February 27, 2018

Drown by Junot Diaz | Book Review

Junot Diaz's Drown is a collection of ten short stories. It begins with Ysrael, a tale of two brothers who set out to track down a local kid whose mauled face is perpetually hidden behind a mask. In Fiesta a family poses a united front at a party despite the patriarchs' dirty secret. I couldn't make sense of the third story Aurora soooo that's that. In Aguantando a mother and her two sons endure the lengthy absence of the man of the house. In the titular story Drown an ambitious kid returns back to his poor neighborhood from college. His return dredges up feelings of inferiority and shame in the protagonist because of the two brief moments they experimented sexually. In Boyfriend the protagonist is infatuated with the beautiful girl, way out of his league, who lives upstairs. Edison, New Jersey is centered around an experience two boys have while on the job. How to Date a Browngirl, Blackgirl, Whitegirl or Halfie is just like it sounds - an adolescent boy giving advice based on his limited repertoire of experiences. The story No Face takes us back to the mauled boy from the first short story. Negocios is the last short story and my favorite one of the entire collection. I like it because it finally addresses the constant absence of their dad who went away to America. It deals with the American Dream and the grand expectations of success and wealth that those of us from poorer nations carry with us as well as the realities of life in America.

I discovered Junot Diaz via two literary blogs I love. Read Diverse Books dedicated an entire month to celebrate, review and promote books by latin authors. Those series of blog posts by Naz Hernandez greatly inspired me to put in the work necessary for my current annual Black History Month literary celebration. Darkowaa's review of Junot's This Is How You Lose Her on her blog African Book Addict solidified my decision to give this author a shot. Drown is an underwhelming, unimpressive collection of short stories. There wasn't anything exciting in it for me. Junot's well celebrated though so I might give another one of his books a chance.
This is my third book pick for my literary celebration of Black History Month 2018. READ my review of Gabrielle Union's We're Going to Need More Wine and Jesmyn Ward's Sing, Unburied, Sing

February 20, 2018

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward | Book Review

The African American family at the center of Jesmyn Ward's Sing, Unburied, Sing is broken and hurt in many different ways. Pop, the family's patriarch, is burdened by a secret from his time in prison even as he tries to be present for his grandkids and his dying wife. She's stuck in the bedroom slowly surrendering to cancer that her grandson Jojo says has "...dried her up and hollowed her out the way the sun and the air do water oaks." Jojo's thirteen, mature for his age and saddled with responsibility of caring for his baby sister Kayla but he's still a child. His mom is scattered, a selfish, drug addict who's so blindly intoxicated by feelings for Michael that she numbs herself to everything that signals their incompatibility including the hurt his racist family has inflicted upon hers. She and Jojo take turns narrating Sing, Unburied, Sing, leading us on a journey through their world where the dead speak and the earth is alive.

I discovered the author Jesmyn Ward via a promotional email from Simon & Schuster which I unwittingly signed up for after purchasing Gabrielle Union's We're Going to Need More Wine. The book title and its cover art displayed in the email caught my attention so I did a little online research ordered this title and Salvage the Bones. Jesmyn displays an acute awareness of America's racial history, of small town life, the complexity of human existence. Her writing is lyrical and has an entrancing old school flavor. She's a great storyteller. I'm pleased with Sing, Unburied, Sing but not ecstatic about the tale itself. Regardless, Jesmyn Ward gives off the aura of an author destined for greater things and I'll undoubtedly be keeping up with her literary offerings.
This is my second book pick for my literary celebration of Black History Month 2018. Read the review of my first book pick, Gabrielle Union's We're Going to Need More Wine. Catch up on last year's selection HERE

