These Days

Well these days I have been resting very well – one could say not by choice because I am unemployed at the moment and I am still awaiting results from the few good job applications that I did for the last few weeks. I am getting very good at writing application letters – I am prose writing to potential employers; ‘Hire me! Yours Sincerely, Charles Dickens.’  

But to be really honest, I have been enjoying my time at home. I love it, I am at a bliss. Obviously, and I say this with so much confidence that I WILL EVENTUALLY GET A GREAT JOB SOON, but hopefully before the New Year or it would be really nice to start work soon during Diwali Fesyival – the Indian festival of lights which is celebrated here in Fiji that involves lots of sweets and fire crackers. Starting before Diwali would be most ideal because I want to feast on a lot of Indian sweets from co-workers (I know how ridiculous that sounds, especially if you are a reader from Fiji or who has lived in Fiji). 

However without much pressure, for now I am living, I am breathing, I am resting, I am reading often and I am staying informed and connected. I am currently reading ‘Great Expectation’ by Charles Dickens and I have read 15 books so far, I am aiming for more than 20 this year. Oh and not forgeting the fact that I am writing too. Gosh I shouldnt talk about that .. shhhh .. but then eventually few of my small works that I have been working on will appear here on my blog and I will be sending a few out too. Yes, I am ready for rejections, or no responses, but hoping those small works of fiction will be published. I had this idea, a Flash kind of idea that I thought would work well with the blog and again I shouldnt talk much about it, but Ill post it up hear on the virtual home of my imaginations and thinking soon. Give me a bit of time, just a bit. 

My goodness, I feel as if I am rambling again, a bit scatty, but hey who cares, atleast thats what authentic conversations with a friend is mostly like. We could talk for hours, at our great comforts with friends on everything and nothing in particular, topics just intertwining or sprouting from the earth. 

So yeah, for the past couple of days I just thought that I will be honest, truthful and little bit more open on this blog. Like if you should meet me in real life, you would be like, “Oh I know what you are going through and sorry for that,” or “Hey congratulations on (that thing).” Not that I want to be pittied or praised or be a braggart, no nothing of that sorts, its just that I want to be more transparent and comfortable in this space. 

You know what, I love to watch You Tube videos of people who I admire and who are invested in a similar craft which I wanna be invested in. One of the thing that came out of a video that I watched recently is that we should enjoy what we are doing – like oh my gosh, thats such a no brainer Kaliova. But then really, it sounded very new to me. Like, wow, thats such a cool idea and it makes sense. It was an Adele, Michelle Phan and also Author Stephen Kings video interviews that I watched recently that this idea stood for me. They talked (on seperate interviews in case you are wondering) about how we should enjoy the process of doing what we do and be fans of our works ourselves (vanity, no, positive self esteem, yes). We need to do something that we would like to see, read, hear, taste or watch ourselves. Enjoy yourselves my darlings. Just delve deeper into your craft, and work towards a niche market. Just focus and have fun. Do the work. Lets hunker down and do the worker. Its difficult, I know but lets do it. Come on, lets chant… put your fist up – Do The Work! Do the work! Do the Work! Yes, friends, yes. 

On that end, regarding this blog and my overall dream, I have been working on a few things. I am trying to create contents that I want to like myself. By the way, do I mention enough how I am working on becoming an official writer. It gives me a bit of goosebumps, to admit that here, its uncomfortable to have to admit publicly. And a lot of things I will be saying here from here on will be personal and uncomfortable to admit but as I said, I hope to be more transparent on this blog. Thats my 800 words of personal stuffs, filed under Personal with an intention to be more connected with readers (assuming I have some). Okay byee! Have a great weekend. 

