Variant Edition | This Column Has Seven Days #137 // Strong To The Finish
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This Column Has Seven Days #137 // Strong To The Finish

Devin R Bruce is a friend to Variant Edition and to all good-hearted creatures who roam the Earth. In each installment of This Column Has Seven Days, Devin discusses his favourite pop culture experiences of the past week in an effort to share the joy of an overlooked gem, an old favourite that’s bubbled up to the surface, or a classic work that he’s finally gotten around to. Comic books, movies, television, novels, podcasts, music, Old Time Radio: there’s something for everyone. Here’s what he’s been up to this week.

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Lawrence Hill’s The Book of Negroes is a transportative and transformative book, one that I am grateful to have read. It’s presented as the life story of a single woman, Aminata Diallo, who is kidnapped from her village in Niger at the age of 11 and taken to America to be sold as a slave. Thoroughly historically researched — the book’s title is taken from a historical document that recorded the names of 3000 Black Loyalists who escaped to Nova Scotia during the American Revolution — The Book of Negroes is rich in detail without getting caught up in minutia. The book has so many strengths I don’t know where to begin; its prose is immersive, its characters well-rounded and compelling, and its plot a silver thread pulling the reader along at a steady pace. It’s a thick book but a quick read, thanks to Hill’s accessible yet elegant writing style and the clarity and strength he imbues into Aminata. I fell in love with the character within the first twenty or so pages, and it was a joy to be in her company even in the book’s many dark passages. I look forward to visiting her again many times as I get older, and discovering new depth in the story as she leads me through her story.

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If you want to watch a movie where Bruce Lee (Leung Siu-lung, billed as “Bruce Liang”) goes to the Underworld, makes best friends with Popeye and Kwai Chang Caine, and then fights a gang of evildoers that includes Zatoichi, James Bond, The Godfather, Dracula, and Emanuelle, then The Dragon Lives Again is the movie for you. It’s cheesy and silly, and half the action scenes are terrible, but the other half are awesome, and also Bruce Lee is friends with Popeye so what more are you waiting for?

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Standup comedians (and wives) Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher are comedy gold. Their television show, Take My Wife, is hilarious and brilliant (and if their second season doesn’t find a home there is no justice in the television industry). This year the two went out on a comedy tour through the United States, and the fruits of that tour for those of us who were unable to be there in person is the live album Back to Back. It’s practically three short EPs in one album, each one a crystallized gem of humour. The album starts off with the two onstage together, engaging in freewheeling and hysterical banter (or as they would say, “making bickering a marketable and entertaining skill”). Then, each comedian gets a solo set, with Butcher and Esposito each highlighting their intelligence and wit. I was driving when I first listened to the album, and very nearly pulled over to the side of the road because I was afraid I was going to swerve if I laughed any harder. I don’t know if I have a better endorsement than that.

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That’s all for this week, folks. I’m cautiously optimistic for this year and hope you are as well. Until next time, I hope you find some art that makes you feel something. That’s what makes life worth living. I’ll see you in seven days.

AUTHOR: Devin R. Bruce
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