Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Tintin au Corfou

Sadly, the Belgian boy reporter never made it to the Ionian, but the above picture, in Hergé's inimitable-if-oft-imitated ligne claire style helps us imagine the result if he did...

The pic comes from this excellent article in the New Yorker, revealing Italy's ongoing and massive fraud on olive oil consumers, a subject I can (and do) bore on about for hours...

When I left Oxford in 2006, girded with an MSc in Social Anthropology and an ironclad sense of my manifest destiny, I spent a few months chez famille in Corfu writing my novel, a deeply adolescent fantasy of the 1930s Balkans and ghostly goings on. The novel was stillborn: of the two agents that liked it, one was sacked and the other died, but in its painful birth I spent long hours wandering around the familial olive groves.

The one thing that pained me more than anything- and made me want to return to Corfu- was the sight of bulldozers grubbing up 500-year-old trees to fire Calabrian pizza ovens, sponsored no doubt by some some fat mafioso.

It could have been a job for Tintin, plus-fourily besting his Greek arch-rival Rastapopoulos.

As a child in Corfu, I spent many happy hours with stacks of Tintin books, but I'm not sure he ever actually made it to Greece. King Ottokar's Sceptre (like my own poor, poor novel) was set in a Balkan fantasyland: part Kosovo, part Albania and the Macedonian borderlands, and the flyleaves of the hardback editions prominently displayed the Thompson/Thomsons in deeply Byronic Greek national dress, but that's the closest we ever came to a visit.

Maybe my increasing likeness to Captain Haddock is the nearest we'll get.

A random post: but I recommend this book to anyone who disputes Tintin as being the single most imprtant figure in 20th centruy literature. Ish.

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