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Breathing Underwater

Entirely and dangerously consumed
Uncontrollably crazy and filled up till the brim
A separate world of our own making.
It’s paradise
It’s warmth, it’s fire, it’s water

Rolling around the red earth
Dust rises from the ground, heat from the sun,
Sweat on my back and chest, drips and drops to the sand on my feet.
It sticks, I lick and taste the salt, I need
I feel enclosed, in a closed space
Inhaling warm damp air
Savoring a distinct smell
I lay in peace, regaining zeal

A bird spreads its wings
The heavens changes its scene
We most alive enduring a peaceful death
Begining just to gain a pleasent end
Then we repeat, traversing the silky bends

Clear torrents of oxygen rush through my chest
Falling,Rising
Breathless, breathing deep
Suspended underneath the cool of your deep
I twist and turn, feeling so free
I can breathe, in your deep
Best we remain in my deep
Best alive within the deepest of our deep

‘The God of Small Things’ by Arundhati Roy

I read this book straight after I finished reading the last one. I was really eager to read another book, which is a very good thing as I used to secretly dread the idea of reading another book before. Now I am like hungry towards reading new books. That’s because I made an effort at making reading become a good habit of mine. Also thanks to the last book I just read where I was introduced to a compulsive reader – oh I just loved that book, I continue to think about it and I am still seeking suggestions for other books like it – Parisiane and bookish based books. 

So this novel by Arundhati Roy is a Man Booker Prize winner for the year 1997, same year that the beloved Princess Diana died. I was very young then so I hadnt any awareness of this two events. I was born in 1993, so this book is almost by 4 years – older than me. Its been 20 years since Arundhati Roy published this book and this year she came out with another novel ‘The Ministry of Utmost Happiness’.

This book is a very unique book, thats what I can lamely or instantly describe it as. It wasnt a comfortable read, its very deep, the way the words and the sentences are used – it plays this sort of game that is meant to appeal to our emotions as a reader. I guess that is why it won the Man Booker Prize (MBP). In case you arent aware, I give you credit for guessing that the MBP is a big deal of an award in the world of Literature and Writing. I have not much of an idea about the award too, but definitely it would be really really nice to win it as a novelist.

This book is to a large extent an atmospheric read. She describes the environment and the surrounding very beautifully, very creative with a poetic sort of language.  Parts of the novel was a bit graphic for my senses, they stand out in my memory of the book. All that description about phlegm, Esthapens encounter with the Lemondrink man and the idea of Sophie Mol doing cartwheels in her coffin, and many others which is explained in gruesome raw detail – I just found it very troubling, it made my stomach churn abit. I have a weak stomach for these kind of things. 

The book follows an Anglophile Kerala family in India. Anglophile according to Uncle Chacko, means people who have adapted the English culture strongly into their lives or have a great fascination with the English culture. This novel follows the 2 Egg twins – Rahel, the girl twin and Estha, the boy twin. Also it looks at the lives of the other family members and the household at Ayemenem. The household in the novel consists of the mother Ammu, grandmother Mamachi, grandfather Papachi, grand baby Aunty Kochama, house maid Kochu Maria, their uncle who was educated at Oxford; Chako. Also there is the visitors, their British ex Aunty Margaret Kochama, former wife of Uncle Chacko and there untouchable workers Velutha and his father whos name escapes me now as I am quickly writing this. 

The family is a well known and established touchable family in Ayemenem and they are Christians. They are well educated, supporting the fact that Kerala is the state with high level of literacy. At the point in their lives that this novel is writen from, the life of the family seems to be slowly crumbling apart. Former glory of the family is slowly starting to be challenged and shaken, its foundation starts to get weaker. We are introduced to each adult character and given their back story throughout this book – there personal tragedies and losses. Its a bit melancholic. I might have laughed once in the book, I remember I did but cant remember which particular place or what it was.

The book introduces us to each character  and all events leading up till the one day that changed their lives forever. I guess what this book tries to teach us is that change can happen very quickly, in one day. The life changing event barely takes place within a few days less then 3 weeks from the day that their cousin Sophie Mol and her mother Margaret Kochama arrives in Ayemenem on a holiday after the tragic loss of Joe her husband.

The twins is obviously the main character of this book. To me, reading this book, I feel that these two twins are privilidged, they know that but more than anything they felt confused by the adults around them. They wanted to be loved ad they wanted to learn as much about the world around them. They were damaged to a certain extent by the troubled adults.

Some very horrific and graphic things happened in this book. They were all a result of status in society which dictates who should be loved and how much. I am loosely quoting a significant phrase from the book their. A scandal happened and it ruined the family. Reading the book we are made to realise how very complex a society is. I mean I totally relate. Homosexual relationships would be a very scandalous thing in my society, people will talk and being the person who people are talking about is very unpleasant. This is another book about people struggling to live a life according to deeply rooted societal definitions of how to love and who should be loved.

