Saturday, May 14, 2005

"Saddam: The Moustache Years" 

He's done it before:
After the novel The Impregnable Fortress, reputedly Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's second, was released to poor sales, a flood of reviews praising the book filled the daily and weekly newspapers of Baghdad. The [Iraqi] Writers Union suddenly became very active in the capital and outlying states, setting up conferences in which speakers competed to lavish the most copious and elaborate praise for the book and for the genius of the "distinguished writer" or "prodigious author."
But now he's got a lot more time on his hands:
Saddam Hussein has decided to write his memoirs while he languishes in an Iraqi jail awaiting trial after more than two decades of being responsible for brutal abuses.

According to Giovanni di Stefano, who is a member of Mr Hussein's legal team, the former writer of allegorical novels better known as Iraq's dictator resolved in recent weeks to start writing his biography.

Mr di Stefano promised: "There will be quite considerable detail. The Americans [holding him] are relaxed about it and we've seen some of the translation."
Initially, I was going to write that I expect the sales to be even worse than his second novel, now that no Iraqi would feel forced anymore to but Saddam's literary output. But then it occurred to me that, sadly, the memoirs will probably become a bestseller throughout the region that, after all, continues to snap up "Mein Kampf" eighty years after it was first published.

Speaking of "Mein Kampf", quite a few famous books had been written while their authors languished in jails: Boetius's "Consolation of Philosophy", Malory's "Death of Arthur" (and isn't it ironic that this classic of chivalry was written by a man imprisoned for rape and pillage), travelogues of Marco Polo, Karl May's adventures of Winnetou and Old Shatterhand which introduced generations of European kids to Wild West, all come to mind straight away. Saddam's apologia for his horrid life is unlikely to join that esteemed company.

I wonder, through, what the title of this autobiography might be?

"My Life (so far without a possibility of parole)" (with apologies to Bill Clinton and Jane Fonda)

"Me, Myself and I: The adventures with some of my favorite doubles"

"It takes me to raze a village"

If you have more suggestions for Saddam, drop them in the comments section.


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