Skip to main content

Book Review: Selection from Create Dangerously

In my creative writing class we are also reading selections from various other publications. This week our selection was Chapter 1 from Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work by Edwidge Danticat. In the chapter, she talks about certain parts of her Haitian background. She describes disturbing political incidents which occurred during the dictatorship of Papa Doc Duvalier, particularly the executions of Marcel Numa and Louis Drouin. She explains the significance of the event for her by saying, "All artists, writers among them, have several stories - one might call them creation myths - that haunt and obsess them. This is one of mine."

She discusses, in depth, the chilling effect such times had on art, artists, and the sharing of stories. She describes a sort of cultural oppression that went hand in hand with the physical political tyranny of the regime. On oppression which vilified such accepted classics as Camus and Sophocles. She talks about how plays would be put on clandestinely, sometimes in people's homes. It was dangerous to share certain stories. Danticat describes it as a time and place when, "strings of words ... uttered, written, or read, could cause a person's death."

But Danticat also speaks of the writer's need to write and the reader's need to read creating a kind of courage more powerful than the external dangers. And in one of the most amazing and eloquent passages I've probably ever read about creating/writing, Danticat says, "Create dangerously, for people who read dangerously ... no matter how trivial your words may seem, someday, somewhere, someone may risk his or her life to read them."

That part took my breath away. Really.


Comments

Popular Previous Posts

Book Review - Three Tides - Part 4

Pineda’s ‘gathering’ chapters are all about the epic destruction of Katrina. I come away from this reading feeling some sense of relief that many people are decent human beings who will help others in times of need, including Pineda herself. Pineda talks a lot about the strong sense of community in New Orleans before the hurricane and that during the hurricane the effected people were repeatedly “helping one another, sharing what they had.” 
But the sense of relief at the humanity between individual people, gave way very quickly to disgust at the negligence of the organizations meant to help. Starting with the callous government officials who actually seem to have viewed Katrina as an opportunity to ‘clean up’ the “public housing” of New Orleans in favor of “urban renewal.” Rep. Richard Baker actually said as much, adding, “We couldn’t do it, but God did.” Apparently, they blew up the levees intentionally to sacrifice the poorer parts of town, in order to save the richer areas and tour…

Review: You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life

You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Listened to the audiobook version. While some of the advice was stuff that could be found in any other self help book, some of it was wholly original and exciting. And the author fully owned that not every word she was communicating could be called earth shattering. But the best reason to read this book as opposed to others is the style of the author. Jen Sincero writes like your best friend telling you the truth. She writes without pulling any punches, in a straightforward vernacular, but with a perceived underlying concern for your well-being and self improvement. It's basically impossible not to listen.

View all my reviews

Consolidation

I'm something of a compartmentalizer.

I had a personal blog and a writing blog. I had a website to advertise my freelance writing and other marketable skills, and a separate site to talk about my fiction writing saga. I have a personal twitter and a writing twitter. I didn't want to "bother" people from one area of my life with stuff from another. Didn't want to bore personal friends with talk of writing, or posted poetry. Didn't want to offend fellow word-lovers with my politics, or bore them with monotonous check-ins to the same handful of places (I'd be depressingly easy to stalk if anyone were so inclined, lol).

But I'm done with that.

Maybe it's the New Year, or my new word. Maybe it's just my age showing - I am in my fuck-it-forties, after all. Maybe it was an article I read which said that having a website under a cutesy online pseudonym (like my qwertyKayt) is best if your 'brand' is talking about writing, while having a site …