Right Steps & Poui Trees


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8 Books I Plan To Reread This Year

three-booksWhen I think about it, there are not that many books that I have reread over the years, though there have always been some books that I have intended to reread. So this year, I’m going to do some intentional rereading and here are eight books on my list.

1. Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien

I read this when I was 12 or 13 and it consumed me for a couple of weeks. I squeezed it into every spare moment. I remember a few times being so engrossed reading it on the bus from school that I missed my usual bus stop and had a longer walk home than usual. I cried when I finished it, as I wanted the fantastical journey to go on forever. My older brother was surprised to find out recently that I had never reread Lord of the Rings, as he says he rereads it every few years.

2. Augustown by Kei Miller

As soon as I finished reading Augustown a few weeks ago, I had an immediate impulse to go to the beginning and start reading it again. As though there was some seamless way in which this story could (should) keep playing out. I can’t remember ever having had that impulse with another book. There is a compelling mix of the historical story of Bedward, the groundedness of people and communities dealing with real life in the 80s and the mythical and fabulous running through it all. Cutting of hair was revived in Jamaican public discourse last year, demonstrating that things past are still present and things fictional are often not fictional at all.

3. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This is the first of Adichie’s books that I read and I felt its impact for a long time after I read it. There is something monumental about the novel, which captures brilliantly that sense of people living their lives into and through a major historical event or period. As the reader, you may know to some degree the outcome of the event or the details of the period, but what you don’t know is what will happen to the fictional characters. When I read this time,  I will already know what happens in this novel about the Nigeria-Biafra war. And I want to see what difference that makes to how I experience this amazing story.

 

young-warriors4. Young Warriors by V.S. Reid

A childhood favourite. My brothers and I went through multiple copies of this children’s novel. Maroon boys helping to defeat Red Coats was good fun. I have read it to younger siblings and cousins and my own children as well, but I’d like to reread it myself one more time, just for fun.

 

5. 1984 by George Orwell

Because of Donald Trump.

6. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Also because of Donald Trump. By chance, I was reading Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower at the time of the US election last November and then read Parable of the Talents soon after, both about people trying to survive in a dystopian America. Which was rather eerie. A time for dystopian novels?

the-middle-passage7. The Middle Passage: The Caribbean revisited by V. S. Naipaul

When I was eighteen I read and enjoyed Naipaul’s The Mystic Masseur and Miguel Street. On a Naipaul streak, I then read The Middle Passage. I disliked the book so intensely that it put me off Naipaul for life. Seriously, I have never read any of Naipaul’s other books, fiction or non-fiction. It is a rather shameful admission to make! I have bought a number of his books since then and have long intended to give him another try, but haven’t. So I intend to reread The Middle Passage to see how (if) decades more of living have changed my reaction. Then, perhaps, more Naipaul….

8. Summer Lightning and Other Stories by Olive Senior

This is one of my favourite collections of short stories; I still remember how much I enjoyed it when I first read it back in the late 80s. I have reread individual stories since, but not the entire volume. One story has  perhaps the most intriguing story title I have encountered – “Do Angels Wear Brassieres?” I will have to buy a new copy of the book , as I can’t find my old copy. (Trying to remember if I lent it to someone….)

There are some books I read and enjoyed decades ago that I wouldn’t attempt to read again, as I know that I wouldn’t enjoy them as much now. But it will be interesting to revisit the books on my list as a different reader and to see how that and the passage of time affects the experience. The two books that I read most recently will both stand rereading – Half of a Yellow Sun ( a few years ago) and Augustown (a few weeks ago) – and I  look forward to going beyond the experience of first reading to something more.

(This also makes me think of looking at the books I have reread in the past and my reasons for doing so. Another blog post.)

 

 


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Love Affair with Literature on a Sunday Morning

The prospect of continuing a love affair may indeed rouse you early on a Sunday morning, and cause you to wend your way expectantly to the UWI Mona Campus. Love Affair with Literature 5. IMG_8908

And once there, poet Tanya Shirley welcomes you on behalf of the Department of Literatures in English, assuring you that this is one love affair that is okay, with no risk of fornication, sin or hell!

(Kellie Magnus then reminds you that this is the start of Kingston Book Festival 2016.)

 

A-dZiko Simba Gegele reads from her novel “All Over Again”, and you enter into the world of a young boy carrying home his school report to his mother. IMG_8916

This envelope full of bad things.

Look, you tell yourself. You just have to explain that not everyone can be good at everything. Surely she will understand. You are good at climbing trees, and swimming in rivers and making bingys and you can hit a cricket ball right over the school fence and you know where to find sweet guavas….

IMG_8917Mel Cooke reads a number of his poems, having you follow him as he highlights social issues, individual and collective pain, ending with the first poem in his collection “11/9”, reiterating that he is indeed a “Word Terrorist”:

Me a no no writa

no poet, no journalis’.

No rhyma, no chanta

no Gleana Tursday columnist.

Me? Me is a word terroris’ –

Olive Senior reads a poem from 30 years ago and a more recent poem, both to do with the environment, and then reads from her new collection of short stories, “The Pain Tree”, which is to have its Jamaican launch this Thursday.IMG_8922

That was fine with Mrs. F, for she loved to explain things to foreigners. One of the reasons – perhaps the only reason – she liked going to her Book Club – she hated reading – was that it was full of foreigners, many of whom were attached to embassies. She was frequently asked to their little do’s, and she and her husband to some of their big parties celebrating this Day or that Day – something that gave her one up on those poor souls who never got invited to Foreign Missions, as Mrs. F loved to call them. (From the story “The Country Cousin”)

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Vladimir Lucien, St Lucian poet who is currently Writer in Residence at UWI Mona, reads from his collection “Sounding Ground”, and you are entranced when he reads the poem “Tjenbwa: Protean” – from the Tjenbwa series – first in Creole and then in English.

                                                                    The moth that enters

                                                                    your house at night is a grudge

                                                                    that somebody is holding

                                                                     against you.

Then it is over. You feel good, as you leave, perhaps taking a book or two with you to preserve the love…through till next year, when you hope…hope…the Love Affair with Literature will continue….

 

love affair with lit 2016