Archive | May 2012

Graceland: A Novel by Chris Abani

I had the hardest time beginning to read this book. I’m not sure it was anything wrong with the book, but for some reason every time I started it I couldn’t follow through. I finally willed myself to get this book read and I’m glad I did. I liked the book, I feel like the description of the book doesn’t do it justice though. I can’t really say that it doesn’t fit or is wrong, because it’s not— it’s just so much more. First here’s what it says: “The sprawling, swampy, cacophonous city of Lagos, Nigeria, provides the backdrop to the story of Elvis, a teenage Elvis impersonator hoping to make his way out of the ghetto. Nuances, lyrical, and pitch perfect, this is a remarkable story of a son and his father, and a examination of postcolonial Nigeria, where the trappings of American culture reign supreme.” But this book touches on everything, I feel like Elvis’ dancing and “the trappings of American culture” did not make as much of an impact in this story as the coming of age journey set behind the mess of the life in the ghetto. Military clashing and a number of fringe jobs they show for survival make this story come alive. The discussions about the military governments and what if anything can be done really made the book feel real. My only issue was I feel there was excessive and needless sexual references—- not that I’m a prude, and to be fair everything felt so real. Confessions this boy is thinking and feeling feel remarkably honest, and I do love that though. So that’s not much of a gripe since I both liked and disliked it. 

I wished I had jotted down notes or had read this on my Kindle where I could highlight. There was some amazing quotes in this book. Having just finished the book tonight I can at least mark one I read today: 

“Funds? What funds? Let me tell you, dere are no bigger tiefs dan dose World Bank people. Let me tell you how de World Bank helps us. Say dey offer us ten-million-loa for creating potable and clean water supply to rural areas. If we accept, dis is how dey do us. First dey tell us dat we have to use de expertise of their consultants, so dey remove two million for salaries and expenses. Den dey tell us dat de consultants need equipment to work, like computer, jeeps or bulldozers, and for hotel and so on, so dey take another two million. Den dey say we cannot build ne boreholes but must service existing one, so dey take another two million to buy parts. All dis money, six million of it, never leave de U.S. Den dey use two million for de project, but it is not enough, so dey abandon it, and den amy bosses take de remaining two million. Now we, you and I and all dese poor people, owe de World Bank ten million dollars for nothing. Dey are all tiefs and I despise dem— our people and de World Bank people!”

Just a good example of how this book is so much more, it brings about many ideas, problems, and realities.

Addition by Toni Jordan

I read this book for the Mental Illness Reading Challenge.

Bear with me, this book review is about a month behind. I read this book near the end of April. I’ve lost a lot of anything I’ve wanted to say about it— but I still remember the book of course. Looking at some reviews on GoodReads I see the number one word used with this book is quirky. Absolutely is the writing quirky, and the book is very humorous.  But the book is ultimately about an OCD. Grace is obsessed with numbers and has an odd love for Nikola Tesla. Grace has gotten by in life with this obsession for the most part but it was starting to falter as she was fired from a job due to it as well.

The story is essentially a love story and follows Grace’s path with meeting a man, falling in love, and trying to get better/change herself. This fails miserably, and runs through a vivid portrail of a kind of split personality taking shape with her new “healed” self, or as I’d like to say, fake self, and her real conscious battling to talkin in conversations and make decisions. It’s heart-wrenching. It poses a good question too. With these mental illnesses is there ever a cure or is there an internal battle from the two selves, the medicated and non-medicated selves? That’s a hard way to live for sure. It also documents the definite issues many face with medicating themselves (I’m thinking anti-depressants for one thing) making a “grey personality” and taking away all the good parts of the self. Of course though, as any good light-hearted read it does end well despite some unfortunate turns near the end. It’s definitely worth a read, it’s quick easy and enjoyable

Summer

I haven’t kept up with posts very well lately. First I got the puppy, then I became ill, and then finals slammed upon me. Now it’s finally summer and yet I’m still busy really. I visited my mom on my days off from work, but I brought Sophia, my pup, with me. I swear she’s in her terrible twos. She throws temper tantrums that involve her biting at me legs or arms. There’s not a day that goes by I don’t get new bruises, scratches, and bite marks. Agh! I’m running out of patience with her…

But YAY the semester is finally over. I have my big trip planned in July (touring Idaho) and I just can’t wait. I’ve been able to get some reading done at work finally too. I’m behind on the reviews and I hope to post an old one and a new one tonight. 

In good news though, the library system I volunteer at is taking me own as an extra help library assistant. I’m psyched as slowly but surely I’m getting my foot in the door. I’m going to continue to volunteer because I love my special projects and all the new things the librarians there teach me, but actually working there will be a new and great experience too. 

Alright that’s about all that’s new with me. On to the books…