Monday, February 26, 2007

Four Books to Look For

As another trite, commercial and trope-filled Black History Month wanes, here are some voices bearing a big, long listen:

First is Friends and Lovers in Black and White, debut novel by Altomease Rucker Kennedy, prominent D.C. attorney who chronicles the life of a young black girl at an exclusive all-white women's college in the 1960s. Bittersweet and insightful with none of the triteness and trope I relate above. In short, something new for black folks. Speaking of insightful, Princeton man Obery Hendricks, Jr., Professor of Religion at New York Theological Seminary and one of our best philosophers, gives us The Politics of Jesus. Obery is a genius. This is a must read for all of you Faith-based social money grubbing, Jaquar-driving, suburban mega complex building mega-preachers out there who seem to think Dick Cheney or Fox News are friends of black folks. Obery is the author of The Living Water. And speaking of genius, my boy Mat Johnson, author of Drop and Hunting in Harlem; Professor of English at Bard College up in the great white north gives us a harrowing account of the first black slave revolt in America: in Manhattan, not the South, circa 1741. The Great Negro Plot takes the track of creative non-fiction invented by Truman Capote in In Cold Blood, and thus brings this event and the players to living blood and sinew. William Styron is smiling from the grave. Finally, check out William Frederick Cooper's new novel There's Always a Reason. Unless you've been living under a log or too snobby (I should talk!) to review the barrage of BlackExpressions mailers, William has arrived. This isn't the usual insipid black soap opera being marketed as a novel; this dude pours an entire heart's-worth, plus a few extra ventricles, into his work. The pay-off can be seen here in Reason. To William, "passion" isn't a mere punchline or gimmick and you owe yourself a look.

Enjoy and learn, before Fiddy Cent and C-Murder publish any more "novellas," and see my previous recommendations this month, including new works by Jonathan Luckett and Cora Daniels.


Anonymous said...

I have seen Dr. Hendricks' works before but never read them. I was in college when Mat Johnson's Drop was published and I thought at first it was by a British author. It was an amazing quasi-memoir. I will look for these books, as well at Friends and Lovers. My mother and aunt would relate to that experience as it seems to mirror what they enjoyed and endured at Smith College in Mass. during the early 60s.

Christopher Chambers said...

FYI, my aunt graduated from an elite women's college in New York State in the 1960s and thus Ms. Kennedy's book resonated with me, based on some of her anecdotes and meeting her black and white classmates.

Chicama Vineyard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chicama Vineyard said...

I have The Politics of Jesus by Obery Hendricks and I recommend it for anyone who has a progressive stance and wishes to debate the conservatives and fundamentalists on this matter which they claim to be the sole authorities!

The Great Slave Plot looks very interesting.

Anonymous said...

Mat Jphnson as Truman Capote--cwmon dude. How much are these authors paying you?! I enjoyed Drop because I had an interesting road in interning with these brothers doing advertising in Detroit before we hit the Bay Area. I have not peeped these other books but will try.

Anonymous said...

I am a fan of Jonathan Luckett's and met him and Rique Johnson at a book party, along with Zane and that was a real treat. I have met you before and I am a fan of yours. Our bookclub featured your first book back when we started in 2002 right here in Raleigh NC. HINT HINT I am surprised you are featuring Fredrick Cooper's book because I thought it was a romance novel and you didn't like romance novels? Marriage must be agreeing with you, and I enjoy your insight into this book.

I think the Friends and Lovers in Black and White book is also on by the way and not just Amazon. Will this author go on tour if you know? Likewise with Mat Johnson?