BALKAN PIECES: Any attempt to understand the situation
in the former republic of Yugoslavia is a bit of a stretch for
those of us born and raised in a country which hasn't fought a
war on its own soil since 1865. No complaining here, mind you.
We have enough random violence to keep us busy well past the End
Days. But for all the rainbow-colored banner-waving about diversity
and cultural understanding, we've yet to begin to understand the
real-life complexities of cultural assimilation--economic, political
and ideological. And yet saturated as we are with information,
we too often fail to assess where the information we receive--and
the assumptions on which such information is based--is coming
from. And to make matters worse, a recent CNN poll announced the
least-trusted profession in America is journalism.
This doesn't bode well for places like the Balkans, which rely on accurate reportage to help sort out a bloody quagmire of racial strife, economic stumbling and mercenary political posturing.
Introduce yourself to the debate at a free short-film series opening with The Balkans in the Western Imagination, which illustrates how Balkan people are represented in U.S. and Western European films. All screenings are at 7 p.m. Tuesdays at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 4831 E. 22nd St., and are sponsored by the Tucson Balkan Peace Support Group. Series continues August 12, with a viewing of Four Friends, by Academy Award-winning writer Steve Tesich. Call 623-8905 for information.
Or if you don't happen to share the nation's dim view of print media, two excellent books on the Balkans have made their way into paperback this year: Love Thy Neighbor, by renowned foreign correspondent Peter Maass, offers a non-traditional approach to war reportage. Both insightful and stinging, it's about as close to experiencing war as any of us would be able to stomach. Though there's something unseemly about mentioning it given the subject matter, Maass' wartime dispatches made him a finalist for the Livingston Award for International Reporting in 1993, and Love Thy Neighbor won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.
Also updated and released this year in paperback is David Owen's landmark Balkan Odyssey, an insider's view of the Serb-Croat war as documented by one of the major players in the effort to forge a peaceful settlement. His personal chronicle has been called "a frank, unvarnished description of the mechanism and potential perils of modern international diplomacy." Owen was a member of the British Parliament from 1966 to 1992, and co-chaired the International Conference on the Former Yugoslavia in 1995. Whatever your views on the conflict, his text is required reading for understanding the course of the war.
LETHAL PRESCRIPTION: Ruthie Morris--a fiftysomething Scottsdale pharmacist--makes her second fictional appearance in Deadly Rx, the latest novel by ASU professor of technology, Renee Horowitz. Horowitz won praise from homestate readers for the first in her series, Rx for Murder, for its "warm characterization, clever plotting and vivid portrayal of life in the urban Southwest."
Meet the author and hear more about her work at a discussion and signing from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, August 10, at Clues Unlimited, 123 S. Eastbourne, in the Broadway Village Center. Call 326-8533 for information.
ROCK THE CASBAH: We love this little house of coffee and tea nestled in the heart of Fourth Avenue! Where else can you imbibe just inches off the floor under the comfort of a back-patio tent? And if you participated in any of the roving poetics a few weeks ago at the first-annual Poetry Crawl, you owe it to the muse to check out the organizers of said event on their home turf at The Casbah, 628 N. Fourth Ave. An open reading by local poets and storytellers gathers weekly from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Tuesdays to share original works. Take your place in the limelight, or fade into the canvas and listen. Call 792-9910 for information.
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