Matt Rees's Blog – May 2010 Archive (8)

How to create empathy as a writer

Malcolm Muggeridge (an old English literateur) once said that George Orwell “was no good as a novelist, because he didn’t have the interest in character.” Well, I didn’t need to tell you who George Orwell was, so you may doubt the judgment of the largely forgotten Muggeridge. But I think he was very close to an important factor for the novelist.

Here’s why: Character creates empathy in a novel. It puts the reader in a relationship with the work. Muggeridge’s…

Added by Matt Rees on May 27, 2010 at 11:42pm — 4 Comments

Israel prepares for next threat--nuclear?

NABLUS, West Bank — Six years ago, during the Palestinian intifada, I sat on a dusty hilltop overlooking this most violent of West Bank towns with a dozen of the top Israeli officers in the area. The brigade commanders told their regional chiefs that all the police work and house-to-house fighting of the intifada had made their troops ill-prepared for a real war. “If we had to fight in Lebanon, my men wouldn’t know what they were doing,” shouted one.

In 2006,…

Added by Matt Rees on May 23, 2010 at 7:47pm — 2 Comments

Jimmy Carter, apartheid, hemorrhoids and Matt Beynon Rees

I often receive emails from book stores,, Barnes and Noble, and online literary sites telling me how much I’d like the novels of Matt Beynon Rees. I’m delighted to see these emails, which are based on my other purchases and interests, as only I can truly know just how much the novels of Matt Beynon Rees have changed my life. (Try them, I’m sure you’ll agree.)

Of course, I also get the occasional email informing me that if I like Matt Beynon…

Added by Matt Rees on May 21, 2010 at 12:42am — 1 Comment

Cameron can't solve English i.d. crisis

I was at Oxford University at the same time as Britain's new prime minister. But while I spent all my free time at a famous old pub opposite the historic Bodleian Library with a pint of Guinness in the company of some old Irish porters, I never saw David Cameron there. Which makes me doubt his suitability for office.

That's not because I think the prime minister should be overfond of alcohol (at Oxford, Cameron was a member of a very upper-crust private drinking…

Added by Matt Rees on May 14, 2010 at 5:21pm — No Comments

'Exotic' crime fiction makes unpalatable places bearable

“Exotic” crime fiction has taken off in the last decade. People want to read about detectives in far-off places, even if they don’t want to wade through learned histories of those distant lands.

Many of the biggest selling novels of the last decade have been “exotic crime.” You’ll find a detective novel set almost everywhere in the world, from the “Number One Ladies Detective Agency” in Botswana through Camilleri’s Sicily to dour old Henning Mankell in…

Added by Matt Rees on May 13, 2010 at 7:30pm — 1 Comment

Hamas rebuilds in West Bank

Hamas is rebuilding its underground powerbase in the West Bank, stockpiling weapons and material underground, biding its time for a renewal of the conflict with its Fatah rivals.

Palestinian security officials have been telling me this for some time, and they are frankly filled with fear and foreboding. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas mentioned it again in an interview with the Arabic newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat during the week, accusing Hamas of smuggling…

Added by Matt Rees on May 10, 2010 at 5:10pm — No Comments

What do YOU think of me?

A friend of mine was lunching with a Scandinavian author a while back. At one point, the writer joked: “But that’s enough of me talking about myself. What do YOU think of me?”

Unlike that writer, I don’t care what you think of me. Don’t be offended – I don’t care what I think about other people, either. The more I write, the more I realize that I’m interested in myself alone.

That, I believe, is the necessary focus of all art – even…

Added by Matt Rees on May 6, 2010 at 7:22pm — 2 Comments

Good times, danger signs in West Bank

BETHLEHEM, West Bank — The good news is that the West Bank is normal — kind of — and that people are content — sort of. The bad news, the Palestine Liberation Organization thinks it’s responsible for the good news.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who’s also the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) chief, has decided to stamp down on the man who’s actually made life bearable in the West Bank, Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad, and his plan to declare…

Added by Matt Rees on May 5, 2010 at 11:35pm — No Comments

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