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No girl of 13 and 14 can possibly be pre- pared to face such a situation. I think if a girl is mature enough at 14, she should be allowed to date. Here are some opinions from the male antfe: LeRoy Craig of Beisel, was the guest of honor, Friday after- noon. Bud Craig to Good- rich. There is still a bit of a disconnect for me. And Philippine and I are artists. Maybe if we were dealers or collectors we would have presented his work differently. After the Masist exhibition at the Berlin Biennial, we started getting even more invitations, and we said no. Not exoticized or sensationalized.

There are very big risks to doing all of these things. Well, Tarkan is a rural figure, whereas Masist was playing with this very urban figure, this kind of urban Robin Hood with the shoes and the big mustache and the open shirt. He protects the poor and the weak, but he is also quite raw. But this question is something I think about a lot. And there is no real answer for it. I can never prove that in a different context and a different time, it might not have appeared as a kind of Tarkan-style series.

There are pages and pages of the witch torturing the kid who later becomes the hero. Anyway, we are not in a position to talk about this. There is no rule for it. Right after we launched. The Turkish press did a lot of interviews at first. The work had to be the focus. The story was so juicy! So then people get excited about the story more than the work.

I mean, it is a great story… Do you think you might tell that story some time? With all the details? We have other things to do. Before becoming known for his political faces, he was painting icons of modernity for advertising companies — from gleaming refrigerators to sports cars to American cigarettes.

On rare occasions, he regales visitors with tales from the past, especially lingering on the subject of how his art forever changed with the advent of computers. Here, he speaks to Zeina Maasri, graphic designer and author of Off the Wall: Political Posters of the Lebanese Civil War.

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I started drawing when I was between five and six. No one taught me. I developed on my own and finally made painting my profession. Every kind — oil painting, portraits of notable figures, decorative murals, ceramics, and advertisements for big brands. I did plenty of the mega-scale billboards, the ones that used to line the main highway leading to the airport. I wanted to go to art school in Spain, and many established artists in Lebanon encouraged me to do so.

The school required a portfolio of drawings and paintings. I prepared all the requirements except for the female portrait. So I chose for a model my cousin, who later became my wife… [ Smiles ] She was still a little girl, very beautiful back then, maybe fifteen years old. It was very innocent. At first she refused, but then accepted on the condition that her sister sit with us as chaperone. She wore a purple and white dress, her hair was long with a golden color, and she let it down on one side. My father burned the portrait.

He set fire to all the paintings I had prepared. He was a very religious man who believed that God forbids painting and representation of human figures. I continued painting while he kept on repeating that I would eventually lose my sight because I used to spend whole evenings working. He was right about the sight, I guess. They were all lined up on Khan Antun Beyk in the old souks of Beirut. I was around thirteen when I knocked on their doors. When I showed them my work, they hired me instead and never commissioned him again.

They would show me a picture or express an idea, and I would just draw it. I drew all sorts of things in different scales: I got into trouble, of course. I once painted a mural right next to a chic beach resort on the southern outskirts of Beirut. I drew a girl half-naked in her bikini. The ad was for modern refrigerators — Frigidaire — so the girl was supposed to be feeling hot in the summer.

That was the idea. The wall I drew on turned out to be an abandoned church, which filed charges against me. The owner of the ad agency came to my rescue and apologized to the parish priest. Sure, I had waiting lists of two to three months of political figures during parliamentary elections. There is this great mural of Nasser that I did, too, with his sunglasses on and fighter jets soaring around him.

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I think so — the dates elude me. I still remember the total number, though: I would do seventy to a hundred identical portraits for each candidate. I painted fifteen to thirty portraits per day. I used to line them up on the street outside my studio so that they would dry fast in the sun. At the time, the largest size of a printed poster would be a maximum of 60 centimeters, and it would be of low quality, mostly in one color.

Whereas I could do a much bigger-scale colored portrait that they would put up on the street. This brings more authority and grandeur to the subject. You know, politicians like that. I did this portrait once that was 14 meters in height and 6 meters wide… [ Laughs ] It broke during the rally, so they brought it back to be repaired.

