Friday, August 25, 2006

Things Fall Apart

Things Fall Apart
Originally uploaded by barbfecteau.
This book was tough going for awhile. I think part of the problem stemmed from the fact that I was reading it in line at Water Country - the most fun place on earth! However, it is not really contusive to reading. I had to put my book in a ziploc bag when I would go down the water slides. Yes, picture it if you will. Me, in a bathing suit, surrounded by my 8 year old son and his 4 friends, desperately trying to ignore their insane chattering, reading a book about the end of a culture that, while barbaric in many ways, is nonetheless slated for an unfair extinction due to the inevitable encroachment of imperialism. And yes, that is the longest sentence I have written in this entire blog! Thanks for noticing!

At any rate, this book just made me cry and cry. And the thing is, I hated the main character. He was arrogant, bull-headed and selfish. But he started from nothing and made something of himself through hard work and brains. But because of changes in the outside world everything upon which he built his life fell apart. (Hence the name.) Just thinking about it made me sad all over again.

This book was not a pleasant read. It wasn't hard because of vocabulary or because it was too descriptive. But it was hard to get lost in it because the world in which it took place was so unfamiliar to me. But the emotional pay-off was well worth the effort in the end.

I was going to recommend Joyce Cary's Mister Johnson here as a novel about imperialism in Africa. But, if you read it, bear in mind that Chinua Achebe hated it so much that it became part of the reason he wrote Things Fall Apart! I loved The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. It tells the story of missionaries in Africa through the eyes of their children. And finally, A Passage to India by E. M. Forster is a look at imperialism in India which is so good (and got Forster into a bit of hot water for its "anti-British sentiments" when it was published) I will list it here even though it takes place on an entirely different continent.

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