Apr. 8th, 2016

cyphomandra: boats in Auckland Harbour. Blue, blocky, cheerful (boats)
I am working my way through Janet Duncan's My Friends series, mentioned briefly before; nineteen books of semi-autobiography that demonstrate just how well a skilled writer can put shape and structure into what seems to be a simple retelling of events. I picked up one of these years ago in the school library and couldn't get into it - I was expecting a school or children's story from the title (and the location!) - but, although late, this is actually a good time to read them because there are reprints currently in print from Bello, an arm of Pan McMillan. I am ordering these through the library and most have been the Bello imprints, but two have shown up as elderly hardbacks from the Stack, complete with date stamps in the front ("a fine of One Cent per Day will be charged for the first week...") and given me nostalgic feelings (as a teenager I did shelving at the central library, which afforded me staff access to the stacks and I read all sorts of things there).

Anyway. My Friend Sandy takes Janet and her husband out to the British West Indies and into the accumulated feuds among the white population there, as well as having a theatrical production to execute, My Friend Martha's Aunt deals more directly with the consequences of slavery and the colour bars that do or don't exist, and I am halfway through My Friend Flora, which has gone back to Scotland (and back to Janet age 5 starting school, but it's now moving forwards again and I'm in 1930). I prefer the Scottish setting - the St Jago ones do set out quite clearly the immediate and longterm consequences of slavery on both white and black populations, but although there are lot of generalisations about both which may not have any authorial backing, Duncan really only goes into specific individuals on the white side (or those considered part of the white community), and it does unbalance things.

My only other comment at the moment is that they all drink like fish. Everyone is constantly having another wee dram, and at one point there's a bit about not giving pregnant women whiskey, to which the pregnant woman in question replies that she's only had three small ones...


cyphomandra: fractured brooding landscape (Default)

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