Showing posts with label All the Earth is Mine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label All the Earth is Mine. Show all posts

Saturday, February 2, 2008

All the Earth is Mine — chapter 1

I've decided to distribute my novel All the Earth is Mine through the Internet in the form of freely-downloadable PDF files, one chapter each week. In all, there are 16 chapters, so the full distribution will take several months. You can read these files directly on your computer, using a PDF tool such as Acrobat, but I think it's preferable—more comfortable from a reading viewpoint—to print them out on A4 paper, even though this will finally result in 300 printed pages.

Today, I'm releasing chapter 1 of my novel. To obtain it, click the following button, which takes you to the novel's website:

The main action of this initial chapter, entitled Origins, takes place on a magnificent antipodean island, Rottnest (which I know quite well), off the coast of Western Australia.

Readers will meet up with the hero of the novel: a student of geology and mining technology named Jacob Rose. In choosing his family name, I was no doubt influenced by my recollections of a splendid place in Jerusalem called the Billy Rose Sculpture Garden, created with funds from a US philanthropist named William Rosenburg [1899-1966]. I liked, above all, the way in which this name might be interpreted as if it were the opening words of a prophetic declaration: Jacob rose in the midst of his brethren!

Besides Jacob's brother Aaron, we meet up with their cousins Leah and Rachel Kahn. And we hear of the recent history of the Rose and Kahn ancestors who fled to Australia from Nazi-dominated Europe and went on to become prosperous industrial leaders in the mining field.

Above all, this initial chapter of All the Earth is Mine sets the maritime tone of the entire novel, which might be described in a nutshell as a fable about sailing.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Components are good for us

Imagine a skilled cabinetmaker who has always considered that the only way of installing good furniture in a new kitchen is to build each cupboard and table from scratch.

Intrigued by new kinds of hinges and drawers available in big hardware stores, he tries to incorporate them into his constructions, but something seems to have gone wrong. His cupboard doors no longer close correctly, and his drawers get stuck, because the woodworker is incapable of correctly integrating these new elements into his old-fashioned construction procedures. Then, one day, a friend invites the cabinetmaker along to an Ikea store, enabling him to discover a revolutionary approach to the installation of kitchens.

Today, concerning my operations as a Flash website developer [links], I'm very much in the same situation as the old-fashioned cabinetmaker. Since 2001, when I started to use Macromedia Flash, I've become quite proficient in the construction, from scratch, of websites based upon this approach. Meanwhile, the Flash tool has become considerably more complex. When I attempt to patch up certain aspects of my old websites, they refuse to function correctly in the new Flash environment. So, I tend to leave them alone, in their old operational state. Fortunately, today, there's an "Ikea solution" to problems of this kind. Instead of trying to patch up one of my antiquated tailor-made website elements, I can simply replace it by an off-the-shelf Flash component.

The reason I'm writing about this technical hitch [a non-problem, thanks to the concept of components] is that I've been held up recently, through bugs of the above-mentioned kind, in my preparation of two Flash websites that should interest Antipodes readers:

— One is an interface that will make it easier to access the Antipodes archives in a user-friendly fashion.

— The other will consist of free online access to my novel All the Earth is Mine, whose 16 chapters will be released on a weekly basis.

I'll provide precise details of these two services as soon as I've got them up and running.

Saturday, December 23, 2006


All the Earth is Mine is a yet-unpublished technico-political fable about large-scale earthmoving activities, primarily in Israel. I wrote a first version of this novel some fifteen years ago, before leaving Paris, and I completed this new typescript six months ago. Since then, I’ve been trying to contact literary agents in the US and the UK who might be prepared to read it, but I haven’t found anybody yet. So, up until now, I’m the only person on the planet who has read my novel. What a privilege! US publishing houses inform me that the best way of finding a literary agent is to use the hundreds of names, addresses and descriptions in an annual publication known as the Literary Market Place. Unfortunately, the purchase of a paper copy of this document runs into several hundred dollars, but I’ve noticed that I can pay just twenty dollars for a one-week subscription to an Internet version of this information, which would be an ideal solution for me. So, as soon as the holiday season ends, I intend to do this. In the course of a week, I should be able to download all the names and addresses I need. And after that, I’ll start a massive snail-mail operation aimed at finding an agent who’ll accept me.

