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August § The Common Test / 2016-02-16 21:04:46
Robin § Unforgotten / 2016-01-08 21:19:16
MsFitNZ § Towards A Theory of Secondary Literacy / 2015-11-03 21:23:21
Jon Schultz § Bless the toolmakers / 2015-05-04 18:39:56
Jon Schultz § Bless the toolmakers / 2015-05-04 16:32:50
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Greg Linch § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 18:05:52
Robin § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 05:11:02
P. Renaud § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 04:13:09
Jay H § Matching cuts / 2014-10-02 02:41:13

The Sense Of America
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The NYT reconfigured their Baghdad Bureau blog to make At War, adding reports from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and elsewhere as well as Iraq. This post by Atheer Kakan, an NYT translator and journalist in Iraq who (along with his family) was recently allowed to emigrate to the US as a political refugee, is downright astonishing: emotional and observant, sentimental and clear-eyed all at once:

My family was starving, so the first thing we did after we sat down was to bring them some food. I went to a fast-food shop and I ordered lots of American food. There was something with melting cheese. I think it was Mexican. And lots of French fries. The cashier girl was asking me if I wanted things, and I was approving everything she said.

Eventually I had lots of food to carry to my family, who were desperately waiting for me. I put down the food and we started eating, and I looked to my children, who seemed to be enjoying their time, and I released another breath as I felt that I was doing the right thing for all of us. It wasn

September 2, 2009 / Uncategorized

4 comments

I love the style and cadence of his writing. Reminds me — not directly, just obliquely — of Ha Jin, or Haruki Murakami (who has somebody else doing the translating, I know). Both elegant AND direct. Hard to pull off.

It would be wonderful — really, one of the very tip-top wonderful things I can imagine — to learn another language well enough to be able to write like this.

The infelicities somehow become felicitous, a matter of style and psychological accuracy. “Later they let us all go, we do not know why.” -> Instead of a comma splice, it becomes an interrupted series. The sentence is not a self-contained unit of semantic/syntactic coherence, but of spatial and psychological unity.

You have this moment of time compressed:

“The cashier girl was asking me if I wanted things, and I was approving everything she said.”

Juxtaposed with this moment of time – just a blink – encircled and mapped, spatially, emotionally:

“I put down the food and we started eating, and I looked to my children, who seemed to be enjoying their time, and I released another breath as I felt that I was doing the right thing for all of us.”

It’s elegant without artifice. It’s all SEEN so well. You know it. You know every moment and inch of it.

my heart was shaking as I laughed at the idea of how I would look like at that time.

Oh, that must have been so terrifing–knowing that to give your children a safer, more peaceful life you will have to let them grow into being part of a different culture. So many of our parents just stumbled into that without really thinking it through—I think understanding it at the very point of no-return would make anyone’s heart shake.

It’s such a complex feeling though – being terrified and mocking your own terror – “my heart was shaking as I laughed at the idea of how I would look like at that time” – one of those “I know, and I know that I know, and I know that I know that I know” moments – but framed so elegantly, actually RESISTING the clich

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