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Sep 27, 2000

New book of short stories published

Story Picture
His day job finds him at the Invoice Section of the Customs Department, but in his spare time Karl Tillett is a chronicler of the kind of village life that is rapidly disappearing in Belize. His latest book, “Yenkiman One,” is a collection of short stories that ought to be compulsory reading for today’s Nintendo generation.

Karl Tillett Jr., Author

(Reading an excerpt from the short story “The Lion Sleeps”)

“He was drunk as a lord (his own description). The Old Lion scrabbled about in the kitchen. He was “Hungry bad! Still, he didn’t want to put on a light for fear he might disturb the “Old Lady” so he fumbled his way over to the stove. Aha! He found a pot of stewed beans on the stove. It was cold, but he did not mind. On the table he spied a stack of round whitish disks, tortillas! He thought. Hunger gnawing at his beer sodden guts, he dished up a huge bowl of beans and tore into it with ferocity.

“He war out that beans and tear in the ‘tortilla’ like crazy”. In fact the Old Lion had three of the `tortillas’ along with his beans. Then he hauled himself off to the bathhouse downstairs.”

Karl Tillett

“I didn’t sit down to write a book so to speak. What happened was the about 1996 or 1997, my brother Glenn started to produce a magazine, and he came to me a said “Listen, I need some short stories, or I need a short story. Why don’t you write this one?” I’d always had it knocking around in my head. In fact, I have been sort of a storyteller in the family for a while. I would sit with younger children and just tell them the story, pretty much as my grandmother told me, so I just wrote it. It was fun actually.”

(Reading from “The Lion Sleeps)

“Back upstairs he clumped into the bedroom and fell heavily into the bed beside his wife.

“You dih drop off gial.” he grunted as he shrugged himself into a comfortable position beside her.

“Why darling?” she asked, wide awake as she had been from the moment he put his foot on the bottom treader of the step.

“Well, I noh want yu feel bad, but ah eat some beans and tortilla in the kitchen jus now,” he began.

“Yes, the beans were up to scratch but the tortilla mih taste like paper!”

“But I noh mek no tortilla.” she blurts.

“Well tortilla in the kitchen an it no good at all!” he grumbled and rolled over falling into a slumber almost immediately.”

Karl Tillett

“One of the things that is important about Belize and Belizean culture, is the art of storytelling. In southern Belize, where I come from, in Monkey River, it’s an art. We sit around the campfire and we tell stories. Out at the cayes, we don’t have any TV, and basically you save your batteries in the radio to listen for the weather report, so people sit down and tell stories. They make up stories, they take things that happen and exaggerate them a little bit and just recount what happen. And to make it a little bit more interesting, they would add something here and there.”

(Reading from “The Lion Sleeps)

“She, genuinely puzzled got up and went into the kitchen muttering questioningly.

“Tortilla? I don’t know bout any tortilla.” She lit a glass shade kerosene lamp and saw the “tortillas” and then cracked up. On the table a stack of Amstel beer coasters, one partially eaten, those were the Old Lion’s tortillas!”

Karl Tillett

“People who read this book, will feel some nostalgia for the days of storytelling, especially people who originally grew up in the villages. I don’t know all that much about Belize City, but in the villages, in the rural areas, storytelling is really an art.”

In addition to the five stories by Karl Tillett, the collection contains one story each by his mother and father.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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