Posted by: billpurdue | March 31, 2012

Katrina still making the news

Hurricane Katrina is still making the news even today, seven years after the devastation caused in New Orleans. Even now people are still in the process of rebuilding their lives and rebuilding the city. During the recent BBC2 series, “My Life in Books”, actor Keith Allen, one of Anne Robinson’s guests, chose a book called Zeitoun by Dave Eggers[ Penguin £8.99 978-0141046815]. By choosing this book, he wanted to draw attention to the way the residents of New Orleans were treated after the hurricane which was of course during the presidency of George W Bush.

Abdulrahman Zeitoun is a Syrian American and a Muslim. He was and still is a well respected and well known citizen of New Orleans, running a building company with his wife, Kathy, a convert to Islam. When the hurricane threatened, Kathy decided to take the children and leave town, but Zeitoun wanted to stay on and look after the various properties which they owned and rented out. When the floods came Zeitoun toured his neighbourhood in his canoe, feeding abandoned dogs and helping to rescue stranded residents. He was helped by a small group of friends who had also stayed behind. One day he was visiting one of his properties when he was arrested at gunpoint along with three friends.

They were taken to a newly erected prison camp built on some dry land and thrown into a cage with nothing to sleep on but the concrete floor. Zeitoun was refused a phone call to his wife (or anyone else) and not told of the charges against him, but from what the guards told him, they thought he was a suspected terrorist. The story of the agony his family went through trying to trace his whereabouts and the degradation and humiliation suffered by Zeitoun is quite a harrowing one. It seems that more thought was given to apprehending looters and possible terrorists than to providing the basic essentials to those affected by the disaster.

It’s quite a page turner, although the writer uses the technique of revealing episodes in Zeitoun’s and Kathy’s past bit by bit just when you want the storyteller to get on with the story. That apart, I just couldn’t put it down. I just hope that ,if a similar disaster were ever to occur in the USA again, helping those affected would take overall priority.

Doggy sitting

I’m doggy sitting again (and enjoying it of course),so my thoughts turned to books about dogs .

Described as a heartwarming true story, The Puppy that came for Christmas [Penguin £6.99 9780241951064] by Megan Rix is the true story of a newly married couple who try desperately to start a family, but without success. Whilst Megan was having IVF treatment, they decided to look after puppies that are being trained as helper dogs for those with disabilities. They fell in love with each puppy that came along until after 6 months they have to pass it on to a disabled person. Every time a puppy “graduated” as a helper dog, they had to give it up and each time they were heartbroken. But then along came a puppy named Traffy who stayed for good. I can’t claim that this book is new, but like the next one it was published in 2010.

If you like that one, you’ll probably like this: The Last Dog on the Hill by Steve Duno [Pan £7.99 978-0330520027] is another true story about a special relationship between a dog and a man. Lou was found by Steve at the roadside in California: this half rottweiler, half alsatian went on to achieve great things as well as inspiring his owner to become a pet behaviourist .

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