Reading, read


Down Around Midnight by Robert Sabbag.  He wrote the bestselling book about cocaine trafficking called Snowblind.  This book is about a plane crash he survived shortly after he wrote Snowblind.  It’s a fascinating study in memory, dealing with trauma, etc.  This was in 1979.  He didn’t think a lot about it for years, then he decided to reach out to the other survivors to  test their memories of the crash.  Once person died & several were badly injured, including him, so it was very traumatic.  It was a very quick read.  A few years ago my uncle survived a plane crash.  He acted like it wasn’t a really big deal, but this book made me think about how this must have affected him.  He could have died, easily, because he was barely conscious after the plane crashed.  He’s never talked to me about it, but I don’t see him more than a couple of times a year.

Anyhow, I also plowed through a tome called The Senator and The Socialite, The True Story of America’s First Black Dynasty by Lawrence Otis Graham.  It was a little dry, but very informative.  I read another book or two while I was reading this one.  It is about Blanche Kelso Bruce, a former slave and the first black senator in the United States.  It also traces the failure of reconstruction, something I always wondered about.   It amazes me how different the history lessons I learned about the Civil War as a young student are from what I’ve learned by reading since.    It wasn’t easy to read, but I’m glad I did. 

I may have read something else, but the next thing I remember is the book I just finished, Fatal Cruise, The Trial of Robert Frisbee by Canadian attorney and author William Deverell.  He defended this man, Robert Frisbee, who had allegedly murdered his elderly employer, Muriel Barnett, on a cruise.  This book was very well written, with many touches of appreciated humor.  This was in about 1984 or 1985.  I remembered this story, vaguely.

At the library I also got a biography of the prophet Muhammad by Karen Armstrong, a writer I like, which would have been very illuminating, but I just couldn’t get into it after 35 pages.  Since it’s a library book I’m not sure if I’ll go back to it because it’s due this week.  I also started listening to A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, the American classic by Betty Smith.  I’ve probably gotten through about 1/2 of it, or maybe not.  I don’t remember it being so long, but I’ll have to give it up to or renew it at the library this week.  Interestingly, Smith uses the Tree of Heaven as a metaphor at the beginning.  I only realized what this species of tree was a few years ago.  It’s one of those invasive species from Asia that grows anywhere, like between cracks in the concrete, or under the deck.  If you ride down the interstate, you can go for miles and that’s all you see.  It’s like kudzu, taking over the indigenous fauna.

I purchased Disgrace, by J. M. Coetzee, and another book (can’t remember the title now) from Borders, and forgot them, then rediscovered them a few weeks later!  I started Disgrace today.  It’s riveting!  It’s one of those books that really gets you thinking.  This one hooked me by about page 5.  I’m on page 39 now.  Already I’m thinking about rape, power and control, art and  literature,  seduction.  I love books that are so stimulating. 

So, that’s it.  I’ve done a bit of reading this summer, as usual, and not as much writing as I’d like.  However, my time isn’t as free as it once was.  Back to reading now!  Ta!


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