The way she uses language is very vivid and also poetic, the characters and environment really come to live in all its rawness. She starts of with an introduction to the environment, it acclimatises us to Ayemenem and that lasts with us as we read on. She confidently writes about her region, which I admire and applaud. I think the genius of her writing makes it appeal to a wider audience not familiar to the region. Ill give it time, maybe in a few years, I could take a deeper appreciation and a greater liking to this book. I am keen to re-read it later on and discover the magic of it.

‘The Incorrigible Optimist Club’ by Jean Michel Guenassia

Initially I had a few doubts before setting off to read this novel, I didnt know if I would enjoy it. It is a book of considerable size, translated from its original text in French and is narrated by a young self assured boy. Few aspects of which I had some ‘not so good reading experiences’ with. BUT quickly, few pages into it, this thick French novel turned out to be very interesting and consuming. 

This was due to the interesting characters, the tragedies they faced in life, the principles and ideologies they held firmly to and discussed proudly. Also, most importantly, the great structure and simplicity in storytelling. The narrator has a very natural voice, clear and simple. There was an effortless flow and my interest in the story was consistently sustained till the end. With some books, half way through, I get exhausted either by the few irritating antiques of the character, a careless twist in the plot or a dragging-on storyline. However for this book, merely reading few pages into it and I was certain that reading it was going to be a good experience, and it did turn out to be a great one, with no hitches at all. 

As soon as I was introduced to Michel and his great passion for reading, I felt that I had found a friend. He was a compulsive reader, with an admirable ability to devour books very quickly. He reads all the time; as soon as he wakes up in the morning, at meal times – including Dinner time, while walking to school and during class times – by placing the book on his lap. One of his dangerous habit was reading while walking and he credits his guardian angels for protecting him from accidents. Reading also affected his punctuality to school, the more interesting the story, the more late he got as he had to stand somewhere and properly absorb whats happening. The period when he was reading Russian novels – like Anna Karenina – earned him a couple of detentions. 

For a young person of that age he is so well read, I wish I was that well read at that age or had a friend who read like him. He has a great taste in authors and novels. This book holds a special place in my heart for welcoming me into the bigger world of literature. He has introduced me to a list of great authors I need to read, why to read them and also how to read them in general. Michel is just the coolest kid ever. He is very normal, very kind, smart, rational and an overall every other thing nice person.

Like me, Michel is miserable at maths. This strengthened my connection to him and heightened my love for the book. A lot of his friends and even his family tried very hard to get him to understand the basic concepts but the knowledge of maths always escapes him. Having these maths illiteracy discussions made me feel good, because I know that Michel is a brilliant boy but he is just not good at maths, which is okay. He managed to fix this maths problem and show good maths results to his parents by copying from his best friend Nicolas, who was brilliant at maths yet lacking in Geography, which like me, Michel excelled in. He would neatly and skillfully copy down maths homework and exams by creating few variations in his work compared to that of Nicholas’s in order to avoid suspicion of cheating. I never copied, I just failed my maths papers and that was life for me then but I am a bit maths literate now after doing an Economics and Finance Degree at University. 

Michel is of Algerian and Italian descent. His two families dont get on well with each other because of their opposing nature. His fathers side, the Marini’s, who are Italians, are happy people, they are frivolous and generous. His mothers family, the Delaunays are wealthy Algerian business people – they are more business minded and serious. His father was working for the Delaunays when he met Michel’s mother. She got pregnant with their first born – Franck – and he got recruited for the war. Four years later, after he was released from being a Prisoner of War, his parents met again and decided to marry for the sake of their firstborn Franck and few years later Michel was born. His mother is the dominant of the two parents, considering the fact that her familys wealth and business is what Michel’s family are living comfortably off. His father also works for the Delaunay’s company owning few of their shops around Paris. She is very strict on the children, she makes demands and it must happen. Michel’s father is more understanding and has a sense of humor which doesnt augur well with the parenting strategies of Michel’s mum. So that is one of the internal strugles of the family. Part of this book follows the internal family disputes within Michel’s home. 

