There's a new biography of Condoleezza Rice out by Marcus Mabry and I read an earlier review of it this week that made me not want to read it. The review today in the NYTimes makes me feel that I need to read it. The book, Twice As Good, is published by Rodale. (The image at left is from the review url and was provided by the Rice family via The Associated Press. Shown are Condoleezza Rice and her mother, Angelena).
I think, as Jonathan Freedland writes in is review, that she is "enigmatic." ANd I know I have conflicted feelings about her because she sits in the Republican camp. If she did not, I would already be a Condi-follower. She would easily be one of our community's most talked about and revered heroines. We'd hold her before all of our children and say, "See, this is who you can aspire to be."
On some of my less partisan days, I think I'm being unfair and short-sighted in not thinking of her as a Black hero. My internal debate around this troubles me - I feel like I'm only proud of Black accomplishments if they're in line with my politics and that feeds into the idea that our community must be a monolith. We are not a monolith and shouldn't have to fit into one mold of beliefs.
(Okay - putting soapbox away.)
An author's career trajectory
Martha Southgate's essay in the NYT Book Review, "Writers Like Me," discusses the challenges of being a literary writer who is African American and writing about African American subjects. She writes about not seeing other writers like her in her writing, book, life circles.
"At the parties and conferences I attend, and in the book reviews I read, I rarely encounter other African-American “literary” writers, particularly in my age bracket. There just don’t seem to be that many of us out there, and that’s something I’ve come to wonder about a great deal."She writes about how the industry sees or does not see Black literary writers. What I found most interesting and fresh, though, was that she talks about the challenge of African American writers who, due to cultural pressure or economic challenges, don't get to the writing until later in life or at all.
She quotes Edward P. Jones and Randall Kenan on those issues.
"It’s just plain harder to decide to be a writer if you don’t have a financial cushion or a long cultural tradition of people going out on that bohemian limb."
I'd be interested to see a list of who is considered a literary writer among African American authors. Anyone want to kick off the list...?
Other quick links
Speaking of Randall Kenan, the LATimes reviews his collection of essays, The Fire This Time. The review is written by Erin Aubrey Kaplan.
USAToday had a story on the new novel by Blair Underwood, Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes last week. The novel, Casanegra, is "a new series featuring gigolo-turned-actor-turned-L.A. tough guy ." All three are listed on the cover as authors of the book. In the article, it's reported that Tananarive wrote the first draft, though. Hopefully the celebrity connection will mean big sales for them. But it is kind of odd to market it as by three people.
Stephen L. Carter's new novel, New England White, is out. Here are a couple of reviews: Miami Herald and in the LATimes (reviewed by Paula L. Woods).