Reading for the month of August 2009

So far, I’ve read seven books in August – a fairly usual mix for me of the literary and the lighter stuff.

I did read Elizabeth Hay’s Late nights on air, for the Accra Book Club.   It was recommended by one of the Canadian members, and though it is not something I probably would have read on my own, I was very glad I did.  Not a galloping read, but still enjoyable, and with so much of a sense of physical place, and weather, and light.   We did have a good number present, at the actual discussion, and I certainly gained insight into a lot of the Canadian-ness of this particular book – since several of our members are from that part of the world.   Food and service at Headlines Hospitality was not really what it should have been though – with the saga of the “chips” orders that couldn’t be fulfilled, but eventually came at the end of the meal providing some amusement!

A couple of Ghana related books too – I do try to read at least one “African” book every month, though these are more about the locales than the actual authors.  M J Poynter’s Greetings from Ghana: an Englishman’s adventures from the city of Accra, was in my opinion not as good as his previous book, Middleburg, which was his autobiography of growing up in apartheid South Africa.   Still there were some entertaining descriptions of aspects of Accra life.   The legacy of Efua Sutherland – Pan African cultural activism, edited by Anne V Adams and Esi Sutherland-Addy is a more academic volume, with a range of pieces about the now-deceased playwright who left a huge heritage on the Ghanaian dramatic scene.   I read this in little bits, but still it was pretty illuminating.

Mixed – an anthology of short fiction on the multiracial experience, edited by Chandra Prasad, I bought because I knew someone who had a story published in this collection.  And because I am the mother of mixed children, I was interested to see how the short stories would turn out.   Maybe I’ll ask A what she thinks of it, but whether she will have the time to read it is another matter!

Then there is the lighter reading in the form of Steve Berry’s The Romanov prophecy and Anne Perry’s The shifting tide. High body counts in both cases, with the former fairly formulaic in some ways, but still fun to read.   Anne Perry’s book was much more atmospheric, with the cold and the fog and the damp of the Thames in Victorian London ever present.

And most recently I finished Charles Stross’s first book, Singularity sky, which combined elements of an action thriller, with isolated worlds undergoing radical and sometimes violent change due to technology.   I enjoyed it.

Personal reactions to first edition of “TimeOut Accra”

I finally got a copy of the slick new magazine “TimeOut Accra” and am still pondering about my reactions to it, and its content, and in some cases lack thereof.

On the surface, it is very slick, with high quality paper, printing and photographs.  So kudos on that score for those who put it together, not exactly a mean feat in this environment.   I am still a little unclear as to who its target audience is, and for what period.  The TimeOut brand is an important part of the magazine, I suspect, and will no doubt attract readers and purchasers (though the copies I saw were in plastic bags – which I hate, as it doesn’t really allow for inshop browsing).

There is nothing that I can see that talks about its being the first issue, who is putting it together, and what it hopes to achieve.   I guess I am wondering about the sustainability… and also whether it will just end up being another glossy magazine, not dissimilar to “EnjoyAccra”, which said it was trying to provide a monthly guide to what was going on in Accra, but ended up in my opinion with a focus on somewhat francophone aspects of Accra life, or rather those that could pay for articles.  And this in my mind, without clear transparency.   In other words a reader may not realise that an article was actually paid for, so essential is an advert for a company or organisation.

Getting back to “TimeOut Accra” – I felt the paragraphs on “Telephones” for instance were neither accurate nor up-to-date.  There was mention of Westel, which is defunct, as a provider of landlines, while there was no mention of Vodafone which took over Ghana Telecom in 2008.  Plus a reader would be under the impression that there was only one mobile provider, while in fact there are five, with another on the way.  And MTN is not exactly the most reliable, even if it is the largest and does have the widest coverage.

I also wondered about inconsistencies in currencies.  Why not give them in $ with Ghana cedis in parenthesis (where needed).  For residents and regular visitors to Ghana the dollarisation of the economy is not news; but for a total newbie, all this could be confusing.

Another first impression was the lack of “more information” – as in books or guidebooks, DVDs or videos, websites, etc…  I did like the pidgin buster, but would disagree about the word “cho” for food.  As far as I know it is “chop”.

More later