Thursday, October 22, 2009


Just finished reading KINDRED, by Octavia Butler. This is ostensibly, the tale of a time-traveler from the 20th century, who is whisked back to the 19th. The traveler is an African-American woman in 1976. She is transported to 1819 Maryland, where her duty appears to be to save the life of a white child from drowning. She has no control over her traveling and therefore can be taken or returned at any time. The major conflict in this tale for anyone with even a passing knowledge of American History is the fact that the 19th century was a time of slavery and the slave trade. The child the young woman saves-first time from drowning and on subsequent occasions, from fire, from beatings, from alcohol poisoning and from disease, is her several times great ancestor. Her saving him is in preparation for him to forcibly impregnate her black female ancestor… what a connundrum.

   Dana, the protagonist, is shocked on many levels, chiefly that she has no control over her movement. Rufus, her ancestor, is the son of the slave owner of a modest plantation in Maryland and a real man of the times. Each time she returns to the past (this is accomplished by Rufus’ peril) it is shocking and she has no idea of the time she will spend there. This is also complicated by the fact that she is married and her husband is a white man, who at one point makes the journey with her. She is well-educated and this is apparent by her speech and carriage as she is a free woman put into bound circumstances and  all the explanations that must be made

Kindred, Octavia Butler

… something to think about.

This book is really interesting and important, I think, because it explores the issues of slavery and freedom in new ways. Most modern people, especially historians, screenwriters and the like, think they have a handle on this “peculiarly American incarnation of the institution of bartering and selling of human beings. This book postulates that we haven’t a clue. The day to day life of a person trying to navigate  while living in the fantasy of a society in which one group is inherently superior to another is fraught with challenges as yet unexamined. How do you rationalize to yourself what you will do or how important your life is when you or your children can be sold at any time for the whim of another?

This book was recommended to me many years ago, but I am not that much of a science fiction reader. I think of it(Science Fiction) as the realm of white men(Isaac Assimov and Ray Bradbury) and for most of its existence, it has been. Octavia Butler was one of the first black women to really master this genre, though this book, in her words, is more of a grim fantasy. There is no scientific explanation for the time travel. He calls and she comes-in this way she is a slave to his desires, exactly as her ancestors were.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Raining Raining and Reading

Today I am reading a brand new composition by a friend. It is really good and I think it is going to be a great addition to the libraries of the world. I am also in the midst of a re-read of AN ECHO IN THE BONE, by Diana Gabaldon. The book is so good I will have to devote and entire post just to it!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The All-MJ-Unity-Sweet Honey Weekend

Saturday morning started with watching the funeral of Teddy Kennedy on CSPAN- a fitting tribute for a man who actually lived his life in the public eye on purpose. As I listened to all the speakers, many of them his children or grandchildren, I realized that his career completely encompasses my life-all 47 years-that was a slap in the face, wake up call-whatever you wanna call it. Then, I turned on the Michael Jackson music- the 29th was his birthday-number 51, that he did not live to see and I just cried... and sighed. Later in the evening, no lie, I heard his voice in my head saying-"It's okay, you can let go." I felt like Elliott in ET- "I'm right here." And I know that he is. The music is a living force in this world that we humans inhabit. I think one of the things we don't realize on a conscious level is that music is a part of the DNA of humans. We are effected in ways that we cannot begin to vocalise-that is why profane elements should really be considered before being released into the air...

As I continued in my MJ haze, I got a call about a FREE-Sweet Honey in the Rock Concert! What an amazing opportunity! They are amazing and just the right kind of vibratory wave I want to ride. Speaking of music, my daughter wants to join and acappella group and is coming over to talk song selection for her audition today-whew!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I know this blog is about books, but I also love film and today I saw one that made me think. It is called The Chorus. It is about a French orphanage(boys only) where punishment is the rule, not the exception. I would say it is like Oliver Twist, but stealing gets you put in the isolation cell:(. Into this bastion of peace and joy comes the new prefect, Clement Mathieu, a musician who cannot find a job teaching music. He decides, after many terrible incidences, to use music as the weapon of love. It is not easy and all the boys don't have an ear, but they thrive on the attention and the soul stimulation. One child, the class delinquent, is actually a musical prodigy. The story may sound simple, but it is not. Take some time, when you want to reflect, and watch THE CHORUS. It is in French with subtitles, but you won't need them with the music:)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

September's Book

Last night was the book selection night. This is always fun and everyone brings there ideas for the year. We read six books a year together and there are always surprises. The selections this year are:

September: MRS.DALLOWAY-Virginia Woolf

November: CASE HISTORIES-Kate Atkinson

January: POSSESSION- A.S. Byatt

February:OLIVE KITTERIDGE-Elizabeth Strout


May: ADMISSION-Jean Korelitz

I am really happy we are starting with Virginia Woolf. I have never read her work really. I have seen THE HOURS and a film of Mrs Dalloway, but they are only treatments. Many other books were offered though and some really caught my attention:

MUDBOUND-Hillary Jordan: CUTTING FOR STONE-Abraham Verghese: THE HELP-Kathryn Stockett...
I have to stop right here and say that I wanted to read this book so badly I used an audiobook credit today and am currently reading/listening to it. It is really good and I think I like the listening, because there are at least three different actresses doing the voices-YUMMY!

NETHERLAND:Joseph O'Neill and THE LOST: Daniel Mendelsohn.

It is such a pleasurable experience to immerse oneself in the pleasure of a well-told story. You really don't want to come out at all and you want it to go on and on.
This kind of pleasure needs to be shared.
I belong to three book groups-one virtual and two real. I am very active in one of these, but I feel connected to them all because I love books. I cannot seem to pass by a book and I have decided that I might as well enjoy my obsession. I am not a snob about books and though I love to collect beautiful copies, the free rack is still my friend! I am a part of paperbackswap online which I think is the best thing ever! Trading books for the price of postage! I have been happily residing in my little nerdy book world for decades, but the other night when I was at a friend's, she described me as a "bibliophile." Is that what I am? A lover of books? A collector? Yes!!! I have books on the floor by the bed and sometimes in the bed. In my purse and the car and all around. I read everything my eyes see (this can be painful and embarassing sometimes:). I have tried to disect why this is so and I think it has to do with my heritage. I am a person of African descent-African-American: Black....this is also an issue:) (Do I even need to define myself in this way?). Anyway, I read for all my anscestors who were denied the right. I READ BECAUSE I CAN! I am going to use this blog to catalog my reading for while. I want to share with others the books that I love and even some that I don't. With the advent of the digital age, many people believe that books will become obsolete. I don't!