Sunday, September 09, 2007

A first published novel to check out

Guess whose feet are on the programme
Yesterday evening I went to my friend Joanne Allong-Hayne's private reading of her first published novel, WALKING at the Normandie. I have not yet read the whole book, but since I was one of the readers for the evening, she had sent me my excerpt by e-mail a few days before.

Just from reading that excerpt (The Prologue) I was amused, impressed and couldn't wait to read more. So today I will start reading my autographed copy: (To: Spec. Thanks for making the walk a little fresher, funkier and a whole lot friendlier.)

The launch went smoothly and swiftly. My kind of function. No unnecessarily long-winded, dragged out speeches (all that was said was succinct, meaningful and powerful) and there were great refreshments after (mini cheese quiches, stuffed pastry, sweetbread slices and local wine. But I drank Water.)

As I sat in the front row listening to Jo give her words of "Celebration" to close the reading, I felt proud: hearing her talk, seeing her published book and hearing the glowing tributes being paid to her by some of our society's respected authors and critics who were present. As Dr. Helen Pyne-Timothy pointed out in the review she read last night, the novel begins with the protagonist as a 6 year old girl wobbling in her mother's high heeled shoes ... and continues with the metaphor of 'walking' (that journey of life) until she is really able to stand strong in her own shoes. The 'MC' for the night, Oliver Flax, pointed out that Joanne was not walking, but sprinting to the finish line. From my perspective I saw a friend and kindred spirit who refers to me as a 'sister artist' and who understands what a struggle it can be sometimes to walk our inevitable creative path. There she was before me, having persistently wobbled, walked, sprinted and then (to me) climbed. Soon, I guess she'll really be flying. (Or maybe she was already flying last night after a few celebratory glasses of local wine ...)

Sometimes my phone will ring and it will be J.A.H. on the other end of the line, calling to check in on 'a sister'.

JAH (in her duMaurier voice): Spec, girl! What's happening?
Me: bla bla bla (whatever is happening or not happening that day)

Somehow she always manages to call on a day when I am feeling that 'walking' the inevitable creative path is getting me nowhere, nothing is happening, it's pointless, why am I doing this, maybe I'm doing the wrong thing, etc bla bla blaaaaa. Because she goes through/has gone through similar feelings, she knows what to say ... and always offers the right words of support and encouragement that make the sun come back out on those difficult 'walking' days. And I guess I do the same for her when it comes to that. So, seeing her up there last night was a great testament to the fact that we just need to keep walking to get where we're going. There will always be water stops and helping hands along the way (both Divine and earth-based).

So, to an 'artist sister' and fellow walker of the creative path - congrats again ... and all the best on the rest of your journey. Looking forward to reading your first published novel!
An excerpt from the prologue (Josephine, the protagonist, is 5 at the time):
I would know from the sound of his bell exactly when he rounded the corner and I would run inside, slide into my mother's shoes and wobble back out to the top of the driveway. Soon as I saw the bright red cap coming up the hill two houses before mine, I would put my hands on my hips and begin the jerky movements I called dance, attempting to keep time with the ping of his bell. My ankles and feet would rock in a different direction from the rest of my body, but the saucy grin I wore would give no testimony to the pain in my feet.

By the time Roger John came into view, I would be rocking and grinning, hoping each time he's stop and talk to me. Somehow his bell always got louder and faster just before he reached my house and I would find myself doing a sort of zigzag movement, compensating for the increased tempo by jerking my shoulders hard, since I could not move my high-heeled feet. Roger John's cart at the front of his bike would sway sharply from side to side, and I wished for it to fall so he would have to stop. He would scowl at it, as if warning it not to, and just after he passed my gate, he would turn the same look upon me, push his cap back and shot, "Yuh fresh lil girl!"

I would grin and continue my frenzied movement until I could see the red cap reach the top of the hill that took him out of Lazzari Street, then I would limp back inside, take the shoes off, and sneak them back to their rightful place, now remembering to be frightened lest I was caught.

To read the rest of the book, you can purchase it online (Google: Joanne Allong-Haynes Walking) or (in Trinidad) at Nigel R. Khan Booksellers and Paperbased, Normandie.



Anonymous joanne said...

Wow girl! That was so cool. Thanks for the comments and the way you put it all together as only an artist could! It's great to have each other's back along the way! Jo

3:29 PM  

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