December 8th, 2001



1. Cycling to school most days, I get confronted with the fact that it is dark when I leave home, dark when I get home. So most of the time cars with their big lights trouble me. They might not be very fast when they realise they are blinding me, but it takes them bloody ages to switch back to normal light. Some never even bother, even though I can't see fuck all when they approach me.

2. When crossing a street today, a bus politely stopped to let me pass. I had right of way, but still, I appreciate the gesture. A car then stopped next to the bus, on the wrong side of the road, so as soon as I passed, he could pass the bus quickly. He was lucky nobody came from the opposite direction that moment.

3. Crossing a narrow bridge is possible for a bike and a car at the same time. Just about, I always go very carefully across it. Today I was being followed by a car, who didn't dare to overtake. From the opposite direction came another car, who had right of way. They stopped in the middle of the bridge, facing each other. As I continued my route, none of them seemed to be eager to move. It looked a fairly interesting status quo. Unfortunately my road went downhill (literally I mean) and with the fog I soon couldn't see anything but a few red car lights. I'm not sure if any one of them had given in yet.

Is it me, or do more people see it that people become real arseholes as soon as they've got a driving wheel in their hands?
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Julia Alvarez - In the name of Salome (01-091)

Alvarez is one of my favourite writers. Obviously I'm biased. She's from Dominican descent, a country where I spent a year of my life, a defining one for me. Her first novel (In the time of the butterflies) was outstanding, it is one of my all time best books ever. She manages to combine a good story with a lot of history. The butterflies in her first book were three sisters who were in the resistance against the dictator (Trujillo) in her native Santo Domingo. It is a true story, that every Dominican knows. Only she has managed to write a whole book about it, turning facts into fiction. I can only think of one other person in the world who can do the same: Isabel Allende. Not a wonder she is being labelled the new Allende so often. Both Latin American women, both similar styles.

But Alvarez deserves her own place in history. This is her 4th book of fiction, the 5th I have read by her. And again she uses the same success formula. Politics, history and the life stories of two fascinating women are intertwined throughout the book. Salom, the poet of the people during the first chaotic days of the new republic and her daughter, decades later, floating between her native country, post revolution Cuba and the US. Chapter after chapter you get to know more about them, how one decision in one life influences the other one decades later. Great story, keeps the attention. Definitely someone who deserves more attention and fame.
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