Archive for November, 2009
The PirahÃ£ are the “Show me!” tribe of the Brazilian Amazon. They don’t bother with fiction or tall tales or even oral history. They have little art. They don’t have a creation myth and don’t want one. If they can’t see it, hear it, touch it or taste it, they don’t believe in it.
Missionaries have been preaching to the PirahÃ£s for 200 years and have converted not one. Everett did not know this when he first visited them in 1977 at age 26. A missionary and a linguist, he was sent to learn their language, translate the Bible for them, and ultimately bring them to Christ.
Instead, they brought him to atheism.
Domnica Radulescu’ semi-autobiographical debut novel, TRAIN TO TRIESTE, is a fascinating page turner, full of contrasts. She describes, with nostalgia and much love, her homeland, Romania, with its physical beauty, it’s mountains, plains, rivers, forests, and extraordinary seaside resorts and homes on the Black Sea. She writes of “one beautiful summer,” with its “linden trees and vodka made from fermented plums and stars and mountains and raspberries….” The scenery is “gorgeous,” the Carpathian Mountains are dark and mysterious – a perfect place for our protagonist, seventeen year-old Mona Manoliu, to fall in love. It is the summer of 1977.
Early in 2009, I read the account of Edward M. Kennedy’s life entitled LAST LION: THE FALL AND RISE OF TED KENNEDY. A synthesis of reports by Boston Globe reporters, it succeeded in presenting a balanced and quite thorough review of Senator Kennedy’s life up to the point where he was diagnosed with brain cancer. With that instructively under my belt, I was eager to study the senator’s own account, TRUE COMPASS: A MEMOIR. How, I wondered, had he approached the delicate or controversial events of his life? Had he, for example, gone into as much detail about the Chappaquiddick tragedy as LAST LION had? How much had he wished to revisit concerning the assassinations of his famous political brothers? Had he gone into as many specifics about his major Senate battles as the reporters? What less well known facets of himself had he chosen to reveal? Were his reminisces more personal or more professional in nature?
ANNA IN-BETWEEN is a novel about an unmarried, Caribbean woman in her late thirties, Anna Sinclair, who begins to understand herself as she comes to understand her parents. The novel explores issues of caste, race and culture in a moving, deeply poignant tale of mother and daughter. Anna goes back to the island of her birth as she does every year, but this time she stays for a month to spend more time with her aging parents…
November 14, 2009
Â· Judi Clark Â· No Comments
Tags: Immigration-Diaspora, Interview, Latin American, mother-daughter, Motherhood Â· Posted in: 2009 Favorites, Caribbean, Class - Race - Gender, Family Matters, Latin American/Caribbean, Literary, y Award Winning Author
In Jim Lynchâ€™s critically-acclaimed first novel, THE HIGHEST TIDE, Miles, a thirteen-year old boy with a knack for being in the right place at the right time, discovers a giant squid on the shores of Puget Sound as it gasps its last breath. What follows is a miracle of nature as oceanic oddities and coincidences seem drawn to the teenage boy. Now, with his second novel, BORDER SONGS, also set in the Pacific Northwest but inland, Lynch has created another story concerned as much with unexplained coincidences and natural beauty as it is with its quirky characters.
Ginnah Howard’s NIGHT NAVIGATION is a powerful and unflinching novel about drug addiction and mental illness. It is beautifully written in a terse and spare style that is both rich and evocative. The narrative reminded me of the music of Erik Satie or the pizzicato violin in the andante movement of Prokofiev’s Second Violin Concerto. The writing is that beautiful and melodic. It made me rise out of myself into the world that Ms. Howard has created.