Books I read as last year ended
by Diana Studer
- gardening for biodiversity
in Cape Town, South Africa
This one, remembering Mildred Fish from Wisconsin, ate into my heart and soul. Perhaps because I stood at the memorial to book burning in Frankfurt.
Helen Keller - History has taught you nothing if you think you can kill ideas.
[Greta] arrived in Frankfurt am Main two days after tens of thousands of books had gone up in flames in city squares throughout Germany.
|Burning books in Germany|
Yemenite Jews from Aden to Israel. The story unfolding through and around henna history and rituals.
|Manganese dendrites on Chapman's Peak|
Grace and Mary
This one made me think of my mother's mother - and how differently (English) society viewed 'unmarried' mothers between the wars. Mary grown old and yearning for 'my own mother', who was Aunty Grace to the small adopted girl.
After school my mother went to France 'to polish her French'. She was not allowed to visit our grandfather's grave - or she would have seen the dates couldn't fit for her younger brother.
Imagination ... which meant that one could 'be' other people in the empathy of life or theatre or fiction
Shakespeare wrote that poets conjured words out of 'the thin air' and gave them 'a local habitation and a name'
She could 'suffer her own company well', as people in her childhood had phrased it.
|Remembering my grandfather and kite balloons|
At the Imperial War Museum in London
The English girl
Stella is 17. Coming from England to Vienna in the Thirties to study music. And escaping as the border closed.
the dazzling autumn sky, its depth on depth of colour; and far off in all that clarity, a bird of prey soaring, silver touching its wings.
|From Elsie's Peak at teatime we watched two pairs of raptors|
Called to song
Set in Cape Town and drawing me into Cape Malay life. Despite the title the music only emerges as the story draws to a conclusion.
One Saturday morning, when the pile of books and papers looked set to topple, Qabila went out to look for a bookcase. She turned away from the store, every step unlocking a knot. A new life called for new habits... a little second-hand store ... But the fifth one was going home with her ... curved corners ... tiny scratches on the dull mahogany.
Reconfigured each time we moved
Remember me this way
Psychological thriller. But, was she right after all? Grieving, was she? She is a teacher.
Her tone is off, but you often find that with shy kids. What comes across as rudeness is often acute embarrassment.
|My father was from Dannevirke|
History of the rain
Last on my heap, so I rationed it out. When I couldn't face where the story seemed to be going, read in careful chunks. Not poems, but words as poetry, to reread and linger over.
We head off in a burst in some direction thinking this is it only to find ourselves nowhere.
Poets. They're not like you and me. They have that extra bit that is always ready for take-off. Poets understand why God didn't give us wings: he wanted entertainment. He wanted us to aspire, to ascend. He wanted poetry.
Even his hair is straight. It's a little brown hedge rising evenly off the top of his intelligence.
|Hedge carefully trained to frame the view at Heligan|
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