Dreams From My President

February 2nd

I just finished reading, “Dreams from My Father,” per the nudge of my pastor. If you haven’t read President Obama’s first memoir, and you like this genre or politics, I recommend adding it to your bibliophile list. The book is set up in three sections detailing his complicated childhood, race in America, Indonesia and Africa and how his perspective of family, faith and values developed with time. I kept thinking as I read his blunt honesty about the ugly times he recounted, “This dude had no idea he was going to be President.” It is a refreshing read for that if nothing else; how great is it to have someone in the White House who wasn’t prep-school, genetically groomed for the job from day 1? I like it. It gives me that now cliche sense of hope that in fact anyone can be President.

Two sections in particular rang true:

“There does s to be something different about this place [Africa]. I don’t know what it is. Perhaps the African, having traveled so far so fast, has a unique perspective on time. or maybe it is that we have known more suffering than most. Maybe it’s just ht eland. I don’t know. Maybe I’m also the romantic. I know that I cannot stay away from here too long. People still talk to each other here. When I visit the States, it seems a very lonely place.”  — a professor friend of Obama’s in Kenya

“Eventually, the rain stopped, and we found ourselves looking on a barren landscape of gravel and shrub and the occasional baobab tree, its naked, searching branches deocrated with the weaver bird’s spherical nests. I remembered reading somewhere that the baobab could go for years without flowering, surviving on the sparsest of rainfall; and seeing the trees in the hazy afternoon light, I understood why men believed they possessed a special power — that they housed ancestral spirits and demons, that humankind first appeared under such a tree. It wasn’t merely the oddness of their shape, their almost prehistoric outline against the stripped-down sky. “The look as if each one could tell a story,” Auma said, and it was true, each tree seemed to possess a character, a character neither benevolent nor cruel but simply enduring, with secrets whose depths I would never plumb, a wisdom I would never pierce. They both disturbed and comforted me, those trees that looked as if they might uproot themselves and simply walk away, were it not for the knowledge that on this earth one place is not so different from another — the knowledge that one moment carries within it all that’s gone on before.”

Four out of five bananas, absoloodle.

I am now reading and really enjoying, “The Syringa Tree.” It is a fictionalized tale of a child growing up in South Africa during Apartheid and trying to make sense of the politics from a 4-year-old’s perspective. Next up, “A Spot of Bother.” I also received a lovely box of books from Rachael this weekend. I cannot wait to dig in! Let the end of TV start today; I’m not upgrading my set. I’ve got too much great reading to enjoy instead.


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7 Responses

  1. I am in the process of reading this now. There’s so much I can relate to with him, as he’s only two years older and had a similar early work history (the community organizing part). Just similar frames of reference. I still have to pinch myself to realize that this guy is president.

  2. Kelli, just popping in to say I’m offline for a bit due to computer problems (my laptop has been sent off for repairs and I’m using the library’s computer to send you this note). I can get email on my Blackberry, so when you and Finny decide on the next project, would you be so kind as to send me an email letting me know what the project is? Right now, my laptop is projected to be repaired and returned in about 2 weeks–I’m ever so frustrated and the library only lets me use the computer once a day for an hour.

  3. I loved Dreams from My Father too — and for exactly the same reason you did.

  4. Larissa Stretton February 2, 2009

    Hi Kelli,

    Isn’t “Dreams of my Father” interesting? I read it when Barack was beginning to be a familiar name in politics. I totally agree with you, it is SOOO refreshing to have a “real” person as president. Fills you with hope, doesn’t it?

    Anyway, just wanted to thank you for your earlier recommendations of “The Ridiculous Race” and “Winter Dance”. I read RR, which I enjoyed immensely and my husband loved, loved, loved, WD–he read me some of the really funny parts! Now he wants to read everything that Gary Paulson has written!!

    Thought you’d like to know, and thanks again for sharing!!


  5. Looks like an interesting book – thanks for the nudge!

  6. I loved the book, and I am laughing because I just mentioned it today on myblog with other books I have recently read.I think everyone should read the book. It is wonderfully written and easy to read.

  7. I’m trying to find the book here, coz I really want to read it.