Thursday, May 10, 2007

Richard's first bookstore

It was during Nat's reign, just before he decided he had better things to do with his life than be an alpha male. We had just finished darting in our park, were on our way to freelance dart in another one, stopped in Nairobi in between for resupplying. Richard's first trip to the big city. What a blast. I dragged him from one end to the the other, taught him about traffic lights. I tortured him with lectures about urban sociology, showed him his first supermarket, his first cinema, his first rush hour. He was horrified by the cars--"I think there can be so many cars here because there are no buffalo." This seemed sensible enough. A Kikuyu (the city slicker tribe in Kenya) mistook Richard for a Kikuyu and addressed him in that tribal language, and Richard glowed in his implied cosmopolitan status. Even more pleasing was Richard's first bookstore. He couldn't believe it. For reasons unknown, Richard had festered with a passion for books unmatched by almost any Kenyan I'd met, irrespective of schooling. He'd sit and plow through them with his rough English (merely his fourth language), make some headway, and get great enjoyment, although he did toss up his hands after insisting that I pass on my copy of The Brothers Karamazov to him ("So, Richard, how's that book going, what is it about?" "Well, it is very confusing. There are these brothers, and they are always talking, and the old man is not a good one, but then they are always talking even more, except when the women are coming in and crying. I think they are white people, but maybe not from America." After that, he gave up on it). But an entire bookstore. I gave him money, told him to run amok, get whatever he wanted, and my heart swelled with vicarious joy.

--Robert M. Sapolsky, A Primate's Memoir


  1. Anonymous10:36 AM

    I like the book quotes you occasionally throw in! In fact, this one I really enjoyed and has caused me to add this book, which I had never heard of, to my TBR list. I also recommended to my Veterinarian sister who I think would love this kind of book.

  2. Thanks, Matt. I think you and your sister will both really enjoy it. My son finished it on Friday and was raving about it to all and sundry over the weekend.

    I'm thinking I might need to reread it. :)


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