Favourite paragraphs III

They tell me to respect the way we do things here in literature and write about a character dictated by a list that’s been prepared for building bards. By the committee of the Writers’ Board of Kenya: streetkid, prostitute (with heart, perhaps, but victim), fat wabenzi, youth who’s no respect for those who’d cut her clit-bits off, and sundry other minor folk whose role it is to represent the mass (who’ve been betrayed, who only suffer) — and to do this in Gikuyu or Kikamba. Well, that’s fine, for I respect our great tradition of imprisoning our authors. — Stephen Derwent Partington

It is in captivity — ringed, haltered, chained to a drag. The bull is godlike. Unlike the cows, he lives alone, nozzles the sweet grass gingerly, to pass away the time. He kneels, lies down and, stretching out a foreleg, licks himself about the hoof. Then stay, with half-closed eyes, Olympian commentary on the bright passage of days. The round sun smooths his lacquer through the glossy pinetrees. His substance hard as ivory or glass — through which the wind yet plays. Milkless. He nods. The hair between his horns, and eyes matted with hyacinthine curls.  William Carlos Williams

His horses, hard of mouth, swerved suddenly and dashed against a Libyan army. From this single mishap there followed crash on crash. — Sophocles

The motion sun has this pure millimolar thing it does when it settles on the thin layer of dust on the block wood and even before those specks of dust trap the light and disappear into other regions of the air in my mouth-room. Two pairs of eyes in the room dart from object to object and never to each other. The arrangement of shapes and sizes in these rooms is something out of a set in a film written by directed by edited by scored by and produced by a young man in Nairobi with no education and a lot of love and kisses from his mother. Plastic teepee and Tupperware I got as a gift from an Italian man who comes to me in the late night hour, a man who looks at me with blank eyes and offers me his life savings if I can tell him why cold-blooded animals like the shade so much. He often says he loves the sun and he walks for kilometers without water or pauses. He’s third generation Italian-Gikuyu. Once he offered me a story for free. Emphasis on ‘free’. His father, after playing dead in the bloody fields of Wal Wal, 1934, bribed a merchant with silvers and gold to a southern border where he bribed a hunter with anal sex to take him to Marsabit. This man, he likes to spit in my garbage bags, I imagine those who like to spit are hydrated people and I spend nights and days thinking about this. I think about his bad breath and good intentions, his love for highlife benga and the many wrong histories he likes to offer me. I want to be like him, wrong in my convictions and happy as can be. In my garbage cans and in addition to spit are the remains of yesterday where I did things no one has ever done to a vegetable salad and later made that okay with a banana-strawberry-yoghurt splash. A lot of paper has been wasted printing recipes and turning them into manifestos for cats. — Clifton Gachagua

They both laughed the laughter of tipper trucks: it carried all the worry behind them and dumped it in some bola far away. The planets were the dancing hearts of vulnerable witches. Accra could harm the hearts of beings hundreds of feet up in the sky. Accra be sweet-ooooo; only avoid the history, avoid the gutters. When Adwoa Aude ended up finally at her house, she saw Aming standing at her door, waiting to enter with 1976. Her father had thrown her out. Adwoa took her in with her own tall puzzled look. Adwoa was completely exhausted and one had left Sally soon asleep suspended in the sky. — B. Kojo Laing

Wide sea, that one continuous murmur breeds along the pebbled shore of memory. — John Keats

He saw a vendor selling sugarcane from an open-sided van, mangoes in wooden crates and tall cane sheared with twine. Some things get better, Albert thought. A library, a play street, prods to his optimism, block by block. — DeLillo

When a clueless security guard locked up the library with us in it, we spent half the night in there, fucking on the stairs. You bit my lip until it bled and wrapped yourself around me as though the ground were a floe, breaking away from the continent, sending us over a waterfall and out to sea. With my tongue inside you I was licking the insides of a plump oyster. With your breath ragged in my ear I was listening to a shell from an ancient shore of an alien planet. Then, like wall geckos, we climbed out of the bay windows and ran, glittering with fucking, into town. — Nicholas Ochiel

I recall being told, when I first moved to Los Angeles and was living on an isolated beach, that the Indians would throw themselves into the sea when the bad wind blew. I could see why. The Pacific turned ominously glossy during a Santa Ana period, and one awoke in the night troubled not only by the peacocks screaming in the olive trees but by the eerie absence of surf. The heat was surreal. The sky had a yellow cast, the kind of light sometimes called “earthquake weather”. My only neighbour would not come out of her house for days and there were no lights at night, and her husband roamed the place with a machete. One day he would tell me he had heard a tresspasser, the next a rattlesnake. — Joan Didion



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