Thursday, April 01, 2004

Incredible! It's Thursday already and I have had not a second to blog--I mean it and I can't stand it.

In the news today, evidently Ian McEwan was denied entrance to the U.S. because he didn't have a visa. All the British novelist was trying to do was go to Seattle to give a lecture. He shouldn't need a visa for that, should he? Anyway, the U.S. consul general got him the visa and all is now well. So that's not much of a story, I suppose.

Last March (a year ago) I had the flu (Influenza Type B, actually) and was sick enough so that I was able to experience the bliss of reading in bed for several days. Fortunately I had McEwan's Atonement and T.C. Boyle's Drop City on hand. I was mesmerized by Atonement. The "inciting incident" and its rippling after-effects, all transpiring after Briony intercepts the lover's message intended for her sister, is brilliantly executed, particularly in the way it forces each major character to make a decision that has enormous negative implications for the future. Each character is the agent of his own misfortune, but young Briony's willful misunderstanding is what seals the fate of all involved. A masterwork.

I picked up Before the Flood by Ian Wilson at the library again because I need it for a small project. Wilson, another British writer, wrote this well-researched book about the ancient, civilized people who lived on the shores of the Black Sea from 8,000-5,000 B.C. Not only does the evidence show that this civilization predates the once-supposed first civilization of Sumer in Mesopotamia by thousands of years, but evidently Robert Ballard's underwater expeditions indicate that there was also a catastrophic flood that dramatically changed the land and the coastline of the Black Sea. It seems that the civilization in question did not disappear with the flood; it appears that the society abandoned the towns and villages they built around 5,000 B.C., before the flood took place. The flood simply buried all traces of their society. Fascinating story, and again, the writer, though not a historian, did his homework.


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