Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Fire Shut Up in My Bones by Charles M Blow

My final and fortieth read of the year was Charles Blow’s debut memoir, Fire Shut Up in My Bones. Prior to reading the book, I attended Blow’s book tour stop in Baltimore. I have not attended an author event with so much energy in the room. I knew I was in for a treat from the moment I stepped into the auditorium.  

One of my favorite things about author events is hearing authors speak about those that influenced them. Blow credits his “literary fathers,” James Baldwin, Langston Hughes, and Ernest Gaines (to name a few), for allowing him to see himself. He emphasized the importance of diversity in literature, and all arts, because “you come to know yourself through reflection.”

And it’s always fun to know what writers are reading! What book does Blow have on his nightstand?  Encyclopedia of Black Folklore & Humor. He says it stays there. He didn’t have much growing up, so he became used to reading the same stories multiple times and still does! When asked what he wished he had included in his book but didn't, he said, "It's all in the book."

Monday, December 1, 2014

5 MORE Authors That I Hope Are Writing Another Book

On Friday I named five authors that I hope are writing another book. But those aren’t the only authors I’m keeping an eye on. Here are five more authors that I hope publish books soon!

Kiese Laymon
I attended Laymon’s local tour stop for his novel, Long Division. The turnout was disappointing, but with the crowd being so small, it led to an unconventional event. Laymon decided to treat the event like a get-together. You know, something you’d do with a group of friends, at someone’s house.  And you know what happens when you’re chatting with friends, at someone’s house. People say all sorts of things. It was awesome! He was so genuine, and it was so refreshing. What I realized after reading both of his books, Long Division and How To Slowly Kill Yourself and Others In America, is that he is also forthcoming in his writing.

Lola Shoneyin
The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives was a fun read. The story has five main characters and each of them have a voice in this novel. I appreciated reading about the experience from the aspect of the wives, how they found themselves there, and how they experienced the emotions that anyone would when your significant other is in a relationship with someone else. Baba Segi did not intend to have four wives at the start of it all. And it seems he took one wife too many when his fourth wife causes all of their lives to unravel. The book got a little slow in the middle but the last several chapters swept me away. There is something about the nature of her writing that makes me want more. 

Ta-Nehesi Coates
The Beautiful Struggle is the book I refer to as the book for readers. His father, Paul Coates, founded Black Classic Press publishing in 1978. And the influence of books on Ta-Nehisi’s life is obvious in his memoir, which I plan to read again. Ta-Nehisi is considered a thought leader of our time and many would say that his most recent display of brilliance is demonstrated in his article The Case for Reparations.

Donna Britt
I won a copy of Brothers (& me) from the publisher. It was delightful. I also stopped by her book tour and the event was well attended. But there may have been one other person my age in attendance, which is disappointing considering content in her memoir. As with the writing of Marita Golden, Britt’s writing resonates with me. They are the type of women I want in my sister-circle.

Roxane Gay
Surely you expected to see this name again! I don’t usually buy into the hype surrounding books or authors. But with Roxane Gay, people were almost in a state of hysteria! I just had to know what all of this was about. I bought An Untamed State and it’s the first time I’ve ever read a 370 page book in two days. Then I bought her book of short stories, Ayiti, and I realized that her success wasn’t by chance. So I felt like I had to read her third and most recent publication, Bad Feminist. Even though I didn’t love it, it made me love her as an author.  

You can find a list of the first 5 authors here.