Mar. 4, 2009

The Pleasures of Hating

by Laure-Anne Bosselaar

I hate Mozart. Hate him with that healthy
pleasure one feels when exasperation has

crescendoed, when lungs, heart, throat,
and voice explode at once: I hate that!

there's bliss in this, rapture. My shrink
tried to disabuse me, convinced I use Amadeus

as a prop: Think further, your father perhaps?
I won't go back, think of the shrink

with a powdered wig, pinched lips, mole:
a transference, he'd say, a relapse: so be it.

I hate broccoli, chain saws, patchouli, bra—
clasps that draw dents in your back, roadblocks,

men in black kneesocks, sandals and shorts—
I love hating that. Loathe stickers on tomatoes,

jerky, deconstruction, nazis, doilies. I delight
in detesting. And love loving so much after that.

"The Pleasures of Hating" by Laure-Anne Bosselaar from Small Gods of Grief. © BOA Editions, 2001. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

It's the birthday of the novelist Khaled Hosseini, (books by this author) born in Kabul, Afghanistan (1965). His first novel, The Kite Runner (2003), was a word-of-mouth best-seller, and it's now sold more than 8 million copies.

Hosseini was the son of an Afghani diplomat. His family moved to Paris, and one night they turned on the TV during dinner and saw Soviet tanks rolling into Afghanistan. Hosseini's father applied for political asylum in the United States, and the family moved to San Jose, California, in 1980.

In Afghanistan, Hosseini's family had been wealthy and respected, and he'd grown up surrounded by servants. But in San Jose, they survived on welfare and food stamps. The only job his father could find was working as a driving instructor.

Hosseini wanted to be a writer, but he realized that he needed a more practical profession. So he went to medical school, and it was 10 years before he had time to start writing again. He would get up at 4 a.m. and write for two hours every morning before he went to the hospital. Even though Hosseini's family knew many people in Afghanistan who had been killed or imprisoned under Soviet or Taliban rule, his memories of Afghanistan were all pleasant. Whenever he thought about his childhood, he remembered flying kites over the city in an annual competition.

He wrote a story about one of these kite competitions, and his father encouraged him to expand it. He did, and that story became The Kite Runner.

Just before The Kite Runner was published, Hosseini took his first trip back to Afghanistan in 27 years. The neighborhood where he had grown up was full of collapsed buildings, piles of rubble and bullet-scarred walls.

In 2007, he published another big best-seller, A Thousand Splendid Suns. The novel begins in 1975 and continues to the present time. It tells the story of two women in Kabul who are both wives of the same cruel man.

It was on this day in 1933 that Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered his inaugural address. He told the American people "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." That was the last inauguration that took place on March 4th — ever since, presidents have been inaugurated on January 20th.

The stock market had crashed a few years before, in 1929, and the nation was in the depths of the Great Depression. Roosevelt urged Americans not to despair, and he told them that it was within their collective power to solve the nation's economic crisis.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




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