Some items of interest, Spring 2015 edition

*Dusts off blog.* So here I am again after an unintentional hiatus that lasted a few months. My  mind has been elsewhere, but now the writing bug has bitten me again. This particular post has been on the backburner since earlier this year. I was originally going to title it “Mini Reviews” and then realized that I am not really reviewing these. It’s more of a “look at this!” type of thing, so thus the current title. Enjoy 🙂

Schiffer Books releases The Egyptian Lenormand Deck

Commercial-deckOriginally self-published, this beautiful deck has been given a high quality makeover by its creator Nefer Khepri and Schiffer Books. I have the self-published deck, yet couldn’t resist buying a copy of this incarnation, which includes a sturdy keepsake box and a 175-page full color instruction book. Priced at a modest $21.59 on Amazon, with signed and activated copies available from Nefer for $40.
Read more at egyptianlenormand.com

Vodou Brooklyn: Five Ceremonies with Mambo Marie Carmel by Stephanie Keith

vodou brooklynA good friend of mine surprised me with this for my birthday. It’s softbound, 137 pages. I haven’t read through it yet, but it’s packed cover to cover with vibrant images taken during ceremony. Some of the information provided by the author in the introduction doesn’t seem exactly accurate, but I don’t think she is a Vodouisant (I could be wrong though). She does state that “almost all of the descriptive text about the ceremonies and Spirits come from doing interviews with Marie Carmel and other members of the Vodou community,” so it may be that I am misreading the context or some concepts are being lost in translation. Either way, I am happy to have this book for the photos alone.

Ayiti (and other books) by Roxane Gay ayitiThe first book I read by the hugely talented Roxane Gay was “An Untamed State,” an intense novel about a woman who is kidnapped and held for ransom. However, I thought her short story collection “Ayiti” would be a better recommendation for readers of this blog, since it provides one with a variety of Haitian characters in different situations. I plan to read more of this woman’s work in the near future.

The description on Amazon.com reads: “The debut collection from the vibrant voice of Roxane Gay is a unique blend of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, all interwoven to represent the Haitian diaspora experience.”

The Comedians

comediansThis is an old movie (1967) recommended to me by someone in my house because of the historical backdrop (Haiti during the Papa Doc years). I was not crazy about this film, mainly because the central characters are all white folks and the Haitian characters of any importance (all played by American actors) receive relatively little screen time. There are some interesting scenes involving the Ton Ton Macoute (again, not enough screen time) and a Vodou ceremony. Adding to the unevenness was the fact that they could not shoot this film in Haiti and so went to Benin. During the ceremony scene, the crowd was actually African, although the Houngan was Haitian.

One Amazon review reads: “Set in the Haiti of “Papa Doc” Duvalier, The Comedians tells the story of a sardonic white hotel owner and his encroaching fatalism as he watches Haiti sink into barbarism. Complications include a friendship with a rebel leader, politically “charged” hotel guests, an affair with the wife of a European ambassador, and the manipulations of a conniving British arms dealer.”

If you rent the film and opt to watch the “making of” feature, be forewarned that it’s dated and annoying, referring to the Hollywood actors as “glamorous” and the people of Benin as “primitive.”

I understand the book is better, so I may read that sometime.

Mother of George

mother of georgeThis movie is a visual feast. The cinematography is simply gorgeous. I admit that one of the reasons I watched it was for the talented and stunning Danai Gurira, whom horror fans will know as Michonne in “The Walking Dead.” The description on IMDB reads. “Adenike and Ayodele, a Nigerian couple living in Brooklyn, are having trouble conceiving a child – a problem that defies cultural expectations and leads Adenike to make a shocking decision that could either save or destroy her family.”

The movie includes some glimpses of Yoruba practices, including a wedding and the (graphic) sacrifice of a goat.

The film isn’t perfect in its storytelling, but very much worth checking out for the visual richness and performances.

Well, that’s it for this post, but I’ll be back soon.

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