Or, Folks Can Tell
I’m writing this on a bank holiday in Kenya, which is to say a Monday that feels like a Sunday. Which means I didn’t wake up, or look at my WhatsApp messages, till lunch time (#SelfCare) and they included a request from a dear friend to return Some Writers Can Give You Two Heartbeats (edited by Tinashe Mushakavanhu and Nontsikelelo Mutiti).
The catch: library loans and having a book on a device that’s at hand are my top two reasons for reading a book. This didn’t fall into those categories so 1.5 years since I borrowed it, I’m yet to start reading it. The borrowing equivalent of books one buys that are read more by guests and/ or those one is willing to lend books.
It’s odd that I haven’t read Some Writers Can Give You Two Heartbeats because I reach for such content on other platforms - writers contemplating craft, engaging their audiences, talking to each other. My podcast history (when will Stitcher get this right?) and YouTube history (more on this later) can attest to it so maybe I seek out different themes for different media? It’s starting to give navel-gazing, Mike.
Jason Mott winning the National Book Award for Fiction for Hell of A Book made me think of a book Mama Mike still references - The Grub Hunter by Amir Tag Elsir (translated by William M. Hutchins) - which sits in the universe of books that feature authors participating in (being subjected to?) author events - talks, interviews, readings, ~conversations~. Mama Mike, every time she attends a literary event with a Q & A session, will reference the book, and especially the ways in which the main character observes and takes on the language of these spaces (you know the phrases - “what inspires you?” “which writers…” etc). These questions, these phrases, are a shorthand for all of us and even when we’ve heard them over and over they can still be revelatory.
As happened last week when I watched a recording because I thought the author being featured is hot (as I pointed out on Twitter, I have Catholic tastes. My brother, YB, recently asked me who isn’t cute or hot to me haha) and I don’t think I’ve watched a lot of content along these lines out of the Caribbean even though I follow more than one Carib BookTuber. The chief interviewer was the sort of person that I aspire to be in conversations with artists, literary or not. Knowledgeable, curious, interested, and able to draw these great connections. Come for the hot author, stay for the stunning professors, amirite?
The latter portion of the video features a professor who speaks about craft and the generosity that’s displayed, the evident care she has for her students, was such a delight. There’s something about those things - care, compassion, generosity, an evident attention to who other people are and what they bring to the world - that’s always so heartening to witness. More such conversations, please and thank you.
The Pomodoro just ended but I’m almost done plus the lovely YB distracted me with a beautiful lunch. The problems we all want, right? Last week, I decided to take a break from memoirs. It meant dropping books I’d made some progress with and a part of me felt disappointed that I would have nothing to show for the time I’d spent on them. Which made me ask myself why I read if I consume books like some of us were taught to eat - finishing every morsel, enjoyment be damned. Why do *you* read? I did read one graphic memoir, though: Nora Krug’s Belonging about which I have mixed feelings but whose Goodreads profile, as often happens, led me to more graphic memoirs via in-depth reviews (grateful for such people!).
Also read: Silence by Shūsaku Endō (translated by William Johnston) which Raul endorsed. It’s one of the first two books I’ve borrowed from Maktaba Kuu since the pandemic began and I’m happy my old strategy (roam the stacks, take something that looks interesting, preferably in translation) didn’t disappoint.
I finished the first two novellas in the Love Sisters series by Christina C. Jones (romance is so nice on the brain!) and today morning I finished The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun which quite a number of people whose taste I respect had enjoyed; all on Scribd (use Linda Barasa’s link for 60 free days). Romance is a balm, I tell you. Speaking of which, join me on Friday as my Dr Doseline Kiguru fangirl mode is once again activated during this Roundtable on Black Popular Romance in Africa. I’m sure it’ll be a good time.
I hope you have a great week and a lovely time reading. Talk to you soon!