Friday, September 08, 2006

Oh joy! The latest SLIGHTLY FOXED has come out. My local independent bookshop, The Albion, is tucked away down a side street leading to the main gates of the Cathedral. I adore the shop because it has creaky stairs, quite a good children's selection, and an eclectic assortment of books - you never know quite what you will find there - and of course (I can't resist) it is not part of a national chain. Anyway, as it happens The Albion stocks SLIGHTLY FOXED. I have a sneaky suspicion that I'm the only customer who buys it, but never mind (sigh).

This edition looks set to unearth some more delights - I've had a quick flick through and was transported back to my childhood with a piece on Peter O'Donnell's Modesty Blaise books. My grandfather had a set which I read with relish - Modesty was an impressive heroine, quite unlike Nancy Drew, and I was awestruck. James Bond hadn't a patch on Modesty. I believe the series is currently being reissued in the UK by Souvenir Press and I will look forward to re-reading them and seeing what my adult perspective is. I suspect they are ideal for reading in the bath!

A piece by Julia Keay is also worth noting here. The book discussed is THE SPIRIT CATCHES YOU AND YOU FALL DOWN by Anne Fadiman. I had read Fadiman's EX LIBRIS with great enjoyment, a super present for someone who loves books. THE SPIRIT CATCHES... however, is in a league of its own. A truly superbly written and wrenching book, it describes a small Hmong child in America who is cared for deeply by both her family and the medical team looking after her, but nevertheless trapped by cultural misapprehension. The doctors diagnose epilepsy and want to medicate, while the family believe her soul has been frightened and trapped by a spirit (hence the book title). I am ashamed to say that I had never heard of the Hmong people before reading this, but since seem to see frequent references including the horrifying photo features the Sunday Times magazine has twice published in the past year of Hmong in Laos. Fadiman writes the history of the Hmong in an accessible and interesting fashion, so that the larger story of their devastating communal experience is intertwined with the riveting tale of little Lia. She deserves every award.

Our African fiction reading group meets next on Wednesday 20th September discussing Djiboutian Abdourahman Waberi's THE LAND WITHOUT SHADOWS, newly translated into english. A week later the non-fiction group meets on Wednesday 27th discussing Michela Wrong's I DIDN'T DO IT FOR YOU: HOW THE WORLD BETRAYED A SMALL AFRICAN NATION, her recent book on Eritrea. So, lots of reading to do! Any of you London-based lot who'd like to join us, the meetings are free and gather at 6:30pm in Oxfam's fairtrade coffee shop Progreso in Covent Garden. We'll be looking at what to read next so come along and have a say!

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Blogger mademoiselle sand said...

I love 'the spirit catches you and you fall down', too...
...equiano, I just came back from south africa and spent part of a late night rattling around the outskirts of cape town in a bakkie- it was cool because everywhere we went, if I opened my eyes against the wind I could follow Table Mountain, or it followed me.
And locusts in Nigeria-! there's got to be a Moses in there somewhere...

12:17 pm  
Blogger equiano said...

Welcome to my blog Mademoiselle Sand and thanks for the comment. Lucky you to be back in sunny South Africa - Table Mountain is gorgeous and does indeed have a life of its own.

9:46 am  

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