Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Let's talk about Liberia!

A few years ago, when I was a graduate student the first time in France, I was sitting in on a class on decolonization, and my advisor mentioned a great introductory book to Liberia.  (It's a dreary, cold, rainy day in France today, let's keep it light, shall we?)  I was sure to write the title down because--Bonus!--it was a novel on top of being historically accurate and super-informative.  Geo-political information and a thrilling narrative? I am all ears.  I eagerly wrote down the title and then promptly did not read it, grad school, not my area of studies, etc, etc...

A few weeks later, a fellow student was presenting his preliminary research, part of which touched on Liberia.  And he too was raving about how awesome this book was!

I recently, finally, settled down to read this infamous book....and...meh.  I certainly did learn a lot about Liberia but the prose did not seem very polished.  The author did a great job of whittling a long, complicated, intimidatingly convoluted history into a few key events that are retainable.  I put the book down with a sense of being able to talk a bit more intelligently about this tiny country.  However, the narrator and main actor in the book is just plain unlikable.  It seems like interesting things are going on around her but often she is just going about banal everyday activities, pontificating over inane things for pages and pages.  Sometimes her thoughts and feelings are enlightening and other times, I feel like the author wanted to pad out a section a bit and so just kept writing filler until you just lost sense of the point of the chapter.

What I'm trying to say is, if you like your history with a spoonful of sugar (sort of, spoonful of, like...cornstarch?  Flour?) than this is the right book to read.  However, you could probably spend just as much time with a straight history text of Liberia and come away with about as much knowledge.

Oh and the book?  It's The Darling, by Russell Banks.

No comments :

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...