National Black Book Festival

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Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentines Day!! It's Still Black History Year

Number 50

Ok, now I’m going to catch you up with a few things I have done over the past two weeks.  On Wednesday, January 26, the Director and Deputy Director of the Charleston County Libraries with a a few staff members.  The Director and President, as well as some board members (one of them me) of the Friends of the Charleston County Library took a trip to Columbia, SC to meet with Congressmen, Senators and representatives on funding for SC libraries.  The University of SC, The Arts were also there begging to halt their funding cut too.  Representative Harry B. “Chip” Limehouse III (He did not seem the least interested in anything), Representative J. Seth Whipper (Very handsome and intelligent African American), Representative Robert L.Brown, Leonidas E.”Leon” Stavrinakis and others.  We met with the Ways and Means Committee and then were taken up to the balcony of the House to be introduced.  While up there I saw so much rudeness.  They were talking while the speaker was trying to get their attention on the next representative to come up and speak on his/her subject.  I saw one young African American male dancing.  What the hell was he doing dancing!  I thought this was the State house of SC.  I guess I was wrong.  After the balcony stop, we returned back downstairs to wait for either a House/Senate representative to come out and speak to us.  There were other companies representatives and lobbyist there as well.  I did walk up to the “dancing” representative when he came out and introduced myself as one of the library supporters and asked him to support the library and also asked him what county was he from.  He gave me a hard look and said, “You don’t who I am.? At that point, I stated, “No, I don’t.  I do not know every single representative in South Carolina, so once again, what county are you from, please”?  He told me and said, “yeah, yeah, I support the library,” and walked off.  Pissed me off.  I’m trying to be cordial and this man is being rude!  I was told later that he is the youngest representative in the house and his father was some famous photographer.  So that means, he is allowed to be rude and think his shit don’t stink.  It does!  Well, I’m still looking for info on him and will let you know.  
I was impressed with one particular African American woman who I watched from the balcony.  She was elegant, poised and beautiful, Mia Butler Garrick of Richland, South Carolina.  When she also came out of the House side, I walked up and introduced myself and told her that, “I was proud to met her and very honored to see such a beautiful woman carry herself in such a graceful manner.”  I also stated, “that I’m sure her mother is very proud of her.”  She thanked me so humbly and told me she has and always will support the library and that her mother was a librarian.  I am writing her a letter to tell her again how impressed I was with the way she carried herself and if I can volunteer in any way to continue her work.  Man!! we black woman are good!!
Some of the representatives were very supportive, others did not seem to care.  I guess I can understand.  Their job is not easy, but weren’t they expected to at least listen to all of the voters who put them in office and try to work things out honestly?  
Our new Governor, Nikki Haley, has said, more cuts are coming and so has every other politicians.  I understand, I truly do.  I know and see people out of work, money is tight and funding cuts every where.  Even us Federal Government employees are going without a pay raise for two years and now may go 5 or 10 days without pay sometime this year.  I also know we would not be in this mess if people were not so greedy, ‘Wall Street’.  I’m sorry, I do not feel bad for the person who brought a house they knew in their hearts they could not afford, but they also did not know they were going to lose their jobs either.  I went thru hell getting a mortgage.  I had to have perfect credit, money down and could show that I can pay for it every month.  Now, like everyone else, I’m struggling too!  My electric, water, gas, which is damn near $3.00 a gallon.  Food has good up so much that I could not believe last week that a gallon of milk is now $4.00.  I drink a gallon a week! Now they want to cut funding for the Arts, School, Libraries and social services.  How many more cuts can we take!
They forget that the library is not just for books.  Libraries have free, I said, ‘FREE’ classes on computers, starting your own business, writing that novel you put off, excel, word.  Movies, free children programs and most important, free usage of the internet.  The Friends of the Charleston County Libraries have book sales so that we can use the money to keep these ‘FREE’ programs going.  Many states have a “Friends” in their libraries.  To cut out funding for something needed more now than ever, is a crime.  We can make other cuts.  How about cutting down the salary of these Congressmen and Senators.  Who do they think they are fooling?  Aren’t they part of the Wall Street mega scheme!  I’m sure you know of other cuts they can make, just not children or the elderly.  We need them.  
The picture, that’s me standing in front of the State House.  You can't see my face, but hey, that may be a good thing LOL!!   I’ve I talked to much and need to get back books.  
RAN WALKER - I CAN’T HELP IT: FIVE COLLECTED SHORT STORIES - $.99 - Ran Walker just commented on the Amazon thread, “African American Kindle Users,” and I brought it.  Hey, it was only 99 cents and it looks pretty good.  The title of this collection of short stories comes from the Michael Jackson song featured on his Off The Wall album. The song was written by Stevie Wonder, and I figured it would be a fitting title to this particular collection of shorts stories. The notion of being unable to help oneself in either love or life is something we can all relate to. The characters in these stories are no different.

