Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Whither Jane Austen? Teri Woods and our Literary Legacy

The author, in her own words. When the human race is gone and someone else takes notice of our culture, this is what they may find. (note digital records will be corrupted, pages might be long decayed by mold) I wonder what they'd say? Well, hopefully they'll find this stuff before they unearth a fossilized "Madea."


Anonymous said...


gary said...

So that's not Maya Angelou?

Monica said...

She's a mess, isn't she? Cocaine is a powerful drug.

Seriously, I was wondering when you would post this. The fact that Woods is so successful really says that the cultural descendants of people who read Himes and Goines and Iceberg Slim are still reading books. They are buying (or stealing) these tales. The markets there, finding ways to appeal to these readers is difficult.

It seems like telling compelling stories about all aspects of the African American experience without being condescending is proving to be a challenge for writers who have actually studied the craft. Maybe they can stand to take a tip or two from Miss Woods. ;-)

lincolnperry said...

Nat is correct in his assessment, ghetto lit doesnt challenge its readers, and isnt inspirational!

What would have happen if Richard Wright, James Baldwin, Zora Neal Hurston read the equivalent to this literature in there respective times.

The problem I find with the people that read this literature, is that provides a comfort zone of ignorance! " I live in the projects, I don't indentify with those bourgie middle class black woman in the surburbs of pg county!"

Will these books encourage the readers to consider more thought provoking and challenging material, maybe...most likely not!

Anonymous said...

who is this crackhead?

Monica said...


Most fiction published at any given time is crap. If it's good, people will read it and continue to read it for years to come.

Do you believe that Wright and Hurston didn't read penny novels and crap published in their day? They probably did.

Please trust in twenty years, no one is going to be reading Teri Woods, Nikki Turner, Vicki Stringer, K'wan, LA Banks, Eric Jerome Dickey, Lolita FIles, or any of Terry McMillan's novels published after DIsappearing Acts. They won't be reading John Grisham or Chuck Palahniuk, James Patterson or Stephanie Myers either.

Pebbles Flintstone said...

Seriously I've heard BIG NAME white authors whine about Stephanie Meyers and "Twilight" the way African American literary writers go on about Teri Woods. I'm not stupid nor am I judging when I say it's not 100% hating. It's 50% hating and 50% legitimate. But the people you should be mad at is the average reader...on NON-Reader. We are in an age of stupidity. Of course like Twilight it's not just stupidity but AGE. Most of Teri Woods' fans are likely pretty young, as are Stephanie Meyers'. The problem is that they do not mature in their choices, and no one is challenging to do so.

sonali said...

i m such a fool, i dunno anythng about all dis.... its a pleasure to come to your blog n read good sense stuff....

Andrea said...

She's a hustler selling a product she knows her base will buy. Her base is the majority of our people and their intelligence level is defiantly, regressive wanting prominent, broad-based reassurances from superior classes, internal and external of the race and subsets, that they are too whole human beings deserving of equal rights, and protection, and respect even if they don't want to give the earnest to challenge themselves or their world to better. They will hold you up and strangle you with guilt for offering them more substantive life with quantitative meaning. They will embarrass you, ridicule you, and taunt you for trying to help them. They can be ferocious to defend themselves from the challenges in growing. They think they will lose at trying and the only way for them to win is if it is given to them. (Terry gives them something: reassurance to dig their heels in deeper.) That could simply mean equilaterally if the variables were made easier for guaranteed wins.

They see you as the enemy for challenging them to step in the unknown and risk to attain against uncertainty. And then Terry comes along to tell them they were right all along about those Bourgie people who all are not really typified Bourgies.

