This is not a novel, but rather a true story brilliantly told by the author of "The Mayflower" (also worth reading}
In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex
by Nathaniel Philbrick
Under Coffin's watchful eye, the helmsman brought the ship as close as possible to the derelict craft. Even though their momentum quickly swept them past it, the brief seconds during which the ship loomed over the open boat presented a sight that would stay with the crew for the rest of their lives.
First they saw bones - human bones - littering the thwarts and floorboards, as if the whaleboat were the seagoing lair of a ferocious, man-eating beast. Then they saw the two men. They were curled up in opposite ends of the boat, their skin covered sores, their eyes bulging from the hollows of their skulls, their beards caked with salt and blood. They were sucking the marrow from the bones of their dead shipmates.
"I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" by Maya Angelou.
If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat.
It is an unnecessary insult.
From: The What Is the What
The autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng
A novel by Dave Eggers
This book is the soulful account of my life: from the time I was separated from my family in Marial Bai to the thirteen years I spent in Ethiopian and Kenyan refugee camps, to my encounters with vibrant Western cultures, in Atlanta and elsewhere.
As you read this book, you will learn about the two and a half million people who have perished in Sudan's civil war. I was just a boy when the war began. As a helpless human, I survived trekking across many punishing landscapes while being bombed by Sudanese air forces, while dodging land mines, while being preyed upon by wild beasts and human killers. I fed on unknown fruits, vegetables, leaves, animal carcasses and sometimes went with nothing for days. At certain points, the difficulty was unbearable. I hated myself and attempted to take my own life. Many of my friends, and thousands of my fellow countrymen, did not make it through these struggles alive.
This book was born out of the desire on the part of myself and the author to reach out to others to help them understand the atrocities many successive governments of Sudan committed before and during the civil war. To that end, over the course of many years, I told my story orally to the author. He then concocted this novel, approximating my own voice and using the basic events of my life as the foundation. Because many of the passages are fictional, the result is called a novel. It should not be taken as a definitive history of the civil war in Sudan, nor of the Sudanese people, nor even of my brethren, those known as the Lost Boys. This is simply one man's story, subjectively told. And though it is fictionalized, it should be noted that the world I have known is not so different from the one depicted within these pages. We live in a time when even the most horrific events in this book could occur, and in most cases did occur.
Even when my hours were darkest, I believed that some day I could share my experiences with readers, so as to prevent the same horrors from repeating themselves.
This book is a form of struggle, and it keeps my spirit alive to struggle. To struggle is to strengthen my faith, my hope, and my belief in humanity. Thank you for reading this book, and I wish you a blessed day.
-Valentino Achak Deng - 2006
Excerpt from Glenn Tinder's Political Thinking: The Perennial Questions
It follows that little instructions in the art of thinking can be offered beyond suggestions such as the following:
1. Do not try to arrive at ideas no one has ever thought of before. Even the greatest thinkers have rarely done that. The aim of thinking is to discover ideas that pull together one's world, and thus one's being, not to give birth to unprecedented conceptions. An idea is your own if it has grown by your own efforts and is rooted in your own emotions and experience, even though you may have received the seeds form someone else and even though the idea may be very much like ideas held by many others.
2. Be open. Ideas cannot be deliberately produced like industrial products. They appear uncommanded, they occur, as we recognize when we say, "It occurred to me that..." You place yourself in a fundamentally wrong relationship with ideas if you assume you can control their appearance. You can only be open to them.
3. Do not hurry. Initial efforts to think about a problem are often completely frustrating. They may best be regarded as a tilling of the ground; time is required before anything can be expected to grow.
4. Make plenty of notes. It is easier to work with your mind if you are doing some corresponding work with your hands. It is often helpful to make notes on large pads where there is room for sketching out patterns of ideas. It can also be helpful to make notes on cards and then to cut up the cards so that each idea is on a small piece of card. These can then be laid out on a desk and rearranged. Often this process suggests new connections among your thoughts.
