The Yangambi Research Library

Last night I watched the last episode of Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown on CNN. This time he visited the Congo, which truly is a place where paradise and hell are juxtaposed. Following a life long dream of traveling the Congo River, ignited and fueled by a passion for Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Bourdain ventured into an area few other people will ever see with their own eyes. By doing this, Bourdain has done us all a great service.

Watching the program, what touched me the most was the Yangambi Research Library, which belongs to an abandoned Belgian research station in the middle of the jungle on the Congo River. The Belgians left 50 years ago and since then no research has been performed here. But still the librarian and the administrators come in everyday to catalog, organize and apply for funding from the defunct Congo government. There is no electricity to protect the books from the humidity, window panes are broken and let the rain inside, and no one receives a salary. Still they come everyday to keep up whatever they can of the maintenance, eeking out a patch of normalcy in all the craziness that currently is tearing Congo apart. If there ever were people who loved their library, it is the people who care for the Yangambi Research Library on the Congo River.
I sincerely hope that Anthony Bourdain will return to CNN for a second season. Parts Unknown has been an experience to watch and it has truly been a thrill to see the world according to Bourdain.

In the words of my friend, the Australian: I shall return.

Stephen King and the Feeling of Safety

Stephen King is the author that has meant the most to me. There are entire shelves in my bookcase displaying solid black spines bearing the same name: Stephen King. King was the first writer whose authorship I discovered and devoured. King was the first writer that made me think that I could do this too. That statement is by no means meant as a slight to the talents of King. On the contrary. Through his writing King demonstrated that it is possible to put your ideas to paper and make them work.

Stephen King has a new novel coming out at the same time as he is releasing a collaboration with John Mellencamp and T Bone Burnett. And he is featured in the latest issue of TinHouse.

When I opened TinHouse and began reading, I realized, before I had even finished the first paragraph, that it felt like a homecoming. I felt safe to once again be surrounded by the words of Stephen King. King has a warmth to his language that is rarely mentioned. Reading a novel or a short story by Stephen King is like stepping into a dark womb that you know will scare you, exhilarate you, but still, among all the horror and twisted realities, it embraces you and makes you feel safe. Safe to be frightened by the worlds created by King and safe to attempt what he does so brilliantly.

In the words of my friend, the Australian: I shall return.

I know I move slow sometimes… part 1

I took me a few years before I finally went and bought Rihanna’s album Rated R. I knew it would be an album I really liked and the track “Russian Roulette” must be the best Bond-theme that never was. Rihanna herself is an amazing singer with an expression and emotion to her voice that most contemporary r’n’b-singers can only dream of.

As a writer I find inspiration in music. The imagery conjured by “Russian Roulette”, as well as “Stay” and “Diamonds” off Rihanna’s latest release, Unapologetic, so far has spawned ideas for two short stories and a novel.

In the words of my friend, the Australian: I shall return.