Monday, 9 July 2012

Magic journalism

I have been reading Kapusczinski again. A perfect combination for me, the reportage and lyricism, recalling times of which I had not previously been aware. Names like Ben Bella and Lumumba; conflicts in emerging liberated African states, from the far south to the Saharan north; unexpected similarities between the Polish and South American sensibilities; stories of a world forever lost, yet depressingly familiar in its casual brutality. I think everyone should read his books - should be transported to those far off places, recalling the intrepid foreign correspondent's life. Instantly accessible, yet diving to hidden depths with every sentence.

I started with his book about Selassie, and then after a longish gap read the one about the Shah of Iran. Now, I am near the end of The Soccer War (though this is only one small chapter, and perhaps misleading. There is far more about the Congo and Algeria than there is about the famous conflict which it seems was only a football war by pretext. But then, aren't most wars started and continued on a pretext anyway?) and am rapt to the final pages, clinging on and reading slowly because I do not want to say goodbye to this unique voice. I want him to stay a while longer, want to keep my eyes closed and blot out the mundane reality of the bus and the office, Murray at Wimbledon and the fucking Olympics.

His Wikipedia entry is full of that dense Polish intellectualism, tortured sentences spiralling around some erudite theme, accusing him by proxy of fabrication, fabulism and philandering. But what do I care for that? Anyone who can transport me so beautifully to such other worlds will always have a place in my heart, whether his words are 'true' or not. His star will forever burn bright.

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