Monday, December 27, 2010

It's A Wonderful Lifetime in Which to be Born

Our traditional Christmas bacchanal once again left us all awash in gifts of wine and books (except for the kids, of course--they got wine and toys). Among Kim's haul was The Book of Negroes.  Despite what you might surmise from the title, it is not John McCain's personal contact list of African-American friends and colleagues, but rather a novel that dramatizes the journey--from down south to up north and on to repatriation in Africa--of a freed slave during the American War of Independence.

Coincidentally, The Vancouver Sun ran a story on the book in this weekend's edition, which includes this quote from the novel's author, Lawrence Hill:
It was such an untold story: the idea that some African people were drawn into slavery in the Americas, and then came to Canada and went back to Africa in the same lifetime in which they were born.
Unless you're Shirley MacLaine, you only get the one lifetime--and pretty much by definition you have to be born into it. That final prepositional  phrase, in other words, is about as necessary--and almost as absurd--as the tasteless novelty pencil sharpener my sister bestowed on me.