Thursday, July 28, 2005

E-Drummers, Authors Elsewhere, Notes

Welcome to all the visitors who saw the posting on Kalamu's listserv - and a big thank you to Kalamu for that ever bountiful list.

In Authors Elsewhere
Lisa Teasley has an essay in this month's
Real Simple about, as she puts it, "growing up with dark skin in a eurocentric culture that doesn't revere blackness as beautiful." So check it out. Lisa is the author of Dive and Glow in the Dark.

Authors on the Web
I posted earlier about the lack of a site for Terry McMillan. Well the site is up (or back?) and it's good. I particularly like the family photo animation.

I'll be back later this week with more - got to get some rest tonight. Keep sending those links!

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Reviews, Authors Elsewhere, Whatnots

Authors writing elsewhere

Danyel Smith has a nice essay in the current Essence (with Terrance Howard on the cover) about falling for her new husband. That's cool for two reasons - the fact that Essence is devoting some pages to Black marriage and it's an opportunity to congratulate Danyel on finding wedded bliss. Check out her new novel, Bliss, as well. She's doing a few readings these days.

John Fountain had a piece on why he stopped going to church in the Washington Post last week. He raises good questions about the materialism of church leadership and the lack of energy, funds and programs directed toward the very real problems in the community. Thanks to Tayari Jones for the link. John is the author of True Vine: A Young Black Man's Journey of Faith, Hope and Clarity.

Shelf Segregation
Here's an essay in The Book Standard that is a response to an essay by David Leavitt in the NYTimes about the closing of a gay bookstore in NY and the status of gay fiction. The Book Standard piece, by Johnny Temple, makes the comparison of the marginalization of gay fiction in general stores with similar treatment of titles by Black authors. Most of this will be familiar to lovers of Black books who can't find certain authors in big stores or are frustrated when their own titles are limited to the "race shelf." What I found most interesting is that, except for a mention of James Baldwin, there was no mention in either piece of the recent spate of Black gay literature. Now where are those books placed? On the Black or the gay shelf? I've noticed in several stores that those few shelves tend to be close together, if not adjacent. Another example of double invisibility.

Terry Update
The hits keeping coming. Here are reviews and stories about Terry McMillan and her new novel, The Interruption of Everything.
NY Daily News story
Seattle Times review
USA Today review
Philadelphia Inquirer review
Chicago Sun-Times review

Book Trailers?
What if you could see a trailer for a book? Yes, a visual interpretation of the written word - as a promotion vehicle. That's what the folks behind have come up with. I went there after reading about VidLits on MJRose's Buzz, Balls & Hype site. Watched the vidlit for her novel, The Halo Effect, then watched the Bertice Berry vidlit for When Love Calls You Better Answer. First of all, MJ Rose is not Black - so don't be confused - BBB is aware of that. Her site is great though with loads of insight on book publishing and marketing. Both vidlits were for novels I probably would not have picked up, but the animated promos piqued my interest in both of them. Something to check out.

Proceeds from a new book, titled 100 Words of Wisdom, will go toward fighting domestic violence. According to the book web site, Dr. Julianne Malveaux and are among the contributors. I love the animated woman on the site - though I must admit when I realized she follows your cursor, I did try to make her cross her eyes!

R. Spot Barber and Books in San Diego has closed due to a rent increase.

The African American Odyssey, a college text, has been revised for high school students. Here's a story in the Philadelphia Inquirer about the text, the differences between the two versions and the content.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Readings, Poetry, and Reading Lists

Christopher John Farley has two upcoming readings for Kingston by Starlight - check him out if you can.

July 19, 7 p.m.
McNally Robinson
52 Prince Street
New York, NY 10012

July 25, 7 p.m.
Pirate Soul Museum
524 Front Street
Key West, FL 33040

Sapphire was a master artist in residence at the Atlantic Center for the Arts (New Smyrna Beach, FL) this summer and there was a good article about her and the associate artists in the Orlando Sentinel last week. One of the associate artists is Glenis Redmond from N.C. The closing event for the residency - open to the public, is Inside/Out at the ACA tonight. Begins at 7:30 p.m.

Beware the Reading List
The president at Prairie View A&M is handing out a list of 19 must-read works by Black authors so that students, regardless of race, know the Black experience. That is the lead-in in a Houston Chronicle story about concerns that the Black university is losing it's historic and Black identity. That caught my eye because I also read this story in the St. Pete Times earlier this month about a teacher who is accused of forcing students to read Black authors.

