Tuesday, February 22, 2011


'Depends' is usually a very good answer to any bifurcating question, except when the question is: 'Boxers or briefs?'

Monday, February 7, 2011


Saw this in De Standaard:
Uitgeverij De Bezige Bij brengt op 30 oktober, de eerste sterfdag van schrijver Harry Mulisch, een onvoltooide novelle van zijn hand uit.

Het werk, met de titel De tijd zelf, telt ongeveer dertig pagina's en is volgens uitgever Robert Ammerlaan 'duidelijk onaf'. 'Maar het is een dusdanig literair interessante tekst dat de uitgeverij en de erven het publicabel achten.'

Het is de bedoeling dat iemand een verklarende inleiding of nawoord schrijft. Wie dat zal doen, wordt wellicht volgende maand bekendgemaakt.
De Bezige Bij, de 'best' publishing house in Holland, has on its hands a dead star -- Harry Mulisch. (The Discovery of Heaven is quite masterful, it needs to be said.) Mulisch left one novella unfinished, it seems -- 30 pages and then it stops. No good writerly deed goes unpunished: Hear the rat-tat-tatting of wooden shoes on the cobblestones of the Heeregracht: Here come Harry's heirs, breathlessly delivering the manuscript at the Busy Bee's feet!

No doubt heirs and editor and publisher are motivated by a deep love for literature. How could the world possibly keep on turning without the publication -- paper, cardboard, glue, and a fancy cover design -- of those Final (but unfinalized) 30 Pages from the Master? No, they are so not money-grubbing vulgar accountants with On Their Hands a Dead Star!

There is an easy test to see what this is about.

If it's about literature, if it's really all about Harry and his work, just plunk the damn thing in facsimile on the Web, where we can all read it -- easily done! -- or publish, then donate the proceeds to a worthy cause, preferably one Meneer Mulisch would have liked. Otherwise: Oh, the sickening greed.

This, dear friends, is why I keep all my unpublished writing -- sentences polished or unpolished, notes eager or meager, plots plodding or plotted -- behind walls of encryption, and no-one has the key. If it ain't finished, it ain't finished, and I don't trust nobody, certainly not my future be-Alzheimered self, with what are my bloody (sweaty) words.

(Still, aren't we all going to run to the store to get our hands on Pale King next month? Aren't we?)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


A screenshot from my browser's homepage, with the most important headlines from Salon.com.

(a) Egypt, yes, but FLOTUS gown first! Her Martyrdom!
(b) Egypt coverage, LIVEBLOG items: How self-centered can we get. Oooh, is poor Anderson okay?

I am old enough to remember, say, Timișoara. Blood and ashes in the streets then, blood and ashes in the streets now, and clearly the will of the people against a tainted regime that does anything it can to stay in power for even a few days longer. Just like then, dominoes are tumbling and a political world system is trembling.

We here (cats grown fat on processed foods), we care about our entertainment stars.

We here (cats used to neat little litter boxes), we scream 'democracy!', but aren't we so afraid of the will of the people? King Abdullah, grab our hands!

Well, yes, be afraid: People -- there's so many of them.

More and more each day.

And not all of them are wearing evening dress, or sporting sexy 'dos.

(But no panic, dearies, there's still plenty of other states willing to accept our extraordinary renditions, I am sure.)