Friday alone: bills, practice, martini, excellent book


Eileen left yesterday morning. I did my usual Friday routine of doing bills (both for Eileen and  me and Mom). Checkbooks balanced. Yes! Then I tousled with my Internet security on my laptop. When I purchased my laptop last December, I allowed Best Buy to provide me with a short subscription to Trend Micro. It lapsed this week and rather than purchase more of it I managed to add it to my other Trend Micro subscription by dropping coverage on one of  the computers we don’t use much.

After that I was off to practice at church. After rehearsing, I stopped by Meijers and purchased a new martini shaker, gin, vermouth and olives. Came home, exercised, showered and then sat in the back yard sipping a martini and reading.

I have decided that Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a heckuva writer.

I have mentioned before that I don’t see myself as a reader enamored of short stories. However I loved Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout which was a series of connected short stories. Now I’m reading The Things Around Your Neck by Adichie and it too is a collection of short stories. They are not connected plot wise but all (so far) have to do with Nigerian characters.

I especially liked one called “Jumping Monkey Hill.” The title refers to a fictional posh resort in South Africa where a group of aspiring and accomplished African writers have gathered for a two week workshop.

They have all committed to writing a short story for each other to critque while there. Adichie cleverly weaves one of these short stories with the point of view of the writer who wrote. So it’s a short story within a short story.

She capitalizes on this notion by having the main character, Ujunwa, insist to the other writers that her work is not autobiographical. The point of the story ends up that not only is Ujunwa’s work autobiographical but  “Jumping Monkey Hill” could in its entirety could well have happened to Adichie herself.

This technique had an impact on me because it comes as a sort of denouement when the readers is explicitly told that the fictional short story of Ujunwa (the story within the story which is presented entirely interleaved) represents something that actually happened to her. This refutes the snarky criticisms made of her work (“this story is implausible”) by the powerful leader and sponsor of the workshop and his toadies.

It hit me as strong writing.

Now I am savoring each subsequent short story so this book doesn’t go too quickly.

1. New Leak Suggests Ashcroft Confrontation Was Over N.S.A. Program –

I remember when the Bush administration approached Ashcroft laying in a hospital bed. Not the country’s most shining moment.

2. The Up-in-the-Air President –

This is an effective critique of President Obama from the left which ironically points out at one point how much more effectively G. W. Bush described slavery in a speech.

3. Native Alaska, Under Threat –

A moving description of a crisis from a Native Alaskan writer’s pen.

4. Viral Justice –

If you doubt that social media can have an impact on a country’s political system and sense of justice, read this article about what has been going on in Afghanistan.

5. U.S. Prism, Meet China’s Golden Shield –

I continue to be fascinated with how China’s public rhetoric and law is evolving before our eyes. This article is about how a Chinese lawyer is attempting to get his country to have better public responsiveness and accountability than the USA (Prism is the name of the NSA invasive program which is the subject of a bunch debate right now ).

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