This afternoon, I finally got around to discussing an infinitely more modest earthmoving operation with a local contractor, René. I would like to remove the present embankments located at both the northern and southern ends of the house. This would provide me with flat space to build a garage, and it would also eliminate the problem of trying vainly to keep down the weeds that grow on these steep embankments, close to the house. At times in the past, I’ve ventured onto these embankments with a hand-held weed cutter, but it’s a risky operation, to be avoided. At one stage, I used a ladder propped up against the embankments to plant all kinds of shrubs, but few of them survived. I have the impression that Mother Nature thinks you're joking when you try to grow plants on a steep slope. She looks down at me with a cynical smile and says: "Ok, my fine fellow. If you show me that you can lie down at such a spot, I'll do my best to make things grow there. But, if you're not able to lie down there, then plants won't be able to grow there either." In other words, you can't fool plants. They know the meaning of top and bottom, up and down. They know just as much about gravity as you and me and Einstein.

It’s all very well to simply let the grass and weeds grow wildly on these embankments, but this can turn into a fire hazard in summer. So, the ideal solution would consist of removing a lot of earth, starting well behind the house, in order to create more gentler slopes.

If I decide to accept René’s offer (which I should receive within the next few days), I’ll then need to demolish two buildings that I put up, several years ago, with my own hands, both of which would be in the way of the planned earthmoving operations: my wood shed and my hen house (see photos). I would rebuild a more sturdy wood shed alongside my future garage.

As for the hen house, I might be able to drag it further away from the house, and set it up once again... in which case I would use it to house creatures such as geese and peacocks. As part of my anti-cholesterol measures, I've given up eating eggs, and there's little sense in raising my own chooks (Aussie word for hens) for meat in a region such as this, where it's so simple to buy top-quality poultry.

René used a wheel device to measure distances enabling us to calculate the approximate volume of earth that needs to be moved. We reached a figure of about 550 cubic meters. Well, when you think about it, that doesn’t sound like a gigantic quantity of earth. It’s merely a square block, ten meters along each side, rising to a height of five and a half meters. Nevertheless, the visual consequences of scraping up that volume of earth on one side of the house, and depositing it on the other, are not likely to go unnoticed.

And what am I going to do with all that earth? People who live on the slopes of a mountain, as I do, have the wonderful possibility of increasing almost magically the area of flat land around their house... which is something unthinkable when you occupy a block of flat land with roads or neighbors on each side. We slope-dwellers simply use a common-sense method that was devised, at the dawn of agriculture, by people who wished to grow crops on hillsides. They would gouge out the earth and rocks so as to create a horizontal ledge spiraling around the slopes. And the gouged-out material would be used to form the outer rim of the newly-created flat area. In the nearby vineyards of Tain-l’Hermitage on the Rhône, there are splendid examples of this method. What this means, for me at Gamone, is that the 550 cubic meters of earth and rocks that René will gouge out of the hill behind the house will be simply dumped a few meters further on, in the direction of Gamone Creek, thereby augmenting, cubic meter by cubic meter, the area of what might be termed my “front yard”.

I get a tremendous thrill out of calling upon a splendid earthmover such as René (who once lived meagerly with his parents and brothers in the original house at Gamone, long before I arrived here) to reshape the surroundings... as he has already done, timidly, on two separate occasions. To my mind, René possesses the same kind of pioneering skills, aided by his heavy equipment, that enabled our predecessors to build (with a little help from a friend named Nature) a magnificent place such as Gamone.