The Lit Club: Current Events, December 2021

 

[Image description: Illustration of the words ‘The Lit Club’ with a stack of books next to it.]

Art by Charis Huling.

 

 

Edited by Emily Bourne

 

 

Hello, bookworms! This month’s Lit Club theme is on current world events. Enjoy!

 

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[Image description: Image of book, ‘Breathtaking’.]

 

Breathtaking by Rachel Clarke

 

As a person who had been denied a moment to speak to their loved one before they were intubated, I thought that the doctors and nurses and other medical staff had been forced to abandon their humanity to treat COVID 19. Clarke’s accounts of the first four months of the pandemic were harrowing and eye-opening. Whilst I was safe and sound inside my house, Dr Clarke had not only his patients to treat and protect, but her own family. The development of the pandemic through her eyes not only highlighted the health inequality that pervades society but the government’s incapability to acknowledge this as a fact and take a step forward to tackle it. My only complaint is the events are quite dramatised sometimes but this can be justified by how distressed Clarke was feeling at the time. Who else wouldn’t be restless when the government’s empty promises could mean the death of the patient in your hospice?


Review by Joselyn.



[Image description: Image of book ‘Year of Plagues’.]


Year of Plagues by Fred D’aguiar


Year of plagues can be very aptly described as a “chronicle of a year of trauma”. Fred D’aguiar starts his memoirs with his recollection of worries about yet undiagnosed problems with his bladder and how it affected his life up until the autumn of 2019. When the fateful words of “prostate cancer” are finally uttered he decides to do what his favourite authors did before him: to write a memoir of his suffering. 


First few chapters are preoccupied with his pain and uncertainty of the future, his decisions to only cautiously involve his family in this battle. And yet, we as readers, perceive the underlying anger towards his condition, D’aguiar’s rage towards something alien that tried to consume his life. Later, he decides to fight back the disease not only with the chemical cocktail of various medicine he has to take but also with music and poetry. Through chanting, meditation, food, family, and his version of spiritualism, he tries to keep his head above water and stop his pain from consuming his life.


And yet, cancer is only the first of his plagues. Right before he is to have an operation Covid 19 enters the scene and everything is thrown out of balance once again. He has to wait over and over again as the day of his surgery is moved further and further, as if the virus, he writes “assumed the role of an aid to my cancer”. This predicament awakens his childhood memories of Guana and the tales of Anansi, the trickster spider god. Fred D’aguiar writes about the power and peace he found in channelling Anansi through him, trying to adapt to the situation and dealing with the changes his body goes through as valiantly as he can.


And finally, the author writes about the societal ill of anti-Black racism, that came to the forefront of American media after the brutal police killings. D’aguiar is enraged once again, this time, forgetting himself as an individual and joining the movement for justice and bettering of society. He talks about this period as: “That feels certifiably diagnosable. That I have depression wrapped in rage.” These later chapters of the book are filled with him trying to work through this rage using the only way he knows how: poetry and music.


Fred D’aguiar’s memoir is a wild book. Part of his defiance and rage towards the plagues that gripped his life is to throw everything he has at the page. The result is beautiful and articulate even if sometimes he rambles on and almost loses the thread. But his rage to live himself and let others join in on the celebration shines through every sentence.


Review by Kseniia.



Thank you for supporting Risen Zine! See you in the new year, bookworms.