Blogger on Books (2023) – Quick Takes I

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 1st 2023 Quick Takes page. Search Blogger on Books Quick Takes or go to the main page of the respective year for previous Quick Takes.

Throwback reviews (tagged Tr) are old reviews either from My Space where I had a series ‘Read Anything Good Lately’ between 2006 to 2010, or from Blogger on Books on Wadadli Pen where I picked up my book blogging before migrating it here to my personal blog. 

I tag with an (RR) any review or complimentary copies received from the author or publisher whether for review purposes or not – all reviews are still my honest opinion. 

My Life So Far by Jane Fonda (Tr) Jane’s book was a revelation and got me thinking about men-women and the pattern which sees women losing themselves in relationships (which doesn’t seem to afflict men to the same degree) and loving themselves in order to become whole. Do you have to give up yourself in order not to be alone and do you have to be into your third act (as Fonda was) before you can truly begin to love yourself and give up the people pleasing? Unsettling thought. But then this was the rare biography that made me think about things. In part, it has to do with her knowledge of her life (in practice) and psychology (in theory) – the latter due to the many texts she indicates she’s devoured over the years. Reading, therefore, feels less voyeuristic and more…layered…as every bit of experience is contextualized and analysed with the clarity of hindsight and the self-questioning that can perhaps lead to a fuller life. …The book then emerges as an interesting combination of tell-all, self-analysis, and how-to advice for younger sisters and has a broader perspective than most celebrity autobiographies given the author’s conscious decision to involve herself in the world in which she lives beyond Hollywood – with a hefty price paid. I’ve always liked Jane, the actress, but this book has the added bonus of making her feel like a real woman.

Dreads (Tr)

Francesco Mastalia and Alfonse Pagano (with an introduction by Alice Walker) – This was a quick borrow with captivating (and beautiful) images and stories of people who’ve embraced the dreadlocked way of life for whatever reason. I wish I could keep it.

Mythium: the Journal of Contemporary Literature and Cultural Voices Vol. 1 No. 1 (Tr)

Crystal Wilkinson and Ronald Davis (editors) – This inaugural issue (which includes my poem ‘Venus Ascending‘) actually came out in 2009.  I have a couple of impressions … how American Southern it feels (I didn’t actually count to see how many Southern writers were featured and certainly there were some very urban pieces) but overall that’s just how it felt to me. Also, as is often the case with these journals, it introduced me to writers whom I might not otherwise have known of, some of whom I’ll certainly look out for now. In particular, among the poems, I liked Jamaican born Opal Palmer Adisa’s hilarious obeah tale ‘Mada Make-It-Happen Callaloo Attraction Potion’, Tolu Jegede’s wistful ‘Suppose’ and ‘The Country of Beaten Things’, Remica L. Bingham’s funny and sad ‘Instructions, Upon My Death’, Rickey Laurentiis’ ‘Quit it Boy’ and ‘To the 44th President’, Sankar Roy’s ‘Early Arrival’, Michael J. Martin’s ‘Clavicle’, Rane Arroyo’s ‘Believe that I write this with tears running down my face visiting’, Tara Betts’ ‘Oya invites storms to tea’, and especially Derrick Weston Brown’s ‘To Be Published’ (because, seriously, what writer can’t relate to this). There were only a handful pieces of fiction. Among these my favourites were Myronn Hardy’s ‘Land of Grace’ and Tuere T. S. Ganges’ ‘The Coronation of Queenpin’. I like that there’s one more journal out there (ETA: it was short lived) creating space for voices on the fringe, so, while all the pieces weren’t my cup of tea, I like the Mythium spirit overall. 

BIM: Arts for the 21st Century Vol. 2 No. 1 (Tr) – I think this Frank Collymore tribute issue is my favourite of the revived and revered Caribbean series. One, because it’s a fitting and insightful tribute to the man who so influenced the development of Caribbean literature (thanks to pieces like Edward Baugh’s “Frank Collymore and West Indian Literature”, Lennox Honeychurch’s “‘House of Two Islands”‘, Austin Clarke’s “‘Colly”, and Collymore’s own “Non Immemor”). Two, because it featured so many of the greats. Three, because their writing was simply superb. My absolute favourite was Geoffrey Drayton’s beautiful and poignant “The Moon and the Fisherman”, with Sam Selvon’s “My Girl and the City” a close second – have always loved his flow – takes me back to Lonely Londoners and learning of stream of consciousness (which he applies here). I rather liked the conversational vibe between John R Lee and Derek Walcott and the thought provoking insights the St. Lucian poet pulled from this giant of the art form in “the Making of BIM”. There was humour in some of the other (quite enjoyable) pieces and a heady mix of humour and seriousness in the likes of Edgar Mittelholzer’s well crafted “Herr Pfangle” and John Wickham’s “Meeting in Milkmarket”. Favourite poems included Mervyn Morris’ “The Stripper”, Cecil Gray’s “The Believers”, Mark McWatt’s “Four Poems in Dry Season”, and Collymore’s “the Flow of Stream”, “Amanda”, and his delightful “Collycreatures”. If you haven’t read the giants of Caribbean lit, this is a good introduction.

Anansesem inaugural issue September 2010 (Tr) The inaugural issue of the new Caribbean children’s online literary journal was quite enjoyable. Read it with your children, your students, your kids’ reading club. My favourites included “Bajan Market” by Che Blackman, Irma Rambaran’s “Wings”, Maggie Harris’ “Anansi Rises”, “Skipping Poem”, and “Who Frighten”, and Jim Wasserman’s “Making Dew”. Good stuff.

Back to Blogger on Books XI (2023)