It’s catch up time again so I’ll get right into it. I just finished a wonderful book by 2021 Nobel Prize winner Abdulrazak Gurnah. The title is After Lives, published by Bloomsbury 2020 in the UK and my copy in 2021.
The blurb on the back reads:
While he was still a little boy Ilyas was stolen from his parents by the German colonial troops. After years away, he returns to his village to find his parents gone, and his sister, Afiya given away.
Another young man returns to the town he once lived in. Hamza was not stolen for the war, but fled into it to escape a life of bondage. In the war he has grown up at the righthand of an officer whose protection has marked him for life. With nothing but the clothes on his back, he seeks only work and security- and the love of the beautiful Afiya.
As fate knots these young people together, as they live and work and fall in love, the shadow of a new war on another continent lengthens and darkens, ready to snatch them up and carry them away.
Located in East Africa in the first half of the 20th century it is a wonderful tale of the interlinked relationship between a few characters that goes from the war with the Germans against the British, right to the end of their lives.
I loved this book and as it went on I could not put it down. It is one of those books where you read the first half and don’t ask questions. It will all become clear once the war is over about half way through (if that.) I will never forget these characters and I cared about them deeply. I also learned quite a bit about the post colonial conflicts of Eastern Africa around Tanzania.
I read this book as part of the Fullers book group I’m in and I look forward to our discussion during the first week of March.
My car book is something completely different. I am listening to 78 year old New York dancer Twyla Tharp read her book Keep It Moving. As I try to exercise with longer walks and two weight sessions at the gym each week I find her a role model I can respect. Everyday she gets up first thing and heads to her studio and dances. It is a pledge she made and as she states not a goal. Goals can be ticked off when finished and then you’re done. Her pledge is an activity she does as part of her entire life and she never waivers from it. I am enjoying her discussion about the benefits, especially of older people ensuring they move regularly and how to put it into your life and not just for a new year’s resolution. She applies her teachings to many creative pursuits and I find her a very inspiring and interesting woman.
My other project (if one wants to name it that) is to get cracking with the TBR books on the shelves. A couple of weeks ago I went through every book I own and made a whole new Library Thing catalog. As I went through each book, one by one, I tossed those read, those found in op shops that sounded a good idea at the time and old gifts I’ll never gravitate to. I filled three large shopping bags and off they went. I whittled down the books listed on Library Thing significantly and now it is completely up to date.
Today, once finished with After Lives, I randomly selected three books (using randomiser app) from Library thing. I have decided I will randomly choose three and from that I will choose the one that appeals to me at the time. If a book of short stories comes up I will read at least three of the stories before I put it back on the shelf. I don’t enjoy reading a complete book of short stories unless they are interlinked. I think three will have me remembering them more.
The three books picked are: Worst Journeys: The Picador Book of Travel. It represents a selection of shorter experiences of things that went wrong while travellin to some well known authors. It happens to everyone who travels a lot sooner or later. It has happened to us. Like the time we were in South America, arrived for our connected flight and they had no record of a ticket because the travel agent changed hands during the booking of the trip and screwed up to be succinct. We had to get another ticket that involved finding a cash machine and being escorted with a guard from the airport. Why not use a credit card, you ask? We had it eaten in Bolivia and it was only through the kindness of our hotel manager in La Paz we could travel ahead to Peru and Mr Penguin’s very good use of Spanish that helped a lot.
Or when my father died and I decided to fly to Michigan from Hobart for his military funeral I did not want to miss. He was a large part of my life. Qantas flights were twice cancelled. I couldn’t get a flight to Michigan from Los Angeles. I had a complete meltdown in the airport after travelling for a very long time and a kindly staff member organised me to get to Chicago and then leave Chicago to Lansing, Michigan. I had my sister pick me up at the airport. After almost three days with no sleep, I slid into the funeral service 45 minutes before it started. I know I will enjoy this book.
The second and third book chosen is a small book, part of a Penguin boxed set. Boxed sets that have sat on the shelves for a long time looking very pretty but unread. Now all of those individual books from the Penguin 70s and Great Ideas boxed sets plus a few others are individually catalogued. So I will probably read both of the books chosen. The English Journeys set has me about to read Voices of Akenfield by Ronald Blythe. I haven’t got a clue what it will be about but that will be fun.
The second one is part of the Penguins Pocket Penguins (70s collection I think) called Dressmaker Child by William Trevor. As someone who absolutely loves watching the Great British Sewing Bee this has major appeal. I grew up attached to my grandmother’s side while she sewed dozens of clothes for my sister and I, my Barbie doll who has a complete wardrobe including lined woolen suits and a satin dress with a fur collar around the cape. She also sewed dance costume for my cousin who was an exotic dancer and all of her costumes had sequins hand sewn through out.
That sums up the past couple of weeks of books. I could add I started the audio of Trent Dalton’s Love Stories but it was a bit too saccharine for me. I loved the concept that he sat in the city centre of Brisbane, Qld and asked people to tell him a love story. It was very random. I enjoyed a few of the stories butter awhile it became a bit too much. I know a lot of people will love them but they didn’t excite me either way. Maybe when Covid is over I will be more receptive to really sweet tales. To be fair, not all of them had happy endings and that didn’t appeal either. 😍😍😍 I am not a saccharine person nor was I raised to think the world was brilliant all of the time. So I moved on.
While taking a good walk last week I went through South Hobart to see the new artwork on the side of a popular cafe. The Hobart rivulet goes from the mountain into the city and it passes through South Hobart. There is a platypus who lives in the rivulet and people post about it and keep an eye on it and any friend or family that appears. A local artist has painted a wonderful mural of him and I finally got to see it.
I also received a lovely card from Holland from a IOUMA member. (International Union of Mail Artists. I made a few collaged postcards. I am by no means an artist but I enjoy cutting up papers and calendars and old magazines and organising them on small postcards. There are some wonderful sticker books out there too for all those bullet journalers and I decorate envelopes too. Very relaxing.
I’ve reached the time now when I should stop chatting to you all and make a move out of this seat. As usual, I hope you are all well and doing something you enjoy and also moving those bodies. Old age is so much easier when your body knows how to move.