that memory. The novel is epic in that it doesn’t just tell a story (which it does do too), but it puts our very survival into question while romping through the universe or discovering new quantum physics that are both scientific and spiritual in nature. In the meantime, universal symbols are unearthed, codes are investigated, fat corporations are dominating, a romance is blossoming, computers come alive, and native tribes and Nature on another planet bring our own treasured past into the future.


      Tito intiro Chavaropana by Jessica Groenendijk: Tito intiro Chavaropana means ‘Tito and the Giant Otter’ in Matsigenka. The author, a biologist who has studied giant otters, is now working on a sequel, in which Tito sets off into the forest to hunt a spider monkey and meets a harpy eagle on the way. They become friends but not without a misunderstanding or two!
      61cwBitpcAL._AA160_Spirit Bear by Jennifer Harrington: Spirit Bear celebrates a rare and iconic black bear that is born with a recessive gene that makes its coat creamy or white. Also called the Kermode bear, the spirit bear lives in the delicate, rich, and threatened ecosystem of the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia, Canada. Jennifer’s story is about the journey of a spirit bear cub that gets lost from his mother and has to find his way back.

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    • Publisher Guidelines

    • Publisher Harvard Square Editions is looking for literary fiction of environmental or social significance.

      Its mission is to publish fiction that transcends national boundaries, especially manuscripts that are international, political, literary, sci-fi, fantasy, utopia and distopia. Send submissions of aesthetic value and constructive social or political content, especially manuscripts related to climate change, deforestation, and conservation.

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    • A Moral Atmosphere: Hypocrisy redefined for the age of warming

    • By Bill McKibben (HC ’82)

      This article first appeared in Orion Magazine.


      THE LIST OF REASONS for not acting on climate change is long and ever-shifting. First it was “there’s no problem”; then it was “the problem’s so large there’s no hope.” There’s “China burns stuff too,” and “it would hurt the economy,” and, of course, “it would hurt the economy.” The excuses are getting tired, though. Post Sandy (which hurt the economy to the tune of $100 billion) and the drought ($150 billion), 74 percent of Americans have decided they’re very concerned about climate change and want something to happen… (more)
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    • Cambridge divest from fossil fuel

    • We call on the City of Cambridge Retirement System to immediately freeze any new investment in fossil fuelcompanies, and to divest from direct ownership and any commingled funds that include fossil fuel public equities and corporate bonds within 5 years (more)

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    Around Harvard

    Brain Pickings

    by Ben Mattlin (HC ’84)

      Like all romantic entanglements, the reasons for their tensions—tensions, which eventually led the invisible rubber band between them to snap—weren't quite clear.  Or maybe they were entirely too clear.  Telling me about it, Shane struggled for the right words, but his meaning rang with the clarity of breaking glass. "For a while, she was planning on moving up here to be with me, to be able to help out with all my stuff," he [...]

    by Teresa Hsiao (HC ’07)

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  • Sheila Connolly (GSA ’79) – Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen


    TylerJamesComicTyler James
    All of a sudden, though, you start stacking ComixTribe, Image, Boom, Action Lab, Valiant, etc... books against Big Two books...
    94 months ago
    we smell like coffee and old libraries filled with new books waiting to be read
    94 months ago
    aidanr1022Aidan Ryan
    When Dad has to hit the books in the middle of the day so he can support the fam @emrson11webster http://t.co/igjSlYR8cB
    94 months ago
    forgot my books ?
    94 months ago

    Sabrina Fedel, Author of KENT STATE

    Of those 28 legitimate complaints brought against Trump, the FEC's own lawyers found reason to believe that campaign finance violations had occurred in 22 of them.

    In every instance, the Republican commissioners voted to block action.

    Load More

    Andrew Binks, Author in VOICE FROM THE PLANET

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  • Charity Shumway, Author in ABOVE GROUND

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