Monthly Archives: August 2007

The Icarus Girl, a novel, by Helen Oyeyemi; published by Nan A. Talese, an imprint of Doubleday, a divsion of Random House, Inc.; first edition in the USA July 2005; book design by Gretchen Achilles

oyeyemi.jpgThe Icarus GirlThis is a first novel completed before the author was 19.  After reading it, I’m eager to follow her career.

Faith or lack of; traditions and changes; elders vs youth; Nigeria and England; race, mental health, ghosts…its all there in this novel, but subtle to me.  I was carried through this novel more on the voice and thoughts of the 8 year old central character, Jessamy Harrison.  Jessamy is an outwardly intelligent girl.  Her inner imaginative mind is equally as strong if not more.  She either creates or is visited by “a friend”, Titiola, nicknamed TillyTilly by Jessamy. 

Imaginary friend or ghost or mental illness, the reader is left to decide exactly what Jessamy is going through.   Jessamy’s parents, a Nigerian mother and English father, are bewildered by Jessamy’s behavior’s and seek in their own way to “fix” her or at least comfort their own discomforts.  They try a range of approaches, from indulging her whims, strict discipline, and talk therapy. 

In the mix is “healing” Jessamy the family takes a visit to the mother’s family in Nigeria where Jessamy is befriended by TillyTilly who later shows up at Jessamy’s house in London once they have returned.  TillyTilly and Jessamy’s friendship grows more and more problematic for Jessamy, her family and friends, which doesn’t end until a 2nd trip to Nigeria where the Grandfather is the only one who can clearly see what is going on with Jessamy and thus is able to solicit aid on her behalf.

Here is an excerpt that is the opening chapter:

http://www.randomhouse.com/broadway/blackink/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780385513838&view=excerpt

(not sure why my link button will not work)

and here are other sources of interviews with the author:

http://www.pen.org/page.php/prmID/1139

Oyeyemi will be one of the featured authors next month at the Kentucky Women Writer’s Conference which lead me to check out her book from the library.  Prior to the advertisement for the conference I had not heard of her.

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Letters To A Young Artist: Straight-up Advice for Making A Life in the Arts by Anna Deavere Smith

Usually I feel guilt for even wanting to not finish a book.  Once I crack the book open and begin reading, its a commitment, a serious commitment.  But this is one of the few books I was happy to walk away from.  Smith has a series of letters to some young (as in age) unidentified naive but bright young artist advising them on the risks and skills required to make it in the business.  It was clear from the first chapter I was not the intended audience and after a few chapters I wasn’t being challenged, intrigued, to stay with the book to the end.  It was happily and quickly returned to the library without any guilt.

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Filed under Art, developing artists

Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Women Who Run With Wolves is a long standing re-read and has been since its publication.  Last year I purchased one of her audio stories on relaxing prior to falling asleep. Estes has a soothing quality to her voice that allows me complete immersion into her stories.  A few months ago I checked out from the library http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0345388356/1n9867a-20  (not sure why the link function is not working).  I realized that once again I had fallen into the pattern of spending on fiber/art supplies/books as a way of compensating for the frustration and anger over not moving last year and Estes’ The Gift of Story: A Wise Tale About What Is Enough was what I needed for ushering in a more positive mind set.  I really do have more than what I need to for art making…I just need to cultivate the discipline and routine that has been missing since the winter.  I’ve actually been using my materials versus hoarding them or “saving” them for that perfect space to work in.  The Gift of Story is one that I really do want to invest in when the time is right but for now the story was told and incorporated into my daily functioning and that is truly the best thing.

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Filed under Spiritual Life, Story Telling