Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Book Meme

I'll have to admit. I'm not much one for forwarding chain letters, jokes, and the like, and I normally wouldn't have engaged in this book Meme except that I got tagged from both sides. (Thanks Blue and Collin!) So, here's my contribution, but I'm not going to tag 5 people as instructed. In fact, I'm not tagging anybody. (At least, not in public.) However, if you're visiting and you want to post your answers to the questions, feel free to do so. My days ofprostitution, er, solicitation are over. ;-)

ONE BOOK THAT CHANGED YOUR LIFE: Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Café, ed. Miguel Algarin, Bob Holman.
IN 1994, WHEN I was teetering alone on a ledge 7 stories above Margaret Mitchell Square, this book saved my life. Not physically, but certainly spiritually. It reminded me I had a literary bloodline, a family, and gave me the courage to stand for what I believed – the courage to perform. There are so many books I could name here but this was probably the greatest literary discovery I ever made. Thanks, Miguel and Bob, for having the vision to pull this anthology together. ___________________________________________________
ONE BOOK THAT YOU'VE READ MORE THAN ONCE:Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor.
I READ THIS in the 4th grade. I think it was the first book I ever read about a Black family – and in the South, no less! And so I read it over and over to hear stories like my mother and her sisters would tell, around gingham tablecloths, eating fried fish.

Even at a young age, I was drawn to the balance of the emotional and the socio-political themes in this book. Love my mission or hate my mission, blame Mildred Taylor for it!

ONE BOOK YOU'D WANT ON A DESERT ISLAND: The Essential Neruda by Pablo Neruda.
IF I HAD TO BE stranded away from human touch, I’d definitely want Neruda to remind me of the sensuality of the natural world.

ONE BOOK THAT MADE YOU LAUGH: Gorilla, My Love by Toni Cade Bambara. NOBODY'S BITE is like Bambara's. If Alice Walker was the champion for Zora Neale Hurston, I hope to one day be a champion for Toni Cade Bambara.

ONE BOOK THAT MADE YOU CRY: Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. THE LAST PARAGRAPH IS ONE of the most chilling I've ever read. I shed tears because suddenly I felt like a foreigner in my own body and knew that I could never look at Africa with the same eyes again. This book moved me to take a West African penname.
ONE BOOK YOU WISH HAD BEEN WRITTEN: Ralph Ellison's follow-up to Invisible Man. Obviously, he was a perfectionist of the worst possible kind. And not that I believe he could improve upon Invisible Man, but it would have been interesting to see him try - not in what has come to be known as Juneteenth, but in an actual finished product.
ONE BOOK TWO BOOKS YOU WISH HAD NEVER BEEN WRITTEN: I couldn’t choose between these two, so I’m cheating (I sooooo enjoy this):

1) B-Boy Blues by James Earl Hardy. TRASH, JAMES, ARE you listening? Trash! And you had the nerve to write a – Trash! – follow-up? You might’ve better served as a pizza-delivery-plotting porn director. Put down your pen and get yourself a video camera.

On second thought, maybe not. James Baldwin is turning ovah in his grave, honey. And then you had the nerve to write more sequels? Tr-tr-tr-tr-tr-tr-trash! You make E. Lynn Harris look like William Faulkner!

Girl, give it a rest. ______________________________________________________

2) The Cantos by Ezra Pound. IF ALEX TREBEK WROTE poetry, it would be this. Any book of poems that requires over 800 pages of footnoting should have never been written. Yeah, I said it. Ezra, I am blaming you singly for why modern Americans hate poetry. You. Ezra. Poetry. Hate. I. We. All.

I'll take ERUDITION for $200. How could you write a document as lucid as ABC of Reading and then write this? I'll take CHINESE ENCRYPTION for $600. Maybe all you needed was a good double-date with Alex Trebek to get this out of your system. Then, we wouldn’t've all had to suffer through this garrulous doorstop.

How's that for a daily double!

Antipoems by Nicanor Parra.

The Known World by Edward P. Jones.

1 comment:

Daniel Roop said...

Changed my life: In The Tradition ed. by Kevin Powell and Ras Baraka - poetry that actually seemed to matter when I most needed it to, at age 18.
Read more than once: Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut, or The Great Fires by Jack Gilbert.
Desert Island: Alan Moore's complete run on Swamp Thing - I shit you not - this is some of the best literature of the past 30 years.
Book That Made me Laugh: White Boy Shuffle by Paul Beatty.
Book that Made me Cry: White Boy Shuffle by Paul Beatty. Sometimes, on the same damn page.
Book I Wish had been written: A follow up to Chuang-Tzu, by Chuang-Tzu, not his followers.
Never Been Written: The Prince. I just don't like 18-year old assholes feeling justified in their assholeishness by a "classic."
Book I'm Reading: The Way of the Mystics by John Michael Talbot.
Meaning to Read: The Dialogue by Caherine of Siena