Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Guest Post - Phillipa Fioretti


Today, as a treat, you can have a guest post from Australian author Phillipa Fiorretti.

My morning routine, once I have settled and have my evil espresso next to me, is to go through my overnight emails from the Northern Hemisphere and cruise around my favourite blogs reading the latest posts. I’m always pleased to see a new post from Alexander on Fake Plastic Souks, because I know that usually I’ll have a bit of a giggle.

Alexander and I are writing pals, having ‘met’ on Authonomy last year. I helped to edit the manuscript of his book, Olives, and I have to say there is nothing more soothing after a tiresome day than to pour a drink, pick up a sharp pencil and savage his work. I’m cruel, brutal even, but I’m fair. I won’t stand for any nonsense with adverbs and deal ruthlessly with any signs of lazy expression. And I don’t smile while I do it.

But when I arrive at his blog I’m off duty and care not if he uses three adjectives in a row. I read all the posts, although I tend to skim the technology ones unless there is an interesting angle – like the Etisalat patch for Blackberries, or the intricacies of using SatNav devices. The ones I really like are usually about the new train service, taxis, and commentary on daily life in Dubai.

I live in Australia and geographically the closest I’ve ever been to Dubai would be Kashmir. Most of us here, unless we know a friend or relative living in Dubai or have business connections there, think of money, expats, finance, money, sex on the beach and Emirates Airlines. As a kid, the constant references, (as in news stories), to the Middle East really bothered me. I was on the east coast of Australia and the Far East looked pretty close to where I was, so why was it Far, and what was the East in the Middle of?

Maps of the world, in Australia, show this continent in the centre of the Southern Hemisphere. Thus the Middle East is actually the North West and the Far East is the North. America is the Far East really, according to my junior map reading skills. So had someone made a mistake and the rest of the world just went a long with it? I began to ask questions and demand some answers.

But long and involved parental explanations were lost on me and it wasn’t until I started reading history books for my own pleasure, as opposed for school history teachers, did I get it. Two of my favourite writers on the region are Edward Said and Tim Mackintosh-Smith.

But while books like these humanise countries and explain the historical intricacies, they don’t give the immediate, daily minutiae that really brings it alive in one’s imagination. Posts such as Hard Times on Mr G. the taxi driver, NufNuf coping with the Abu Dhabi traffic, Sharjah’s Number 14 bus, the Etisalat saga and the strange creature called Modhesh.

I’m sure there are other blogs about Dubai written for the visitor or armchair traveller, but Fake Plastic Souks isn’t speaking to them and that’s what makes it so fascinating to me. I see the dust and the traffic and the air conditioned towers and all of the stories a travel writer would leave out.

And there is never an overload of adverbs to jolt me out of my reverie, cause me to sigh and shake my head, or make me want to slice away the excess words.

Phillipa's most excellent blog, which mixes her respective fascinations for art and writing quite neatly, can be found here. Her first novel, The Book of Love, is to be published by Hachette Australia next year.

4 comments:

the real nick said...

Oh my, such a *nice* guest post! Surely Phillippa isn't an alter ego of yours?

Phillipa said...

hey Nick, I'm actually a savage creature, ruthless and uncaring, but editing Alexander's stuff just soothes me somehow....I vent the bile and I'm nice for awhile

the real nick said...

I know, I use his blog as punchbag, too

Dubai Jazz said...

Now this is a nice post, thank you Phillipa!

For once, the Fake Souk is getting real :)

Stephen King is also very critical of the use of adverbs that he dedicated an entire freaking chapter in his book 'On Writing' to admonish writers who use them.

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