Enjoyed the graphic novel portion and information about the history of slavery on the Gold Coast, but I should have skimmed the lecture on primary v sEnjoyed the graphic novel portion and information about the history of slavery on the Gold Coast, but I should have skimmed the lecture on primary v secondary sources. Not the intended audience, I suppose. ...more
Bored as her sister reads a book without pictures, Alice spies a white rabbit scurrying across the meadow carrying a pocket watch and exclaiming thatBored as her sister reads a book without pictures, Alice spies a white rabbit scurrying across the meadow carrying a pocket watch and exclaiming that he is going to be late. Intrigued by this unusual sight, Alice follows the white rabbit down a rabbit hole and finds an unusual land filled with unusual people where she often changes size unexpectedly. At one point, Alice grows as large enough to fill the white rabbit’s house; at another, she shrinks to three inches tall.
“Begin at the beginning, the King said, very gravely, and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”
Each of the twelve chapters covers a different adventure — in chapter two she meets a mouse swimming through her pool of tears; chapter four is the caterpillar smoking hookah; chapter six is the Cheshire Cat; chapter seven is a tea party with the Mad Hatter; and chapter eight is her meeting with the infamous Red Queen. During almost every encounter, Alice gets in an argument with a new character about the way things are supposed to be. She just cannot wrap her mind around this strange little world, but Alice is determined to make it to the garden she spied through the door at the end of the rabbit hole and she certainly cannot say she is bored now.
This was my first time reading the novel and, while I did enjoy it, I do not think the original tale will ever replace the scene in my mind where Alice paints the roses red and plays croquet with the flamingo as depicted in the 1951 Disney adaptation. There are, of course, scenes in the book that were not in the film and vice versa — I missed Tweedledee and Tweedledum! And how sad that the never-ending tea party wasn’t actually a celebration of a “unbirthday”.
The whimsy I expected because of the film adaptation was missing in the later chapters of this short tale, although I enjoyed the way Alice cleverly exposed the trial at the end of the tale for the sham that it is. She clearly loves a good debate, and I appreciated that part of her character. It came across much stronger in the novel than I can remember from the film.
The novel contains multiple poems and songs interspersed throughout Alice’s adventures, which is one argument I can offer for listening to it on audio. I always struggle coming up with the right tune in my head when I read novels with songs in them so it was lovely to have Frasier choose a ditty for me and sing the songs. She has a nice voice, but her ability to provide the characters with different voices was stretched in this novel. There were just so many different characters in this story; by the end, I could not always distinguish which character was speaking....more
Since I’ll be traveling to Kenya later this month, I’ve tried to make it priority to read more about the country before I leave. I brought home the thSince I’ll be traveling to Kenya later this month, I’ve tried to make it priority to read more about the country before I leave. I brought home the three nonfiction books on Kenya available at my public library as well as three fictional accounts by white and non-white authors. At the top of that stack was Gatheru’s slim volume on the history of the country from colonization to independence (1888-1970).
The book concludes with the results of the Mau Mau Rebellion (also known as the Mau Mau Uprising or the Kenya Emergency) between members of one African tribe (the Kikuyu), white settlers, and segments of the British Army in Kenya from 1952 to 1956. Roughly 12,000 people were killed in the conflict while another 1,900 native Kenyans and 30+ white European civilians were killed. (Official numbers are still disputed.) Although the rebellion ended in British victory, the conflict officially concluded with the First Lancaster House Conference in January 1960, the establishment of a government reflective of the native Kenyan majority, and the decline of British colonial rule in the country.
I bring up the conclusion of the book not to spoiling the ending, but because the central thesis of Gatheru’s writings is that British colonial policies — the allocation of land, the suppressed wages of the majority black population, the denial of representation or education, the divisions by race and tribal identification — culminated in the Mau Mau uprising. If, like me, you have never heard of the Mau Mau Rebellion, then the book can begin to feel like a running list of grievances rather than the cause-and-effect explanation that Gatheru was hoping to achieve.
This sense of being "better" builds a hatred of both the (white) neighbors and the federal government. Because if welfare didn't exist, then the neighThis sense of being "better" builds a hatred of both the (white) neighbors and the federal government. Because if welfare didn't exist, then the neighbor buying T-bone steaks wouldn't be able to have more than Vance or Mamaw. Because if Section 8 housing didn't exist, then Vance and his sister could have left their bicycles on the front porch. Because if hard work was the determinate for success, then the white, working class of Appalachia would be more successful than the coastal elites who dominate the political and economic spheres of America.
And that particular refrain is not new or revolutionary or groundbreaking; it's something well-known to those of us who spent any time in the South or the Midwest. So, no, I did not take anything particularly new or revolutionary or groundbreaking away from reading this memoir. What I did find fascinating, though, was the way Vance's memoir largely manages to fall in lockstep with the argument so often held up by Republican circles as to why black Americans are economically disadvantaged -- the failure of the black community to police their own morality.