pen rainbow

Monday, July 25, 2011

Monday—The Reading Corner: More of The Same

Currently reading—Blue Shoes and Happiness
The same being the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency books & the HBO series!  

Since my last Reading Corner blog post two weeks ago, I've read 4 more books in the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series and watched the first 4 episodes in the HBO television production (< click for a schedule).  The shows are available On Demand until July 31.

You can also purchase the television episodes on iTunes and watch them on your laptop.  The cost is $2.99 per episode on iTunes or $20.93 for the entire 7-show series.  As with all HBO productions, everything about this series is enjoyable.

Here's where I'm at with the books.  Every one of them gets a 5-star rating!  

The Kalahari Typing School for Men (#4)  

The Full Cupboard of Life (#5)

In the Company of Cheerful Ladies (#6)

Blue Shoes and Happiness (#7)

Seven down, five more to go in the series.  What makes these books so much fun to read?  Great characters, first of all.  But, I'm also starting to absorb some of the cultural aspects of the stories, like the language and certain customs.

The Language
"Ko-Ko!" means that you're about to enter someone's space, and you're announcing yourself before entering.  It's also asking for permission to enter.  In Africa, territories are respected.  Trespassing on a lion's patch of savanna may land you on the lion's lunch menu that afternoon.  It only follows that people show the same deference toward the home or workplace of one another.  "Ko-ko!" is a friendly verbal doorbell.

I love the way that they roll their r's for emphasis.  Mma Makutsi is especially prolific when it comes to rolling her r's.  The effect is to sharpen the focus of a statement.  It is also a demonstration of high regard toward an individual, as in "Rrrrrrrra Matekoni."  You'll have to watch the episodes to get a sense of this delicious linguistic expression.

The Food
Speaking of delicious...I have a craving for cooked pumpkin.  What can I say?  Mma Ramotswe loves a good pumpkin, and so do I.  And, fruitcake...gotta have a slice of fruitcake.

There is a companion cookbook distributed in the UK, available through Amazon from several different vendors.  I purchased a hardback version for $25.54 + $3.99 shipping, ordered online from  the_book_community, shipped from Oregon in the U.S.  

The title is, Mma Ramotswe's Cookbook, Nourishment for the traditionally built, written by Stuart Brown (charity worker, journalist, and former BBC producer); 144 pages; Polygon Press, November 1, 2009

It should be here by the end of the week!  Watch next week's Tuesday's Cupboard for my first attempt at traditional African cooking.

The Clothing
Since I started reading the books, I've been trying to picture the Speedy Motors coveralls.  Are they one-piece coveralls?  Are they grey, white, khaki, or denim?  Are they covered with axle grease?  And, what about Grace Makutsi's shoes?  The green ones with the sky blue lining featured in, Blue Shoes and Happiness, and her dancing shoes with the big, shiny buckles?  Alexander McCall Smith creates such vivid descriptions of the characters that it is hard to imagine that they could get any better.  Until you see the HBO episodes.

I'm in love with the vibrant mix-and-match shweshwe dresses and scarves!  Jo Katsaras, Emmy-nominated costume designer for the HBO series, and Zureta Shulz, wardrobe supervisor for the pilot episode, deserve all the credit for adding depth and richness to an already rich literary canvas.

Staying Power
Even I am surprised that I am still blogging about The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, but I've never really read anything like it.  With each book, there is something new, and the gentle progression of everyday human mysteries keeps me engaged.  I don't know how I missed out on the HBO series in 2009, but it was nominated for Emmys in 3 categories:  Outstanding Guest Actress In A Drama Series (The Boy With the African Heart); Outstanding Music Composition For A Series (Original Dramatic Score); and Outstanding Costumes For A Series.  It should have been nominated for acting and directing, as well, because this is a great production.

It's like a grown-up version of your favorite childhood summer book series.  It lasts a while, and you can't wait to start the next book.