In “A Night With Nina Simone,” Jasper hopes to find one last connection with his ex-girlfriend. In “Discovering Charles Buckner,” Charles, a guy with low self-esteem, learns that there is more to him than meets the eye. In the humorous tale “A Theory on Toilet Paper,” Aaron watches a date disintegrate because of a little ice cream. “Sixteen Bars” takes us through a college professor’s dilemma to participate on student’s mistake. And finally, “Dancing in My Dreams” shows what Kyle is willing to go through to keep love alive.
These stories represent various perspectives on black men and relationships. In some fundamental way, the characters “can’t help it” in the choices they make, but I’m sure you, the reader, are all the better for those choices.
CALEB ALEXANDER - TWO THIN DIMES - $9.99 - - This humorous tale of love and triumph ties two unlikely suitors together in a merry mix of plotting and gossip. On one side is R&B superstar, Jamaica, and on the other is the passionate, but impoverished Tameer. When the two are brought together in what is meant to be a temporary relationship,  arranged by Jamaica's best friend and personal assistant LaChina,  both are surprised when true feelings burst onto the scene and disrupt everyone's plans.  With Tameer's drunken father, Jamaica's socialite mother, and a band of super-ghetto, meddling friends all blended together.  Two Thin Dimes becomes a hilarious, topsy-turvy fight for love in a world gone mad.
ASHA BANDELE - DAUGHTER - $10.99 - - - This first novel by the author of the acclaimed memoir The Prisoner's Wife - $10.99 tells a tragic, too-familiar story: a promising young African-American is mistakenly shot by the police in Brooklyn, N.Y.  Nineteen-year-old Aya has been getting her life together after a brush with the law and is working hard to earn a college degree. Only the coolness of her beautiful, distant single mother, Miriam, prevents her from being truly happy. When Aya is gravely wounded, Miriam is forced to face her own past and examine her emotionally arid life. Shifting focus rather clumsily, Bandele chronicles Miriam's strict upbringing and forbidden romance with sweet Bird, an ambitious janitor. Miriam loses Bird just before Aya is born, and when Aya is taken from her, too, she resorts to violence. Though she ends up in prison, she is finally able to tentatively connect with others again, meditating on a line by Aya's favorite poet, Sonia Sanchez: "I shall become a collector of me/ And put meat on my soul." Bandele tells her story in simple language, though plaintive asides ("have you ever told me a joke, Mommy, or kissed me just because?"), and italicized laments ("Oh God, didn't I pay with Bird?") give the novel a sentimental veneer. Bandele's low-key take on a grim aspect of the urban black experience stands in refreshing contrast to more sensationalistic renditions, but Miriam's muddled final epiphany will leave readers wishing for something more.
KAREN GRIGSBY BATES - PLAIN BROWN WRAPPER - AN ALEX POWELL NOVEL - one cent used - - - Here’s a review by customer,  “The heroine, Alexa Powell, is a light-skinned, quick with a quip African-American columnist who knows how to live well. This is made abundantly clear to us while she plays a slick game of Sleuth during which she and her ostentatiously well-educated, well-off African-American/colored/Black, as she calls them interchangeably, pals cavort through fine hotels, posh resorts and tony restaurants. The author, also light-skinned, evidently has a race-related chip on her shoulder the size of Hoover Dam. As a woman of color who is also a writer, I wished she would stop bashing us over the head with her contempt of Caucasians and get on with writing a witty novel with very appealing characters. Now that it's hopefully out of her system, maybe she'll relax and instead of taking every opportunity to snipe at "WPs", she'll let Alex be the smart, intuitive babe we all know she is under that touchy I'm-so-colored-and-don't-you-forget-it carapace.”  Well, I've never!
J. M. BENJAMIN - RIDE OR DIE CHICK - $9.99 - - - This is the first in the series.  Ride or Die Chick II - $8.41 used paperback.  Treacherous Freeman was never given a fair chance in life from the day he was born. Never having the opportunity to know his biological mother, he was raised by his father, who happened to be a notorious gangster. Deprived of a normal childhood, his father educated him on what awaited him on the streets of Virginia. When the time comes for Treacherous to make some sudden decisions, he has no idea they will land him in the very place that he is trying to avoid. Teflon Jackson is a beautiful woman who is the end result of a horrible union. Having a loving mother who was a prostitute and a pimp for a father, Teflon's childhood was far from a fairytale. Bearing witness to the abusive relationship between her parents, Teflon was determined not to follow her mothers footsteps. Tragedy strikes and Teflon finds herself having to utilize all of the tricks that her mother taught her after she is forced into the streets to fend for herself. Years later, Treacherous and Teflon's paths cross. What starts out as a potentially bad situation genuinely blossoms into a bond that becomes unbreakable. Ride or Die Chick, The Story of Treacherous and Teflon is about two people who come from nothing and are willing to sacrifice anything to gain everything. This is a modern day tale of Bonnie & Clyde and built on a love that is stronger than that of Romeo and Juliet. A bonafide gangster, Treacherous is confident that he can't lose, as long as he has his ride or die chick!

Got to stick on one for Black History Year.  
J. CALIFORNIA COOPER - HOMEMADE LOVE - $7.50 Paperback - - - 
I brought this book in 1986.   A first edition.  To this day, I re-read it over and over again.  These are short stories of love, sex and family told in first person narrative.  Interracial love, an ugly woman who makes a killing selling beauty products.  In “When Life Begins,” a mother of a “kinda retarded” child is molested by an uncle, she prays that she is not pregnant, “but Satan heard the prayer and this being mostly his world and God looking a little further down the road, she got pregnant.”  Mama does confront the uncle and tells him off. She also tells him that in his stew, “I mixed that baby’s shit and some of mine and all of the spiders and roaches and caterpillars I could grind up! Just for you!! I hope some of em poison!”  Is payback a bitch, or what? Cooper writes the way she talks, real and funny.  During these hard, hard times, it nice to go back and read stories you read a long time ago and it still make you laugh.