Archive | September, 2017

Mexico City

23 Sep

Last year, I spent two wonderful weeks in Mexico City. It’s a unique and vibrant place. I recorded some of my impressions on this blog. Below is a montage from a multitude of colourful scenes. 

The building in the top right hand corner is Mexico’s oldest skyscraper, I believe, famed for surviving the 1985 earthquake undamaged. Which brings us to recent events… My wife spent a decade living in the city. Many of her friends live there still, all of whom have been touched by the terrible consequences of the latest earthquake in the city. Below is an appeal she has made on behalf of the country and its capital. 

Dear friends in the UK, Colombia and all over the world. LET’S HELP MEXICO AFTER THE EARTHQUAKE.

We can make our donations here:

UNICEF:
https://www.unicef.org.uk/donate/mexico-earthquake

JUSTGIVING:
https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/letshelpmexicouk

 

MEXICAN RED CROSS
PAYPAL: https://www.paypal.com/mx/webapps/mpp/donar/institution…
AMAZON: You can also buy products of a selected wishlist that will be donated to the Red Cross: https://goo.gl/JKcYe8
TWITTER: https://twitter.com/CruzRoja_MX
WEBPAGE: https://www.cruzrojamexicana.org.mx/

HOW TO HELP: http://comoayudar.mx/

There’s a humanitarian crisis everywhere you look, even in our own countries, but today I would like to ask you to put your eyes on México. After the recent earthquakes, many people have died and many others are and will be suffering the consequences of the tragedy in short and long-term. Many people have lost their homes and jobs, and the emotional consequences are huge. But Mexican people are strong and resilient. I know it because I spent some of the most amazing years of my life there. Mexico is my home too and half of my friends live there. I’ve undertaken research into reliable institutions that are receiving monetary donations. Please be assured that your contribution will be in good hands and will serve its purposes. Any contribution will be of great help. If you can’t donate please spread the word or just let Mexican people know that your heart is with them. Any other ideas about how we can help from our homes would be welcome.

If these options don’t work for you, your closest Red Cross Centre can provide further information. Feel free to contact me if you need help related to information in English as some of the information is completely in Spanish, but please have in mind that we don’t belong to any organization, we’re just a small family trying to help the best way we can.

All images © PSR 2017

Advertisements

Inspirational Holiday Reading

17 Sep

Apparently, we’re supposed to read ‘beach novels’ on our holidays. Well, I went swimming in the North Atlantic and read quite a lot over my summer break. But there the comparison  with such expectations ends, I think.

As a writer, there’s nothing more inspiring, I think, than reading a thoroughly researched and well written biography about one of your literary heroes. A few summers ago, I read David Bellos’s excellent biography of George Perec, ‘A Life in Words’. In Bellos’s book, the writer’s life becomes a fitting addition to his canon, a Rabelaisian tale about a unique individual. This summer, it was the turn of ‘Like a Fiery Elephant’, Jonathan Coe’s biography of another experimental writer, B S Johnson. Reading it, I was fired up again about fiction and its possibilities. Uncharacteristically, I even felt moved to thank the author on Twitter for spending eight years researching and writing the book… These days, the general reading public knows Johnson, if at all, as a writer of ‘difficult’ books who killed himself, in apparent despair, at the age of forty. In Coe’s words, Johnson comes across as a complex man, difficult but much loved by his friends. The insights into his creative processes and artistic aesthetic, and the barriers inherent in following such a path, are instructive for any writer seeking to work outside the mainstream. 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My favourite beach… 

One work mentioned in the biography was a collection of short stories by Johnson and Zulfikar Ghose, ‘Statement Against Corpses’, in which the two writers were supposed to reinvigorate the form. By all accounts, they managed no such thing – not that I can comment as the collection is long out of print and I don’t feel like spending over £100 for an old copy, only to have this view confirmed. Instead, I finished reading ‘Difficult Loves’ and ‘Laughable Loves’, early collections by Italo Calvino and Milan Kundera, respectively, and was reminded of why I love the work of both writers. Calvino was already exploring worlds through minute and apparently mundane details, much as he would in his final, brilliant collection, ‘Mr Palomar’. Kundera’s comic stories expose the absurdities often found at the heart of human relationships. 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Which half-complete track to follow?

Unfortunately, though, since returning from continental Europe, the demands of my day job and other stresses and strains have sapped my creative energies and progress on my fiction has been slow. I’ve arrived at a time-consuming stage in my vast work-in-progress, tying up all of its loose ends and re-arranging sections within its complex architecture. I’ve also been thinking ahead to my next project, of which I’ll write more in a future post. I have to decide between three options that I’ve had kicking around for some years now: a part-finished novella, a half-completed sequel and an epistolary novel of which I’ve planned much but written  little. Whichever one I choose, though, the work of those who’ve gone before – Perec, Johnson, Calvino, Kundera – remains a guide and inspiration. 

All text and images © PSR 2017

Turning Saints to Stone

10 Sep

My wife and I spent a little time this summer at Brittany’s Valley of the Saints. And what a great concept it is. High on a domed hill, commanding views over the depopulated landscape all around it, the setting for the sculpture park is spectacular. The figures represent local saints, frequently concerning themselves with farming and fishing, reflecting life as it was lived in the region until comparatively recently. With submissions from such a wide pool of sculptors, it’s inevitable that the standard varies. In any case, it’s all subjective, I guess, so here are some of my favourites (and isn’t that the late Sir William Golding holding the fish?)… 

20170829-0013

20170829-0017

20170829-0020

20170829-0024.jpeg

20170829-0026

20170829-0030

20170829-0032.jpeg

20170829-0034

20170829-0039

20170829-0040

20170829-0043

All text and images © PSR 2017