I bought this book on a whim. A couple times a year, I like to read something unplanned. Often, it produces positive results. That proved the case here for three impressions have stuck with me after reading Chronicle Of A Last Summer. The first is that the author, Yasmine El-Rashidi, is someone I think I’d enjoy sitting down and talking shop with over chai. There aren’t many writers where I’d say that. Secondly, I’m relatively certain, I would’ve liked hanging with her Uncle. Lastly, a deeper sense of Egyptians, if not the country itself, will reside with me because of this book.
This is the story of an Egyptian family, in a country desiring change, told through the eyes of the author. Her style choice is an unusual one for she opts to tell the story in passive prose. I don’t believe there is a single line of actual dialogue in the whole book. It is as if she was telling you about her family over that cup of chai I mentioned earlier.
The style produces a mixed bag of results. On one hand, her point of view focuses the story because it is the vehicle on which this tale rides. The relationships are clear and concise, and as a reader, I felt like I’d been invited into her home.
On the other, I also felt like there are times when she was telling me only half the story. That there needed to be another family member or friend having a cup of chai with us, to fill in the gaps. I would’ve liked to have known more about Baba or Dido. Even how or why she got involved in film and her relationship with her art, and how that changed the dynamics of view point, and in turn, the story itself.
Still, I found this an interesting book. Yasmine El-Rashidi’s writing is compelling and draws you into the story. She also has a turn with phrases. “Emotional lesions of life” will stick with me. The writer equivalent of pounding a goal from mid-field.
Closing the covers of this book was like finishing the chai, and leaving the house. It may be the only house I ever visit in Egypt but it was fascinating and enough to make me crave a second visit. I feel like I should be sending a postcard or something. I give this book 4 of 5 on the rating scale. At less than 200 pages its a quick read and worth your time.