Thursday, July 20, 2006

Jamaica Kincaid

This summer, I have worked with my colleagues on a huge weeding project. We are moving many books from the Reference area to the stacks. While weeding an area in the literature section, I found several books that were shelved incorrectly, including some novels and critical essays. I located one particular book, Jamaica Kincaid's My Brother, this way.

Before taking the book over to where it could be shelved correctly, I thought I would read a few lines. I was already familiar with Kincaid. I read her The Autobiography of My Mother when it was first published in 1996. I can't remember the details of the book, but my memory can be horrible at times.

My Brother never made it over to its proper place in the stacks that day. I couldn't put it down, so I checked it out and took it home. I read it in a few days. The autobiographical work tells the story of her brother's passing from AIDS. Kincaid did not know her brother well; she moved to the U. S. when he was still young. It was brilliant, poetic, sad, beautiful. She has developed a mastery of the English language. Is it poetry or prose? Both!

I have since checked out two more of her works: the semi-autobiographical Lucy, following a young girl from the West Indies who comes to the U.S. to be the nanny to a wealthy family, and Mr. Potter, a story of Kincaid's father.

I am close to the end of Lucy. The writing is not at the level of mastery as I found in My Brother, but it is amazing nevertheless. It is a struggle to put it down.

I leave for my final large research trip on Sunday to visit libraries in San Francisco, Berkeley, and the Northern Coast. I plan on taking Mr. Potter along.


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