On roots and reconstruction. Book review: Ghana must go, by Taiye Selasi

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I owe the discovery of this book to my brother, who, like the rest of my family, invariably offers me books on my birthdays and Christmas,  while complaining that it is too hard to find ones I haven’t read yet, but they don’t give up, because they know it’s the best present I might hope for. So he gave me this book, out of shared passion for African litterature (though we would probably both agree there is no such thing as a generic African novel), and it is a master piece.
It works backward from the death of Kweku, a respected ghanean surgeon who emigrated to the US with his Nigerian wife Fola, and their three children, and came back to Ghana after resigning, giving up on the American dream. From this second and definitive loss of their father and husband, the rest of the family has to face grief, memories of their shared life, family secrets and questions of identity as they come back to Ghana. The characters are splendidly written, each of them unique, standing like figures of classical Greek tragedies in the torment of their lives. The style is both lyric and sharp, alternatively, and, what can I say, it must be read, period.

Quotes:

1st sentence: “Kweku dies barefoot on a Sunday before sunrise, his slippers by the doorway to the bedroom like dogs.”

“They were doers and thinkers and lovers and seekers and givers, but dreamers, most dangerously of all.They were dreamer-women.
Very dangerous women. Who looked at the world through their wide dreamer-eyes and saw it not as it was, “brutal, senseless,” etc., but worse, as it might be or might yet become. So, insatiable women. Un-pleasable women.”

Drunkenly betting allowed, Book review: Round Ireland with a fridge, by Tony Hawks

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This might look like a random choice for a book to read in the middle of Nepal, since it is about Tony Hawks, forced by a bet made in a pub to go hitchhiking around Ireland with a fridge. But somehow it adds to the general craziness of the endeavour and sometimes sheer lunacy of the people he meets to read it in a completely different setting,in what seems to be worlds apart from Irish rain, Irish pubs and British humour. In any setting, frankly, it is a great book, it is hilarious and sometimes even quite touching, and, under the pretence of considering them like a bunch of lunatics, Hawks actually pays a warm tribute to Ireland and its people. I’m going to bet (though without alcool involved) that it is better than the movie, even if I haven’t seen it, because that’s the way it almost always is (has anybody seen the movie?)

Quote: first sentence: “I’m not, by nature, a betting man.”

“Experience has taught me that someone mentioning how magical their arse was tended not to precede stimulating and considered debate.”

“Sometimes in life you’ve got to dance like nobody’s watching”

Anyone who packs two days before departure should seek counselling. Balanced people are still shoving stuff into their bag as they are leaving the house. That’s normal.”

Definitely British centipede

This is a weird one (for a change, you might say) so stay with me.
I had a dream about a giant centipede, last night.
Now, I should preface this by saying I’m not someone who dreams normally crazy dreams, you know the type, like dreaming of coming to school in your pyjamas or dreaming of having failed your exams the night before passing them. In fact, before my last exam, I dreamt I had an underwater meeting with a man called Jean-Claude, who persuaded me that beards where very useful to breathe underwater, and that I should grow one. (Any dream interpreter out there? No, in fact scratch that, whatever that might mean I’m sure I don’t really want to know).
I never seem to dream about anything related to the day I’ve had, or my life in particular. That’s why yesterday night was so special: the giant centipede dream was a “normal”dream (and yes, I’m fairly conscious that this sentence might not be the most logical sentence ever uttered in the history of humanity).
Because I’ve spent the last 2 days in an epic chase against this fellow here, armed with an old broomstick:

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Running under general craziness

In every single ‘buzzfeedy type post” about advantages of running, they tell you it is a great way to discover a new city or a new country. Usually, I agree with that statement, and I remember quite a few amazing runs in new cities over the past 6 or 7 years I’ve been running more or less regularly (and by regularly I mean like I do anything else: weeks of conscious training followed by weeks where the most vigorous exercice I’ll do is reaching for the chocolate bar).

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"Is it just me, or even the cows look at me like I'm crazy" and other thoughts you have while running here

I remember discovering small streets in London, hidden parks and canals in the Netherlands, small trails in the californian national parks (with bonus meeting with something black some 300 meters avay that might have been(but surely was, for heroic purposes) a bear), villages in Greece, strands in Denmark, San Francisco at dawn and Central Park before stopping for a bagel. All of these offered a new perspective on a country, and I really love to discover a place atrunning pace ( which for me means very slowly, and usually struggling for breath and cursing whatever I hold responsible for making me go for a run in the first place).

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Turmoils of war, turmoils of translation. Book review: All the light we cannot see, by Anthony Doerr

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I found this in a cafe, somewhere in Western Nepal. It amazes me, sometimes, how books that were published not so long ago can travel fast – it seems almost faster than people – but of course they were brought here and read here by people, and that is another bewitching thought: the previous lives of books we read… Well, I stumbled upon this one and read it almost in a single setting (had to, as I couldn’t take it with me, but I suspect it would have been the case even if it was mine).

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NaNoWriMo blabbering

So I’ve noticed november has started (yep, I sort of need to go out of my way to notice the passing of days, around here, since they all look very much the same), and, with it, NaNoWriMo. Every year I tell myself I might give it a go, and every year I realise I won’t, because, let’s face it, november is the EVIL MONTH where things pile up, exams appear out of nowhere and general administrative chaos rules. (Plus, if you’re lucky enough to be in Switzerland, you generally get to forget what the sun looks like for a month, so my plan to survive it usually involves building an Igloo out of books in my room and hiding with tea and chocolates until december starts, and it becomes socially acceptable to do exactly the same thing outside).

Anyway, it looks like 50000 words is too much for me for one more year, as I’m already spending most of my day writing for a thesis project, collecting data for the same project and a small billion of other things. Also, I have absolutely no idea of how to find a plot, which might be useful if you actually want to write a novel (unless you’re Proust, of course, sorry Marcel).

Anyway, I admire everybody who actually shows a little bit more persistency than myself (I suppose it means I admire a lot of people, then!) and am looking forward to reading about it. The task I’ve set for myself is, rather than on novel I won’t write, is to write every day a short bit of something: poem, short story, anything, just to practice. What I wrote today is just below, to give you an idea of what I mean.

And what about you all, any plans for NaNoWriMo?
Happy november (I can wish it being in Nepal, at least I’m avoiding the clouds and the cold!)

At the end of the lane

There is a stilness in the air, a stilness in words.There is the disappearance of what you once knew, creeping up to fill it all, leaving only those few white walls and the trees outside.
There is no strength left to fight even this, this crumbling of the world, this erasement. Is it worth fighting for something you don’t recognize anyway?

There is sometimes as great noise, or at least so it seems, as people come to “bring a little life” in. Not realizing how insulting it is, saying it so, as if you already belonged to the other side, along with this white furniture, white walls, white desert of nothingness that smells like nothing but itself.

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