Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Around link land

This post by Sandra Beasley, a writer who quit her job during a recession to write full time, really hit home for me. She does have a book under contract, so it's a smart move. Still, I see the risks.
A new collection of essays by Chinua Achebe. Reviewed in the Christian Science Monitor.
I saw This Is It (the Michael Jackson rehearsal film) this weekend. Enjoyed it - I'll always enjoy his music. Now I see that there's a book about his final years. I'm interested in it, but afraid it will be so sad and chaotic. Here's a mediabistro post on it.
There's a new Coretta Scott King book out - by Ntozake Shange. Looks wonderful.
Carleen Brice weighs in on the Precious debate (which is also a debate, again, about Sapphire's novel, Push).
Do you know about The Black Book. It's a compendium of images from Black history in the U.S. A 35th anniversary edition is out now. The original editor was Toni Morrison. Thanks to Felicia Pride for writing about this on

Monday, November 09, 2009

The Help and resentment

I am now considering reading Kathryn Stockett's novel "The Help."

If you've been following the fawning and the criticism of the book, you'll know why I am actually taking time to think about whether I want to read it.

If you haven't, here's my quick overview of the brouhaha:
Stockett is a southern-born white woman who has written a book with Black maids speaking in dialect. Her white female protagonist goes and captures their oral stories.

The book has gotten so much attention and great reviews and her publishing story is even being covered. (The book was rejected by scores of literary agents before she hit paydirt).

I am (was) so reluctant to even see this book, much less read it. Honestly I know that I harbor more than a little resentment when Black stories told by white authors/protagonists are seen as literary victories.

I wonder ...
if there is a Black author whose book, published in the same year, isn't getting even half the attention of this tale.
if there are Black authors who can't even get signed to an agent, much less a publishing house, because their story isn't seen as hot, or authentic, or something.
how many non-Black readers will pick up this book, buy it, read it and spread the word, but will not see books by Black authors because of the way bookstores or organized, or because those books don't receive coverage, or because they just don't look for them.
if this story comes to define the contemporary reading of Black women in the servant class in the South.
if reading it will be annoying ... will I constantly question the voice, the dialect, the motivations.

I am leaning toward reading it because ...
a friend I trust has read it and found it worthwhile.
it's really shallow to have this much resentment about a title I haven' t even read.
it will likely be made into a big Hollywood movie with a great African American cast and we don't get many of those, so I'll have to go see it.
I'm in an MFA program and I really have to make myself read outside of my pleasure reading bounds.
secretly, I want to know what's in her book that's causing all the attention.

I don't begrudge her attention, I think. I just wish I could hear so much attention lavished on my favorite African American authors writing about the Southern experience.

More on Stockett and The Help:
Amazon listing

Kathryn Stockett's site
Huffington Post

The Huffington Post piece links to others ... so it's a good start.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Link roundup - starting with Mrs. Obama

Lots of coverage about the new book by the editors of the Mrs. O blog. I've been a fan of the blog and am curious about the book. I haven't yet held a copy in my hands, that final test of whether I'll make the leap and buy a book. Here are a few links in case you haven't read it yet.

"Taking a Hard-bound look at first lady's fashionableness," Washington Post

Book explores Michelle [Obama's] icon status, Politico

And other links -
I read about Jericho Brown receiving the Whiting Award on Tayari Jones' blog. Now here he is featured on mediabistro's galleycat. Cool.
As always, there are jobs on the Practicing Writing blog :) Plus an extension of the Lilith contest in fiction - the fiction must portray Jewish women. And since I've known at least one Jewish woman of African descent, this fits in here. (Our world is wide).
Though I am from South Carolina, I had not heard the story of Edith Childs, the Greenwood, S.C. woman behind the Obama campaign's "Fired up and ready to go" phrase. Here's Candidate Obama telling the story. Thanks to Literary Obama for the link to the video.
Marie NDiaye won the Prix Goncourt. I read about her last week. I'm disappointed to see that the prize amount is so low ... abut $15 according to the LA Times book blog. Hopefully she'll get a lot of attention and that will be the real reward.