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6189: Face to Face with Madison Smartt Bell~ (fwd)
This post is a pleasure to write because it is 100% positive and uplifting!
Especially in light of Bob Corbett's recent post asking New York Corbetteers
to arrange to meet him on his visit there, I am happy to say that I met
Madison Smartt Bell (he makes you address him with all three
names......kidding!) while he was touring with his new and fabulous book,
Master of the Crossroads. He was reading from his book at the University of
Southern California and he invited me to attend, which I did.
I have to tell this story on myself so indulge me here. I have read
Madison's posts from time to time and have exchanged some e-mails of support
with him in the past. I admit to making an assumption about him. I assumed
he was Haitian...;) So as I sat there in a classroom, feeling a little out
of place with all the students filing in, I watched for this person I was
looking forward to meeting. Finally a couple of men came in, one was black
with a goatee.......this was SURE to be him, I smiled.....he probably thought
I was nuts. He was with a tall white man who was SURE to be the professor of
the class who engaged Madison to speak there. I watched the preparations,
the piling of the books on a table, water for the speaker placed there.
Finally Madison (the black one) got up to the podium to begin his
reading.......and I had to start to laugh at myself. HE was the professor
and he was introducing Madison Smartt Bell.......the white one. It was a few
minutes before I lost all amusement over my silly assumption...as he began to
read from his book and weave a spell of old Haiti for us.
He began by speaking a little Kreyol, asking if anyone spoke it.....I was too
shy to speak so as he looked at me I shook my head no......oh well, no guts
no glory. He had chosen a passage to read that was very moving and emotional
and soon I was into the story. It was mesmerizing and heart wrenching and
now as I read the book, I can hear his voice reading the words.....the artist
himself. He says he is from Baltimore when I ask him......but I remember how
he said "wine" as he read, and he said it with a gentle drawl that made me
think of Virginia, but it was Tennessee that made him say wine that way.
We had a great talk afterwards and exchanged stories of Haiti and we may have
brought you all up once or twice! It was a thoroughly wonderful experience
that I highly recommend to all of you. If you get a chance to meet a
Corbetteer, especially one with whom you feel a kindred spirit....do it.
And as for Master of the Crossroads, it is a beautifully written historical
novel with imagery that is so lovely and so evocative that you will be
transported to Haiti in no time. His non-historical characters are well
fleshed out too so as to make up for the lack of known information on the
historical ones. Of course I bought the book and Madison signed it for me.
If you love Haiti, you will love this book, I guarantee. Thanks again
Madison for a great meeting and for writing the book.