Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Helon Habila's latest line


"Often he goes to the window to stare at the footpath that runs through a cut in the wire fence to meet the road, but only dead leaves wash on the hard brown earth, back and forth, lazy, aimless, as if mocking the manic scream that lay curled in his chest, spring-tight, a tiger waiting to leap." This is the last line Helon Habila has written, according to Esquire. The line is followed by an interesting little explanation by Helon Habila on his latest writing project: a noir story for Chris Abani's collection.

6 comments:

Christian Writer said...

Carms, are you sure you're not stalking this man?

Talatu-Carmen said...

LOL! (Don't ask me what I'm doing up at this time of morning.) Ok, I confess, I have a google alert that I started while writing my MA thesis. So, I suppose I am google-stalking...

Christian Writer said...

My sister. I dey wonder o because if he has to notify Interpol...

Fred said...

Perhaps Mr. Habila's penchant for using other's work as starting blocks for his (Browning's poem, Plutarch's Lives, etc.) is commendable, I guess. I wonder if he ever had an original idea?

Perhaps I'm too harsh.

I'm still waiting to read his earlier work.

Talatu-Carmen said...

@ Christian Writer. just a harmless graduate student with a penchant for keeping up with the latest writing of my favourite writers... {-; When I write on people's work, I tend to go overboard on wanting to read everything they've ever written to have for comparitive purposes. When writing on older writers, I used to go out and read all of their novels before writing on just one of them (I've run out of time to do that lately), but I like to have the bigger picture in mind. When I was writing my thesis, I had only the one novel and a few other poems and short stories, so google became very handy... {-;

@ Fred,
Pray tell what writers are "original"? All texts are influenced and cobbled together from other texts--Habila is just a little more obvious about it than most--but I think that is a strength. In WfaA, he lifts the character of the prison superintendant straight out of Wole Soyinka's The Man Died--there are other such "liftings" from Sembene Ousmane, Ayi Kwei Armah, Ngugi wa Thiongo, Kafka, the Bible etc.(some acknowledged and some not)--but, of course there's a purpose behind it. In the opening chapter, his character in prison actually "plaigerizes" Sappho and other ancient poets to send as SOS's outside the prison. I wrote a chapter on intertextuality in my thesis---it was ultimately one of my weaker chapters--but it's one of the things that interests me the most in his work because of what he implies about the blurred boundaries between fiction and reality. When you are aware of the background and the meaning in those other works, the intepretation of the work that borrows them becomes more nuanced and complex.

Fred said...

While my butt starts itching when words like “nuanced,” and “complex” are used, it really flares up when they're used together. ;-)

I understand what you mean, although I'd understand it even more if you (ahem) actually posted your thesis!