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Reading ‘Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls’ in various parts of Nigeria

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The book: Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, David Sedaris

The place: various forms of national and international transport

I always quite like changing my mind about a writer. Like, when I read Alan Hollinghurst’s The Line of Beauty when it first came out, lugging the enormous paperback with me to Antigua and back at Christmas 2004 (my other book of choice was Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, which demonstrates why I am so devoted to Kindles these days) I really disliked it. So pretentious! All the characters were awful! And Tories, what’s more! Ugh ugh. A few years later, staying wit friends in London, I flicked through bits of The Line of Beauty to remind myself of why I had found it so disagreeable, and ended up reading the whole thing again. So incisive! So well-written! So subtly ironic! Not only was there the pleasure of finding a new book to enjoy, there was a smug delight in being so magnanimous and humble and able to change my mind. Hurrah for Alan Hollinghurst, and hurrah for me!

Likewise David Sedaris. A friend pushed Me Talk Pretty One Day on me year ago, while we were on holiday in Albania, and it was fine, but wasn’t the humour a bit forced? Wasn’t Sedaris a bit too self-consciously kooky and off-beat? Wasn’t it all, perhaps, a little too knowing? And maybe it was – I’d have to reread it to be sure – but whatever it was I didn’t like about Sedaris in 2001, it’s gone now. I managed to not quite laugh out loud on a plane between Abuja and Lagos, but it was a close thing. (It was the stuffed owls that did it.) If Sedaris hasn’t quite gone to the top of the list of Authors I Would Like To Have A Beer with, he’s certainly in the top ten, and possibly even the top five. Perhaps I will have to have an entirely imaginary authorial soiree to accommodate them all.

(NB: I am reading an actual, paper book, with pages and everything. That would be because I left my Kindle on a coach between London and Chepstow last Friday. “Again?” you ask, whereupon I can proudly say NO, NOT AGAIN because last time I left my Kindle on a train between Chepstow and London, which is demonstrably a completely different matter. Thankfully my aunt was on hand to provide me with succour in the form of plane-appropriate reading materials.)*

(My other means of reading is my smartphone, which a) is tiny, b) is often banned for use on planes, and c) has a shattered screen that I have inexpertly mended with tape, so it is not an ideal set-up. However I did manage to get through Laurie Penny’s fantastic Unspeakable Things, despite multiple technical difficulties:


*Footnote from the future: some kind soul actually handed my Kindle in this time around, and thanks to heroic efforts on behalf of my mother, it was returned to me. Pre-Christmas miracle!


Nigeria is growing on me.


Some sort of bright yellow (and very loud) weaver bird, in the trees at the Abuja Sheraton


Terrifying behemoth (presumably oil derrick or similar) under construction in Lagos


Old colonial church (presumably), Lagos


Nigeria takes advertising to a new level


Central mosque, Abuja


For the Love of Lagos


Written by Jess

December 9, 2014 at 7:26 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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