No, I was the best. Sometimes, I had no time to eat! My wife would feed me sandwiches while I would stand and work. She also helped me trace the lines to make the copies. I think I once designed a poster. It was for the Palestinian resistance. These were popular issues back then. I also painted a portrait of the Egyptian writer Taha Hussein that was used for a book cover. Do you remember whose portraits you did? Were there any political groups you worked with in particular?

I worked with various parties and political factions. When you live in an area controlled by one political group and they treat you well, you need to reciprocate. Those days are long gone. I never really had a major problem. The key was to make sure that appointments would never overlap. I was worried that if opposing groups met, they would start a fight. The war days were very dangerous. I worked on a portrait once for a member of an influential non-Lebanese political group. We were all very scared, my family and I. I had no idea what they wanted.

It turns out that their boss was very pleased with the portrait and wanted to give me a treat by inviting me to dinner. Eventually, I was trapped. They forbade me to work for anyone but them. I was told that evening that I was to become the official painter of the party. I tried to get out of it, but to no avail. I took my first opportunity to get out of the country, and stayed away for a while.

They never paid me, by the way, not a single penny, for all the work that I did. I worked on the basis of a photographic portrait, which I would divide into a grid of small modules and then enlarge. Later I started using a projector that allowed me to enlarge on a much bigger scale. Why do you care? These methods are obsolete — my work is of no use to anyone now. With one click of the computer, you can get the largest portrait, in color.

Look around you, Beirut is filled with politicians bigger than I could have ever imagined. They look real, but they have no life! The agents who used to pick up the finished work would be startled. Once, I realized that I had maybe gone too far, I made the man look handsome when in fact he was far from it. I was worried that it would not be accepted — the agent noted the difference, but seemed pleased with it. Something was odd with the eyes. If I fixed it, I thought, the man would not look like himself.

They were of course upset and called the deputy to complain about the situation. And it turned out that in fact he had a problem with one eye that made it look different than the other one, but no one had noticed before — or at least, never dared to say anything. I was once commissioned to do a portrait of Abdallah El Yafi [former Prime Minister of Lebanon], so I based it on an available newspaper photograph. It turned out really bad.

I realized when I saw a good picture of him that I had made a fool of myself. So I redid the portrait and delivered it to his house. His wife called the next day asking for twenty-five more portraits identical to the last one, which I did. I ended up knowing all his features by heart. By , the British had left, leaving behind a Saudi-born king behind named Faisal to steer a country awkwardly cobbled together from three far-flung regions of the Ottoman Empire. By , Makiya had gone to the UK to study architecture on a coveted state scholarship.

Returning after eleven years away, he found Iraq at a crossroads, at odds with a weakling monarch imposed from without and fitfully struggling to find its place in a world on the brink of transition. That energy culminated in a revolution in , ending the monarchy and placing Iraq at the center of a pan-Arab movement that spanned Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, and beyond. Makiya would go on to carry out projects in Bahrain, Riyadh, Oman, and Kuwait, from opulent palaces to banks to major urban mosques.

By the late s, the Arab world was stunned following defeat at the hands of the Israeli state. Though they never learned quite what inspired it, the Makiyas — Mohamed, his British wife Margaret, and their two children — were forced into exile, settling in London, where Mohamed opened an architectural office called Makiya and Associates and carried on with projects from his new home. And then in the s came a curious invitation to return to Iraq. It seems that the Khulafa project, now two decades old, had caught the eye of a certain Saddam Hussein, the thickly mustached, former army general from the northern city of Tikrit who had been leading the country since Makiya consented, and the ensuing period, one in which reams of petrodollars were devoted to grandiose architectural projects, witnessed a host of ambitious schemes — from the Baghdad State Mosque, to a parade ground in Tikrit, to riverfront schemes for Baghdad, and more than one university campus.