The Incorrigible Optimist Club is a name of a club in the backroom of a cafe bar called Balto where Michel plays Babyfoot, a popular table form of Football game that Michel was exceptionally good at. He was a notorious player, a champion, sometimes he would come out victorious while playing solo against partners. These games was installed in most bars, cafes and other eateries around Paris. This particular game of Babyfoot was very popular and attracted in alot of people. While playing the Babyfoot game at a cafe bar called Balto that he notices grown men entering into a secluded room, out at the back of the bar, going in with their drinks. It was an exclusive group for adults and on further inquisition, he sneaked in and after a few sessions just standing around and observing quietly, he blended in and became part of the club. 

The members of this club comprises of Eastern European men who fled their home countries under the worst of circumstances. There is a Russian, Polish, Romanian, a Greek and a Czhech person. Due to wars and the threat of executions they escaped to France, leaving their family behind. Through the book we are introduced to each of the member of the club and their backstory, how they came to be in France. They are all very interesting people who have been through alot and also they were qualified men and well recognized in their own countries. A significant number of the characters in this novel are Russians who share great stories of their life in Russia that led to their escape. The book is also like a History lesson, but much more interesting since it is narrated from a characters point of view. There were so many new things I learned from the book which I cant write them all here. But Ill tell you about how certain photograpy experts were assigned to photoshop pictures of leaders like Stalin, concealing flaws in the picture like their tired looking eyes, crumpled or stained clothes, making them appear like heroic god like leaders that they arrogantly believe themselves to be. Also they carefully took out pictures of fugitivess or rebels from all photographs, so not only are they killed but they are also errased entirely from history. Russian history is very interesting. 

Michel spends time at the club more often, listening to them joke, debate, argue and have passionate discussions of their individual political and world views. Intense – vulgar, loud and angry – arguments was common because they all had different strong points of views but it always died down, cooled with a round of drinks. Relationships between club members never severed because they were strong together. They sort out comfort from each other, knowing that they were going through the same thing living in a foreign country and they also were escapees from their old life, almost mercilessly leaving behind everything including their family and loved ones. During the course of reading this novel, I enjoyed how very passionate this men were, how they very unique their ideologies were and how they stuck by it. I loved the fact that they discussed alot about politics and the world. They debated and they had their an opinion about everything.

But then as the novel progressed, somewhere towards the end, Michel Marini himself became tired of these men, he loathed them for their very brittle response to one of his concerns of the heart. He felt at that moment, that it was better for him to hang out with his former friends, his younger friends who didnt talk about politics and radical views of changing the world yet who lived in the present moment, enjoying it – younger boys of his age, who talked about beautiful Parisiane girls instead of Politics. So I learned that there needs to be a balance, you can not just be feeling melancholic and bitter reminiscing of the past or anxious and hot headed scheming of the perfect future. Its better that one enjoys the life that they live now, taking more time out to smell the roses. I say this often in this blog, just live, not a little, but a lot more. I loved this quote from the book, that perfectly capture what it means to trully live.

“I make the most of each day as though it were a gift. For years I worked like a lunatic, without counting the hours spent, without taking rest. For nothing. That time was given to me and I lost it.  Nowadays, I read, I sleep, I listen to concerts in the radio, I roam around Paris, I chat to people, I take siestas, I feed the cats in the neighbourhood and when I have not got enough penny left, I either get by or get myself a job. I have the bare necessities and I’ve never been so happy in my life”

– by the character Sacha Markish.

He also hung out often with Cecile, his brother Francks girlfriend. She is also an interesting character who also loved reading but not to the extreme that Michel does. She was working on her Thesis in French Literature but was contemplating a Phsychology degree. Michel was good at conversing about deep and important things unlike Franck and she liked him for that. I liked the times when they hung out, drinking hot chocolate milk and eating pastries, figuring out their maths illiteracy problems and othet life problems. Also they often run around the park in Paris and hang out taking pictures beside the special Medicis fountain. I loved that beautiful part of the story. Nothing lovey happened, they were purely friends but Michel did fall in love later on. 

What I have learned is that we human beings are molded by circumstances that we face. Peoples views, beliefs and behaviours, stems from experiences in life, especially from our formative and younger years. What may seem normal to someone, may not be to another person and what may seem atrocious and wrong to one person may seem like a justified response and act to someone else. The nature of the Russians in this book, to a Fijian like me was very unusual and at times outright rude and intolerable. I could be quick to judge a lot of the actions and ideologies of these Eastern European men but after reading their back stories I have come to a point of undertstanding them. The way they are is a sort of defense system against danger, a personal nature that ensures they continue surviving considering the environment and the former reality they have lived in. They are conditioned to be that way as a result of circumstances they have faced in life. So I feel that we should not be quick to judge but instead seek to understand. Its not easy, especially in this fast paced world but we should try to take some time out to do so. 

