"If you can write, that's great. If you can tell a story, that's even greater. But if you can work a resilient premise into both, you're worth digging to find."

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Letters from Burma by Aung San Suu Kyi

Synopsis: Collection of essay-letters of a political humanitarian’s experiences buttressing the beautiful and ugly faucets of Burmese policy, economics and culture.

Writing Style: Soft, Quiet.

Pacing: Fairly Fast.

Personal Highlights: Wanting to read about a female Nobel Peace Prize winner was in part what drew me to read Aung San’s book of letters. Uncannily enough, the supple indulgent quiet writing stood out. I could sit with a book like this forever. Truly a MUST to experience.

The well sculpted essays... cogent, poignant, and every here and then inviting splashes of humor were easy on the eyes, and yet significant and unforgettable. I personally enjoyed the “festivals”... Adored the artwork... Found the “guest checkers” revealing... Loved the premise behind the dances and celebrations... Respected (in chapters such as ‘repairing the roof”) the many loose parallels... And drank up the plethora of information. “The tea shop sittings” and the exposes on Burmese political parties were finessed and absorbing, deftly analogous to the linear humor behind passages such as the “beautiful and the ugly”. For a book as small, and inviting, there was a lot to take in. From the artwork... the fun... the customs and people... to even the acerbic intervals; the nasty tactics... the blockades... political prisoners... personal and physical attacks... the house arrests, and so forth and so on...were engaging. By far albeit, one of my favorite indentations was mention of the “best indicators of a country developing along the right lines.” Who would guess it? “Healthy mothers giving birth to healthy babies!” This voluptuous book of essays, in all of its symbolisms and allegories for peace and humanitarian work, is enriching and a highly recommended must!

Saturday, February 24, 2018

The Soul of a Man 2 by Collection of Authors/Editor Elissa Gabrielle

Synopsis: Collection of short stories sharing glimpses into what has shaped and moved, and inspires the soul of black men.

Writing Style: Fusion of succinct narratives.

Pacing: Fairly Fast.

Personal Highlights: A standout attribute among collections of stories is there is always something for someone. My favorites: K.L. Blevin’s story rocked me. An old adage ‘mama’s baby, papa’s maybe’ brought home and encapsulated the message enfolded. To boot, the way the story was written upped that message. Extremely well done! Adrian Milan’s story was another well-written and truly touching testimony. Just beautiful. Marc Lacy’s decorative moral resounded as well, like Cyrus Webb quoting Shakespeare to deliver yet another relatable message; just as affecting as Ganges’ story from which he sounded on lessons he learned from an experience many can relate. Overall, the spiritual vein threaded through each of the stories created an upbeat momentum, and all around rewarding reading experience. High Five and Big Hand Clap to the Editor as well. Highly recommended.

A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah

Synopsis: Memoir of a child soldier recounting his traumatic ordeal fighting a civil war in Sierra Leone.

Writing Style: First person, gripping.

Pacing: Fast.

Personal Highlights: It was not easy reading about a child innocently headed to one of many trips he and friends trekked to perform (down with the OPP) talent shows, to wend up reading...what felt like on the very next page... that same young boy and his friends and brother, being chased into a war staged in a theatre of the Armageddon feel.

Overall I especially appreciated the vivid visuals; Ishmael’s family, the customs and cuisine, the incredible sounds and topography. The writing is detailed, thoroughly conscripted from a child’s eye, and sparing embellishments, believable. It was as hard to read this book, as it was to put down. The rich storytelling brought this deeply troubling, but compelling testimony off the page. A recommended must.