In , Saddam invaded Kuwait. The son would make his name deriding the regime that his father had worked for. Some years later, Makiya the younger would become one of the main exiles advising the Bush administration as it prepared its case to invade Iraq. The elder Makiya remains in London, surrounded by his massive collection of Iraqi art and antiquities, as well as his memories of an Iraq long gone.

It was like the Middle Ages. There was no electricity, no water, no sanitation. My father died when I was young, and as a child I worked for my uncle, who had a shop in the souk. Every day, I opened the shop for him. When I got out of school, I did my lessons in the shop. Our family was a prominent weaving family. My father would get the materials from the Silk Route and from China. He was one of the main dealers, and my cousin had one of the best shops in Baghdad for textiles.

Later he started bringing them from Italy, but before that we brought everything from Aleppo, Syria, because the industry there was very good. Modernity first came to Iraq from Damascus, Syria, and the Mediterranean. So if, as you say, you are Baghdad, if this upbringing is in all you do, how did the actual house in which you grew up influence you and your work?

It was only later that I came to appreciate it. It was a masterful study of space. How could an area of less than meters house five families? There was a central court and a diwan and a basement. Above, there were five rooms, but the roof was a sleeping space. I learned then that the sky is a roof itself. The whole idea of the house was very important to me.

You told me about the importance of environment, or Al Mamour — habitat, as you translated it — in your architecture and thinking. How much of that was rooted in old Baghdad? I was interested in the influence of the climate on architecture in the Mediterranean.

When we went to the School of Architecture in Liverpool, we all came back trying to be modern. I did practice modernism as a student in Liverpool. And I did very well — I had to, because I wanted to be as good as everybody else. But I was also influenced very much by the English vernacular, the Cotswold stone architecture, and so on.

I came back to Baghdad in after spending eleven years away. There was no professor who could tell me anything about Islamic architecture there, so they left me to be free. The Cambridge years were very influential to me and later influenced my plans for the university at Kufa. It was just a very broad street with landscaping. It was good professionally, but to me, it had no character, intimacy, nor the closeness that even Cambridge had.

To me the modern really has to have an identity and a philosophy. And the philosophy is the trinity of human values — man, space, and time. They become the human scale. You told me that the s were a glorious time, a golden period in Iraq. Did you feel you were at the center of something important happening in Baghdad? In the s, we brought the giant architects of the world to Iraq. I took Frank Lloyd Wright around in my car.

I was the president of the Arts Society, which I founded in or so.

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I invited Frank Lloyd Wright! I showed him all around, and Jawad Salim was there, and he was keen to talk to him and have his signature. Even in Cambridge, socialism had been very much present. I once drove my car from Baghdad to Moscow, you know. When the first Russian went to the moon. I probably went to see Moscow. I drove my car into the Red Square! The car had a number plate in Arabic. And I was a stranger to them because I am not a painter, and they thought that painting alone was art. I believed in applied art, and they looked down upon it.

To me the carpenter and the blacksmith are artists… the other artists think art must involve a canvas. Canvas in a climate like ours! I never painted in my life! In fact, when I came back to lecture at the engineering college, there was no department of architecture. I went to see the head of the school, and I said we should have one. The civil engineering department refused. I said alright, I could give a lecture a week to the fourth-years on the appreciation of architecture.

To me, the whole dilemma was that the civil engineers were not cultivated. They were not civic, they were civil, and that is the trouble! I asked the students to draw the houses they lived in, to draw the kitchen their mothers used, and so on. Once I took them to draw the whole coast of Baghdad, from the north to the south, from the suspension bridge to Kadamiyah.


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We went on a boat with Lorna Salim, who worked in the department…. Then, in , when the new president of the university came, he immediately agreed to launch an architectural department. I used to employ the best brains, and when they came, I had to dismiss anything American or English and keep only the people from the Eastern Bloc because of…. I wanted the creation of the School of Architecture to have a legacy, so one can speak of a Baghdad school of architecture, the way the Jawad Salim school today is a Baghdad school.

