Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Demise of papers and day jobs

I'm really saddened by the state (and demise in some cases) of our nation's daily newspapers. There are many issues with the press, but when the print press is on it, they rock.
So today, I'm thinking about the Atlanta Journal - Constitution, which is making big newsroom staff cuts.

The Atlanta cuts in particular remind me of the fact that newspapers are a traditional day job for many writers - and there are a number of authors who've come out of (through?) the AJC, including:
Tina McElroy Ansa, Baby of the Family, Ugly Ways, The Hand I Fan With, You Know Better, Taking After Mudear
Nathan McCall, Makes Me Wanna Holler, What's Going On, Them
Phyllis Alecia Perry (Stigmata)
Valerie Boyd, Wrapped in Rainbows

And others, I'm sure.

So will the demise of newspapers have an impact on the development of our storytellers? Certainly writers develop in other ways and other places. In fact newspapers may actually stymie some writers. Still it's been a home to some of the best.

The more I think about it, many of our authors have a newspaper background - not all, but many. Hopefully the authors of the future will keep writing, newspaper career or not.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Quickly - I'm up too late

Here's a story about the upcoming Callaloo conference at Washington University.

Connie Briscoe has a new book coming out in June. It's Sisters and Husbands. Drama!

There is a book titled "Around the Way Girls." It's a collection of three short stories. (I'm not completely random, this relates to an earlier post - disregard if you don't get it).

I'm working on not complaining. So I can't post a little blog item that made me stomp my little (well, not so little) feet. Trying to let it be ...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Monday - reviews and news

I haven't read graphic novels in the past. Sometimes, I'll read about one that sounds interesting, but I never seemed to make the leap to getting one in my hands. Now I am hearing or reading about them more and wonder if I'm missing something.

A couple of things have caught my eye. I received a review copy of Still I Rise, a graphic novelization of the history of African Americans. An easy entry for me into graphic novels.

I was curious about the concept and read parts of the graphic novel, which has a picture of Pres. Obama and other historical figures on the cover.

The foreward to the novel is wonderful, since my knowledge of African Americans and the graphic/comic form is nearly inexistent, it was very educational. I'm glad to have had the book in my hands just for that piece of history. Charles Johnson penned the foreward.

The rest of the novel is interesting, but I couldn't place it. Meaning, it seemed like something that would be engaging for young readers (say 13 and up - there's tough stuff depicted), but I didn't know that I'd pick it up over a traditional history. It would be interesting to hear what a middle or high school teacher would think of this as a tool to get teens interested in history.

I read through parts of it a few weeks ago and am thinking about it again because Beacon Press has announced that it will publish a graphic novel version of Octavia Butler's Kindred. And I really love her work, so I'm interested to see the graphic novel. Though I really can't understand why no one has filmed that amazing book or any of her titles.

Quick links:
I have a review of E. Lynn Harris' latest novel at

The San Francisco Chronicle reviews Walter Mosley's new book, The Long Fall.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Thursday links and such

Over the last year, I've had to play around with two browsers. That was after leaving my PC behind for a Mac. So after the PC-Mac switch, I lost my bookmarks - and yes, I know, those can be moved, but I didn't do it.

And I haven't built my list back up. So I've gone many months without visiting some of the sites I like to read. I was happy to see Carleen Brice post that ringShout, a site begun my some authors who want to focus on African American literary work, is still (back?) up and running.

I am still catching up on posts there, but I found the suggested reading list for a course posting interesting. Go to the site to understand what I'm referencing. I don't hear enough about literary fiction by "us" and that means I just stumble on titles that happen to be in the right place at the right time when I go to the bookstore.

And ringShout is on Facebook - go, writers, go!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Black History Month - what's on the table

One night in February, while wandering at my local Barnes and Noble, I saw a table marked "Black History Month."

The vast majority of the titles on the table were urban fiction.

I will admit right now that I am a literary snob. I read all kinds of books, some that could even be called trashy, but when I think about highlighting authors for a heritage celebration, the 'Round the Way Girl kind of titles just do not make the list.

[I really hope that is not the title of someone's actual book - I really just did throw that out for the sake of making the point. And there's nothing wrong with being and around-the-way girl.]

Anyway. The two titles on the table that were not "urban" or "ghetto" lit were a title by Nathan McCall (which could be urban in that it deals with the city, but that would be a whole lot of books, wouldn't it) and a novel by Zora Neale Hurston. [Yes, I should have taken notes, but did not.]

I should have lodged a little protest, but did not. Shame on me.

I am still flabbergasted that there's a manager or buyer or someone at the company who thinks that the hustler/gangsta/golddigga titles can make a Black History Month display.

How does that happen? I would have thought that the company would send a list of stores of recommended titles. But perhaps it's done store by store.

Still, it was disappointing. And no, it wasn't like the hoax in Coral Gables with a monkey title next to Obama books. This was an entire table - more than a faux stocker could handle without being noticed.

One upside, though - my kids weren't with me to peruse the titles. :|

Friday, March 13, 2009

A new book from an old favorite, other links

Paule Marshall has a new book out - it's a memoir. Here's the review in the NYTimes.

The book, Triangular Road, is a memoir about writing and finding her voice in the triangle formed by Barbados, Africa and Brooklyn. I read Brown Girl, Brownstones in college, where I was just beginning to learn about the connections from the U.S. to the Caribbean and Africa.

That triangle has been very important in my own thinking about my places in the world, so I'm excited about hearing what Paule Marshall has to say. She's on tour, she's 79 and still writing.


I'm falling in serious like with ...

Literary Obama, a blog about all things literary related to the Obama family. A wonderful idea, the blog is edited by a literature professor in South Carolina - making me even more interested, since I'm an OCG - Original Carolina Girl.

The Practicing Writing blog. I need all the tips and updates on practicing as I can get. So I try to check it daily. Nope, it's not African American - just writing. Still applies.

A recent invite I received to a baby shower - with a request for books by and about African American, Caribbean and African girls and women. I can't go to the shower, but I can't wait to buy the books for this baby's library. I have lots of ideas, but if you've heard of something really new and cool featuring "us" please send a note ...