The Library Bar of the Warwick Melrose hotel is loud, dim, and there isn't much to look at--least of all books. It has been touted on Yelp as one of Dallas' best "jazz lounges," and that would be sad, if true. Yes, there was live music and an interesting piano rendition of "Hotline Bling," but the drinks are more expensive than they're worth, and the food isn't anything special. The staff, however, are very kind and accommodating, and for a Tuesday night, the place was pretty busy late into the evening. In the end, however, it turned out to be no more than a hotel bar.
There are troubling lines like "The discovery of the dark races was to me a magnificent enlargement of all my world" and "All Natives have in them a strong strain of malice, a shrill delight in things going wrong, which in itself is hurting and revolting to Europeans." These generalizations do not hold up well to a 21st century reading. However, it would be a mistake to write off Blixen as merely a racist. Yes, she benefits from whiteness and privilege, yes she makes hasty generalizations (about Africans and Europeans), but what we gain from her record is a snapshot of the joys, revelations, and trials of interracial, intercultural dealings in early 1900s, colonial East Africa. Whether or not her observations are politically correct by our standards, Blixen and the native residents of her farm clearly affected each other's lives in a deep and meaningful way.
Blixen's narrative is non-linear, and one section is a hodge-podge of stories, which slow the pace of reading. Also, this book is not the sweeping love story of the Oscar-winning Meryl Streep-Robert Redford movie (great as that is), so you may be disappointed if you read it for that reason alone. However, her prose is full of lovely, memorable images of the animals, people, and landscape. If her words don't make you want to see the Ngong hills and strike out on a safari, I don't know what will.
In the Ngong Forest I have also seen, on a narrow path through thick growth, in the middle of a very hot day, the Giant Forest Hog, a rare person to meet. He came suddenly past me, with his wife and three young pigs, at a great speed, the whole family looking like uniform, bigger and smaller figures cut out in dark paper, against the sunlit green behind them.
If I know a song of Africa,--I thought,--of the Giraffe, and the African new moon lying on her back, of the ploughs in the fields, and the sweaty faces of the coffee-pickers, does Africa know a song of me?
A white man who wanted to say a pretty thing to you would write: "I can never forget you." The African says: "We do not think of you, that you can ever forget us."