Bookworm Chronicles #3: SONG YET SUNG


A room without books is like a body without soul.

Let me begin by saying that James McBride is a fine writer. With Song Yet Sung, he was able to weave gender, race, class, human emotions, and geography so beautifully that readers get a colorful yet moving portrait of what it must have been like living as a slave in the eastern part of Maryland in the mid-1800s.

Song Yet Sung’s main character is Liz Spocott, a runaway slave, who was running away from the attentions of her abusive master. When we first meet her, Liz had been shot in the face, and ends up chained in an attic of a tavern belonging to Miss Patty Cannon, a notorious slave stealer who also picks up runaways and sells them to slave owners in the south. Liz comes to be known as “the dreamer,” because she has prophetic visions of the future, which come to her in dreams. While barely conscious in the attic, an older slave woman tells her bits and pieces of “the code,” an intricate set of signals and words by which slaves can communicate and which may also pave the way to freedom. Eventually, because of Liz’s daring and Big Linus’ help, all of the captives break away from the attic, and Patty Cannon decides to go after them to recoup her monetary losses. But there’s also another person who is hired by Liz’s former owner, Denwood, to track her down, so the odds against Liz have now been stacked higher – even for those who make the mistake of helping her. It is only while she is on the run that she begins to understand the code, and she realizes, with the help of her dreams (visions of what freedom – or the lack of it – means in the future for slavery’s descendants) that it is not yet complete.

The novel brings to fore questions such as: What does it mean to be free? What does it mean to be human? What does loyalty mean? How far will people go for money?

What really sticks out in this novel though is the notion that no one – even those remotely connected with slavery and earning from it – is absolutely free. For example, Denwood, the white slave tracker hired by Liz’s owner has his own reasons for doing what he does. He was feared by most but when his son died and his wife left him shortly after, he himself quite the slave tracking business, withdrew from society and decided to live life in remorseful seclusion. Miss Kathleen, the owner of the slave who helped Liz, is tied to her land and wholly dependent on her slaves for the upkeep of her estate after the death of her husband. Even the feared villain Miss Patty is heavily dependent on slavery for her lifestyle and survival.

Overall, this was a fine read, one that I can definitely recommend. I stayed up pretty much through the night to finish it. James McBride is now on my list of must-read contemporary authors.

 

What are you feeding your mind these days, Loves?

***

Up next: Game of Thrones by George R. Martin

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Not Really A Blogpost


Aside from running 16.61k in 1:31:38 this morning – in lieu of 21k at Earth Run which I had had to beg off from due to lingering migraine when I woke up at 3:30am – my life during the past few days has been pretty uneventful. Painfully vapid. Blah. Oh but perhaps I exaggerate, because it’s really not entirely boring, you know.  There have been some great moments worth mentioning, such as:

  • Davoud and I recently went on a business trip to Singapore to attend a workshop/conference on SEO/SEM optimization facilitated by Kevin Ryan. It was a two-day workshop which taught us a great deal of tricks we will soon be applying on our corporate website. On the last day of training, we dared to volunteer our website to be dissected by Kevin and the rest of the participants and much to our delight, we got rave reviews for it! He mentioned a few things we need to work which shouldn’t be that hard to do, given how skillful oure respective teams are. Davoud’s team handles the technical side of the website, whereas mine, handles the content. It feels great to get validation from an unbiased third party for something we painstakingly worked months and months for.  I’m sure you know exactly how lovely that feels, don’t you?

Davoud's quite enamored by Google maps in Singapore. Helped him loads in getting around the city though it's only his first visit. Me? I'm forever geographically-challenged!

It was also Davoud’s first time to visit Singapore and although our schedule did not exactly permit us to go out and do the usual touristy things, we did have a fantastic time. Met a few nice people, too, especially the fun X-Mi guys who were at the conference as well. Not only did Anette and Max give us a tour of their Google-ish office (with a badass pool table, PS3, massage chair, and endless supply of cold beer), they also gifted us (Kevin, Davoud, and I) with an X-mini stereo!

At the X-Mi office in Singapore.

Darling Chris also took us to this club called Altitude which sits atop (63rd floor) of this building whose name escapes me at the moment. What did I tell you? I have the memory of a dying goldfish! At Altitude, you get a spectacular 360-degree view of Singapore! Drinks are, as expected, a bit pricey but I suppose you do have to shell out a wee bit more for the view. But then again, inexpensive Singapore is most certainly NOT! Ugh.

*kilig*

  • FTW. I cannot tell you more about this lil’ mega-project (little and mega in a phrase: how’s that for an intriguing paradox, eh?) except that it has truly been wonderful working with Kassy, Marga, and Chad.  Three of the hardest-working people I know. These guys don’t know the meaning of the word ‘rest’. One of the few things we share in common. For The Win, indeed. See it for yourself in September! Oh but perhaps I can share this photo?

Reebok Girls

  • I have also been keeping to my bookworm-ing pursuits. I had just finished reading Michael Scott’s The Warlock, the fifth of the Immortal series which Noel got me super hooked on since he lent me the first book, The Alchemyst, last year. I remember it was one of the books I brought to Bali when Chris and I went to attend his friends’ wedding. Now that book five’s out of the way, I feel rather bitin because the last book is not due for release until next year, I think. In the meantime, I have started reading Song Yet Sung by James McBride. It’s a story revolving around colored slave-protagonist, Liz, and the cruel plight of the negro slaves in the 18th century. In that, it may seem reminiscent of Uncle Tom’s Cabin which I have read back in college – not to mention, cried many a night for – but I have only reached page 27 so far, so I really won’t be able to tell you guys more. One thing I can tell you though is that I am finding it quite hard to put the book down. Definitely one of the unputdownable reads I have come across so far. What are you feeding your mind with these days, Loves?