Monthly Archives: March 2011

The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver

– Part I –

“So much depends on a red wheelbarrow glazed with rain water standing beside the white chickens.”

When I saw that poem-sentence on the page a few days ago, I was immediately transported back in time – somehow it felt like seeing an old friend after a long absence, or a photograph you have taken but hadn’t looked at in years. Familiar.

William C. Williams’ words have a strong echo which carries through time. Was it only a year ago (or two, perhaps) that I sat in the long, narrow classroom, listening to this short poem for the first time, and then to the question that came next:

“What do you think it means?”

There was silence for a while, and he looked at us from his chair behind the teacher’s table, then up at the whiteboard where the poem was written in blue marker ink. His eyes had a twinkle in them, as if daring us to come up with an interesting answer.

“What does it mean?”, I asked myself, and can this really be a poem, it sounds more like a sentence.

Was it summer or spring, that I can’t remember, but then I didn’t pay too much attention to poetry in those days. Thoughts of long dead poets of the 19th century and there we were, trying to make sense of the words they left behind.


The Poisonwood Bible is the story of an adventure. It is about a family who embarks on a journey of a lifetime, making the transition from the comfort of so many things they take for granted in the 1960’s America, to the very heart of darkness, as Conrad so aptly wrote it.

The Price family embarks on a religious mission to Congo – they are the ones who would bring the Lord’s word into the heart of Africa, and make the natives believe Jesus is their savior. Nathan Price is The Reverend – his faith foremost in his heart, obliterating everything else, his wife Orleanna – the fragile link keeping the family together, a bridge between her husband and their children. Adah – the one who doesn’t speak much but oh, if anyone could read her thoughts…. Leah, desperate to please her father and follow into his footsteps, Rachel, the typical teenage girl and Ruth May, the child full on energy. Five lives whose stories are so different and yet lived at the same time and in the same place. Five voices who speak, taking turns, five perspectives. Oddly enough, the reverend doesn’t have a voice and that’s a pity, for he is left aside (in more ways than one) without a chance to redeem himself.

How do you prepare for a journey of such magnitude? What to take with you and what to leave behind? Is faith enough to make it all worthwhile? How far deep down do you need to change in order to “fit” into the new life, and which part of you does it need to irrevocably transform so you can survive?

There are so many questions I find myself asking, with every page I turn, with every day that goes by in the life of this family.

So much depends on…

So much depends…

So much…


Posted in The Book on The Nightstand | 6 Comments


Don’t you wish you were somewhere on a beach with a coconut drink in your hand, watching the waves? Or maybe in a log cabin in the mountains, watching the snow falling while you listen to the sound of silence? Away from the noise of the great cities, the crowds of people, the rush of everyday life? I do.

I guess we could all use a bit of … Magic.



Posted in Favorite Sounds | 1 Comment


There is no big secret that I love to read. In fact, the greatest torture for me is to be stuck somewhere (a doctor’s office, a bus stop, you name it) without any reading material. Sometimes I’ll even settle for a Thai magazine if there’s nothing else around.

Last Wednesday was one such case. I had just finished the last page of Letters from Thailand (review coming soon, I hope) and looked around for some new reading material, when I happened to see a Thai fashion magazine. So I started leafing through it. No, I can’t read the language but I can look at the pictures. Then I saw this:

“Alone with myself

The trees bend to caress me

The shade hugs my heart.”

(Candy Polgar)


Who is Candy Polgar?

Posted in Quotes I Like | 1 Comment

The English Patient

How do you take emotions from the pages of a book and translate them into a movie? Is there a magic formula one can use to perform this change to the joy of the eye, without losing anything from the joy of the soul?

I am of two minds about the movie. There are scenes which follow the book to the letter (remember that plum?) but they are almost devoid of emotion, so much so that without the book they would go unnoticed in the blink of an eye. It must have been quite difficult to rise to the task of changing the words into images. And still, I was pleasantly surprised to see the abandoned villa from my imagination materializing on the screen, those broken steps fixed with books, the rooms deserted, the burned man on the bed.

The characters appear somewhat superficial. The Englishman’s cry when he carries his lover’s body into the desert, or Hana’s lovely but forced smile, and Kips’ words, “I want you to find me”, make them more human.

Juliette Binoche doesn’t seem very suitable for the role of Hana – while she does look deliciously fresh and young, I feel the role called for someone more…melancholic. Caravaggio, played by Willem Dafoe, is but a shadowy presence while Naveen Andrews in the role of Kip manages to just make himself noticeable. Ralph Fiennes and Kristin Scott Thomas, in the roles of the English patient and Katharine succeed in bringing a spark to their roles and into a movie in which the protagonists lack depth.

Without the book, the movie would have less value. Having read the novel, I found watching the movie enhanced the experience, filling the gaps here and there, providing some answers, bringing some sort of closure. One has to pay close attention to details and remember the written words, for in them lies the key to understanding what really happened.

Do I recommend the movie? Yes, but I also recommend reading the book first, because without it the movie lacks substance. Together they make for one complete experience.

Posted in Movies | 1 Comment