Saturday, December 30, 2006

Alice Walker's New Book

When I hear that a new Alice Walker book is coming out, I make a note on my calendar, so I can be sure to pick up a copy on the day it arrives at the store. She has been my favorite writer since I read The Color Purple many, many years ago. I just finished her latest: We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For: Inner Light in a Time of Darkness.

The title of the book comes from the late poet June Jordan who wrote the line "We are the ones we have been waiting for." Jordan was my professor for one of my classes at UC Berkeley in the early 1990s. It was absolutely amazing to be in her presence. She was an unbelievably kind and inspirational human being. A great teacher.

We Are the Ones is described as "meditations." It can surely be read as this, giving opportunities to pause and reflect. The collection includes many talks and commencement addresses. Found here are talks Walker has given to the African American Buddhist Conference/Retreat (2002); UC Santa Cruz (early 1990s); Midwives Alliance of North America (2001); and International Association of Black Yoga Teachers (2003) and graduation addresses to Agnes Scott College (2000) and California Institute of Integral Studies (2002), as well as other essays.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Kite Runner

After hearing so much about this book by Khaled Hosseini, I came across a used copy at a library book sale for $1.50. I had no idea what a steal this was.

Although not always the case, I sometimes find I do not enjoy books that receive rave reviews. This was the case with The Secret Life of Bees, a book I desperately wanted to like, but had to struggle to read to the end.

The Kite Runner, however, deserves all the praise it has received. The life of the main character Amir runs alongside the story of modern Afghanistan. The novel is brilliantly executed. It has all the elements of a great story: love, tragedy, guilt, betrayal, hope, uncertainty, and forgiveness. Many readers will likely find the characters unforgettable.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Jane Eyre

It's been an incredibly busy week, but I managed to finish a second reading of Jane Eyre on Tuesday. I first read the novel while an undergraduate many years ago. I experienced the novel in different ways this time.

I was most struck with the independent, fiery nature of Jane. Written in 1847, there are passages like this: "Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts as much as their brothers do...It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex."

There is also the fabulous short sentence that begins the final chapter: "Reader, I married him." In the introduction to my edition, written by Joyce Carol Oates, Oates comments how this is significant - Jane does not say, "He married me," but "I married him."

Go Jane!