I do these Quick Takes for books for which I won’t be doing a full review but about which I might still have something to say – this is the 3rd 2022 Quick Takes page. Search Blogger on Books Quick Takes or go to the main page of the respective year for previous Quick Takes.
Speak Out! Issue 2 is edited by Beatrice Lamwaka who writes a touching and thoughtful intro. There are seven writers – writing poetry and fiction – in this collection; part 2 of Speak Out! Issue1 which I reviewed more extensively than this. I started all the entries, finished some, and finished and really liked “A Matter of Time” by Kenyan writer Kabubu Mutua. Such beautifully descriptive language…
“Something in him had always made me imagine windy afternoons in Makutano, Sunday afternoons steeped in birdsong and rice cooked with excess ginger, the utter recklessness of sitting under the shade of lemon trees, with Brenda Fassie’s cracking voice muffled in the radio.”
…the effect both beautiful and sad…
“Afterwards, he was dancing in front of me, an orange glow on his face, and I knew he was the one in the whole world.”
Also “Lettre à Simone” by British-French writer Sonya Moor which I actually started and stopped, then went back to (a reminder that sometimes it’s not the writing but where you are in your head when you’re reading the writing). There may have been some genre bias, as well, because it’s an essay and I do read essays but for some reason I decided an essay wasn’t what I wanted from this literary journal. & I was wrong. It’s really quite an interesting read, focused on a character in a photo from post-WWII France, a woman being punished for collaboration (horizontal collaboration), diving in to the actions and motivations of everyone in the image.
“Was hatred her way of clinging to a nobler past when your family slid from bourgeois to broke?”
My third favourite thing I read in this journal was “Fish“, one of two poems by Jamaican poet Topher Allen. Which is not really about fish.
ask the men who have feasted on me
if they ever had to dislodge
my bone from their throats
Pictured below, finally, is the opening illustration by British artist Gisela Mulindra.
The Manchester Writing Competition 2021 Manchester Fiction Prize Short List – not a book but at 50 pages long enough for this series and worth talking about. Of the six stories (all of which I started, most of which I finished) from the named competition, my faves were –
“The Firm” by Danny Beusch…
‘The bone must have been very weak to snap like that,’ said the doctor. ‘I wonder if you’re low on vitamin D. Are you getting outside enough?’p. 6
..The absurd realism of this story in a single sentence that quickly flips to absurdist surrealism
One morning, upon waking with legs unattached, The Firm shipped over a state-of-the-art, lightweight, solar-powered wheelchair that Gregory could steer with his chin.p. 7
It’s grotesquely interesting and had me chuckling and horrified at the same time. & damn that ending was brutal (be careful what you give your life to, I guess, these firms aren’t loyal).
“The Ishtar Pin” by Sarah Hegerty…
He is no different from the ancient people, after all. But Noor was right. The gods are pitiless
… is heartbreaking.
“When we went gallivanting” by Leone Ross… – and she’s off –
Richie met Athena Righteous-Fury on the same day the tower block where she lived got up and started walking.p. 28
– everything about this is wild and unexpected (which is typical of Ross stories I’ve read). It is vivid and decadent and desperate and impossible and yet somehow credible.
“Move out of my way, boy,” snapped Athena Righteous-Fury. She swept by him in a crocheted, lavender bikini; he knew her nipples better than his own.p. 33
I had no idea how this would end …and it doesn’t really, the characters are now in the world of sentient and ownway buildings swimming for their lives.
Ross was the fiction prize winner.
Antigua and Barbuda Review of Books Volume 6 Number 1 Summer 2013 – I moved this from my list of DNFs since it’s not quite that but I didn’t read it cover to cover so much as scan it, pausing to read the things that held my interest and for anyone interested in Antigua and Barbuda academic thought on politics, society, philosophy, and literature this annual publication is definitely a must-read, and I actually liked this one given its focus on “reconstructing our neglected literary tradition and review its books”, compared to some of the later Reviews. I had some mental pushback (and at least one serious recoil) which at least signals engagement. I learned things as I always do reading these. Sometimes the reading is challenging given its base in academia but when it connects, it roots deep. Example: “Many of us were programmed to consider ourselves not to be Africans…we do not know ourselves and some of us do not wish to know ourselves” – p. 23 “ And there are always little nuggets of information that may not be important-important but make the Antiguan in me take note anyway. Example, the detail about enslaver and founding father of America Thomas Jefferson, drinking only 12-year-old Antiguan rum “as it was the best in the world” – p. 24. The most interesting segment to me though was the feature essays segment (about 100 pages from p. 53 – p. 153) – its four articles ‘Frederick Stiles Jewett: A Connecticut Poet and Newspaperman in Antigua’ by Gregory Frohnsdorff, ‘Through an Enlightened Lens? John Luffman’s View of Antigua in the 1780s’ by Robert Glen, ‘Antigua and the Antiguans: the Question of its Authorship’ by Edgar Lake, and ‘How He Kick She’ by Radcliffe Robins.