Monday, May 26, 2008

WHAT ARE YOU READING? (A Lori Johnson Q & A)

Q: What was the last book you read?
A: A memoir by Melissa J. Delbridge entitled Family Bible.

Q: Is Delbridge an African American author?
A: No, she's a middle-aged White woman who grew up in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and who currently resides in North Carolina.

Q: What made you want to read her work?
A: I read an excerpt from her memoir in Poets & Writers magazine. Her voice and her sense of humor jumped out at me. I like "southern" authors with unapologetically "southern" voices, like Rick Bragg, Ernest Gaines, Flannery O'Connor and Eudora Welty.

Q: Did you enjoy Family Bible?
A: Very much so. It was honest, funny, thought-provoking. The type of book you don't want to put down. I'd read her again in a heart-beat.

Q: So what's next on your reading list?
A: I just started Savoring The Salt, a collection of essays, reflections and writings on the legacy of Toni Cade Bambara, edited by Linda Janet Holmes and Cheryl A. Wall.

Q: Are you an admirer of Bambara's work?
A: Yes, but that's an understatement. I'm in awe of her work. Her collection of short stories, Gorilla, My Love is a literary masterpiece, in my humble opinion. I'd go as far as to say it ought to be required reading, particularly for African American adolescents. As a matter of fact, I plan on introducing my own son to some of the stories in Gorilla, My Love over the summer.

Q: What do you like most about the stories in Gorilla, My Love?

A: Again, first and foremost, it's all about the "voice." In Gorilla, Bambara captures the rhythms and the nuances of the African Amercian urban vernacular in a way that is almost magical. She breathes life into these characters by granting them the freedom to tell their own stories in their own voices.

Also, I love how the characters in Gorilla, My Love, most of them young Black girls and women, are cast as defiant, non-conforming and fearless, sheroes, rather than somebody's long-suffering victim. Rather than running from or being overcome by life's challenges, they confront them. And the truth spoken by these characters is most often delivered straight with no chaser, like, for instance, in "Raymond's Run," when the little girl known as Hazel observes that "girls never really smile at each other because they don't know how and don't want to know how and there's probably no one to teach us how, cause grown-up girls don't know either."

Q: So, what was the last fiction title you read?
A: You really want to know? A Diary of A Wimpy Kid: Roderick Rules by Jeff Kinney.

Q: Isn't that a kid's book? Why would you read something like that?
A: Why not? (LOL) Actually, I bought it for my son. But on thumbing through it, I recognized it as the kind of book I would have enjoyed as a youngster. It was a fun, light-hearted, entertaining read. I guess you could say it spoke to my inner child. To be honest, I wouldn't mind writing something like that myself, one day (smile).

So tell me, if you feel like sharing, what are you reading? What have you read? What do you plan to read next?


Anonymous said...

I,m reading a mystery, Touchstone, by Laurier King which takes place in England. Most of my favorite mysteries involve English characters. My book club at Beatties Ford Library just finished A Song Yet Song which was a very interesting book. After reading your blog, I'm anxious to read both books you mentioned by Toni Cade Bambara since I've never read her books. I always find such interesting news in your blog. // Sheila Wilcox

pjazzypar said...

I am currently reading "The Makeup of a Woman" by Lisa Nicole Hankerson and Siddeeqah Powell. It's a pretty good relationship novel with a twist.