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Notes on “The Fault In Our Stars”

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I hate hospitals, the smell of medicine, and everything that has to do with the themes of sickness and death. When I realized that “The Fault In Our Stars” was a book about two teenagers with terminal cancer, I was like “Oh, cr*p! What did I get myself into?” But I kept going on because I’d promised to read the book.

As I advanced in the reading, however, I found myself indulged in John Green’s sharp, crispy, witty and funny writing style. I particularly loved the bits of the book that are garmented with a touch of spicy sarcasm and enchanting metaphor. I also enjoyed the language of the book. The coinage of words such as “uncancery,” “Breakfastization” and “unlove” is typical of contemporary pieces, and it witnesses the fact that Green could be anything but a vocabulary Nazi.

The story of Hazel and Augustus is heartrending, though. Both teenagers suffer from cancer; a curse that many people would make use of to fish for sympathy and attention. However, these cancer-struck kids do teach us valuable lessons on life, death and love. From where I see it, their struggle is not meant to tell us how cancer patients go about their daily lives, but to show that they are not less normal than any other person. Did Green make an allusion to Orwell’s “Animal Farm?”. Maybe. However, this probably explains the abundance of instances of ups and downs in Gus’s and Hazel’s lives.

The main message in the book, among others, is twofold; (a) “the world is not a wish-granting factory,” and (b) “some infinities are bigger than other infinities.” I thought it was a so powerful message to tell the readers that not all of their wishes shall come true, but Green was bold enough to do it, and I think the outcome has been very positive. Furthermore, the idea of  relativity is heavily influencing. Green is transmitting the idea that small things can mean a lot if, and only if, they come from deep within the heart.

Among other attributes, it’s the blend of delicate and shocking storytelling that makes the reader wonder if the book is destined to make you laugh, cry, sympathize, think, or feel. For me, it was a bit of everything. So, if that’s how you define a good book, then “The Fault In Our Stars” is a must-read.

A dramatization of the novel is to be expected very soon.

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Book review: “OCCUPY” by Noam Chomsky

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When I bought the book a week ago in Rabat, I thought it was written by Noam Chomsky. When I started flipping thorough its first pages on the bus, I discovered it wasn’t actually written but SPOKEN by Chomsky. This pamphlet is a collection of Chomsky’s speeches and discussions with some Occupy militants where he answers their questions and provides insights for the movement.

The book is divided into 5 main sections: Occupy, After Thirty Years of Class War, InterOccupy, Occupying Foreign Policy and Remembering Howard Zinn. In the end of the book, there is a Q&A section that gives guidelines as to how to protest and what should militants know before they sit-in or when the police knock on the door.

Professor Noam Chomsky with some militants of the Occupy Movement

Chomsky calls attention to many interesting issues such as; economics, the working class, the 1% and 99% imagery, political parties, elections, etc. which he discusses not in great depth but with a simplicity that makes international matters accessible for the average reader. Nevertheless, if one is not acquainted with the American political and social systems, one might find some difficulty in absorbing all the jargon.

When asked if he’d speak for and represent the movement, he simply said that his voice wouldn’t be heard and that the PEOPLE should depend on themselves. Chomsky believes that the movement doesn’t need leaders, but that it needs to be organized and mobilized.

The most striking idea I came across in this pamphlet, however, was Chomsky’s vision of how REAL democratic elections should take place. After denouncing the American electoral system which Chomsky regards as “farcical” and “radically undemocratic.” He moves to explaining his idea in an InterOccupy conference call as follows:

As I mentioned to Occupy Boston, the people in the town would get together have town meetings and discussions and come up with some ideas that they think ought to be done in the locality, in the country, foreign policy, the whole range. They might just pick their own candidates; or, if there are national candidates running, they could say, “You can come to visit us if you’d like, but we don’t want to hear speeches from you, we’re going to tell you what we think policy ought to be, and if you can convince us that you’ll accept these policies and carry them forward, then maybe we’ll vote for you.”

So basically, Chomsky says that Instead of listening to politicians, politicians must listen to the people. This sounds not like a unique concept but the way Chomsky puts it makes the whole concept crystal clear. I think that this  would sound like a very unorthodox idea of how elections should take place to many people. Yet, I am quite positive that they’ll find it very appealing and extremely democratic. The changes, policies and all major decisions should stem from the people, from the base, a bottom-up strategy and not the other way around. This is exactly what the people are longing for.

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One could speak volumes about each of the topics discussed in Chomsky’s “Occupy.” The bottom line, though, is that Noam Chomsky continues to be faithful to his beliefs, and he’s always trying to provide all the help necessary for the people’s voice to be heard.