PROMPT: His hiding place had been discovered. What on earth was he going to do now?
He could always wait for them to come. The Big Boys usually did after their rat caught a scent. But Justin was of the mind he’d rather not be at the treehouse when they came a-knockin’. That’s what they called it anyway.
Bishop would say, “Don’t make us come a-knockin’.”
And even though Justin wasn’t quite sure what that means, especially in today’s world-one so jammed packed with camera doorbells and electric locks–he figured he’d rather not deal with it.
So, Justin grabbed up his backpack, the one with the twenty-sided-dice patch on it, and slung it over his shoulder. He threw down the rope ladder and swung down it, one foot, one hand, ofter another. Some people thought rope ladders were difficult or dangerous. But Justin knew you just had to know how to use them right. If you did, they were an impregnable defensive tool. Well, at least they were unless the Big Boys came a-knockin’, because the Big Boys might bring fire, if they did Justin would be in the field of in the tree with nothin’ to protect him at all, and that field looked mighty dry this summer. It always looked dry in summer.
His feet hit the ground and he began to run in the same direction as the Rat. The Rat had once been his friend–like way back in kindergarten. He didn’t know when the Rat had gone over to the Big Boys, but he had, and the Big Boys were high school Freshmen and last year, when Justin was in 6th grade, and the Big Boys were in eight, they’d torched his books real bad, and his campaign notes so that he’d had to try and recreate them all (not the books, just the notes), but his mom said she couldn’t afford new books, so he’d just have to borrow a friends, even though he’d told her he couldn’t and he told her nobody had the same books as him and as the DM he had to have those specific books. She’d just given him one of Molly’s books on spaceships and science–which was cool. Justin knew there weren’t very many women in science and spaceships and things, even though it was 2020 and lots of people thought sexism wasn’t a thing, but it was–but his older sister’s science books wouldn’t help him tell a story about myths and legends, even though it might. It couldn’t for him.
In the tall grass of the field, Justin swept his hands out and kept running. It felt good somehow, even though he was scarder than shit. It felt good to run and climb and be outdoors, even though he also liked to be indoors.
He came to the dirt road and looked down it. There was no signs of the Big Boys yet. It still might be safe to go that way if the Rat hadn’t been able to find them.
I’ve been reading this book by Chris Abani. Abani is a Nigerian-American writer. His mother was very English. But His father, Nigerian, so where is the American in him? Well–he lives in the United States. And he has done for years. He is American now.
The book I’m reading is called The Secret History of Las Vegas. It’s brilliantly written, though one of the creepier books I’ve ever picked up. It’s a novel about a man who does studies on psychopathy. A scary topic, to say the least.
Chris Abani has a TED Talk he did some years ago. 2008, actually. It is about humanity. But it’s also about how Africa is constantly in a state of rebuilding itself and it’s identity. in this TED Talk for instance, he explained that, until the genocide in Rwanda, the word for rape and marriage were actually the same. There may have been a difference in the context the word was used that changed it’s meaning, but this reflects a culture that accepted rape on a scale not seen for many hundred years in the western world. However, after the genocide, a word was created for this act in Rwanda. And this thing was rebuilt not as marriage, but as a crime and atrocity, and it was done so by women.
Abani speaks of apartheid a lot. And to think partied only ended in 1991, and even then, all the laws were only abolished in 1994. And it hasn’t been so long. What identity does South Africa have? What must it rebuild for it’s citizens and those who call it home. Apartheid was an era that rivals the monstrosities of the Third Reich, yet most people ignore it, or do not know about it. It feels like ancient history for many.
But in South Africa, in Africa at large, the repercussions of apartheid are still being felt. It is still a dangerous country, a dangerous continent, rife with civil unrest.
Abani brings these issues to his novels. He reminds readers that the struggles of Africa are the same struggles of the western and eastern worlds. They are human rights. They are constantly being rebuilt.
If you’re a big reader I can imagine you’d want your kid(s) to be also. I think that really hurt my mom because she wanted me to love reading as much as she did. She would hang out on the couch with a book on dark winter nights and just lose herself. I liked talking with her about those books and stories, even if I didn’t like reading. I remember her telling me all about The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver–that was when Kingsolver was hitting it out of the ball park and was the next great thing on the shelves. Now she’s an old hand.
Anyway, I think, after all the specialists my parents took me too and all the poor results they had with getting me to enjoy reading my mom lost hope. I think I would have. What’s the point of trying to teach someone something when they try everything they can to NOT LEARN IT. The thing was, I was learning to read. I was playing card games and video games that included reading. Still, it wasn’t the TYPE of reading my mom wanted me to like. And maybe that’s the problem.
You might not know, but smartphone novels are now a thing. A smartphone novel is a novel written to be read on a smartphone. Apparently it’s very popular in Japan. See, most avid readers would be rather put off by reading on their phones for 5 minutes, let alone the time it takes to read a novel. But in Japan, apparently, smartphone novels are really big and lots of people read them while on public transportation and such. It makes sense if a writer can get an episodic form down that keeps people reading.
What I’m trying to say is this: just because someone likes a different medium by which something is diseminated doesn’t make it less.
Of course there are people who would disagree with me. Acadamia is a culprit in this type of thinking, oftentimes disparaging forms of literature that the institution doesn’t find deep or metaphorical enough. But the truth is, reading and the written word is metaphorical by nature.
So, it didn’t seem to occur to my mom to let me play more video games because it forced me to read. Instead she thought reading Brother Bear one more time would be the right way to go, which I hated. Of course she lost hope. She didn’t realize I was getting all the reading practice I needed from a medium she saw as “less.”