National Black Book Festival

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Black History Year - February

Number 52

I met with the Literary Diva’s Book Club at Atlanta Bread Co. to discuss Carl Weber’s latest, THE CHOIR DIRECTOR - $9.99 - The Choir Director   I’m here to tell you, that man knows how to tell a story.  I read the second in this series, THE FIRST LADY - $4.47 -  The First Lady, just to get a better knowledge of Bishop T.K. Wilson, who I think is one the most best characters in novels around.  He has the looks and intelligent of a man of the cloth, but still a man with some serious needs in the bedroom just like any other man.  Second book is about his wife coming back from the dead to help him find a new wife.  The women after scared the day lights out of me.  It has been a long time since I’ve  read so many evil-minded and venomous bitches get a man, and this is in church.  Then I read his newest one.  Took the woman’s hair our by mixing the woman’s hair shampoo with Neet hair removal.  Taking a sister down by accusing her, maybe a new boyfriend, of being a rapist.  Stealing money from the church, yes I said it, stealing money from the church, even though that’s not really unusual in today’s society.  Damn, are we woman that desperate for a man?  Wo-cheggin!!!  
I laughed so hard, my dog fell out of the bed and gave me a, “what the hell is wrong with you look,” and one of the best lines, let me set it up for you first.  Mackie is getting it on with Sandra.  Knock at door, Mackie hides Sandra in bedroom.  The two men are Bishop T. K. Wilson and Reverend Jenkins,.  Bishop is offering Mackie a job and Reverend is a mentor to Mackie and his boss at their church.  Mackie turns down the job offer and both men leave.  Mackie goes back to finish “getting it on” with Sandra, but there’s another knock at the door, this time its just the Reverend.  Mackie is thinking the Reverend is coming back to thank him for not taking the job, but my boy the Reverend pulls out a gun and accuses him of having an affair with his wife.  Mackie lies and says no, but the Reverend knows he is lying because when he was there earlier with the Bishop, he saw his wife’s hat pushed into the sofa.  Tells Mackie to show him where the wife is and they find her naked on the bed, she is shock and trying to cover her self, with clothes and an excuse.  The Reverend tells Mackie to take the job and leave town or he’s going to shoot him.  Reverend smacks wife and knocks her off the bed, then says, “She may be a ho, but she’s my ho, bought and paid for.”  Damn!!! 
You have got to read to this book.  You will in no way be disappointed and I’m glad I got a chance to meet him at Books A Million in Charleston.  He was funny even in person and he still want to own a McDonald's.”  Side joke. 
Weber knows how to tell a story without being boring or crass, just damn good fun.  OK, I’m having too much fun talking about his books, let’s get to others.  
STEFHEN F. D.BRYAN - BLACK PASSENGER YELLOW CABS: OF EXILE AND EXCESS IN JAPAN - $7.99 - - - Black Passenger, Yellow Cabs: A Memoir Of Exile and Excess In Japan, provides a gritty, explicit rendering of a life ravaged by sexual addiction in a land little known for such wanton exploits. Born in the Caribbean, Stefhen F.D. Bryan describes in frank detail an abusive childhood from which he emerged with an obsessive lust that would plague him for nearly 40 years. Bryan immigrated to Japan solely to indulge his extreme fixation on East and Southeast Asian women. But rather than merely penning a series of sexual conquests, he interweaves his story with extensive research on the sociology and psychology of women in modern-day Japan, exploring the societal norms that made them easy prey to the sexual deviance he could not control. The memoir describes Bryan’s carnal adventures through a cultural lens that touches on interracial relationships, promiscuity, patriarchy and abortion. Included is sex research that one reviewer asserts “would make Kinsey proud.”From the dirty streets of a Jamaica that tourists never see to a pastoral Japan, Bryan takes the reader on an eye-opening journey of discovery. "Guns, sex, and racial suicide. And that's just Chapter 1!"


BONNIE HOPKINS - NOW AND THEN, AGAIN - $9.99 - - - Vann Sinclair is ready for a change. Now entering mid-life, she's ready to do for herself after years of doing for others. But they say when a person makes plans, God laughs. And this time, God's truly enjoying himself.  The serene life that Vann expected with her early retirement turns out to be just a dream. Not only is her spare time filled with friends and family who need Vann's cool head in times of trouble, but a handsome judge stirs her heart, allowing Vann to believe that a miracle may be in the works.  Mid-life does not mean life is over, and for Vann Sinclair life is about to take a completely unexpected turn - eventually for the best! 

