A Shift in My Trajectory


<= UPDATE: You can read all of my columns for The Shift here => I’ve started writing a series of articles for an independent Maltese news site called The Shift. One of the paper’s founders contacted me at the beginning of November to ask if I would comment on things that appear completely bizarre to an outsider, but which are accepted as normal in Malta. Some of the topics I’m writing about...

6 Months — No Justice in Europe’s Pirate State


I still remember where I was when Daphne Caruana Galizia was murdered. I was in Canada visiting family on my first trip home in over 3 years. I caught up on work early that morning, and read Daphne’s most recent batch of articles, as I did every day — including the piece which ended with what would be her last words, “There are crooks everywhere you look now. The situation is desperate.” The...

Printing Off Stacks of Words


It’s been pretty quiet on the blog this year, but I’ve got two good reasons for that. One: I just haven’t been traveling very much. A visit to Japan, a short trip down to Sardinia, and a long overdue visit to Canada — my first trip back home in over 3 years. And that was about it for 2017. I’ll be writing about Sardinia soon, watch for that in my Adrift on the Continent column in Outpost. But...

The Killing of Daphne Caruana Galizia


Daphne Caruana Galizia was the most dangerous person in Malta. I probably don’t need to tell you who she is anymore, because her name is making the news worldwide. I first came into contact with Daphne on January 13, 2017. But of course I knew her work well by that point, because I had been a twice-daily reader of her blog for the past 6 years. Admittedly, I found her blog when googling key words...

Reading to Write: How Much for a Book?


A few readers have asked me how much research goes into the writing of a book. How much do you have to read in order to write? It really depends on the project, of course. And I’m sure it’s different for everyone. I tend to read quite a lot. Partly because I love to read, and doing a book or an article gives me an excuse to dig into a subject. You never really know what sort of obscure fact or...

Amoral Familism and the Med


If you want to understand Malta — and the southern Mediterranean in general — then you’ll want to come to grips with the theory of Amoral Familism. As far as I can tell, the term was coined by the anthropologist Edward C. Banfield, who conducted ethnographical research in the town of Chiaromonte in southern Italy in 1955. Banfield wrote that the fundamental rule of amoral familism was, “Maximize...

A New Life in a New Town


I learned and experienced many things during my years in Malta, and I wrote around 30 articles about it — most of them were positive, about the places we discovered, from small village streets to the windswept heights of Ras ir-Raheb and the coast of Blata tal-Melh. But some were critical, too. I found the history to be quite fascinating. The present culture not so much. And this past year of...

My Island Years Are at an End


I moved to the Mediterranean because I wanted to write an island book inspired by Lawrence Durrell. But it had to be a place no one else had written about — at least, not in that way. I found Malta after a brief web search. I knew nothing about the place apart from indirect Dashiell Hammett references and vague notions of Knights battling Turks. That vagueness appealed to me. And so we gave up...

An Island Christmas with Traces of Rome


The highlight of my Christmas Eve was a last minute drive over to Valletta to see the new Star Wars film. Valletta was in full xmas-mode and it seemed like half the island was out for a stroll. Only 15 people in the entire cinema made it feel like a private screening, and Rogue One did not disappoint. But that’s not the story I wanted to share with you today. As has become my custom when in Malta...

Is This The World’s Stupidest Hobby?


Have you ever dreamed of living in the middle of an artillery firing range? Then Malta in summer is for you. Whereas the military might lob a few shells over for a couple hours a week, here you can be treated to a nonstop bombardment, varying in intensity between dull monotony to cataclysmic barrage, with a brief break between about 1am and 8am. I can still recall my first experience with the...


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