A Monday morning that makes any effort at continuity nonsensical. And yet . . . To sort my way toward seeing what this hummingbird might do to put out the raging forest fires of racism (never mind the already overwhelming context of a frightening pandemic burning its way across the world). . . To do that, I seem to need that continuity, to work within its possibilities until I can see where to break away, where to stretch, where to pause. . . .
So I'm going to go ahead with a post I've planned, sharing my reading journal pages for May. But I'd like to begin by reminding you about a book I referred to in my last post, Ibram X. Kendi's How To Be an Anti-Racist. This morning, I posted a page from that book on Instagram, the page in which Kendi explains why we need to move from "not being racist" to "being anti-racist." I would also recommend, again, another book I wrote about in my last post, Jesmyn Ward's memoir, Men We Reaped. Ward's novels Salvage the Bones and her Sing, Unburied, Sing, both of which I wrote about here, testify powerfully and movingly to the ongoing and systemic racism that continues, somehow, to be ignored. Inconvenient truths indeed.
That's all I will say about that for now. I know we're all mulling, in our own way, what we can do to effect the necessary change. I'm going to hold space here, for now, to do that. And meanwhile, provide some continuity as well, so as to try to hold onto this little community of thoughtful readers, that means so much to me.
My reading this past month skewed a bit lighter, beginning with
Donna Leon's The Waters of Eternal Youth (borrowed from Vancouver Public Library as an e-book, via my OverDrive app)
couple of favourite pages on Instagram. The passage in which Paula tells Brunetti what she does when she's stuck talking to one of the "men who know everything" exemplifies so much of what I love about this series. . . .
And that's as far as I got. . .
I'll continue now by moving to my 31st title for 2020's reading, Kyung-Sook Shin's beautifully moving novel (translated by Chi-Yong Kim) Please Look After Mom. Thanks so much for recommending this, Dottoressa!
The novel's structure allows us to construct a holographic view of the mother: narration moves from one adult sibling to another, as they look for Mom. She's lost herself in the busy city of Seoul after being separated from her husband (always impatient with her, always walking too quickly ahead) at the train station where the elderly couple had arrived from their country village home to visit their children (all of whom were too busy to pick them up). There are also sections told by the husband and by the mother. , ,
I posted an example on Instagram, photos of two pages that tell of a candid and revealing conversation between mother and adult daughter
In retrospect, especially in this historical time when racialized writers deserve our attention more than ever, I'm a bit uncomfortable with my lukewarm journal response to Cherie Dimaline's The Marrow Thieves. I would temper that response now by telling you that many readers (far beyond a YA readership) have lauded the book (as evidenced by the awards it's garnered). Certainly, I found it exponentially more interesting than Book 32, above, and it's fairer to judge it that way, against other genre novels. I think I was just hoping for a novel that better filled the promise I saw in her collection of linked short stories, Red Room (mentioned in this post). But if you're looking to broaden your reading and expose yourself to exciting First Nations (Native American, indigenous, depending on your country's terminology) writing, this book entertains, moves, disturbs, and provokes thought. . .
We're fortunate enough to have not one, but two, indigenous-owned bookstores within walking distance. I got my copy of The Marrow Thieves from Massy Books and hope to visit Iron Dog Books soon. Bookstores here are gradually re-opening, and I'm still thinking about how comfortable I'll be browsing in my face mask, but I do need a copy of Dimaline's latest book, Empire of Wild. Eden Robinson and Tommy Orange have both recommended it. Who am I to argue?!
I'm glad I trusted her. . . .
Meanwhile, I'm curious about what you're reading -- and perhaps, also, about how your reading has shifted, or is shifting, in response to this powerful movement of solidarity against racism and against state/police brutality. All taking place, of course, within the context of a pandemic that continues to unsettle us in so many ways. . . I know that affects our reading as well. How to balance? Reading for comfort, for entertainment, for diversion, but also reading to learn, to develop empathy, to broaden our perspective, to find hope. Small questions for you today ;-)