When it was announced that Iraq would be the site of the conference of the Non-Aligned Movement, the mayor of Baghdad invited me to come back. Makiya is the only one who used to speak about tradition. Then it came again in a very nice way. The ambassador delivered a letter from the president with the confirmation that I was to come as a guest and leave any time without complication. That was before the Iranian war. It happened at the very end of that stay. And then he invaded Iran! I was staying on the eighth floor of the hotel, and I got up very early, and there was an airplane, an Iranian airplane coming back to bomb us.

I got out shortly afterwards. So what exactly made you go back that time? And continue to work with the regime for some years after? I wanted to do something. Kanan was against that, of course. I hated the man, but to me Iraq is not him. You know Saddam gave me the parade ground in Tikrit to work on. About 1 kilometer square. He wanted it the way he had in Baghdad with the swords! So the army could promenade through it like they do in Red Square.

I ignored this request. I designed a complex for it — for festivals, for the feast, not for the tanks. Of course, it was never built. Do you feel compromised by having worked under Saddam? Do you have any regrets? Saddam was not actually interested in tradition, in the sense of heritage was he? When I talked to him about design and things like that, he listened carefully. He liked to learn, and to use knowledge for his own glorification. For example, I told him about brick culture in Samarra, with the traditional mud and brick.

When one goes to Salahaddin [University] near Arbil, the topography is more marked by stone, like Mosul or Jerusalem. All of a sudden, every building Saddam asked for was made of stone, though we are mostly a brick country. The Abbasid tradition is brick! But somehow this was his way of bringing the stone culture of the north [where he came from] to Baghdad. He wanted to show the culture of the north penetrating to the center. Once I was giving a talk, and he came in late. At the end when I had finished, he stood! He never stood for anybody in the world.

And to sit next to me? Only questions about cost, more or less, but with the Abu Nawaz street project to restore the riverfront in Baghdad, for example, I said there were more important subjects to discuss. These are pillars from heaven. The palm tree is a blessing from God. And another time, I proposed a new design for the flag that was rejected. I said we must have green.

I pushed for blue, too, like the sky; sky, water, and the green. And the stars should have been vertical, not horizontal! We are not horizontal, we have nothing to do with Egypt and the Arab world. But we are related to the north, the middle, and the south. We are Assyrian, Arcadian, and Sumerian — we are the three. Do you remember Independence in , what it meant? What memory do you have of first encounters with the British?

The British occupation could no longer be tolerated or accepted at that point. But yet we also had the best doctors, the best people, we had the best college in the world, and we had the best architecture. Colonial architecture of that period, through the influence of people like Edwin Lutyens or Harold Mason and James Mollison Wilson, was very important. In that period, we had the Parliament Building, and many others done.

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Unfortunately, we had a British architect called Baxter. He was very good, but he was trying to make things Islamic. To me, Iraqi-ness is more important than being Islamic. My designs there were interfered with. They menaced them with all kinds of decorations and things, copies, in the Andalusian style. All my jobs are incomplete. When I designed that mosque in Muscat, I wanted people to relate to it as a cultural center. The building went right up to the water, the sea, and the mountain.

Because Oman is defined by the rock and the water. And they ruined it by having an meter street passing right by the mosque! To me the mosque is not a place to worship only, it is a place of rendezvous, like a national park. Children could come and play and all that, have a parade, and people could picnic there and all that. Then they could pray if they want to, in the thousands.

Why was that, do you think? You said earlier that the sultan wanted to claim credit, regarding the architect as merely paid help? They spoiled the interior. And they raised the minaret more than necessary. Another thing about the Muscat mosque was my lettering, my calligraphy. My lettering is like a Mondrian, abstracted. There was the Kuwait State Mosque. My god, this is poetry, this is mood. Tell me about your proposal for a university at Kufa, which was never realized. Because it was associated with the Shia and Shia particularism, whereas Saddam was a Sunni?