CLAUDIA MAIR BURNEY - DEATH, DECEIT & SOME SMOOTH JAZZ - $9.99 - - - Amanda Bell Brown has decided the only way she’ll ever be a mother is by becoming the owner of a squirrel-like exotic pet called a sugar-glider. Even though she’s a psychologist, she’s having issues over her mid-thirties, childless, single state. The man she loves, Lieutenant Jazz Brown, a homicide detective, told her months ago that despite his being single, he is unavailable, and Bell is trying to move on. Then one chilly Detroit night, he shows up at her door coat less and sporting scratches on his face. Jazz wants to talk. And Bell’s life is about to get very complicated: Jazz’s ex-wife was murdered that very night. Jazz is the only suspect, and Bell is determined to find out who the real killer is, even as she now harbors doubts about her relationship with Jazz. With little help from anyone else, Bell turns to God and her faith to guide her.

RL TAYLOR - THE LAST MS. UNDERSTANDING - $.99 - - - Rita Clark is a wealthy business executive that has relocated to a new city. She's acquired every luxury a woman could desire. The only thing missing in her life is someone to share it with... 
A visit to a local jazz lounge brings her face to face with Lee Johnson. Unfortunate circumstances have forced him out of professional athletics and into a blue collar job. Despite their lifestyle differences an irresistible urge pulls them together... 
Lee becomes distant and fights to conceal a mysterious history, while Rita becomes consumed by her flourishing career. Opportunity arises for Lee to reconnect with another special woman and right his past wrongs. All the while a job promotion offers Rita a chance to break through the glass ceiling in her male dominated field of work. But that would mean relocating overseas.
Rita is forced to choose between career and love. The dilemma lies in Lee's secretive life that he's hidden from Rita. Once exposed - How understanding can she be?  Where would you draw the line?

ReSHONDA TATE BILLINGSLEY - I KNOW I’VE BEEN CHANGED - $7.99 - - - Raedella Rollins's evolution from a small-town girl in Sweet Poke, Ark., to a news anchor at an NBC-affiliate in Houston, Tex., who marries a rising local politics star is a remarkable story, but Billingsley fails to humanize her shallowly icy narrator and the chorus of caricatures surrounding her. When her family (a motley assortment of moochers, alcoholics, criminals and temptresses) hears of her engagement, they trek out to Houston for the wedding. Initially upset that the past she left behind is catching up with her, Rae learns the value of family after her husband of two days is exposed as a lecherous cheat. But Rae's scalding self-centeredness keeps the reader at shouting distance, so her redemption, telegraphed from the beginning, arrives with a whimper.


K’WAN AND 50 CENT - BLOW - $9.99 - - -  I brought this book from a vendor outside Foggy Bottom subway in DC and could not believe 50 cent was writing it. I know of K’Wan and his books, The Leak: A Hood Rat Short - $.99 - The Leak: A Hood Rat Short and the first one I brought, HOODLUM: A NOVEL - $9.99 - Hoodlum: A Novel.  He has always written Urban fiction and I would place him in the Urban Fiction syndicate of Nikki Turner and Terri Woods, raw and sexy, my man is true “Urban.”  
Now, what is “Blow” about?  Animal is a child of the streets, born of nothing and destined to die with nothing until he meets a man named Tech who will change his life forever.  Animal proves to be a quick study under his new mentor and takes to the game like a fish to water, but the real test is when a snitch causes the fall of several key underworld figures and Animal is called upon to silence him. With nothing but a gun and his wits Animal must now do the impossible, kill a man who is under police protection or die trying.

Got to stick on one for Black History Year.  

BEBE MORE CAMPBELL - YOUR BLUES AIN’T LIKE MINE: A NOVEL - $11.16 Paperback.  This is another book I have in my collection that I brought long time ago when it first came out.  I am sad to say she died at the age of 56.  According to some, Bebe Campbell was part of the first wave of black novelists who made the lives of upwardly mobile black people a routine subject for popular fiction. Straddling the divide between literary and mass-market novels, Ms. Campbell’s work explored not only the turbulent dance between blacks and whites but also the equally fraught relationship between men and women.  Her work was filled with compassion and hope, the same way she has always displayed in life.  Enjoy it.
Comment from Justice on Amazon.  This book is clearly based on the tragic story of Emmett Till, the young boy brutally killed for whistling at a white woman in the 1950s. However, it takes on a life and depth of its own, and is remarkable for its sensitive portrayal of how racism destroys both victim and perpetrator. 
One of the most compelling aspects of Campbell's narrative is that she does show compassion and a deep understanding for the lives of poor southern whites. She tries to penetrate their consciousness without excusing their acts of violence. This leads to a greater understanding of why such atrocities could take place. The villains are mostly motivated by fear-fear of being seen as weak, for instance. It would be easier to not see them as human, but healing and prevention of future tragedies can only come from greater understanding. 
Campbell's insights and skills as a storyteller make this a wonderful read, and her retelling of one of the most horrendous miscarriages of justice in the civil rights period (Emmett Till's murderers never did jail time) make this a book no one should ever miss.