Monday, December 18, 2006

Mom lit, anyone?

There's an article up at the nyt on the latest trend (meaning it's probably already over), mom lit. Basically, chick lit authors and readers are now having babies. I think this mania for labelling books chick lit has gone too far. I've read a couple of "chick lit"-y titles and been put off by others because they seemed to be chick lit.

The mom-centricity of some parts of our culture seem to be almost purely market-driven and I think that's the case here. But as a mom, I am interested in some of those stories that have some mothering angle. But I'm also interested in fast-paced murder mysteries and thrillers, though I hope to have nothing in common with those protagonists anytime soon.

But with this mom lit trend, I'm thinking again about how that affects or excludes black authors and readers. For instance I really enjoyed Jennifer Weiner's Little Earthquakes (she's quoted in the nyt article and has commented on it in her blog), both because I recognized many of the challenges the mothers faced and because it seemed more realistic to me since it wasn't an all-white cast of characters. (Yes, the black mother is married to a professional athlete - which I could make a case for as a stereotypical way to insert a black mother. But she wasn't the maid, or the personal assistant, or a recipient of the white character's charity). I wonder if there are black authors whose books would easily fit within the mom lit category but aren't being placed there and who may be missing readers because they've been lumped into a racial niche.

Can you think of any black authors who have written mom lit (or have something coming out?) Let me know, I'd like to check them out.

Another thing the article touches on is the over-the-top wealth of some of the characters in these novels. Yet I think it is entirely possible to have an engaging novel about women/people/mothers who are not obscenely wealthy. It might even be a. better. book.

Jump at the Sun
I meant to comment on Kim McLarin's book below - but, I got a little distracted. Anyway, I recommend it. It's interesting that I was reading it around the time that Bebe Moore Campbell passed away. McLarin's novels have more depth than much of what is pushed onto the African American shelves. Jump at the Sun is no exception. I was impressed with the way she weaved one mother's story as really a part of her family's maternal history and made all the women sympathetic to some degree (for awhile anyway). I am reading a lot of really light fiction now and McLarin's novel is not light - it pushed me to think and gave me characters too complex for me to easily dismiss or embrace. It also left things kind of unsettled and it was good to read something that was more realistic, with a story that isn't all tied up at the end.

A reading Dec. 22 in Baltimore:
We have reached the last stop on the 2006 tour of Growing Up Girl: An Anthology of Voices from Marginalized Spaces.Red Emma's Books will host the contributors on Friday, December 22, 2006 at 6:30pm. If you haven't had a chance to attend a reading this is a great way to end the year (and pick up some last minute autographed Christmas presents). Spread the word! Also keep an eye out for the new 2007 tour schedule in a couple weeks.Red Emma's Books Reading and Book SigningFriday, December 22, 2006800 St. Paul Street Baltimore, MD6:30pm Michelle national resource for poets/writersand the folks who love us!

I just missed the Growing Up Girl event at Charis in Atlanta. Hopefully some of the authors will make a swing near me in 2007.

Review surfing:
SF Chronicle on Amiri Baraka's short story collection, Tales of the Out & the Gone.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Do cookies and writers belong together?

This is going to be a (hopefully coherent) hodge-podge of a post. Due to the lateness of the hour and all the random things I've run across at times when I haven't been able to post.

Kitty Kelley's newest bio-subject is:
That's right, Oprah. I would love to read a good biography of Oprah, though I feel she has told so much of her own story, that it'd make more sense for her to do an autobiography (and that would probably sell more copies). It will be interesting how it comes out - if it comes out. Got that nugget from galleycat. Here's the article.

Also from galleycat - a promotional idea
Cookies, books and authors. Sounds like a sweet deal, though having such an event at a feminist bookstore seems both subversive and stereotypical. I'll have to think on that for awhile. But I do love baked goods, so I'd be willing to go for the concept. Perhaps Tayari Jones could do it with red velvet cake.

Books in stores - and a contest
Take a picture of Marilynn Griffith's latest book, If the Shoe Fits, on your local bookstore's shelves and you may win a copy. Or you could just buy it after you take the pic, right?
BTW, there's a cookie recipe on MG's site. So she could certainly do the cookie/signing idea.

Are you an Edward P. Jones scholar?
Then this is for you:
Deadline extended for a proposed panel on Edward P. Jones at the eighteenth annual conference ofthe American Literature Association to be held in Boston, May 24-27, 2007.Papers that focus on his short fiction are particularly encouraged, though papers on his novel, TheKnown World, will be considered. All approaches are welcome.Please email 200 word abstracts and a CV no later than January 10, 2007 to Gregory Miller,University of California at Davis (
Pulled from kalamu's cyberdrummers listserv for and about writers of African descent. Email to be added.

Review surfing
WashPost review of There Goes the Neighborhood: Racial, Ethnic, and Class Tensions in Four Chicago Neighborhoods and Their Meaning for America By William Julius Wilson and Richard P. Taub

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

WSJ, new-2-me blogs, McLarin's novel

I decided today to get deeper into making this a viable blog. Naturally that sent me on a hunt for links and interesting things to share. Here's what I've found so far (and probably all for tonight!)

New-2-me blogs:
Mat Johnson, found via a link on Nichelle Tramble's blog. (For the record, I vote that Nichelle keep blogging.) Mat has some interesting posts about commercial fiction, self-publishing and the state of the black literati - and yes his site is called Niggerati. Talk amongst yourselves about that one - perhaps there's a Michael Richards joke in there somewhere. I haven't read all of Mat's posts, but found the one I did read (#3) to be provocative. Are the self-published, so-called ghetto lit authors working on the craft? Does it matter if they still sell?
And speaking of selling, I have a 99% unread copy of B-More Careful available really cheap. I bought it to check out the craze and just could not even force myself to read it. So if the author is working on the craft, I'll never see the work, since I will not risk the money again.

Anyway, Mat's work looks cool, and I'm particularly interested in the Walter White-inspired graphic novel coming out next year. I'll have to get some of his work - talk in comments about it if you're familiar with his writing.

Also stumbled into Felicia Pride's blog and she had a post about a WSJ article about black authors. I'm not a suscriber, so I'll have to go to the hard copy tomorrow. Here's what's available on their site as a preview for non-subscribers:

Why Book Industry Sees the World Split Still by Race
By Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg
Word Count: 1,851 Companies Featured in This Article: CBS, Borders Group, Wal-Mart Stores,, Barnes & Noble, Pearson
Brandon Massey's readers tell him they know just where to find his horror novels -- in the African-American section of bookstores. He's torn about whether or not this is a good thing.
"You face a double-edged sword," says Mr. Massey, 33 years old. "I'm black and I'm published by a black imprint, so I'm automatically slotted in African-American fiction." That helps black readers to find his books easily and has underpinned his career. At the same time, he says, the placement "limits my sales."
Should fiction written by black authors be shelved in African-American departments, a move that often helps ....

And no, Felicia, you're not the only one:

Am I the only one that hadn't heard about Angela Bassett and her husband's
Courtney Vance's new book entitled, Friends: A Love Story? It's being published
by Harlequin/Kimani Press this January