I loved this book, it is the perfect French novel and I would love to read more novels like it. Particularly modern French writers and also books about readers like Michel Marini. I dont know if I would meet another character as interesting as Michel. I hope to read one soon, but then Michel is a very unique one, he has a special place in my heart. I would like to learn French, so I could read this novel and other French novels in its original form and definitely travel to France, immersing myself into the French life and culture. This is a book that as soon as I finished, I wanted to start reading from the begining all over again. The author was very kind and understanding toward his characters. There were no bad people in this novel, there were just a lot of human beings, real flawed humans, who are products of circumstances and environments they were born to and the greatest evils was the war and those iconic leaders who led them. I loved this novel through and through. 

‘A Year of Marvelous Ways’ by Sarah Winman

I had just finished reading A Year of Marvelous Ways by Sarah Winman and goodness it has to be one of the most beautifully written book I have ever read. An absolute favorite and this is the first time where my need to read more things by an author is independently based on my good experience with the authors work. It has never happened to me before. Usually, I depend on critics review of an author. My preference would based on suggestions by reviewers, critics, their popularity and credentials – the more awarded, the more respect and attention I pay to it. 
While reading this book, I felt like I finally found something that I personally preferred and enjoyed, also something that I can proudly suggest for other people to read. This book is my cup of tea and Ill drink anything made by the author whether critically acclaimed or not. Sarah Winman is great story teller. This book just oozes with sweet syrupy story telling that gentally flows through a bubling fountain. To read this book is to dip your hand in that fountain and taste something so deep and rich that makes you feel warm and sentimental. But it does not give you a sticky sensation, the only thing I believe will stick is the story in our minds – definitely for me. The book made me fall in love – with life – and made me a believer in love and magic. Its a feel good book.  

I know I am babbling on and on about how good AYoMW is , which again I assure you, it really is, and if you find the book, I highly suggest that you pick it up and read it. Okay going straight to it now – so here is a small run through of what the book is about. I am aware that spoilers are a major crime in writing book reviews or even a reading reflection, so Ill give you the basics of the book; why you might like it and also what some might find offputting in the book – which for me, a slightly snobbish reader, I actually thought made the flow of the book better. 

AYoMW is a 2nd novel by Sarah Winman after her best selling debut novel – When God Was a Rabit. I havent read her wildly succesful debut novel but AYoMW really did it for me, and I am eager to read WGWaR. She also has a new novel out, released last month titled The Tin Man. I am going to have a real good time catching up with Sarah Winman books. 

This is novel about an 89 year old lady called Marvelous Ways who has lived beside a Cornwall creek for almost all her life. She lived a remarkable life alone – an independent woman who planted, fished, cleaned, fed, dreamed, fell in love and swam by that deep and wide creek. She has this very magical presence with her and she talks alot about magic because her life has been filled with so much magic. She collected things and made a home for herself, which overtime, you could imagine it must have become something to marvel at. While reading I can smell the mustiness and feel the warmth of her caravan by the creek, filled with lovely ornaments, antique furnitures, tattered brown books, wooden jewelery boxes, dried herbs & flowers, old glass bottles, sea shells, beads and a few jewelleries on a dresser table with an old oval mirror at the foot of an old cozy bed.  

At the 89th year of her life, she found herself waiting for something which she hadnt a clue of what it was. That thing she was waiting for came in the form of a person – a young soldier damaged in spirit by the war, who was out to fulfill a promise he made to a dying soldier he met and very briefly got to speak with before he continued his journey. I have read quite a few books about the great World Wars this year and the experiences by people who fought is similar – they witness the worst and it leaves a lasting impact on them. Drake was raised by a single mum and she died when he was still young. After which of course he recruits and joins the army. 

