In one of the very best episodes of Seinfeld, Jerry and his girlfriend are caught kissing during a performance of Schindler’s List. His Jewish parents are predictably shocked and disappointed. ‘You were making out during Schindler’s List? … How could you do such a thing?’ Elliot Perlman’s third novel, The Street Sweeper, a sprawling paean to the world’s neglected and dispossessed that takes both the American Civil Rights Movement and the Holocaust as its primary subjects, wears something of Mr and Mrs Seinfeld’s understandable po-face.
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Perception is a weird thing. Lawrence Durrell saw Hydra as a ‘great horned toad’ but Henry Miller thought it resembled a ‘huge loaf of petrified bread’. Niko Ghika painted it as a series of neat white and orange squares.
The minimalist Fumio Sasaki 'confesses that as he began to purchase fewer consumer goods, his meals shrank in size. He decluttered and lost weight. Accumulation is not just an economic way of life but a form of embodiment too. Enlightenment is reduction.'
'The river’s desecration mirrors Colombia’s long history of violence: "for years we treated it like a sewer," says Ahmed, a survivor of a particularly brutal paramilitary massacre, "just like we treated each other".'
Patrick Wilcken on the Magdalena.