Review – When a Crocodile Eats the Sun

My review of Peter Godwin’s When a Crocodile Eats the Sun: A Memoir of Africa is up over at PopMatters.

According to a Zulu legend, “a solar eclipse occurs when a crocodile eats the sun. This celestial crocodile, they say, briefly consumes our life-giving star as a warning that he is much displeased with the behavior of man below. It is the very worst of omens.”

There is much life being taken away in white journalist Peter Godwin’s book When a Crocodile Eats the Sun: A Memoir of Africa. Years after Zimbabwe’s independence, President Robert Mugabe declares war on the white farmers, causing many to be killed along with their families and black supporters at the hands of squatting War Vets or “wovits” as they are called. Through his actions, Mugabe appears hell-bent on destroying the country he helped free from British rule in order to remain in power.


In Case You Missed It

Here’s my first post on Michigan Liberal. It’s called, Who’s Afraid of a Pig?


Yes, Mr. Drolet showed up yesterday with his pig and parked it in front of the State Capitol. The fire truck was parked next to it because police and fire don’t want revenue-sharing funds cut from the budget. Those are funds that go to cities to help pay for police and and fire protection.


I had never heard of Peter Sacks before I came across this Huffington Post article by him. His whining doesn’t exactly motivate me to go out and buy one of his books to stop him from whining. He’s whining because he’s a “serious writer” who doesn’t sell well-enough.

I am drug down by the sensation that I’m beating my head against the Great Wall of American popular culture, which seems absolutely impervious to books about serious subjects. Yes, I confess, I’m one of those. I am a writer of “serious” non-fiction.

It gets better and better as his piece goes on and on and on.

I write books basically for free. In fact, when you consider that pound of flesh I lose each time I produce a well researched, engagingly readable 350 page book, giving my heart and soul to something I believe deeply in, I am in essence paying for the privilege of giving the world that book.

Welcome to the world of most writers, Mr. Sacks. Writing doesn’t pay the bills. Writing is something they do on the side for enjoyment.

Reading, and reading what strikes one’s idiosyncratic fancy, is a declining art. Reading books is even more endangered. A recent AP-Ipsos poll found that almost one of every three Americans hadn’t read a single book in the past year.

Wrong. People are reading more. They’re just not reading more books. They’re reading A LOT online. Also, with people are working more but their wages have been flat for 5 or 6 years now. So it’s not like people have the time to read. Reading books takes more time than most people have.

But the pain of authorship is all the worse when I know in my heart of hearts that I have written a very good book. I know that I have done justice to my subject. I have done justice to the ordinary people whose stories I have told. I have done justice to the notion that some readers really do care, and are willing to open their eyes wide to reality rather than be put to sleep by the Huxleyan drug of American Idol and Paris Hilton.

Life’s not fair, Mr. Sacks. Newsflash: people who are fixated on Paris Hilton probably can’t read anyway. Faulkner’s books were out of print at one point in his own lifetime. Emily Dickinson’s poetry wasn’t published until after she died. “Moby Dick” bombed and then killed Herman Melville’s career.

And then he ends with this drivel.

We wonder what it might be like to live on the light side, where A Thousand Splendid Suns shines so brightly that few inhabitants of American culture could possibly be unaware of it. For those of us on the dark side, however, we endure, hoping for just an ember of that warmth. That would be enough. That would keep us going.

Boo-hoo, you’re book didn’t sell as well as Khaled Hosseini’s. Neither did the vast majority of books published last year. Take comfort in the fact that you’re published and that you continue to get published. Make the most of it. Personally, I’d trade my position as a paid-nothing blogger for a moderately paid fiction writer/blogger. and so would many other people out there. If you don’t like the position you’re in, then step down. I’m sure there are thousands who would gladly like a shot at taking your spot in the publishing food chain.

When We’ve Won the War on Terror

When the United States has won the War on Terror…

All of our soldiers will be brought home.

There will be peace in our country and abroad.

No one will have to take off their shoes before boarding a plane.

There will no longer be any Terror Alerts.

We will erect a memorial in Washington, D.C. to the soldiers who have died in the battle against Terror.

All of the provisions in the Patriot Act will be repealed.

The government will no longer wiretap its citizens without a warrant.

The CIA will close all of its secret prisons and rendition sites.

We will stop looking suspiciously at “people who are different” in airports and restaurants, and on streets, planes, and trains.

