Tomorrow is the first day of the Storytellers blog tour, which means that for ten days, every day, three book bloggers will be posting their reviews and or excerpts from the book, interviews, plus two guest posts written by yours truly. The goal of a tour is to increase the visibility both of my book’s and me (the downside of being a new writer is that few people are aware of my existence) – and the bloggers’ work. Which means tweeting, retweeting, facebooking, refacebooking, standing on the nearest corner with a megaphone and so on.

I happen to be friends with a book blogger. (No disclaimer needed, since she has not reviewed my book.) Since we started chatting I found out how much work and time is really needed to maintain a book blog. Some of them are group efforts, like Rosie Amber’s Rosie’s Book Review Team, but most are the work of one person. A person who is expected to read, review, read, review, read, review regularly, no matter what life is up to. I have no idea what reviews Storytellers will get, good or bad, long or short, but I am already thankful to everybody who agreed to read my book, then write about it. In the last three weeks I managed to read 17% of Angela Boord’s Fortune’s Fool which is a wonderful book, but I just wasn’t really in a reading mood. A book blogger can’t just “not be in a reading mood” once a blog tour is planned and advertised.

Aaaaanyway, there I was, doing a nice flexy-flexy, stretchy-stretchy of my specially dedicated Share Button Finger, when all of a sudden life started to happen all over the place. Do you know this feeling when you discover one little problem? Really little, like a buzzing fly. Then another one arrives. And another, at which point you start getting a tad grumpy. Then one more, and another one…

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Floating ice floes along one edge of Fram Strait. Photograph: Denis Sinyakov/Greenpeace

I don’t write about politics on this blog. There is exactly one topic that is considered political I will not shut up about, though – the climate crisis, or rather the climate catastrophe. We are way beyond “climate change” – it had already changed. It is not done changing. Why “considered”? Because no matter what the politicians tell you, extinction is not going to be limited to the voters of this or that party, although yes, some voters will stay around longer and in much nicer conditions. Specifically, the ones with money, the ones living in richer countries and trying to keep everyone else from coming in.

I’m lower middle class. We can afford to buy a nice starter house in the suburbs, which isn’t a lot considering that we’re not exactly in the “starter” age range, but still – we can get a mortgage. We live in Amsterdam, which sounds glamorous and is everything but. Our income is comfortable, neither hand-to-mouth nor Scrooge McDuck takes a bath in coins. We will survive a while longer than a lot of other people, at least until all of the Netherlands goes under water.

 

Money makes the world go HOT

“‘Climate apartheid’: UN expert says human rights may not survive”, Damian Carrington, The Guardian:

The world is increasingly at risk of “climate apartheid”, where the rich pay to escape heat and hunger caused by the escalating climate crisis while the rest of the world suffers, a report from a UN human rights expert has said.

Philip Alston, UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, said the impacts of global heating are likely to undermine not only basic rights to life, water, food, and housing for hundreds of millions of people, but also democracy and the rule of law. […]

“Climate change threatens to undo the last 50 years of progress in development, global health, and poverty reduction,” Alston said.

This is why I mentioned our middle class-ness. I have some ways out. I can go to the local supermarket and spend a surprisingly long time in the dairy section before someone asks me what I am doing – I look weird, but not the homeless sort of weird. I can spend an hour in the shower and water the flowers as much as I want without worrying about water. There are no wildfires here – yet – but they’re coming. Arctic Circle experienced wildfires last year. We don’t have a car (not unusual in Amsterdam), a garden, or stocks in BP, Shell, and so on. We don’t have AC.

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Today is Icelandic National Day (Þjóðhátíðardagurinn), also known as the 75th anniversary of Iceland becoming a republic independent from Denmark. As it happens, two years ago we were in Iceland on that day. We missed everything.

When I first came to Amsterdam, the Pride canal parade was taking place. I spent the entire day record hunting. In Iceland, at least, we went into the country… okay, the Golden Circle… then, when we returned, we discovered something strange. There were Icelandic flags everywhere. Every single store was closed, streets – empty, every restaurant open and filled with people. We finally sat in a pizzeria (very traditional…), where I pulled out my phone and found out what was going on.

 

Independent people

Halldór Laxness’s Independent People, which made Iceland the nation with the most Nobel prize winners (i.e. one) per capita, was the second book I read as research for Storytellers. I did not understand a lot of metaphors back then, missing on all the political allusions, my confused eyebrows wandering higher and higher until all of my hair transported itself to the back of my neck. Once I did more research I ended up with a three-page treatise on Jón Sigurðsson, Iceland’s most famous politician of all time, the leader of Icelandic independence movement. I had to cut that out from the book for obvious reasons – its title wasn’t Icelandic History for Beginners – and it wasn’t until our visit to Iceland’s National Museum a year later that I understood exactly how important Jón was.

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