Sunday, July 20, 2014

How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America by Kiese Laymon

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In this book of essays, which are a reflection on Laymon’s life, nothing is off limits. There are some essays that a broad audience can relate to but since his writing is so personal, there are many things that are not expressly stated. Several essays require some cultural awareness before you can digest them. Without it statements like,”We felt pride in knowing that the greatest producer alive was an uncle from Compton and the most anticipated emcee in the history of hip-hop was a lanky brother from Long Beach.” will leave you scratching your head.

The essays deal heavily with race in America and after reading them, those that think we don't have far to go may question that notion. Then there are some that may think this author is beating a dead horse. This is the type of book that starts those discussions.  

The writing is funny and it’s melancholy. It’s always forthright, to the point that it sometimes makes you uncomfortable - like you know something that you shouldn’t. Laymon makes assertions that challenge the status quo. Some I agree with, others not so much. And then there are times I asked myself why would he write such a thing.

There is a particular audience that would love this author and I wonder if they know about him. I thought the same when I read Laymon’s first book, Long Division. Thirty-somethings will get it his writing. Thirty-somethings from the South will feel it.

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

No Summer Vacation? Let These 5 Books Take You Away!

If it doesn't look like you're going to book that vacation for the summer, here are 5 books that will take you places! 

The Farming of Bones was my introduction to my dearest, Edwidge Danticat. Definitely one of the best books I’ve ever randomly selected, it affirmed my adoration for historical fiction. I’m reminded of this book every time I pick up parsley. Not sure what I mean? Do a quick search on the Parsley Massacre. 

Nervous Conditions introduced me to a character that I remember better than most that I’ve read about. I really liked Tambu and truly cared about her journey. In this story about women and equality, I think you may find yourself cheering for her as well. I didn’t write a review on this book but Bilphena Yahwon sums it up beautifully here. The sequel, The Book of Not, is on my to-read list.

I cannot recall reading many books that made me feel like I was there instead of me having to imagine I was there. But Everyday Is For the Thief got it spot-on. It’s a book that can be read in a day and you will surely feel like you have been somewhere when you're done reading this one.

I couldn’t get enough of this book and after rereading my review, I’m falling for it all over again. The Memory of Love is a book that requires you to pay attention but I think it’s safe to say that won’t be a problem. A beautiful title and a beautiful cover, this story is indeed about love.

Released earlier this year, ‘Til the Well Runs Dry is Sharma’s debut novel. It’s a book that has major events transpiring one after another. And it's a book that’s filled with excitement. I would qualify it as a beach read if you do manage to squeeze in that vacation!