Discolor Online

Weblog of the sweetest person you never want to piss off.


Lecture Night

Tonight was Seattle Arts and Lecture night. Met up with the Three Js for an evening with Edwidge Danticat. Jim and John had read The Dew Breaker but Jenny and I hadn't. In fact, I'd gotten around to reading exactly nothing from Danticat before the lecture. I attended the pre-lecture which I thought had potential but the lecturer went on and on about Haitian diaspora and those drowned in the middle passage and fragmentation and said "in a sense" entirely too often. Like, two or three times in a sentence there at the end. She also went on fifteen minutes longer than scheduled. I was paying attention to the ushers and other technical people who kept lingering around the sides of the auditorium and gesturing that she needed to wrap it up. Finally, as she stood waiting for anyone else to step up to fill the uncomfortable silence with a question, any question, I just got sick of it and started clapping. Immediately the ushers joined in and it didn't take long for the sparse crowd to do likewise as we all jumped up and exited.

Danticat was not a confident speaker and so, I suspect at her request, the evening was structured as a conversation with the moderator. The moderator did a fair job but some of the questions she chose to ask (and some of Danticat's rather rambling answers) were nearly as interesting as they should have been. I told the Js that Danticat is probably someone I would much rather read than listen to, as I have no doubt her polished prose would be much more to my liking than her speaking style. She did perk up most at the end of the Q&A when people were asking her about her favorite Haitian proverbs (something she'd alluded to earlier) and otherwise engaging with the audience. When asked what she thought of Paul Farmer's work, she highly recommended Tracy Kidder's Mountains Beyond Mountains, about Dr. Paul Farmer and his work in Haiti, which reminded me that I'd started Mountains Beyond Mountains in audiobook but hadn't finished it (due to technical issues, not from lack of interest). Danticat also read an excerpt from her most recent manuscript, a non-fiction book about her uncle's flight for his life, subsequent detention, and eventual death while in American custody after requesting "temporary asylum" so he wouldn't get in trouble if he overstayed his 30 day visa. It sounds like a truly harrowing story.

After the lecture we adjourned to Ohana for spam musubi and one of everything else on the happy hour menu. I was delighted to have my opinions of both Boomtown (good!) and The Big Hit (love that movie!) and Medical Investigation (I don't care if it did star Neal McDonough, this show blew) backed up by Jim, and pleased to hear yet another glowing recommendation for Children of Men, which has rocketed to the top of my "must see the next time we have a Kate-free movie night" list.


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