Mar 24, 2010

In Which the Author Gives a Stern Warning to African Weather Systems

Dear Harmattan,

My good friend Julie has been writing letters, so I thought I would write one as well - to you. Harmattan, you are confusing me. You don't show up for three months and then, just when we are ready to move on and forget you ever existed, you make a surprise appearance, messing up everyone's plans. You are like the uncouth guest who comes over unannounced and eats all the food your host was preparing for a dinner party that evening. Except instead of eating the provender of a dinner party, you eat up the cleanliness that comes with the rain. You track dirt throughout every home. You crack open people's lips worse than a Minnesota winter. And worst of all, you take the beautiful clear air of rainy season and transform it into a hazy miasma that obscures even the nearest buildings from view and coats our throats with a film of tiny rocks.

Normally I would put up with your refusal to follow clear atmospheric guidelines, but you have chosen to arrive at an extremely inopportune time. You see, we are having spring break soon. We will be traveling to see mountains in Cross River State. So obviously, your arrival is frustrating. How can we see mountains if you are throwing your dust in the air? How can we enjoy the beautiful green of trees and the stern appearance of fieldstones if you are there tinting Nigeria with beige colored glasses?

Here is my demand. Leave now. Allow our friend the rain to come visit and clean up your mess. And if you want to show up in the future, I suggest you do it when we are expecting you, and not several months too late!

(While this letter is written in apprehension and frustration, I feel that I must inform you that even though you have come at an unfortunate moment, your lack of heat and too-bright light is appreciated. Kindly bring them at a more appropriate time next year)



Mar 13, 2010

In Which the Author Recommends Four Books to His Readers

One of my goals for 2010 is to read some classics that I've not read before. I thought I'd give an update about some of the best (new) ones I've read since January:

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens:
This book is . . . incredible. It earned itself a place in my top three best books. The storyline is riveting, the style of writing is poetic, and the allegory in the final chapters is sobering. Absolutely wonderful.

1984 by George Orwell:
I can't believe it took me until I was 23 to read this book, but I'm glad I did. I enjoyed the plot, but the very end was a bit too depressing for me. I had a hard time because Orwell takes away any hope that might remain for redemption. Kind of sucks, but it's still a fascinating read.

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn:
A very fast read, but intriguing as well. Even though I have spent some time in the former U.S.S.R., I have to say I have a fairly large blind spot when it comes to the realities of communism and what Russian life was like. Similarly to Catcher in the Rye, nothing really happens in this book, but it's more about a character and his day to day life.

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck:
I probably shouldn't even write this one, as I'm only partially finished with it, but I'm really enjoying it so far. I've never read anything by Steinbeck, so his writing style is new and yet comforting at the same time. A good read thus far.

What types of books are you reading? What would you recommend?