February 3rd, 2016


Wednesday meme

What have you just finished?
Booker T Washington, Up from Slavery. Bread and butter reading, as Miss Cromwell said. Of its time, certainly- early 20th century uplifting literature, full of good noble generous people, confident of the values of stick-to-it-iveness and determination and bettering oneself- though in Washington's case, betterment was a necessity after the degradation of centuries of slavery. An eminently likable man: one only wishes that his sunny optimism had been borne out. Can't help thinking that something may have got elided at the hands of his co-author: one can't talk about cordial relations between the races in the same chapter as one protests against lynchings.

What are you reading now?
And probably not going to finish? Taeko Kōno, Toddler Hunting and other stories. Oe and Endo, two male writers for whom I have no use at all, have praised her as 'the most lucidly intelligent woman writing in Japan' and 'her unsparing gaze penetrates the depth of human nature.' Only in Japan does the depth of intelligent human nature default to sadomasochism and bondage, she snorts.

And also certainly not going to finish? Zora Neale Hurston, Folklore, memoirs, and other writings. I was happily reading about Haitian voudou in Tell my Horse, when in an evil moment I started to read Mules and Men, her collection of folktales that segues into her training in 'hoo-doo' with various masters in New Orleans. At one point she's instructed to make a bone that allows her to travel invisibly. I won't tell you how it's done, but that was enough for me.

Still with White Teeth, downstairs sofa reading.

What will you read next?
Maybe Long Hidden, maybe that biography of Lorenzo de Medici. Lorenzo was one of My Guys in my teens; I wonder if the infatuation would survive a proper biography.

Would really like something light and cheerful after the last few books. Cough and fever and tiredness are not helped by Other People's Terrible Lives.