Friday, May 3, 2013

Beginning ~ adrift at sea

Krik? Krak! ~ by Edwidge Danticat, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, and 1995 (short stories), fiction (Haiti), 9/10
"They say behind the mountains are more mountains.  Now I know it's true.  I also know there are timeless waters, endless seas, and lots of people in this world whose names don't matter to anyone but themselves."
The young man behind these opening thoughts is at sea, drifting in a flimsy boat away from Haiti.  Makes me wonder:  How endless are those seas, anyway? Here's a summary of the book, which I rate 9 of 10, an excellent book.
When Haitians tell a story, they say "Krik?" and the eager listeners answer "Krak!"  These nine stories encompass both the cruelties and the high ideals of Haitian life.  They tell of women who continue loving behind prison walls and in the face of unfathomable loss; of a people who resist the brutality of their rulers through the powers of imagination.  These intimate stories portray the raw longings of people for some chance at peace and happiness for themselves and their imprisoned society, about existences contorted by forced separation, and of personal lives shot through with terror.
Because the stories are not connected directly, the best I can do is share some more quotes from this book of stories about stories.
Her sister and mother (pp. 164-165)
We sat facing each other in the dark, laying a free-association game that Ma had taught us when we were girls.
"Who are you?" Caroline asked me.
"I am the lost child of the night."
"Where do you come from?"
"I come from the inside of the lost stone."
"Where are your eyes?"
"I have eyes lost behind my head, where they can best protect me."
"Who is your mother?"
"She who is the lost mother of all."
"Who is your father?"
"He who is the lost father of all."
Sometimes we would play half the night, coming up with endless possibilities for questions and answers, only repeating the key word in every sentence.  Ma too had learned this game when she was a girl.

Her father (p. 179)
"I have a riddle for you.  Can you handle it?" he would ask.
"Bring it on.  Try me."
"Ten thousand very large men are standing under one small umbrella.  How is it that none of them gets wet?"
"It is not raining."
"Why is it that when you lose something, it is always in the very last place you look?"
"Because once you find it, you look no more."

Women in her family (pp. 222-223)
The women in your family have never lost touch with one another.  Death is a path we take to meet on the other side.  What goddesses have joined, let no one cast asunder.  With every step you take, there is an army of women watching over you.  We are never any farther than the sweat on your brows or the dust on your toes.  Though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, fear no evil for we are always with you.

Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Fridays. Click here for today's Mister Linky.

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