Daily Archives: April 27, 2009

Randy Ford Author- a little sanctuary for the radical of radicals

      She had never been placed in so difficult a position before by a photograph, and it bothered her to think that it probably hurt her father’s career, and that she probably would always be blamed.   She didn’t keep a clipping of the photograph; she wanted all the newspapers with it in it destroyed.   Nick kept a copy.   But he was unwilling to show it to anyone, knowing how Elaine felt about it.

      Ted had little do with his students since classes were suspended.   He had not directly participated in the demonstrations but had a long talk with Elaine about her participation.   He had a number of reasons for disagreeing with her; for some reason he hadn’t wanted to share them with her.   And they both had reasons to worry and worry they did.   Ted thought about the students that he knew who got injured.   Elaine had approached him as a friend, and it was because they were both Americans in a similar situation (though by no means the same) that she felt she could confide in him.   She would have to be careful not to abuse that; but he was the one neutral person that she could turn to.   They had in common the demonstrations and Nick and their nationality and other things.

      One day she couldn’t find Nick.   She went to his office; asked Ted.   But no one had seen him, and he wasn’t where he was supposed to be.   They were to meet.   No sign of Nick, and that worried her tremendously.   She hated to say it, but she had become very dependent.   Her idea of dependency was not pathological, all consuming, but conflicting.   She knew how it could become an illness…easy enough to get sick from; the “I-need-to-be-with-you-all-the-time” kind of sickness and the clutching and the constricting, the surrender of self and the possessing of someone, petty jealousies without a cause, the butt-chewing moments for no real reason, the apologies that began the crumbling away of a relationship…and she knew she wouldn’t allow that.   Still without Nick she had no life, no reason to be in Manila.   She would be lost.   The more she thought about it, the more she didn’t like that about herself.   She didn’t like being dependent on her parents, didn’t like being dependent on anyone.   Now there was Nick and her love for him, and her life suddenly became much more complicated.   Sometimes she wanted to lean on him; other times she didn’t.   Now where the hell was he?

      She worried until she found Nick, Nick who had been held up by the police.   When she asked for an explanation, he said, “I’ll tell you later.”   Later meant in the privacy of her apartment.

      Elaine said the next morning, “I wish you’d be careful.   I know that you’re the radical of radicals, and it’s against your principles.   I know there’s very little I can do about it.   The police have already detained you once, or as you say ‘held you up.’   They have your m o.   So be careful, honey.   That’s all I ask.”

     He said, “Where do you think I should be, hiding in the restroom?”

     She said, “You mustn’t scold me now.   You mustn’t hold it against me.   You must see how fragile I am.   You’re a perceptive human being.”

     She said the next morning, “Here comes the radical of radicals, get ready folks.”

     That day Elaine stayed home and spent the day reading.   Without a telephone, she couldn’t call him like she wanted to.   She had to trust that Nick would be careful.   Trust him.   She said, “I’m doing well.   But I’ll show up when he least expects me.   That way I won’t be such a big liability.”   Day after day it continued like that, with more worry for Elaine, and with Nick running around all over the place.   But the trust and the dependency, in their case, went together, and everyone else saw that side of Nick too.   They all knew they could depend on the radical of radicals, as he became known.   That would never change.   Sometimes before a demonstration Elaine did what she said she would do and just showed up.   She stood behind her radical most of the time.   He would go to her apartment because he had to go.

      Elaine said, “Remember what we promised.   We may come from different places, different countries, you and me, but now we share something special.   You might be everyone’s radical, and in that arena I have to share you.   But I’m better off.   I get to sleep with you.”

      She got her radical back.   She felt he was safe, provided she could hold him.   She created a little sanctuary for him, where they agreed they wouldn’t talk politics.   A sanctuary, where he could be himself.   A sanctuary, where something else motivated him.

       Randy Ford

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Elsa Marston- FiGS AND FATE, youth literature

      FIGS AND FATE (more recent expanded edition entitled SANTA CLAUSE IN BAGHDAD) by Elsa Marston (George Braziller, 2005) received the award for youth literature.  Five short stories about growing up in the Arab world today are told from the perspective of young Arib teens living in Syria, Lebanon, Palestinian camp, Egypt, and Iraq.  Marston beautifully details the rich culture of thse youths and their families, in the process helping to dispel negative stereotypes associated with young adults living in these societies.  Readers will discover that their personal strugggles, ideals, goals, and dreams are surprisingly familiar.  (Middle and High School)

      The Middle East Outreach Council established the Middle East Book Award in 1999 to recognize books for children and young adults that contribute meaning-fully to an understanding of the Middle East.  Books are judged on the authenticity of their portrayal of the Middle Eastern subject, as well as on their characterization, plot, and appeal for the inteneded audience.  Awards are announced in Novemenber for books published during the period from January of the previous year through September of the current year.  For the purposes of this award, “The Middle East” is defined as the Arab World, Iran, Isreal, Turkey, and Afghanistan.

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Melaine Little-THE APPRENTICE’S MASTERPIECE: A STORY OF MEDIEVAL SPAIN, youth literature

      THE APPRENTICE’S MASTERPIECE: A STORY OF MEDIEVAL SPAIN by Melaine Little (Annick Press, 2007)

      Set in Spain, 1485, this book tells the story of two teens in Cordoba after the reconquest: one is from a Jewish family that has converted to Christianity in the face of the Inquistion, the other a Muslim boy given to them as a slave.  Through short passages written in verse, the tale of these two boys unfolds as they witness the end of Spain’s military campaign against the Moors and face their own uncertain futures in a country flush with nationalistic fervor that views them with suspicion.  The book is simply written, but contains powerful and haunting imagery that will engage even adult readers. (High School)

      The Middle East Outreach Council established the Middle East Book Award in 1999 to recognize books for children and young adults that contribute meaning-fully to an understanding of the Middle East.  Books are judged on the authenticity of their portrayal of the Middle Eastern subject, as well as on their characterization, plot, and appeal for the inteneded audience.  Awards are announced in Novemenber for books published during the period from January of the previous year through September of the current year.  For the purposes of this award, “The Middle East” is defined as the Arab World, Iran, Isreal, Turkey, and Afghanistan.

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