Thursday, January 21, 2010

To Haiti and Back

Still reading All Over but the Shoutin' by Rick Bragg and still experiencing synchronicity in reading, waking, and dreaming life, now including my husband's dreams.

Notes: My husband seldom dreams, he claims, or seldom remembers his dreams, but he remembered a dream pertinent to my opening sentence. And I have become a fan of Rick Bragg on Facebook. Sigh....I still can't believe I am on Facebook, and I still can't believe I have a blog.

Rick Bragg went to Haiti to report on phenomenal violence and suffering there. While he certainly described a hell on earth there, I don't think it was from a pact with the Devil, to discount Pat Robertson here. So while I was hearing and seeing news about the devastation caused by Haiti's earthquake, I was also reading about an earlier period of suffering in this book.

Then my husband woke up yesterday morning recalling a weird dream. He saw two old men with long beards who looked very familiar to him, as if he knew them from life or other dreams. They looked wise and calm, expectant. He spoke to them, and they said they were waiting to get into the asylum. They looked hopeful about this. As he told me about it, he was realizing that this was how they would be taken care of in their old age--live somewhere warm, be fed. They were perhaps hoping to appear crazy enough to be accepted into the asylum. Perhaps the aspiration to end there would be sufficient proof!

At the end of his telling, he considered that maybe the two old men were us! This was how we could be tended in our old age and not be a burden on our children. We are certainly a little crazy. And I am certainly just as much the man in our family as he is! I sure hope my beard doesn't grow that long, though.

Anyway, to get on with the synchronicity of this, then I read in the Bragg book about the serial diner, a fellow who would order fine dinners in Manhattan and then not pay the bill so he could be arrested and sent to jail, where he could be sheltered and fed.

Now, in Bragg, I am about to begin a chapter in which he returns to Haiti. Hence, To Haiti and Back.


noblesavage said...

Sorry to say, Rick Bragg is a known fake. He was booted from the New York Times for rewriting stuff interns told him as if he was there himself. When his editors dug in, they found a lot of this "too good to be true" stuff in his work. Friends of mine from the region (who write better than he does)suspected him for years. The "fine diner" tale sounds right in this vein -- there is an O. Henry story like this.
The most atmospheric book I know on Haiti is the voodoo novel "The Beast of the Haitian Hills," written by Philippe Marcelin and Pierre Thoby-Marcelin in the nineteen-forties and reissued a couple of times since. For history, it's still hard to beat C.L.R James' "The Black Jacobins, though Madison Smartt Bell has been hammering away at that for over a decade ...had a good op-ed about Haiti in The New York Times this week.

Kathleen said...

Thanks for the info about Haiti readings.

Yes, I had read about the Bragg scandal at the time, and since, including a pretty in-depth and balanced view by a journalist who noted the common practices of the time not to credit stringers and interns appropriately. I hope that has all changed in the business!