Oh yes, they thought Kufa was the capital of Shiism. It was the first capital. So we had a huge international response, from the Russians, the Americans — to help with scholarships, send professors. It was the first university that would not be governmental. The Kufa proposal was for a city. For a complex, complete university with living and everything in it. It was a university town, not a university institute. What was your reaction to such a commission, the process, and how far did you get with it?

I refused to work on it and gave a report against spending so many millions on a new Babylon. In the Department of Antiquities, nobody dared to say no. Makiya is emotional, and we can make money out of it. The same thing happened with Nineveh. I went with one of the top consultants from the Department of Antiquities and said ancient Nineveh is one of the most wonderful things in the world, and they want to bulldoze the thing so that they could build houses for the teachers.

I wrote a letter, and they stopped the project. That way, I saved Nineveh. I have to ask you this small thing, this rumor that Saddam was quite a good draftsman. Was Saddam able to draw quite well? In the late s, I was phoned by poet and critic Ammiel Alcalay, who urged me to hear Etel Adnan read the next night at the Graduate Center. He told me Adnan was an Arab-American poet, writer, playwright and painter, born and raised in Lebanon. Since he had never urged me to attend an event before, I decided to go. The lecture hall was filled. I remember Edward Said and his wife were in the audience.

Adnan took her seat behind a table at the front, and, from the moment she began reading, her passion, great intelligence, and sensitivity to language and form felt palpable. Adnan writes about exile and place, women and men, war and nature, paying homage to the beauty, complexity, and even the horrors of our lives. She is a philosophical poet. She is the author of, among others, the acclaimed novel Sitt Marie Rose , which has been translated into ten languages, including Urdu and Bosniac, and the epic poem, The Arab Apocalypse.

Her paintings have been exhibited internationally and are included in various museums and collections. After I heard her read that night, I made contact with her. I saw her twice in New York City, when she was on her way to Paris. I phoned her there a couple of times, and we maintained an infrequent correspondence. I read her books. Her partner, Simone Fattal, who is the publisher of the Post-Apollo Press, always sent me her new books, and Etel always signed them affectionately.

Having the chance to talk with Etel Adnan for Bidoun , at length and in her home in Sausalito, was a gift. It is why, sometimes, my work seems to go in many different directions. I want to accept things as they come and see what to do with them. I accept contradiction when it happens. One month later I might write its opposite and be aware of it. Of course, you must have some points of reference in your life. I have become politically nonviolent. I will not compromise that.

On other matters, I feel a kind of absolute, if we can use that word—I do not accept the sexual abuse of children. But I have very few of those absolutes. Everything else is in flux. I admire writing when I feel there is an intelligence behind it, that the language is closely handled, in whatever form the writer happens to choose. Some people are prisoners of the decisions they make. It carries some respect. I wrote it before the end of The Christian Phalangists kidnapped a woman whose real name was Marie Rose. People immediately recognized her when the book came out.

I knew she was already dead. I became upset, and wanted to write it down. I wanted to find out — all cultures include violence — which forms the Lebanese culture has taken. But what attracted me to this violence was my knowledge — the young men who kidnapped, tortured, and killed her, I had grown up with them.

I knew Phalangists, and she was Christian, too. Through her they wanted to teach a lesson to the various factions. The Phalangists were, in their minds, defending Christian values, but in fact they were defending their power against the Muslims. The French created a place where these Christians would have their own country — after World War I, when the big powers carved up the Middle East.

But if everybody were Christian, the new country would have been too small. So they included territory inhabited by Muslims. But after two generations, the Christians found they were no longer a sizable majority. Today they are not the majority. Your novel shifts and flows, from politics with its varied discourses, through voices and styles. One of its brilliant inventions is the deaf-mute schoolchildren. The four male characters, who represent various factions of the Christians, speak — they are all anti-Muslim. Sitt Marie Rose is sympathetic to the Palestinian cause.

You re-imagined everything — desire, impressions, feelings. And the description of the state of war in a specific place. Politics is such an important part of our lives, whether we like it or not. In poetry, people mostly avoid politics. But The Iliad is a political work.

