Moments of escape can be moments of clarity!

"Oh, had I but followed the Arts"-William Shakespeare

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Bits & Bobs Rachel Dupree & A fiddler

I know it's been a bit but I have finally been able to carve out some time to put thoughts together on books, music & career happenings.
Rehearsals are in full swing for the upcoming Maine Playwrights Festival. It's been a while since I've had the time for the huge commitment that Theater asks of you, but this is a one act play so it's been great to be able to fit that into my schedule. I'm struggling to get some song writing done, a lot of snippets of unfinished thoughts floating around on scraps of paper.
School is going well, but doing extra work to conquer my nemesis, reading fingerspelling.

I have managed to finish two books, but will only review one on this entry and save the other for a later blog. The book I'm reviewing is called "The personal History of Rachel Dupree" by Ann Weisgarber.  After the disappointment for me of "The Help" I almost swore off reading any book about Black people, written by White people, which tend to be self indulgent Great White Hope stories in disguise.
I decided I wouldn't paint with such a broad brush. While perusing a local book store (which I tend to do a lot, even though I tell myself to refrain from bringing home more books!) "The personal History..." caught my eye, I read the back cover and was intrigued,then had that moment of "Oh, crap, who wrote it?" I quickly turned to the  "About the Author" page and saw the picture of the very white Ann Weisgarber. I admit I had a moment of wanting to drop the book and move on, but I thought about my broad brush promise and decided to turn a blind eye and give this book a try.
"The Personal History..." is the story of Rachel Dupree who works as a cook in a boarding house in Chicago in the late 1800's. She meets and later marries Isaac, a former Buffalo soldier who is intent on making a life for himself as a Homesteader in the Badlands of South Dakota. This is a little known chapter in American history. It was a well written story about a woman taking on the challenge of carving a life out of the unforgiving landscape of the Badlands. It was full of vivid and rich texts. The Author also delved into the complicated, many faceted relationship between Native-Americans and African-Americans. They were slaves, friends, enemies, allies, and family. A relationship that remains uneasy and hard to define even today.

"The History..." was an amazing read. The ending wasn't to my liking, but that doesn't detract from the overall story, it was chock full of excitement and the deep personal history of an American family of the 1900's.











Now onto what's on my MP3 player. This week it's been Donny Parenteau an Aboriginal country music singer and a hell of a fiddle player. His latest CD "To whom it may Concern" is a cornucopia of toe tapping music, worthy of his nomination for "Aboriginal Recording of the year" I have placed my vote. Enjoy!!

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