what i'm reading


<<>>the middle east is a fiction :: amatoritsero ede :: editorial by the editor-in-chief of the maple literary supplement

"As cliché as it might sound or read that ‘truth is sometimes stranger than fiction’, the series of persistent symbolic and literal political explosions in the Middle East and North Africa, country after dazed country, proves that truism right once again."

<<>>impossible me :: keith davis :: a blog chronicling the experience of one of my nyu film colleagues at the sundance directors lab

"I saw my brother’s small body laid in a casket before me. Simultaneously, but a world away, the Twin Towers were being attacked in New York City. It took years to find our way again as a family. I went back to acting, but I was changed. I wanted to be more than an actor...to share and create more. I thought back to how our intense personal grief set against the backdrop of the nation’s public grief from 9/11 held so much conflict for us. Back then I couldn’t know it, but I was already writing the screenplay in my head. I already had a title: The American People."

<<>>dreams at dawn :: ed. helon habila, tsitsi dangarembga, and madeleine thien :: a collection of stories written by participants in the fidelity bank international creative writing workshop

"I could give in now, and end the drama. We could easily settle on a December date, a noon as cold as Stella is. Clad in one of my old tweed suits, and surrounded by a tiny fraction of the crowd that'd have been present in Lagos, I will cast snow-flecked sand on the remains of my wife and companion of fifty years. (As things stand if I tell Dapo I need him to fly a planeload of our friends over from Lagos--including our Vicar, good old Ayanbadejo, and as many members of his choir as have valid American visas--he will.)

Stella will lie there, the snow tumbling irreverently onto her casket. My eyes will be dry, like my lips. I will not feel the cold. I will focus on the details of everything unfolding around me, like noticing that the grave is a double-chambered one, to confirm my worst fears--that here is my final resting place. Here is where I will become nothing, my sole consolation being that I will lie next to Stella. I will wonder what will become of the graves waiting at my house in Lagos; calculate the dimensions of the swimming pool they will be expanded into." (from The Funeral, by Tolu Ogunlesi)

<<>>in the spirit of mcphineas lata :: lauri kubuitsile :: short story shortlisted for the caine prize

"McPhineas Lata, though thus despised by most husbands, was adored by most wives. His funeral was full of dramatic fainting and howls of grief echoing as far as the Ditlhako Hills. Tears fell by the bucketful and nearly succeeded in creating the village's missing namesake. The husbands stood at the back of the gathering wearing variations on the theme 'stern face' while the minister said his last words. When it was time to pour dirt on the coffin of McPhineas Lata, the husbands rushed past their crying wives and grabbed up the shovels. Some even came prepared with their own to make the work faster. Indeed, no one could remember a burial that had lasted for so short a time. No sooner had the wives heard that first shovelful of soil hit against the wooden coffin, as they were still organizing themselves for their final grand crescendo of wailing, than the soil was seen to be heaped into a great mound over the grave. The men then piled stones on top, of a great number sure to keep McPhineas Lata firmly in his eternal bed. The men stacked the shovels by the grave, slapped the soil off their hands, and led the way back to the village leaving all their McPhineas Lata problems in the cemetery for good. Or so they thought."

(Update: Meet Lauri in this week's issue of Next on Sunday.)

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