Saturday, February 6, 2021

My #ReadSoulLit Start-Ups


So I would start a James Baldwin book the weekend before taking my Grandmother to two specialists the following week. Then the week after is my birthday week, as well as my return to the classroom. Busy little beaver, I suppose. Not the best time to find myself waist deep in Baldwin’s level of immersion and gripping engagement. Yet, I chose to pick up his book, Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone. But who am I kidding? It is always the perfect timing for a Baldwin book. As I write this, I am fifty pages in and on my second cup of coffee for the evening. His work is that absorbing; I always want to be alert to his offerings. And here it is about to start raining! The right vibe. The right move. The right night. As I have stated, perfect timing.

I’m halfway through Tammye Huf’s A More Perfect Union. It is the book chosen for the #ReadSoulLit read-along of 2021. So far, I am liking the book. It is a fictionalized retelling of the author’s ancestors' love story, seeded in a Virginia plantation around 1849. You take a slave named, Sarah, and her Irish immigrant beau named Henry; imagine the peril involved. One thing I enjoy is Henry's narrative insight into the Irish immigrate experience. I also enjoy the parallel of family pain and trauma both Sarah and Henry share, though the overall illustrations of those shared traumas are fairly "light" (if you will). Nevertheless, their pain is something that draws them to one another. To keep a balance, Sarah and Henry do alternate shifting his or her narrative throughout the book. Yet, there is a third character named Maple that is as desperate to share her painful narrative as well. And an interesting one it is, considering she is the half-sister of the plantation’s mistress.

I should note how the book reads fast. There is a level of “dashing” to the author’s style; she only illustrates so much before we are off to the next scene/moment/chapter. So sometimes I am wanting more, before launching further into the story. Also, there is this restless sensation I am experiencing halfway through the book. I am often left wondering “when is the other shoe going to drop in this story.” Having experienced that before in a book, that is when I know I must step back for a moment and read in pieces. Which is the purpose of a read-along after all.

Last, I have only read the first chapter of A Glimmer of Death by Valerie Wilson Wesley. I spent Friday night torn between books I am going to pick up between readings of A More Perfect Union. I am not one to juggle books at one time, though; I need my completeness to move on. Still, I am going easy on myself this month. I figured if I focus on three books, I could do the juggling books thing. Wesley is for sure in the mix, as I take these three books on one day at a time. I wanted to make sure I had a mystery somewhere in the blend, and A Glimmer of Death was right on time.

Speaking of black mystery writers, the last book I finished was Stormy Weather by Paula L. Woods. It is the second book in her Charlotte Justice series. And I am going to tell you all right now: PAULA L WOODS DOES IT FOR MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE, BABY!

No lie. I love Paula L. Woods’s work and am now going to order the final two books in her series the second I edit this post. If I find the time and space, I would love to further explain why. But understand she knows how to work a theme, and in Stormy Weather it was “Black Hollywood Royalty”. She also does compelling suspects with his or her own individual story threads very well. When I actually want to see a suspect character come on stage and act out, you're doing something right with me. Another thing I love about Woods’s work is you can tell she cares about what she is writing about. There is a sense of necessary acknowledgement of the issues she takes on. When it comes to applying commentary to the mystery, Woods is right up there with Barbara Neely in my book.

Anyway, carry on. #ReadSoulLit. Black History 365 days of the year!

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