September 13, 2006

One Book Meme

Geoffrey Philp's libraryMichael J. West tagged Stephen and I got into this book meme because it looked like fun. So here goes!

1. Book that changed your life:

Another Life by Derek Walcott made me realize the grandeur of verse and the power of poetry. He also mythologized the Caribbean and dignified the lives of common folk. More importantly, he wrote about growing up as an artist in the Caribbean and his trials and tribulations as a young man grappling with the big issues of friendship, art, death, and love. Walcott made me realize that I could live the life of an artist, but I would have to be tenacious and daring.

2. Book you've read more than once:

There are so many! The top ten would be these:
  1. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce

  2. The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell

  3. King James Version of the Holy Scriptures

  4. Uncle Time by Dennis Scott

  5. Reel from the “Life Movie’” by Tony McNeill

  6. Awakening the Heroes Within by Carol Pearson

  7. Shar by Kamau Brathwaite

  8. The Art of Fiction by John Gardner

  9. The Star-Apple Kingdom by Derek Walcott

  10. Love in Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

3. Book you'd take to a desert island:

Boat Building for Dummies.

4. Book that made you laugh:

VS Naipaul’s, The Suffrage of Elvira, made me laugh so hard my sister, Judith, came rushing outside to the verandah because she thought something was wrong with me. Well, Judith always thought something was wrong with me. Let’s just say, what else was wrong with me.

5. Book that made you cry:

There are two books that made me bawl: The History of Tom Jones: A Foundling and Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy. I read Tom Jones when I was eighteen, and although I was hardly a libertine, when Tom thinks that he has slept with his own mother, or in Tess when she prostitutes herself to support her family—that was it for me! They registered a shock to my nervous system and pulled me out of my na├»ve world. Could the world be like this? Yes, these books seemed to say. My sense of justice was outraged and because the characters seemed to near to me (fatherless, poor, or powerless) that made these fictional stories even more real.

6. Book you wish you had written:

My first choice a couple of years ago would have been, Miguel Street by VS Naipaul. For although Miguel Street is funny, The Duppy by Anthony Winkler is hilarious and sublime. Many non-Jamaican may not get the humor (some Jamaicans don’t get it either), but Winkler is one of the finest, funniest writers I’ve ever read. My favorite chapter in the book was when Baps gets to heaven and begins talking to God about the universe and the goings on in Jamaica.

7. Book you wish had never been written:

I generally don’t deal in regret because once the milk is spilled, there’s no use crying. Clean up the mess and move on. I also believe that everything that happens to us shapes us in every way, so if you pull one string of causation, then the present reality fall apart. And right now, everything is irie. So I will deal with this hypothetically. There is an e-book dedicated (I mean this in the Rastafarian sense of the word) to bashing my first book of short stories, Uncle Obadiah and the Alien. It’s from a World Literature review of Uncle Obadiah that was then made into an e-book: Uncle Obadiah and the Alien: An article from: World Literature Today by A.L. McLeod. I mean, it’s one thing to write a bad review about a book, but to follow it up with an e-book? And a first book of short stories? C’mon, man! I’m not saying that as a reviewer, I haven’t met my fair share of bad books, but I’ve usually passed on reviewing the book without putting bile into print.

8. Book you're currently reading:

Cinema Nirvana: Enlightenment Lessons from the Movies by Dean Sluyter. If you have any interest in Buddhism and the movies, this is a great book filled with interesting insights about movies and aikido. For example, Sluyter asks in the preface” “What can Casablanca teach us about bodhichitta, selfless commitment to the enlightened happiness of others?” I’m on the chapter, “Dare to be Dopey.”

9. Book you've been meaning to read:

The Odyssey: A Modern Sequel by Nikos Kazantzakis is still sitting on my shelf. I’ve read about 100 pages, but it’s slow going. I’m not averse to epics, but Walcott showed in Omeros that epics can also be funny and daring and wise.

10. Tagging: In the spirit of democracy, if you’ve read this, you’ve been tagged. So, go ye forth and write your own book memes. You’re on the honor code. If you continue the meme, good luck will happen to you in the next 48 hours. If you break the meme, I don’t even want to think about what may happen to you. But it’s your life. My hands are clean.

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Stephen A. Bess said...

My favorite is "Boat building for Dummies." LOL That would be the book to have. This was great!

The e-book bashing Uncle Obadiah is just mean spirited! I wonder why someone would put that much energy into negativity?

Geoffrey Philp said...

Stephen, the thing is I've always encountered this kind of negativity--from the time my first book, Exodus, was published. If I'd listened to those guys, or waited for some kind of validation from people like that, I would have stopped writing a long time ago.
Give thanks, I have always met good/generous people in my life like Mervyn Morris, Kamau Brathwaite, Dennis Scott and many, many more who said,"I think you can write."


Unknown said...

I spotted your blog on technorati - I posted this meme yesterday and was curious to see who else had taken part.

Tess of the d’Urbervilles is a wonderful book, it could easily have been my choice for the book I have read more than once. My Mother is a huge Thomas Hardy fan and passed her love for his work on to me.

Take no notice of the ebook criticising your work. To be honest I think the fact that someone has gone to that much effort (to critiscise you) hints at a huge level of jealously.

Geoffrey Philp said...

Dear Kate,


Yeah, Tess was a great book and Hardy, especially his poetry, left a mark on me. In fact, the closest contemporary poet to Hardy was probably Larkin.What do you think?