Category Archives: Story Telling

Daughters of the Stone by Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa, completed

This is the first multi-generational novel I read that was set in Puerto Rico.  The author condensed a lot into her characters and at times I felt it was rushed in order to cover a lot of ground and at times I thought she relied on the familiarities of broad history to create the personalities of her characters.  But overall, I enjoyed being swept across time and the magic of their lives and gifts.  It is a coming of age story for each of the 5 generations of women.  It starts somewhere in West Africa with a village raid in 1800’s  and sweeps across to Puerto Rico to New York and back to Puerto Rico and coming full circle to West Africa.  It is a story of the responsibilities of the gifts we inherit and the victories and consequences of using them.  I recommended it to my 21 year old daughter to read during Kwanzaa.  She, however, selected a book by Walter Mosely.

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Filed under african american women, African Diaspora reading challenge, Daughters of the Stone, Embroidery, Immigrant Experience, Library book, plantation life, Puerto Rico, Spiritual Life, Story Telling

Ways of Dying: A Novel by Zakes Mda

Picador Press, NY, 1995 (paperback, 212 pages)

There are indeed many ways of dying as the opening statement made by one officiating a funeral declares.  From the life of the central character, Toloki, a professional mourner in South Africa, Mda creates spokes like that on a wheel examining those many ways in the lives of the revolving characters through greed, politics, poverty, sexuality, blind loyalties, etc…just as Toloki himself is coming back to life from his social death by reuniting with a homegirl, Noria, and falling in love.  The act of falling in love, slowly and gently and purely, seems to be the redemption of not just their individual lives but Mda seems to offer a subtle suggestion as the redemption for a country mired in acts of violence which has become the typical method of deaths of young and old alike.  The violence and poverty form the backdrop for the story but Mda focuses on how love and humanity survive and thrive in spite of the circumstances.  In this novel, the violence and poverty and tragedies do not win.

The Toloki in this novel shows more discretion compared to the Toloki in Cion which employs more satirical humour.  At first this wasn’t working for me as the same character seemed to have too different of a personality…but then I was able to just let it go and see a younger Toloki surrounded by different realities in this book and I became comfortable with what I perceived as disparities in the character. 

Here Mda offers tip for writing.  Interviews with the author; one, two, and three.

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Filed under African Diaspora reading challenge, Author Links, Fiction, South Africa, Story Telling

What is 100 years? What will we change with President Obama?

A century.  Do our lives spiral to create history?  Are we destined to repeat history never having learned the lessons in order not to hold our own counsel superior to all others?  Does individualism trump communalism?  Is the existence of solitude preferrable over family, community, nation?  These are th questions that I believe Marquez asked himself when while engaged in writing this book. 

One of the excellences among many in this story is that he doesn’t answer any of the questions for the reader…but creates a story by connecting many many lives and circumstances and passions in order to convolute the answers…one woman’s right is another’s wrong and then something occurs and the script is flipped…Marquez writes without offerning judgement and without making it easy for the reader to do so either.  As much as the world was foreign to me by way of my own personal circumstances, I was quickly and comfortable drawn into a world that I missed when I finished the book.  The one thing I did make by way of judgement is that change cannot be stopped and change inevitably will have casualties and with this I’ll ask out loud “I wonder what will be the casualties of life with President Obama?”  I hope they are changes that will breath new life (energies) that affirm living at a higher plane of huma activities for the greater throughout the world.

One Hundred Years of Solitude will be a book I know I’ll re-read in the future.

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Filed under Fiction, Story Telling

Wow?! Six Months Without An Entry

I’ve been reading mostly books on art and craft which I do not put on My Eyes…

One Hundred Years of Solitude is my current fictional read and I’m enjoying the world that Marquez created.  Its a story that reads as if there is no story.  I’m taken along as if I’m experiencing the unfolding of my own life, with little premonition of what is coming.  The beginning of the story which I’d mistaken for the end of the story is actually the beginning of the middle.  (If you haven’t read it, that was a spoiler). 

I’m beginning to think the overall question Marquez’ is exploring is just how much of our life is fate and destined, or just how much is happenstance and coincidental…

My admiration and love for this story is the way the supernatural coexists with the natural and human-made followed by characters who are complex and all lovable even in their most vulnerable and flawed state.  They all are one another’s antagonist at varying times just as much as they are one another’s supports.  There is a strong sense of belonging, one to another for all the wrong and right reasons is arguable.

I still have about 2/3’s of the book to read.  I’ll do a final commentary when I’m finished.

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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