I became an American poet by writing against the Vietnam War, I joined the movement by writing against the war, spontaneously. I feel the first thing is to be true to oneself. Now you will say, what if you are a monster and are true to yourself? We are in a period when there is, funnily enough, more poetry being written in proportion to the population than during Vietnam. Poets have followed the general apathy of the Bush and Reagan years. Maybe that speaks about where poetry is in terms of its relationship to society. Some writers may feel themselves at a great distance.

They are discovering new forms, by complicating form and by avoiding anything that would smack of a message. And, like all great writing, it can defend itself beautifully. By looking at it, she understands the struggle to live, the finality of death. What I want to suggest is that fiction and poetry need not be specific to a political event to embrace the effects and depredations to life because of war, violence, injustice.

Iraq had great painters, musicians. It was the most dynamic Arab country for some thirty years, with an excellent medical system, the best in the Arab world. So the destruction of it…. Simultaneously, Saddam was an excessive character. You were for him or against him, no in between. In that sense, he was a total dictator. Still, something was happening there. There was the same oppressive rule in Syria, but without the counterpart in culture Iraq had. When America attacked Iraq, each time they moved, they destroyed it. Though when you think about it, there is so much going on in the world, and Americans cannot care for everything.

But this is something that America started and did. Hatred can lead to genocide. There is no real rationale to it. The US is not immune, but prosperity made America relax. America is interesting — everything is true about it, and its opposite is true. We have a democracy in many ways, really. But people are horrified by universal health care, which Europe and Canada have as a matter of course. Yes, I went to Paris as a student in Sartre was the great thing, and I had not heard of him in Beirut. It was like a miracle. I had come from a culture where we lived on a more basic level. My father was highly educated for those days, my mother was not.

We had no books at home. My father was a Muslim from Damascus in the Ottoman Empire. Amazingly, the books existed on a shelf next to each other. So I have no problem with coexistence. I grew up with it. In Paris, everything was new, astonishing, until I was thirty. I was in a stage of discovery for thirteen years, until I started teaching, which gave me a distance from reality.

I was immersed in reality until I was thirty. In the present — that type of reality. Sartre said you could be moral without being religious. No, but his philosophy changed my life. Its second idea was about responsibility, and that is empowerment. Coming from a Catholic school, I know firsthand that you are meant to follow the church, the priest — then you are a good person.

You go to confession. They met during WWI, in Smyrna, in the street. She was so poor that, for her, it was a fairy tale. Then the war was lost, and my parents went to Beirut. From there it was downhill. I was educated because I went to a French school. My mother was extremely poor when she grew up. She used to say there were only two jobs in Smyrna for women — to pick grapes for raisins or be a prostitute.

She was sixteen when he met her. Then the Greeks in Turkey were in concentration camps. My father was dead by that time. I was twenty-four when I went. I had a French government scholarship for three years. I worked from the age of sixteen. I was the only child. But I could take morning classes. I finished the whole program in two months instead of eight and received a baccalaureate, which allowed me to go into the third year of a French school that specialized in literature.

I quit the first job and found one doing almost nothing, for a man who wanted to write a novel. He thought if I just sat there, he would write it. I read books in his library. He wanted literature to be free from the Jesuits, and he taught poetry. Thanks to him, we got an enlightened education. When I told her, she went crazy. Brave in many ways, but also brave with no sense of the future. It was day-to-day bravery. It raises the question of developing character, your character, and how you respond to others, and fashioning characters in fiction.

Some people have hardships that kill them. Others are made so bitter they have no hope. But hardships can also, in some cases, become experiences one can grow from. Often in your writing, there are questions of liberty and madness. In Of Cities and Women , set in Barcelona, in the Ramblas, a woman walks down the street completely naked: She continued down the avenue probably heading for the red light district…. Was this a scene of absolute liberty or of insanity? Insanity, as a category, has mostly disappeared. But how do you run a society between these two notions, both boundaries, which in effect include disorders?