The present day for this book is after the war, when the rebuilding is slowly taking place and life slowly returns to normal with remanants of the way still lurking about in the air. Actually Drake became more gutted and torn apart into pieces after the war when he meets a childhood sweetheart and has a very brief but intense randevouz with her. You should read the book for its juicy details. He found her years later, and she had grown into an outstandingly beautiful young woman. They caught up with each others lives and after a night together, Drake decides that they should just stay together but she disappeares very dramatically leaving him in great shock and pain. He drinks his pain and sorrows away, unconscious of where he is headed – even without a care because the guy was in so much pain, he was falling in love, he found something and so quickly he lost it. All of a sudden we find him washed up on the shores of old Miss Marvelous Ways creak. She nurtured him back to health and housed him by the boat house. When he was back in good health he continues on his journey to delivering the letter of the dying soldier. Obviously he returns back to Cornwall and thus continues the great stories. 

Marvelous Ways has some great stories, she is 89 years old and its a great treat to listen to stories of life shared by people who have lived it the longest. There is so many wisdom we can take out of it and it can also make us less impatient. I believe stories from older people can strip down life to the essential stuff for us – what matters the most in life and also it makes us take a sit, be less fidgety, anxious and be more accepting of all that comes our way. Marvelous Ways had a normal father but a perculiar mother. She lost her mum very young because of that uniqueness. She moved in with her Aunts in the city as her father went in mourning and he came for her again and on this great trip – sort of a prilgrimage where they healed and helped people on the road along the Cornwall peninsula. She learned a lot of skills which became useful to her, making her sort after by the locals later. Marvelous ways fell in love a number of times and she talks about it beautifully with Drake and the new girl – Peace, a baker who came back to town to open up her grandparents old bakery. They share stories after meals with sloe gin – the only alcahol beverage being served throughout the whole book. It aids the storytelling I bet. Their lives intertwine, you have to read the whole book to figure out how and the centre of all the magic was Marvelous Ways. They share stories of love, loss, yearning and adventures. I loved this book. 

It has a consistency about it. There wasnt a point in the book where I rolled my eyes over some thing in a book. There was a flow. It was like being rushed through a series of events that captures the beautiful essence of life. A week ago I came across a post on Instagram that highlighted the need for great character development in a novel by a Kenyan reader and I have to say that for this book, character development is strong and all the characters are very interesting, even the two who came near the end – Peace and Ned Blaney.

The bad bits, some might consider is the magical realism – magical events, superstitious beliefs and a mermaid in the book – might put some people off.  Also the missing talking points “..” to mark conversations, none of that in this book. But as we read on, we get to see how it all fits together and I believe that Sarah Winman is a genius for pulling it off effortlessly. She is a very talented story teller for being able to do what she did in this book, while taking a few risks. When I noticed these I was a bit sceptical of the book, almost never read it but to have picked it up and read it was worth it. I really enjoyed this book and I cant say enough how much I do. So yeah, I am leaving out plenty juicy details of the book but I am declaring my great enthusiasm of it. She is now one my favorite writer and this is a favorite unique book I have read so far. And that was my slightly scattish reading reflection of it. 

I am going back to my reading now. Vinaka. Moce! 

Proudly Narrate the World Around You – The World You Know 

I have collected a lot of interesting things along the way in my blogging journey. Some from writing but mostly from reading. Recenty I came upon this article shared by the WordPress team titled ‘Magic can be normal‘ by the site Hazlitt. In the article an Asian writer talks about her great joy and other thoughts on seeing a fellow Asian actor play a significant character on a Shakespeare play. She felt proud and was happy that her child could also experience the same joy years on, when an all cast Asian Shakesphere play was performed in a nearby city. The article highlighted the importance of representation in mainstream media, how it can help young peoples confidence in life. How representation can help young people of color feel normal and believe in endless possibilities – that they can be hero’s and heroines in their own lives. I urge you to read it and feel the same magic I felt while reading the article.  

Reading that article I became very inspired and it urged me to have some pride in who I am and where I come from and to proudly narrate it for the world to read it. To make my stories part of the new normal. Which is what we should all do more of. I always felt intimidated being in this blogging world, I felt like I dont have a story to tell and part of the reason is because most of the blogs that I follow are not from the region that I come from, there is vast differences in lifestyle and culture. So I felt like I couldnt be actively part of the conversation, because to be part of the conversation I would have to know what they are actually talking about. 

