National Black Book Festival


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Black Kindle got sick and tired!!! But healthy now!!

Number 111
I know, I know I’m late in blogging.  Sorry about that.  I have been working overtime at both jobs.  Those “Christmas Fiasco People” are at it again, but I will get to that later.
On Friday, Feb 3, I drove to Columbia, SC to see Carl Weber and Eric Pete talk and sign their latest collaboration, The Family Business The Family Business - $8.98.  I am a huge, huge fan of Carl Weber’s books.  He has the funniest and most Dram-0-Rama books around.  You don’t even believe the stories even after you have read them.  He should be writing reality TV and that’s when I will go back to paying for cable and watch. 
But let me take a few steps back and tell you that when I arrived at the Mall, it took me a while to find it and I noticed the neighborhood and how destitute and somewhat poor it appeared.  Laundromats, liquor stores, small (aren’t they always) Hispanic restaurants and/or stores and a Mall that looks like it has definitely seen better days.  I realize that the economy's down turn has flipped many stores out, but this mall appears to have gone from a thriving economic money maker to a BET/MTV booty call romper room.  Got in the Mall and noticed on the right, a booty call store.  You know, the one with tight and short with your breasts spilling out dresses.  Five inch high heels in the window display with the wildest colors.  The BET store on the left with the same style but less color in clothes, more of a MTV store.  Directly in front of me was the largest weaves-wigs-hair colors-jewelry for your ears, toes, nails, teeth that I have ever seen.  This is a three stores wide area run and owned by the Asian guy who approached me when I entered the store and said hi.  Every type of Beyonce, Rihanna, Madonna, Nicki Minaj, etc. hair you can buy.  Wigs, human or synthetic hair and/or weaves to plait, glue or sew in that’s out there.  It was unbelievable.  Hell, even I brought a wig from there.  Scary!!

I came back outside of the store and saw about 10 young black men with their pants way down, not the usual hanging around your checks a little, but way damn near down their knees showing off, I hope they were washed, Calvin Klein under wares.  I had hoped they were waiting for Carl/Eric since I was just a few feet away from the Urban Knowledge book store. I thought I was late and would run into a long line, but no, they were just hanging around a kiosk that was selling cell phone covers.  

When I entered the book store, half an hour before they arrived, I was the only one and was disappointed.  The store is roomy and the books are well placed and some were on display with the book cover only.  Obviously they are worried about theft.  But the biggest eye opener to me and something I have noticed for many years at other book stores, is that their books were selling two for $10.00 or three for $25.00.  That’s good at times to lure people into your store, but it also means the store is not making enough money and not enough black folks are buying there.  Carl did mention during this talk that he owned the store and wanted to remind everyone to please support it.  Many were surprised that he owned the store, and I was surprised that they did not know.  The store provided a nice brunch for the patrons and one particular lady whose weaved hair style was a circular plait sitting on top of her head with a long plait hanging down her back.  It was either glued or pinned on top because she has pulled her hair back for so long, her hair line was bald and 2 inches back from her face.  She approached me when she saw I had 8 books in my hands, five of them The Family Business and ask if I would give her one of them, then she laugh after I said no and that these were for me and my friends.  She said she was joking, don’t you think because I’m sure it would have looked like a Atlanta Housewives fight of the century if she was not joking. 