Democracy will spread to every country currently suffering under a repressive totalitarian regime.

No one will ever want to harm a citizen of the United States or its allies.

A tomb will be erected in Washington D.C. for Terror. It will mark the date Terror was killed; when people began to forget the feel of terror.

Terrorists will be extinct. The species will no longer be found among the human race.

English Dictionaries will eventually deem the word “terror” as archaic, having fallen from usage since it’s defeat.

Repbulicans Threaten to Leave Michigan Unless Demands Are Met

In a long, rambling, press release, Michigan Republican Party Chairman Saul Anuzis announced that if a tax increase is passed by the legislature and signed into law this year, his party would be willing to vacate the state. Democrats have pushed proposals to increase revenues, including either through a hike in the income tax or sales tax, have been discussed in order to plug the $1.8 billion hole in the state’s budget, but none appears to have a consensus of support behind it.

Anuzis said in part, “We want real reform FRIST before discussion of any tax increase. So no talking about taxes until REAL reform!!!?! Not a word…nothing. Republicans always open to partisanship…open to compromise…on size of tax and budget cuts.

“Republican State Committee passed resolution demanding government reforms and tax cuts BEFORE tax increases are even thought about. It was unanimous.”

According to the Detroit News, one angered GOP member who wished to remain anonymous, said, “It’s unprecedented for a party chairman to dictate policy to legislators of his own party.”

Rep. Lorence Wenke (R-Galesburg) said, “It seems he is setting the new low standard.”

According to the press release, Anuzis doesn’t agree. “From day won I have vowed to fight any an all tax increases unless reforms! Moving is last resort…last itch effort to save state.

“I don’t want GOP to lose our brand, don’t lose image that attracts people to vote for us, image that works for us.”

Republican Dick Devos lost by 14 percentage points in last Fall’s gubernatorial election to the incumbent Jennifer Granholm, and Democrats gained control of the State House from the Republicans.

“Moving has been under discussion for some time, and only know am I telling everyone. This decision not taken lightly…it very serious. but if tax increase is passed and signed into law this year, I am willing to lead Republican Party out of Michigan to greener pastures of Mississippi. Mississippi is PRO-growth and has already offered us more ‘flexible’ labor environment, more ‘friendly’ business climate, more ‘friendly’ voting environment, and tax incentives.

“As Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop said, ‘It doesn’t make sense for [Governor Granholm] to go out and recruit jobs when there isn’t an environment here for making a sizable investment.’ And it won’t make sense for us to recruit Republicans here if there won’t be environment for making a sizable recruiting effort. A sure sign of a hostile Republican environment is a tax increase. States that embrace tax increase aren’t Republican enough. We must hold line…stay true to our ideals.”

Anuzis also complained that there appeared to be too many Republicans willing to compromise with the Democrats on some form of a tax hike. An action that he claimed would tarnish the Engler Legacy.

He ended with an ultimatum: “Bottum line is no tax increase or Republican Party leaving.”

Whether the party chair will make good on his threat, remains to be seen. But insiders believe he’s serious. From the Detroit News again,

Richard McLellan, a Lansing attorney and Republican activist who was a close adviser to Gov. John Engler, asked: “What is Saul doing? Somebody is going to have to tell him to knock it off.”

Michigan Liberal Front Pager

This is big news for me. Woo-hoo! I’m honored and a little awed to have been asked to become a front page editor at Few things will change on this blog. Though I will be posting over there at least once a week.

My friend LiberalLucy wrote the very nice and witty announcement. Please head on over and follow the links to check out the other two bloggers GreenTuna and Diane S. who are joining me on the front page.

All right, if you’re too lazy to click over and read the announcement, here are the other bloggers:


Luciano Pavarotti Has Died

It’s been reported all over the place: Luciano Pavarotti died earlier this morning.

This saddens me, as I’m a big opera fan. Unfortunately, I never had the chance to see and hear him perform live. I have only heard him on recordings. (I’m going to be putting on Puccini’s Turandot, performed by Pavarotti, Sutherland, Caballe, and Guiaurov, conducted by Mehta just as soon as I’m done typing this post. My not-quite-three-year-old son likes to sing “Vincero!”)…Pvarotti’s voice had such a beautiful effortless power.

The abundantly knowledgeable Opera Chic has a very nice tribute to one of the greatest opera tenors.