This morning, my daughter, Julie, and I were showing my four-year old granddaughter, Serene, a map of the world and how to find North, South, East, and West directions. Somehow, the conversation got around to heading West from San Francisco where we live to arrive in the East—in Asia. Then, we explained to Serene how it was the explorer Columbus’ plan to sail west from Europe and eventually arrive in Asia as well, and that he knew he could do this because he understood that the earth is round. But we weren’t quite sure where exactly Columbus first landed. Julie thought the West Indies, and that sounded logical to me. Funny, we didn’t think to look it up on the Internet like we do everything else.
Later in the day, I was pulling books off the bookshelf—an ongoing task to sort which books I want to keep and which to give away when we move to our new house in a few months. This time, I pulled three books to check out: At a Journal Workshop by Ira Progoff, The Intuitive Way by Penny Pierce, and a book I wasn’t familiar with (maybe my daughter’s, I thought, or one I had bought that I haven’t read yet) titled Memory of Fire: Genesis by Eduardo Galeano.
As I continued browsing at random to see which books ‘spoke’ special words enticing me to keep them, I opened Galeano’s book to the exact page that gave a description of the place where Christopher Columbus first landed in 1492: a place the indigenous peoples of the area called Guanahani in the Bahamas! I had no idea what the book was even about before opening it to that page at random, nor have I ever heard of the little known island of Guanahani! But even more interesting to me than information about the linear progression of Columbus’ expedition, is Galeano’s ability to delve through interesting narrative into the darker implications of Columbus’ intrusions on the New World as well as what the blurb calls his gift to present the reader with a “unified history of the Western Hemisphere.”
I am blown away by the immediacy with which the answer to our question about Columbus came back to us and enthralled by Galeano’s writing in general. The book is a keeper!