Why was this particular woman bothering me, because she continued getting up to get more food when Carl and Pete talked and did not buy one damn book?  She came with two friends,  an older woman with short, lightly blond hair cut and very beautiful in the face when she smiled; the other, with Diana Ross weaved hair, but it was noticeably done well, with a beautiful smile.  I did talked to those two woman was impressed that they did read one or two of his books and I managed to persuade them to buy his others.  Mrs. plait was just another disappointed black person who pissed me off because she came to eat and not buy one book, not even the three dollars one.  Of course she brought that plait from the large wig store next door.  Pissed me the hell off. 
After the talk and Carl and Pete signed my books, I left Columbia and told the clerk that I would be back next month to buy another one hundred dollars worth of books.  You guys who are my paid subscribers are helping me do that and bring back those book to so many people and I thank you a gazillion times.  You don’t  realize how much I do appreciate it.  Tell your friends about my blog and tell me what you think too.
On to books:
BRENDA JACKSON - THE WESTMORELAND MEN - Books 1 thru 5 - $9.32. Books 6 thruthru 15 - $9.32.  I have been drained beyond drained and could not get the strength to get up and work the holiday weekend.  I decided I needed a break from the jobs, people, shopping for food (just ate what was in the freezer.  I need to clean that freezer one day, I found stuff and it wasn’t pretty!!!).  What I did was re-read all of the Westmoreland books.  Just fell luxuriously into my dream man of the season and exhale.   I got hooked when a friend of mine was asking me to order these books for her and her mother. What the hell is she ordering these books for? Why is there such an obsession with these men? Damn, I found out. Start with the first one, Delaney’ Desert Sheik. I know, I know, Harlequin/Silhouette Romance!!! Please, aren’t’ those the old ones where by the time the girl/guy get together, it’s the end of the book and they are just kissing, yuck!!! Get Ms. Jackson (If you’re nasty), she gets to the point from the beginning. Why wait.
JAMES BALDWIN - IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK - Paperback Used - $3.50 or $10.04 
This is another book I got back over and over again.  Baldwin was and still is the best African American writer on this planet.
Tish and Fonny, young, African Americans are trying so very hard to get a decent job, marry and get a home. They are young and in love in the 1970s New York, which was extremely hard for a black man accused of rape. I will always believe to this day that he did not do it, but this book takes you thru the hell both families go thru to get him out of jail. You've heard it before, her family is supportive and his family is sort of supportive, but his black father had his own hard time. This book, which was written in 1974, should still be read today by young African American boys/men to, hopefully, finally, help them realize that no matter what decade it is, being black is still hard without family, but with support, we can pull through any hell. I know I did. 
A few years ago, in my English class, this was a required reading assignment. I usually know all of the Black history books and their authors, but this was the first time I read her book. It did not feel like a history book, but a good story of how life actually was during slavery and how she survived. There were small hiccups that I did not quire understand. Selling her virginity for freedom, but in those days, did you have a choice? There are, of course, those who treated her like all were treated during that time, but she kept on going. Just like my grandmother did during her time and just like me. This is one of the few books from a woman from that time period who was actually able to record her life. 

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Written by Herself

I read this book last year and started looking for her other books. This reminds me of Payton Place for Black folks (For those of you who do not know Payton Place, see the movie with Lana Tuner (Yeah, I know, she’s white), but the movie is good. Essie Lee Lane marries a good preacher. A man who has to deal with sex, greed, politics and bad behavior from members of the Greater Hope Gospel United Church (Long name I know!). You know how we are in church and Bowen’s writing put it out there. A pretty funny book too!
CARL WEBER - TORN BETWEEN TWO LOVERS - $7.64 - - - Another I read last year and when I saw him in Columbia, SC, I went back again.  Cannot get enough of this writer.  All I can say is, Damn! Damn! I finally did read the prior book, BIG GIRLS DO CRY - $6.09 - Big Girls Do Cry and I’m still shaking my head over and over again.  Man, that Loraine, Leon, and Michael had me up all night trying to get to the end. The bona fide character in the book is Jerome. That mother will have you laughing and pissing your ass off at the same time. I brought a copy for a girl at work and I said to her, “Tell me what you think about Jerome?” That was Monday. By Wednesday morning, the girl was begging for more Carl Weber. I tell you that damn book had me going. 