To implement law, what do you do when you have power? How do you use it? How to integrate contradictory rights? In your poetics, you are very free. In Of Cities , you employ the epistolary form. Because it gives one freedom. I wrote it because my friend Fawwaz wanted me to write a paper on feminism.

Calling us or escaping us.

"THE MISTRESS’ MORSELS - Erotic Short Stories" E-BOOK

The trend is toward uniformity. Obviously women have been acculturated to use their femininity, men their masculinity. Aggression is part of life, but we also need a counter aggression. We need men who are against war as much as women — though there are more and more women for war. We need diversity and balance in the sexes. Goodness of the heart.

That is the core of Christ and Christianity. Everything else is an invention of his followers. As a child, I had a strong sense of the presence of the sun. In the summer, the sun is very vivid in Beirut. I was fascinated by the shadow my own body made, when going for an afternoon swim. In my twenties, I heard the French say that Arabs were the children of the sun, les enfants du soleil. It was said with disdain — Arabs were irresponsible, grown-up children. And I remember walking into the mountains of my village, never wearing a hat, being very aware it was hot, feeling surrounded by the sun like a thief by the police.

My relation to place is also a desire to know where I am.

If you see yourself, kill him

I grew up as an anguished child, partly because of not having brothers and sisters in a society where I was marginal. The French were ruling Lebanon, so we were also marginal in relation to a colonial power. And my parents were a mixed marriage — there were few. I think I compensated by trying to know always where I was. The Arab Apocalypse takes a unique approach to writing on the page — you use signs, lines, curves, symbols. The signs are there as an excess of emotion. The signs are the unsaid.

More can be said, but you are stopped by your emotion. Tel al-Zaatar is a neighborhood in Beirut, where twenty thousand people, not all Palestinian but mostly Palestinian, lived underground. Maybe the fighters in the camp had some advance notice and left. But the women, children, and old people who remained were slaughtered. It was worse than Sabra and Shatila. It was as bad and worse. There was only one well, so women would go there for water. Maybe twenty, to make sure one got back. They were surrounded by snipers.

The Arab Apocalypse is about Tel al-Zaatar — the hill of thyme — but its subject is beyond this siege, which was the beginning of the undoing of the Arabs. This war was the sign of disaster coming, that by mismanagement and mistakes, the Arabs would undo themselves. The form and content of The Arab Apocalypse are imaginatively fused: A sun which is SOFT.

The Arabs are under the ground. The Americans are on the moon. The sun has eaten its children. I myself was a morning blessed with bliss. I started this book when I lived in Beirut. I could hear the bombs from my balcony. I saw a manifestation of pure evil. In metaphysics there is no word for that.


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It relates to your saying that violence or evil has no one country. We have institutions, we try to control it. Or we decide to unleash it. But there is evil in every person to different degrees. Evil is part of being. Power creates a temptation to be abusive. Nations that feel immune, or superior, sure to win, are not wise.

Like the Bush administration, a folly of arrogance. In nature, there is danger, too. Because the sun is dangerous. It can kill you, burn you. But the sun is also life. The Arab Apocalypse is a superb example of a poem that pays attention to poetics and place, war, politics — literally, what happens in the city. There is the presence of war in almost everything I write.

In we had refugees from Armenia. WWII brought foreign armies, not bloodshed. In , the Israelis entered Beirut. There were other Israeli incursions, constant bombing of the south. Beirut was done and almost undone by war. But my vision of the world is pretty dark. I try not to forget the good of this world — not only good people, but the sunshine, the trees. There is also happiness in this world. In the Heart of the Heart of Another Country is written in paragraphs: People here to portray there is a person who loves me to death.

Not to my death or hers, but to the death of the person I loved….


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  6. I wonder who invented the ugly word punishment. It was probably God, who established the word and the deed. My heart had been broken. No, not at all. It adds fiction to the fiction I became…. There is a sense of exile in everyone. We are exiled from each other, to a point.