Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 6th 2016 Contents B37
March 6, 2016 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
Irma Rambaran, who died on February
23, was a writer who specialised in short
fiction and film.
Her work was published in Caribbean
Beat and the T&T Newsday, among other
places. A longstanding employee of the
government Information Division, where
she wrote documentary scripts, Irma was
also a Derek Walcott scholar and studied
his film works for her MPhil thesis, which
she submitted in 2010.
In 2012, she was awarded a T&T Film
Co grant for her screen adaptation of the
CLR James classic novel Minty Alley. Irma
regularly volunteered at the annual NGC
Bocas Lit Fest.
I met Irma about 20 years ago when we
were both undergraduates at UWI, St
Augustine, and remember her as a fine
person who had deep compassion for others
(as well as the cats and dogs she loved so
well) and a keen insight into the human
condition. You could hear it in her vignettes,
some of which were published in
Prometheus, a tiny but ambitious journal
started by Nicholas Laughlin under the
aegis of the UWI Literary Society.
Irma was a modest person, Nicholas
remembers, and that modesty kept many
people from realising how good a writer
In tribute to Irma, and with the per-
mission of her family, the Sunday Arts
Section republishes here one of my
favourite of her vignettes, Restless, which
first appeared in Prometheus, Vol 1 No 4,
Ask anyone which book made the
most impact on them when they
were in school. Odds are, To Kill
a Mockingbird will be in the top five. The
1960 Pulitzer-winning novel by Alabama
native Harper Lee has been in the front
row of a rare school in educational liter-
ature: a generationally approved book that
students actually enjoy reading.
Atticus Finch, Mockingbird's straight-
shooting, no-nonsense protagonist, made
justice seem like a thing that could be
grown in one's own backyard, whether
you were from Monroeville or Morvant.
It's both bemusing and a bit heart-
breaking to think that Lee never expected
Mockingbird to skyrocket to its global
success and massive appeal. In a 1964
interview with the New York Post's literary
critic Roy Newquist, she seemed startled
that the book had made even a ripple, let
alone a cultural tsunami:
"You see, I never expected any sort of
success with Mockingbird. I didn't expect
the book to sell in the first place. I was
hoping for a quick and merciful death at
the hands of reviewers, but at the same
time I sort of hoped that maybe someone
would like it enough to give me encour-
This was one of Lee's rare interviews,
her most extensive, and the last one she
gave before her death in February this
year. No one would have faulted her for
Mockingbird being the sole, shining star
in her literary legacy. Indeed, the general
consensus was that she was a one-book
marvel---and considering the measure of
what she'd given us, who would com-
This month's Sunday Arts Book Club
looks at the book Harper Lee left in her
wake, mere months before her passing:
Go Set a Watchman (Harper Collins, July
2015). Opinions on Watchman are as divid-
ed as a debate table during wartime: some
despise its very mention; some praise its
certain but rough-hewn potential; some
prefer to pretend that it doesn't exist at
all. Very few, however, exalt it.
In the next three book club posts, we're
going to examine why that is. We'll take
a Southern Gothic tour of the grown-up
Scout's life, chiefly her interactions with
her father Atticus, who still practices law
but is not the same man we've come to
love and respect in To Kill a Mockingbird.
Whether you read Go Set a Watchman
swiftly on the heels of its publication, like
I did, or you're still avoiding the sequel
(argued by many literary critics to be an
actual chronological prequel, or first draft
of To Kill a Mockingbird), there's no better
time than the aftermath of
Harper Lee's death to pick
this book up.
There are ghosts in
spectres of tradi-
tion; ghouls of
secrets we'd all
was so essentially
about standing in a
courtroom of one's
most prejudiced peers
and proudly declaiming
that all men are equal, then
Watchman is about
witness. This may not
be a book to exalt, but
our Sunday Arts investigations into its
bittersweet, sometimes heartbreaking con-
tents will show that it is, despite its dif-
ficulties, an important messenger.
In next week's instalment of the book
club, we examine the roots of the novel,
and ask the unsettling, upsetting question:
Was Go Set a Watchman published with-
out Harper Lee's consent?
Harper Lee's lasting legacy
Author Harper Lee
In tribute to Irma RESTLESS
We heard the shouting as we walked up the hill. It was a man's voice.
"That is Ashley."
An iron pot came through the window, hit the dirt, and sent a semicircle of
dust on to the gate.
"That is Cricket."
A saucepan landed in the yard.
"That is Victor."
"That is Katherine."
A chipped and rusting enamel basin.
We heard a female voice. "Oh gosh man. You go mash up all the wares."
"Man hungry and allyuh watching Young and Restless."
A plate spun through the air, crashed on the gate.
"That is John."
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