Torn Between Two Lovers

PAMELA SAMUELS YOUNG - THE SETUP - $1.49 - - - I love, love me some Mrs. Samuels Young.  This woman knows how to write a mystery just as good as Mr. John Grishman.  I call her “The Black Woman John Grishman.”  At no time are you disappointed by the story and plot.  It will take you there no matter what.
When a star running back is gunned down by a cop with a questionable history, the city of L.A. is on the verge of a racial explosion. Enter a lawyer who comes to the cop's defense, but a desire for justice has nothing to do with it.
GOT TO GET ONE IN FOR BLACK HISTORY YEAR - Found me a new black mystery writer.  Let’s give him a try and put him on our “Black History Year”   The books sounds like The Godfather with a twist.  I got my copies, do you have yours?
BARRY DAVIS - SWEETS (SWEETS MAYBREY) - $4.99Sweets is a mystery set in Philadelphia in 1972. At the time, three powerful forces – racist Mayor Frank Rizzo’s police force, the black street gangs and the Mafia, dominated the city. It was a filthy, corrupt, segregated city of neighborhoods, its residents utterly lacking Brotherly Love. A place of irony – preparing to celebrate the nation’s liberty with the ’76 bicentennial when its young black male residents weren’t entirely free to leave their own block.
Sweets Maybrey is hard. In the language of the streets, this describes an individual who uses fists first and words second, to solve his problems.  Twenty-year-old Sweets has just gotten his life straight after two stints in prison and is graduating high school and has won his first pro fight. He has turned his back on doing bad. But life isn’t that simple. The straight and narrow, where his father wants him to be, is sometimes a shifting path, one that’s real easy to fall off.
Sweets’ father disappears into the vicious Philly ghetto called the Bottom, trailed by police who say he killed a man. That same day, the 60 Lot street gang attempts to recruit neighborhood legend Sweets by using his friend Teddie Banks as leverage. They give him three days to make a choice: Join or watch his straight-laced friend die.
Sweets melts back into the Bottom, quickly regaining his street-smarts while asserting the violence of his nature. He needs these tools to overcome the cops, street hustlers, and random criminals who inhabit the ’hood. Everything he knows tells him that his father is innocent. As more bodies appear, killed identically and each one known to his father, Sweets begins to wonder. Perhaps the cops are right and his beloved father is a killer.
Carefully, clue by clue, Sweets reveals his father, the real man. As he does, he also reveals himself and comes to grips with his own violent past, long submerged, which he now has to bring to bear to save his father, his friend, and himself. Having embraced violence as a means to an end, will Sweets be strong enough to again leave it behind once he uncovers the truth or will the good in him die in The Bottom?
BARRY DAVIS - YOUNG GIFTED AND BAD (SWEETS MAYBREY) - $4.99 - - - It is December 1972. Sweets Maybrey climbs the stairs to his office. He is wounded from an assassination attempt, blood slowing leaking out of his neck. He sits at his ancient desk, awaiting the arrival of the person who orchestrated the attempt on his life. He knows that they are on their way to finish the job. While waiting he considers all that has led him to this point.
Six months earlier Sweets Maybrey was a rich, powerful twenty year old, the new boss of black crime in west Philadelphia. Every week his subordinates pressed envelopes full of pungent cash into his hands, the proceeds from bookmaking, drugs and prostitution. Every day beautiful women offered their bodies for his pleasure. Men twice his age humbled themselves before him. He, seemingly, was a man who had it all.
But Sweets, full of youthful aggression, wanting to show the "old heads" that he was a worthy leader, decided that he wanted more. He went to war over the so called Green Fields, areas outside Philly with a growing black population, hungry for his "goods", but with weak crime organizations. This decision placed him in conflict with his Mafia straw bosses, triggering a second front to his war. Sweets' personal life was no less dangerous as his mentor, bodyguard and fiance all have motive to kill him.
Back in his office Sweets Maybrey presses a damp towel to his neck.  The blood isn't slowing down. He needs to go to the hospital but he does not rise. He will wait, wait until his would be killer shows themselves. Then, he will kill or be killed. Not caring which way it ends, he shrugs, plants his feet firmly on the floor and sets his mind back to the beginning.
BARRY DAVIS - ROSE OF THE BADLANDS (SWEET MAYBREY) - $4.99 - - - Philly crime boss Sweets Maybrey has a body in his trunk and a weapon underneath his seat. He travels in a stolen car to a destination in the Poconos Mountains called Deer Lake. The destination has meaning to him, less so for his 'passenger'. It is a crossroads, a place where he plans to literally bury the past and begin anew. Unfortunately he has a 'tail', a state trooper very interested in a black man travelling in this whitest of places in the early morning hours. Sweets will have to confront him before he can complete his journey, but Sweets, by now, is used to fighting for what he wants and he knows the trooper will not stop him from completing his destiny.
Thus opens the novel Rose of the Badlands, the third novel in the Sweets Maybrey crime series. While considering how to rid himself of the trooper Sweets remembers the tumultuous events of the past year. The disastrous fight with a no talent bum named Bobby Turner that ends with Bobby in a coma and Sweets, guilty for the illegal blow that devastated his opponent, on the hook to help find the man's missing sister, Rose. Turns out Rose is no saint, hooking and stripping her way through the Badlands, Philly's most notorious urban jungle. As Sweets' quest for Rose intensifies, his organization is being threatened by the Marks Brothers, a crew with a silly name but serious intentions and strong connections to The Commission, the head of organized crime in America. Soon, Sweets has no organization and no purpose. He forgets about Rose - he is broken, depressed, lost, and for the first time in his life, scared. The former boss hides in his condo, too afraid to leave. Two unlikely women rescue him – one elderly and white, the other a black wild child not unlike how Sweets used to be. With their help, Sweets slowly recovers, determined to regain his self respect and what he used to have. He makes war on the Marks Brothers but the key to making himself whole, he realizes, is to discover what happened to Rose, fulfilling that promise made long ago.