But I do enjoy reading other blogs, really, especially for the general universal truths they talk about which breaks down all boarders and boundaries. Two blogs I am loving at the moment is a poetry blog by Robert Okaji, and the narrative blog On BeingBut writing becomes difficult if you are literally from an island of your own where your story is in abundance but may seem unrelateable to others around the world. After reading that article by the website Hazlitt, I felt really empowered, like, oh my goodness, yasss, I have a story to tell, its all around me, my life, my everyday existance in this place in the middle of nowhere is worth telling because it is unique. No one else is telling this kinda stories from this region and I will tell it as authentically as possible – very importantly. 

I am from the Pacific Islands, South Pacific, Fiji to be more specific. I am not going to sugar coat or glamorise things and make it sound like some tourism brochure. No our life is very different from what is presented to tourists. We have a life,  a real life, just like that of people who are escaping theirs by coming for holidays in our islands. We love our tourists and are greatful for them visiting our islands and we all do work together to keep you coming back to our shores. For real. But my point is that our life, its not tropically glamorous, we do not eat from coconut shells or beatifully crafted spoons and bowls. We eat from silver spoons and plates. We dont always eat healthily, going backyard with our woven baskets to fetch vegetables and rootcrops – matter of fact Non Communicable Diseases is a major cause of concern – its at an alarming the rate. And then there is climate change which we are regarded as victims of. However I choose not to see ourselves as victims, we are victors and we will fight back by being a smarter generation, economically sustainable, growing and advancing – thats my fight. I am of the view that ‘we dont need handouts,’ we can do things by ourselves. We have universities breeding scientists and business students that will protect and propel our countries to greater heights. 

We are a beautiful places with beautiful smiles that is authentically welcoming. We also have an interesting way of life. We have our own hustles and we try to keep up and be on the same page with the rest of the world. For me I represent the dreamers from where I come from. We dream normal dreams as other young people do. We consider ourselves modern millenials pushing envelopes, creating new pathways. We aspire to be Actors, Singers, Writers, Models, Fashion Designers, Business Moguls, Influencers and so many other things that the imagination can conceive. Very importantly we have our own stories and I am a blogger who will tell a part of that story. Welcome to my side of the world. 

‘The Story of Edgar Sawtelle’ by David Wroblewski

Keeping up with a tradition of this year, which is writing a reflective piece of all the books I read, this one is for The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski which I finished recently. Its such a strenous and probably irrational commitment to make upon myself. Why am I doing this? I dont even know, I just feel the need to commit to something, and this particular commitment I feel will benefit me in some way, probably along the way, as I stride through the task. And this is not a book review, I feel I am not an expert yet thus I feel it would be fraudulent of me to take up a fine scalpel and disect a book or neither am I a seasoned reader to start rating them with Stars too. This is my book reflection, a swift drive back of my thoughts and memories through the whole reading experience of the book from begining till end. 

This book was a big one, therefore I am very, very proud of having finished that great lump of a book. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski is an American novel that was greatly praised by Stephen King, the Oprah book club, New York Times and the many other established and respected Reviewers out there. Thats what drew me to this. Plus, its titled ‘The Story of ….” which I wanted to know more of. A simple title adequate of an Essay heading by a Junior Level student, like something I would write as a title in Primary School and then my teacher would growl at me for being so clichéd and uncreative with titles. With such simplicity in titles, I always assume that great depth shall follow. Simple titles created by adults as title for serious novels is actually a good thing – its a sign of seriousness.

The cover of the book – lovely! The soft colours, the picture that captures heartland America with a huge red barn and a young boy (definitely Edgar Sawtelle) and a large fury dog – idyllic country life at its best -walking back to that big red ole barn. Its a picture of a fine evening – oooh somebody take me there. Matter of fact seeing the illustration and the well thought out, carefully constructed yet simple cover (again a sign of seriousness and depth), I saw my ticket to heartland America, part of the great reason I snatched up the book, determined to read it.

So the book starts off with a man traversing through a street in Korea searching for a particular shop … Hmm .. mysterious, where the dogs at I thought, because I read at the back cover description that it is about a family with a dog kennel. But no, hold on tight Kaliova, I thought, I knew I had to remember that bit as its going to be of great use to solving a mystery later on. This unknown man who supposedly has military background was after a particular shop and the Korean man gave him poison, how I know its poison – well the man tests it on a stray dog (maybe it was his own dog, but no that would be a heartless and weird thing to do)  and the stray dog dies. 

