Thursday, February 5, 2009

Two Thin Books

I’ve been moving, busy and running from snakes so my reading time somehow slipped away. I’ve been trying to finish two slim books for ages and finally have.

The first is Love by Toni Morrison. It’s a complicated book to read in the piecemeal fashion that I have and I think I might give it another run through, though it is a borrowed copy and the owner is likely wondering if I’ve now made it my own.

When I finished, the first thought in my head was how useless human beings are. The majority of the problems we find ourselves in are created by our very own selves. I even thought last night as I closed the book, about how I could spend a whole career writing only stories about people, who by their own hand, mess up their lives. It is dead infuriating and very, very sad. There is just so much we don’t have control over, why can’t we be a bit better with the things we can? Anyway, very powerful book.

The second book is a short story collection, Long Time Coming Short Writings from Zimbabwe published by ‘ama Books. The title is a bit wrong since two Batswana writing friends have stories inside both set in Botswana- Wame Molefhe and Gothataone Moeng. The book is deceptive. I’m not sure if it is the layout or the size, but there are 38 substantial stories and poems inside a very thin looking book. Zimbabweans are masters of economy.

Mma Molefhe’s story Six Pack is named after the practice of Batswana police collecting illegal Zimbabweans in the country in groups of six they call six-packs. The story is a painful account of a Zimbabwean woman who must work as a prostitute in Botswana to raise money for medicine for her husband back home.

Gothataone Moeng’s story also looks at the plight of Zimbabweans in Botswana. It is called Who Knows What Season Tomorrow Brings. It is about the xenophobia Zimbabweans must deal with in Botswana. The title alludes to the fact that who knows what the future holds; perhaps tomorrow Batswana will be in the position of Zimbabweans so maybe its time for some empathy.

The Cracked Pink Lips of Rosie’s Bridegroom by Petina Gappah is an excellent tale about HIV/AIDS and the community’s response to those infected with the virus. The First Lady’s Yellow Shoes by Peter Ncube is a lovely take on the day THEY leave. I liked the writing in Brian Chikwava’s story Fiction, though the ending disappointed me. I also liked Miss Parker and the Tugboat by Byrony Rheam.

The stories are always framed in the dire circumstances of political collapse, HIV/AIDS, poverty hunger, and desperation, that is modern Zimbabwe. An eclectic collection that, despite the setting, is not always heavy and depressing which I thought was very nice.