Book #4: Out of Africa

I’m not sure about Out of Africa. I’m sure about writing about wanting to read Out of Africa (well, that’s probably because I DON’T want to read Out of Africa). There are just other things I’d prefer to read right now. I’m going to try and make the most of it, though. I think I’ll be able to relate to Dinesen on certain things.

When it comes down to it, I get the sense that she’s writing about a place she’s lived and loved that is not her “home.” Except I get the feeling that Dinesen does consider Africa her home. I can relate to that. I lived in Germany last summer and fell in love with it. I was only there for 90 days, but I have claimed it as “home” ever since. I love it like I love the U.S. (actually, I might even love it more than I love the U.S., but shhh…I don’t want the Secret Service after me). I wasn’t born there, I didn’t grow up there. It’s not technically *my* country to love. Except that it is because I’m claiming it. I feel like Dinesen might feel this way about Kenya. And, of course, she lived there much longer than I lived in Germany. She had a home there; I only had a small, spartan room in the basement of a random family’s house.

I worry, though, that this is going to turn into a highly romanticized ode to a simpler, “purer” culture. When people write that way about the “less-developed” [read: non-Western] cultures, it really botheres me. We don’t need an “African pastoral” to hold up and idealize as THE way to live. Why can’t we just look at how awesome it is that we have all of these different ways of living all around the world?

BUT I do NOT plan on reading this as some pastoral ode to earlier, simpler, better times. I plan on reading it as a love letter from Dinesen to a country she loves that is not hers. And maybe I’ll even write my own love letter to Germany.

Futher, I used to want to be a travel writer. I still try and write “travel-themed” pieces (that I never share with anybody). Maybe reading this will give me some tips on ways to make a place more central to my narratives. I’m interested to see how this memoir hangs together.

Here goes nothing!


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