After that we are transported to the great Sawtelle farm. It provides a back story to how the residence got into the hands of John Sawtelle (Edgars grandfather) and also how the Dog Kennel business began. It began with Mr John Sawtelles love for dogs and his belief that dogs had unique qualities and traits so a careful breeding process needs to take place in order to create fine specimen of dogs. So every dog was a carefully scrutinised and studied and then matches were made. They had files for every dog and they had developed formulas to identify probibilities of success and failure. So therefore was no love marriages in that Kingdom especially in terms of the dogs. Also a very regimental training programme was in place for the dogs from when they are young pups till the placement day – where they are given to new owners. They take this whole Dog Breeding and Training programme to a whole new level in the sense that even after placement the dogs progress is still monitored and they are always following up with new owners. And all of this is monitored mind you. Quite incredible, its a sign of great commitment to the craft.

Edgar Sawtelle, son of Gar and Trudy Sawtelle was born after one miscarriage – a devastating blow on both the couple – hence he was a much needed blessing for the gloomy state the couple were in. He had a small disability, he was mute but he was not deaf. Before his birth a dog named Almondine had been raised as as a family pet, different from the rest of dogs in Kennel. He was a family pet and an intelligent one who became the voice for Edgar – in the sense that he would bark when Edgar was crying for help. Almondine was a close companion for Edgar from Day 1 till the end of this book. 

Everything was fine until the day that Claude Sawtelle – Edgars uncle who sold his share of the Kennel business and recruited himself in the army – came back. A very disruptive man with a hidden agenda. He was weird and smelt of trouble from that very first day we are introduced to him in that book. Forgot to mention this but its an equally important minor detail, John Sawtelle had only 2 sons – Edgars father and Claude. This Claude had something againt Edgars fathers, Gar. He was probably jealous of him but totally unwarranted as Gar stayed back and made things work and he became better at what he did, so quite distasteful that he was jealous – irrational, evil and selfish. 

I should mention how Trudy was a great match for Edgars father in terms of running the whole Kennel business. She complimented him well and excelled in arreas where Edgars father did not do well. She was good at training dogs where else he wasnt, but he was very analytical and passionate about breeding them and running the overall business, dog placements and the follow ups with new dog owners. 

Tragedy happened somewhere in the middle lf the book when Edgars father died. Things changed and even though Doctors claimed it was some fatal flaw that was totally random and had a small probability of occuring. Trudy and Edgar were left behind to run the Kennel by themselves and from the first day they were determined to show they were going to make it in order to avoid loosing it. 

Edgar uncovered a mystery to the death of his father raising great suspicion in him that his father was murdered. By grief over the new information, he is driven to act like a lunatic and the whole book just spirals downward from there. Quite intense and I just didnt like it much. I feel that alot of things couldve been prevented. The overly tragic ending couldve been prevented if things happened differently or if the adults in the book were more adult and actually cared for that desperately lonely and hurt young boy. The book is very long and oh my gerrd it was tiring. 

Out of everything in the book I liked a sub character who came later on when young Edgar was on the run with his dogs. He was a man living alone after his girlfriend breaks up with him for being too ordinary. I liked how very ordinary and practical his life was out there in a place probably considered to be the middle of nowhere. He was very laid back. He went to work in the morning and came back in the afternoon with groceries, made dinner for himself, listened to Vinyl music and then went off to sleep. There was a lot of food. Somedays he would sit out in the yard and make Barbeque and have himself beer out there in his front yard. He loved his beer. I liked that account of his life – the sense of solitary living and peace – and also how he shared it with Edgar and his dogs when they came running upon him hungry and hurt. 

I am leaving out a lot of details from the book to avoid being a spoiler for anyone else intending to read it. Overall I am not too much enthusiastic about this book. I had high expectation of it but it fell flat for me. Probably this is due to the fact that I dont relate to it in anyway and also I felt it was unrealistic and over exagerated. Books should be told from a point of honesty and I believe this book was just aspiring for greatness hence the length of it and the great drama in it. 

Again, thanks for reading. If you have read this book, how did you find the book? If you liked the book, you could help me like it too by sharing why you liked it?