I am just starting in on this fascinating text, a thoroughgoing academic analysis of the Black Panther Movement, situated in its cultural context. I’ll be posting quotes and thoughts as I go, and I welcome anyone else to read along with me. The Black Panther Party was formed in a cultural and political milieu in which the Civil Rights Movement had come up to its limits. Whites would only allow so much. And police brutality was relentless and cruel.
1,460 pages. Audiobook length of over 56 hours. And all of that is just to cover the time leading up to the Presidency. “If I go into politics it should grow out of work I’ve done at the local level, not because I’m some media creation.” ~ The young Barack Obama “If I go into politics it should grow out of work I’ve done at the local level, not because I’m some media creation.” ~ The young Barack Obama
On the surface, the novel Beloved seems like literature that makes us more aware of the brutality of slavery — the physical and emotional abuses, the violence, and the dehumanization. It is, all of these, of course, but I think that what sets Toni Morrison’s novel apart, and what has earned her the well-deserved international acclaim she has achieved, is that she goes deeper, to really get under our skin, as it were. For me, reading Beloved made me acutely aware of the color of my skin. This is perhaps as good as it gets, when it comes to fiction writing, because Beloved forces the reader to confront themselves in relation to skin color and in relation to the brutality of racism, both past and present. Morrison does all this simpy by being a great writer, by putting the reader there, right there in the middle of it all.
I finished the first installment of David Sedaris’ diaries a few months back. I would only recommend it to the most rabid of Sedaris fanatics. After all, they are, in fact, the Sedaris diaries. They are not categorized by subject or topic — there’s no attempt to add a coherent theme or an organizing principle of any sort. It’s just the Sedaris diaries, which for most would be uninteresting, perhaps a form of torture, even; but if you want to know the life of Sedaris and get an even better sense of his writing process, then it’s worthwhile. I had a good deal of fun with it, listening to Sedaris himself narrate the audiobook. I also stumbled across a short six-minute video, linked below, of Sedaris discussing the diaries. In the vid he tosses out a few bits of writerly wisdom.