Ayobami Adebayo, Ai Wei Wei, Oliver Stone, Ishiguro, Loving Vincent, The House on Coco Road, The Rainbow Comes and Goes

Ayobami Adebayo Baileys Women Prize Fiction 2017 Alice Walkers Garden

Stay With Me is a fabulous novel.

Ayobami Adebayo has made such a moving commitment to fierceness and truth that the tenderness that emerges also in her characters is as welcome as a spring shower.  What a heart this writer has; how it renews our hope for a world in which it can continue to thrive.

 Best, I think, on Audible.

I am so sorry to be so late cheering for all the greatness that’s been showing up around the world lately.Not just ice skaters whom I saw on a screen as I trudged through an airport (more on them when I find them, perhaps on YouTube) but also I’ve been over the moon about Ai Wei Wei’s Human Flow. This is what can come of being treated badly in your own country, in his case, China:  you can create a vehicle that expresses concern for the whole world. I see Ai Wei Wei as the true “Elder brother” human beings need so desperately at this time. The one who steps in when “parents” fail,  and cares about the whole family.  Before seeing this film I was thankful to see Oliver Stone’s long interview with Vladimir Putin.  Of whom I’m less afraid than of anybody in D.C.  Thank goodness I visited the Soviet Union (Russia) decades ago and know he’s not the only Russian living there! Then there’s Ken O’Keefe who makes me happy he exists to speak soul force to monstrous cruelty and ignorance.  With his warrior tattoos to remind us he didn’t learn all he knows about war from a film.  And then there’s Don’t Ever Let Me Go (the book) by Kazuo Ishiguro.  My goodness!  If you see the film and read the book you will receive an excellent education in what films leave out.  What else?  Well! Loving Vincent, of course!  I watched it twice and loved it, admired it, even more, the second time.

This is art that can happen when creators love their subject and their subject is beautiful, driven, and great.  Oh, Van Gogh.  As a young black student in an all white school, (except for two other students of color) I always had his sunflowers on a wall in my dorm room; as a young writer, frequently lonely,  I devoured the letters between him and Theo, his brother.  When he wrote about the bliss of spending ages painting five olive trees (I think they were) I knew I had found a soul mate.

Then there’s the moving, powerful, The House On CoCo Road. I love this film.  Some movies show us the past with the fidelity and depth it deserves. We can be shown how “history” connects to our present dilemmas.  This is one of those movies.  I also admire the tenacity of its director, Damani Baker, who knew he would make this film from the time he was small; then never deserted his vision until the film was produced decades later.

Picking persimmons at dusk today, just as the moon was rising, made me remember another book that I think is fantastic: The Rainbow Comes and Goes by Anderson Cooper and his mother Gloria Vanderbilt. The world will change drastically when sons and mothers are routinely frank with each other about their lives, and these two are.  I realized I knew almost nothing about Vanderbilt, though a journal entry from the 80s informs me that, at that time, I “lived” in her stretch jeans; and little about Cooper since I don’t watch much mainstream news.  They’ve offered something special and not to be missed, honesty and acceptance of each other’s lives, mother and son; a mutual unveiling as precious and as startling as persimmons and rainbows.

The photo of Adebyo, the great,  will be enlarged!  It was! Thanks to the ever magical and on it webmaster, Amanda Navarro.