5. Beware of substituting reading for thinking. Reading about the thoughts of others is not the same as having thoughts of your own. To be sure, to engage in thinking you need some acquaintance with the thoughts of others. The great thinkers inspire, provoke, confirm, and in other ways help you do your own thinking. But to think you must a some point lay down the book and strike out on your own.
Cool! I've written some titles down...Good thread, Greenwitch!
From White Teeth by Zadie Smith.
So Ryan was red as a beetroot. And Clara was black as yer boot.Ryan's freckles were a join-the-dots enthusiast's wet dream. Clara could circumnavigate an apple with her front teeth before her tongue got anyway near it. Not even the Catholics would forgive them for it (and Catholics give out forgiveness at about the same rate as politicians give out promises and whores give out).
A short history of tractors in Ukrainian - Marina Lewycka
'Remember the woman on the bus, Vera? The woman in the fur coat?'
'What woman? What bus? What are you talking about?'
Of course she remembers. She hasn't forgotten the smell of diesel, the swish of the windscreen wipers, the unsteady sway of the bus as it churned newly fallen snow into slush; coloured lights outside the windows; Christmas Eve 1952. Vera and I, muffled against the cold, snuggling up against Mother on the back seat. And a kind woman in a fur coat who leaned across the aisle and pressed sixpence into Mother's hand: 'For the kiddies at Christmas.'
'The woman who gave mother sixpence.'
Mother, our mother, did not dash the coin in her face; she mumbled, 'Thank you, lady,' and slipped it into her pocket. The shame of it!
'Oh, that. I think she was a bit drunk. You mentioned it once before. I don't know why you go on about it.'
'It was that moment - more than anything that happened to me afterwards - that turned me into a lifelong socialist.'
There is silence on the other end of the telephone and for a moment I think she has hung up on me. Then: 'Maybe it was what turned me into the woman in the fur coat.'
David Sedaris on his difficulties with the French language:
Of all the stumbling blocks inherent in learning this language, the greatest for me is the principle that each noun has a corresponding sex that affects both its articles and its adjectives. Because it is a female and lays eggs, a chicken is masculine. Vagina is masculine as well, while the word masculinity is feminine. Forced by grammar to take a stand one way or another, hermaphrodite is male and indecisiveness female.
What's the trick to remembering that a sandwich is masculine? What qualities does it share with anyone in possession of a penis? I'll tell myself that a sandwich is masculine because if left alone for a week or two, it will eventually grow a beard. This works until it's time to order and I decide that because it sometimes loses its makeup, a sandwich is undoubtedly feminine.
I just can't manage to keep my stories straight. Hoping I might learn through repetition, I tried using gender in my everyday English. "Hi, guys," I'd say, opening a new box of paper clips, or "Hey, Hugh, have you seen my belt? I can't find her anywhere."
Tired of embarrassing myself in front of two-year-olds, I've started referring to everything in the plural, which can get expensive but has solved a lot of my problems. In saying a melon, you need to use the masculine article. In saying the melons, you use the plural article, which does not reflect gender and is the same for both the masculine and the feminine. Ask for two or ten or three hundred melons, and the number lets you off the hook by replacing the article altogether. A masculine kilo of feminine tomatoes presents a sexual problem easily solved by asking for two kilos of tomatoes. I've started using the plural while shopping, and Hugh has started using it in our cramped kitchen, where he stands huddled in the corner, shouting, "What do we need with four pounds of tomatoes?"
I answer that I'm sure we can use them for something. The only hard part is finding someplace to put them. They won't fit in the refrigerator, as I filled the last remaining shelf with the two chickens I bought from the butcher the night before, forgetting that we were still working our way through a pair of pork roasts the size of Duraflame logs. "We could put them next to the radios," I say, "or grind them for sauce in one of the blenders. Don't get so mad. Having four pounds of tomatoes is better than having no tomatoes at all, isn't it?"
Hugh tells me that the market is off-limits until my French improves. He's pretty steamed, but I think he'll get over it when he sees the CD players I got him for his birthday.
from "Make That a Double" in David Sedaris's Me Talk Pretty One Day