Monday, March 2, 2015

Every Day is For the Thief Kindle Highlights

I felt cheated reading Cole's Every Day is for the Thief.  I felt like it needed to be one-third longer. The story of a Nigerian returning home after living in New York City reads both as a love story to Lagos as well as the gossiping critique of a disappointed lover.

Below are the highlights from my 2014 Reading List selection:

You have 22 highlighted passages

Aunty Folake explains what is going on. Policemen routinely stop drivers of commercial vehicles at this spot to demand a bribe. The officer being told off has drifted too close to his colleague’s domain. Such clustering is bad for business: drivers get angry if they are charged twice. All this takes place under a billboard that reads “Corruption Is Illegal: Do Not Give or Accept Bribes.” And how much of the government’s money, I wonder, was siphoned off by the contractor who landed the contract for those billboards?
Read more at location 150

For many Nigerians, the giving and receiving of bribes, tips, extortion money, or alms—the categories are fluid—is not thought of in moral terms. It is seen either as a mild irritant or as an opportunity. It is a way of getting things done, neither more nor less than what money is there for.
Read more at location 180

What annoys people is that he stole so much so quickly.
Read more at location 186

Note: Parallels to achebe Edit
Most police officers earn between ten and fifteen thousand naira a month. They cannot quite survive on such salaries, which amount to less than one hundred dollars. A friend of my uncle’s, an immigration officer, was once transferred out of state and to a remote area of the country. His refusal to take bribes was affecting his colleagues’ earnings and, by extension, their ability to provide for their families; he had to be sent somewhere where he would be less of a nuisance.
Read more at location 193

Now, in the cool interior of this great house in Africa, proper size is restored. No single body could dominate a room in such a house.
Read more at location 223

He informs me that the universities, the one he attends in Osun State included, are the nerve centers of this activity. For most of the boys, the goal is to get cash so they can live large and impress their mates on campus. They call the scam “nineteen” (a further abbreviation of 419), and they themselves are known as “the yahoo boys” or simply “yahoo yahoo.
Read more at location 259

She moved so easily all I could think of was sunlight
Read more at location 291

The completeness of a child is the most fragile and most powerful thing in the world. A child’s confidence is the world’s wonder. A month later, as I prepare to leave, she says she will miss me. And I know I will miss her too, and I see with a pang that every good thing I wish for this country, I secretly wish on her behalf.
Read more at location 293

There is in every tout the same no-nonsense attitude, the quick temper, the willingness to get into a fight over any and all conflicts. There is a strut they do, a swagger. These are the original wiseguys of Lagos; some of them are as young as fourteen. They do not go home in the evening and stop being touts. The thing is bound to their souls.
Read more at location 327

A thief is a thief; his master will find another boy, another one without a name. The market has seen everything. It must eat. It does not break its habits.
Read more at location 528

It is an appalling way to conduct a society, yes, but I suddenly feel a vague pity for all those writers who have to ply their trade from sleepy American suburbs, writing divorce scenes symbolized by the very slow washing of dishes. Had John Updike been African, he would have won the Nobel Prize twenty years ago. I feel sure that his material hobbled him.
Read more at location 549

They have wonderful solutions to some nasty problems; in this I see a nobility of spirit that is rare in the world. But also, there is much sorrow, not only of the dramatic kind but also in the way that difficult economic circumstances wear people down, eroding them, preying on their weaknesses, until they do things that they themselves find hateful, until they are shadows of their best selves.
Read more at location 584

The worst of the butchers that ran the nation aground are celebrated, without exception. Abacha is there, in his dark glasses. Babangida is there, with his grin. The sequence of posters gives an impression of orderliness and continuity in Nigeria’s postindependence history, and no analysis of the coups and countercoups that were the rule rather than the exception for changes of regime. What, I wonder, are the social consequences of life in a country that has no use for history? It brings to mind the brusque retort uttered by a character in John Sayles’s film Men with Guns in response to a tourist’s query: “Atrocities? No. No atrocities happened here. That happens in other countries.
Read more at location 688

There is a Yoruba word: tokunbo. That is the term for the secondhand imported consumer goods that flood the Nigerian market. It means “from over the seas.” This word is also a Yoruba first name, given to those who were born in foreign countries before being brought back home.Read more at location 900

The fight lies sleeping like a snake in my veins.
Read more at location 966

Everything Good Will Come
Read more at location 1022

Michael Ondaatje.R
ead more at location 1148

But, more important, we do not foster the ways of thinking that lead to the development of telephones or jet engines. Part of that philosophical equipment is an attention to details: a rejection of only the broad outlines of a system, a commitment to precision, an engagement with the creative and scientific spirit behind what one uses.
Read more at location 1235

“Shuffering and Shmiling” was about how, in Nigeria, there is tremendous cultural pressure to claim that one is happy, even when one is not. Especially when one is not. Unhappy people, such as grieving mothers at a protest march, are swept aside. It is wrong to be unhappy. But it is not necessary to get bogged down in details when all we need is the general idea.
Read more at location 1268

The car ahead of us in traffic, a decrepit Peugeot 504, has a sticker featuring a smiling face and the words “Relax! God is in control.” It occurs to me that the barely concealed sense of panic that taints so many interactions here is due precisely to the fact that nobody is in control, no one is ultimately responsible for anything at all. Life in Nigeria, in Lagos in particular, requires constant vigilance. It is entirely possible to put on a happy face, but what no one can really do is relax.
Read more at location 1299

I want to take the little camera out of my pocket and capture the scene. But I am afraid. Afraid that the carpenters, rapt in their meditative task, will look up at me; afraid that I will bind to film what is intended only for the memory, what is meant only for a sidelong glance followed by forgetting.
Read more at location 1452

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