February 17, 2018

We're Going to Need More Wine by Gabrielle Union | Book Review

It wasn't until January of 2017 that I paid attention to BET's TV series Being Mary Jane. My cousins were surfing Netflix for entertainment options while I read a novel on the living room couch that first week of January. I fell asleep while reading and when I woke up Gabrielle Union was on the screen looking gorgeous, bourgeois and pissed off. She was mad at an equally gorgeous man, the actor Omar Hardwick. They seemed to have been arguing then she reminded him that she had asked him to fix the pool lights a long time ago yet he still hadn't done it. She was looking at the dimly lit pool through the floor-to-ceiling windows of her gorgeous home. Omar Hardwick walks out, dives into the pool fully clothed then using powerful strokes he swims gracefully to the other end of the pool. He fixes the pool light, swims back towards the beautiful, no longer irate goddess, and emerges out of the pool completely soaked. His white shirt was now skintight and translucent, his mouth slightly agape so he could catch his breath. This hot muscular god was standing in front of this goddess wordlessly asking her if there was any other way she wanted him to prove that his love for her is real. I was wide awake now and completely sold on Being Mary Jane. Immediately I got the chance I binged all the episodes available on Netflix and then when the new season began later that year I watched it week after week. I discovered the song Mary Jane by Alanis Morissette via the show and I bought it on iTunes. I was confused and shocked at the season 4 cliffhanger finale and then disappointed to learn BET had chosen to end the series and would wrap up the storylines with a two hour movie. It was on Instagram that I saw Gabrielle's video announcing that she was now an author and that fans could get signed copies. I hurried to Simon & Schuster, followed the instructions and eventually got my "Signed First Edition" copy. In conclusion, I've loved Gabrielle Union since I first saw her in Bring It On.

We're Going to Need More Wine is a stellar collection of essays that spans over four decades of Gabrielle's life. She begins with her family's upward move from Omaha, Nebraska to Pleasanton, California and then dives right in with her early memory of a third-grade classmate calling her "N-word Nickie". She fearlessly covers topics like masturbation, virginity loss, teenage sex and abortion, rape, cheating, colorism in her life and in the black community at large etcetera. She opens up about feeling unpretty because of her skin color, her struggle with black hair, her negro nose, interracial relationships and all the frogs she kissed before getting to her Prince, Dwayne Wade. In the book she recommends the movie Splendor in the Grass starring Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty. It's a good one so find it and watch it. I was able to rent it on Amazon Video.

I enjoyed this book a lot. I also love its title too. It's one of those "I wish I had thought of that" kinda book titles. I can't tell you how many memoir galleys I've turned down or how many I've accepted and just been unable to get through. Memoirs seem to be a hit or miss. Sometimes they are stilted other times they're boring so I've sort of given up on them except when the spirit moves me to take a chance like it did with this book. We're Going to Need More Wine is so entertaining. Gabrielle is humorous, raw and honest in a way that I hope to be someday. I'm impressed and inspired. You should read this.
This is my first book pick for my literary celebration of Black History Month. Catch up on last year's selection HERE.

February 16, 2018

Black History Month 2018 Book Picks | Incessant Scribble

Another year = Another Black History Month = Another month of celebrating books by black authors! If this is your first time visiting this blog catch up on my inaugural bookish celebration of Black History Month HERE. I originally intended to have four book picks for every celebration of Black History Month but I almost didn't make it this year. In fact I'm not even in the clear yet until I finish my fourth book. Here are my book picks for February 2018:

1) We're Going to Need More Wine by Gabrielle Union
2) Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
3) Drown by Junot Diaz
4) Going to Meet the Man by James Baldwin

I finished reading the first three books in January but I was too exhausted to put together any words decent enough to be tagged a book review. I even considered postponing my reading of Baldwin because I was eager to get started on We the Animals by Justin Torres (I finished it last week. It's awesome!) and Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris (I'm four pages deep). However, all the social media excitement about the Black Panther movie and Yara Shahidi's birthday post on Instagram about reading Baldwin books galvanized me and I'm going to try to finish my first ever Baldwin book within the next 12 days. Right now I need to go put together three book reviews. Stay Tuned.