In the High Peaks

Friday, September 30, 2022

Trying Like Crazy to Catch Up!

 It's hard to believe that it's been one month and one day since I last posted! September, perhaps my favorite month, has flown by without my checking in a single time. 

Struggling today to keep my head above water because I had the bivalent Covid vaccine yesterdayat 9 am, and to think I was expecting it to be nothing! But it hit me extra hard for some inexplicable reason, which has kept me very quiet and which has reminded me I need to drop a line or two here. 

On a hot, very humid final day of August, I finished reading the recently published After Lives by Abdulrazak Gurnah, who is the most recent recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature (2021). Although he lives in England now, he grew up in Madagascar and spent all of his youth in Africa. I was fascinated by this novel, set in East Africa from the 1880s to the 1940s. The book relates the stories of the members of one extended family, many of whom are both African and Indian (Muslim), mixed. I must admit that I’d thought I was acquainted with the colonial history of East Africa, but I soon learned how woefully limited my knowledge was. In addition to the British, there were the German colonials (Deutsch Ostfrika), the Belgians, the Portuguese, and the Italians, all in the late 1800s trying to vie for dominance of East Africa. This was a fascinating family history set rich in its historical context.

 I absolutely LOVED reading Jonathan Franzen's Crossroads, which was published earlier this year. It's set at Christmas 1971 and Eastertide 1972 and just a bit beyond. It's about a pastor's family in Illinois--four children, of whom three are teens and one just a bit older. Becky, one of the children and one of the main characters is 18 at the time, as I was in the same year. The difference is that Becky is still a senior in high school and I was a college freshman at that time.  Each member of the family is at a crossroads, which pulls them apart. About Franzen: I am in awe of his powers as a writer of fiction. This is the first novel I've read by him, and I will say I can't believe how powerfully crafted his scenes are. Whoo...gasp! He is masterful, and I will read more of his novels now that I know his powers.