I remember other stories about non-Black teachers doing things that might be read as culturally sensitive and progressive or racially inappropriate, depending on your viewpoint. And a story about African American parents who had a problem with their child having to read a novel about a lynching in class. They didn't want him to be embarrassed in his predominantly white classroom. This kind of attitude makes my head spin - and not in a good way. I can't believe that parents are worried their child will be embarrassed by his history and would actually ask to have a book pulled. Or that they would accuse a teacher of bias for introducing titles by Black authors. But of course, I don't know the whole story in either instance.


Professor and poet Lorenzo Thomas of Texas has passed away. Here's the Houston Chronicle obit. Here's a graph from the obit that gives some idea of his influence:

During his years at Queens College, Thomas joined the Umbra Workshop, a collective that met on the Lower East Side and served as a crucible for emerging black poets, among them Ishmael Reed, David Henderson and Calvin Hernton. The workshop was one of the currents that fed the Black Arts Movement of the '60s and '70s, the first major African-American artistic movement after the Harlem Renaissance.

Black Author Summer
The LA Times did a nice piece on Black women authors and the six who have new titles out now (Terry McMillan, Pearl Cleage, Valerie Wilson Wesley, Benild Little, Connie Briscoe and Bebe Moore Campbell). I glad to see they way they give one another props.

Campbell's book, 72 Hold, deals with mental illness and family issues. I thought is was interesting to see on Kyra Davis' (Sex, Murder and a Double Latte) blog, that she is "coming out" about her experience with a family member with bipolar disorder. It's wonderful that they're talking about mental health issues - and hopefully helpful to someone out there.

Friday, July 15, 2005

A Few Quick Things

Much like Tayari Jones, I don't mean to be obsessed with Terry McMillan, but the current back and forth between her and her soon-to-be ex-husband is interesting to watch. And listening to her finally talk about this on the Tavis Smiley show this week was interesting as well. So here are a few more links:

Audio from the Tavis show (also a transcript)
Column by John McCann in Durham (mentions a local book club, too)
Keith Boykin's column in the Southern Voice mentions Plummer (and Luther Vandross and J.L. King) as he writes about images of black gay men

Christopher John Farley's Kingston by Starlight is mentioned in the August issue of Vanity Fair (with Martha on the cover). The mention isn't online, so you'll have to get your hands on a hard copy to read the Hot Type column.

Festival Alert
The National Black Arts Festival in Atlanta begins this weekend. This is one of my favorite festivals - and I'm sad I won't be there this year. If you can get there, check it out. Among the authors who will be there: Maya Angelou, Guy Johnson, Tony Medina, Nikki Giovanni, jessica care moore-Poole, Valerie Boyd, Malaika Adero and more.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Terry, Bebe and Real Life

First of all, we'll probably make a Monday (or Tuesday for the three day weekends) regular feature out of the Sunday reviews of any authors we're watching. Here's what ran this past weekend in a few papers:

Lots of coverage for Bebe Moore Campbell's 72 Hour Hold(Knopf, June 28, 2005)
Reviews in: Orlando Sentinel | LA Times + related essay, both by Paula L. Woods | Interview with Ed Gordon on NPR

The Icarus Girl, by Helen Oyeyemi
Washington Post BookWorld

Lots of talk about how real life affects fiction in the reviews and interviews around Campbell's new book. There's also a lot of talk about reality and fiction and where they meet as people dissect the Terry McMillan divorce saga. Jimi Izrael has a commentary on Ed Gordon about the "down low" component in her personal drama and Tayari Jones blogs about the dangers of pressuring authors to use their personal lives to promote their fiction.

Seems like there's a line that McMillan crossed that Campbell hasn't. And understandably so. McMillan was telling just her story when she talked about her Jamaican honey. Campbell has been circumspect about naming the loved one who has mental illness, obviously to protect him or her and the rest of their family. And there's a public education aspect to her conversations about the mentally ill - the family connection makes her a credible spokesperson. Still, I don't fault McMillan for being upfront about her relationship and how her groove was the foundation for the novel and movie. She was happy and that's what happy people do - shout about it. It might be painful and embarrassing now, but it was glorious then. I wonder if this would merit as much attention if her soon-to-be ex was simply a player, a hetero player or just triflin or boring or whatever? Would we even care? I don't think so.

Still, it's mighty handy for her to get this much attention right before her next book appears.


If you've been here before, you know this blog has seen many a template. Just trying to find something we like and make a committment. So bear with us on the look and feel, please.

Also realized that in the last incarnation the email address was missing - so give us a shout now that it's conveniently in the corner.