The underclass knows instinctively they are deficient in various ways and levels and dimensions even if and though they can't articulate or describe what they sense is missing. They are human and they sense their fated misanthropic destinies. It is scary and alarming to them. They are innately wishing that their strategy of wanting societal guilt to linger indefinitely to ease them through the battles with life; they want to see the leverage of exchange for the very real unfairness they were fated as their lot in life. And they hope to see the leverage lean in their favor continuously so they can be exonerated and expunged in exchange in real-time for concessions of packaged gifts and prizes as reparations for not having luck. They sense fate is bigger than mankind's will to create it as much as they know mankind is pretty willful to overpower fate. They rather stick with what is tangible in seeing the stratification by mankind but to them mankind is a group of men--White and indiscriminate.

For them they process their rationale of understanding fate, destiny, and luck and ferments it into seething rage they don't even want to really touch because it proves that luck is part of the equation and if you were not born with it, you better hope to find it and finagle some for yourself. They also can explain themselves because they are confused when they think too long and hard. They never knew anything definite beyond what was passed on in a script to know of themselves.

Knowing that there is some unfairness to it--life, most however rather stick to the rationale they they were born with the short-end of the stick and never had a chance rather than find ways to be those honest, pious archetypes mythicized attaining the American Dream righteously. They learn quickly for some and reluctantly for others that mostly everyone that is a recipient of life's favorabilty hustled.

They also guild that some really are magical and never had to. (too much Church, too much Disney, and too many Hollywood endings in American systemized thinking)

So in order to talk and connect to the underclass, you have to prove that you sympathetic to them. You must vow that you are avenging for them. If you don't present through those parameters, you are seen as their enemy--a bourgie person.

That's a strategy most use and get stuck at twisting--not able to breakthrough any further with them or they get to the threshold limit there as their goal having gotten something from the underclass that was tangible in return to seduce them and keep the balance still in tact with the superior person as the honorary emissary of those that understand. It's still a self-serving strategy most utilize to get something from the underclass while fooling them that they are on the same page.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

I don't have blond hair (or a day job for that matter, ha) but something tells me I'm not her target audience.

Anonymous said...

Bill Cosby is right. End of story. I'm shocked Obama won with allies like this?!

Bernice L. McFadden said...

Thanks for sharing this with me...

Christopher Chambers said...

I think the key is what Sean Connery said in my favorite "writer" movie Finding Forrester. The kid asked him why he reads the National Enquirer, musing that someone of his stature should read the NY Times (when the movie was made the Times meant something hahaha). Connery replied "I do. That's my dinner. This is my dessert." Well, we've flipped it, and the average bamma doesn't care. Dessert becomes dinner. Dinner not only becomes irrelevant, but also the subject of a weird form of ridicule.

Here's the allegory: too much dessert (sugar) rots your teeth, makes you fat, gives you diabetes and high blood pressure, plaque in the heart, blah blah. Same problems that our community suffers, eh?

I read this stuff, too. I got a whole goddamn wall of it. But let's stop calling it dinner, and the super educated folks who publish and edit it need to stop the games and diplomatic dances about this stuff. lol
Stephen King once said "I'm a salami writer. I happen to write good salami, but let's face it: salami is salami."

There, is that so hard?

We're going to be the last morons on the stern of the literary Titanic as it hits the water. lol

Monica said...

Not to belabor the point, but I must repeat that if authors produced books people wanted to read they would sell.

I buy two or three novels a week, if I found a black author that wrote something I liked, I would be the first to buy it. The problem is that reputable black fiction writers are not stepping up to the plate.

If we look at this in terms of the dessert/dinner allegory, dinner as it is served now is ice cold and covered with milk chocolate. It's either simply not appealing or still just dessert. There is no big difference between Dickey, Zane, McMillan, and Nikki Turner.

I don't know where I read this, but Southgate said that white people have Michael Chabon and danielle steele, but all black writers are lumped together. I hate to be the one to say this but most black writers (I've attempted to read or checked out of the library) are somewhere in between those two extremes. Colson Whitehead came close to breaking through the pack with "The intuitionist" but then he became full of himself and started to write tripe...

So it's back to books like Never Let Me Go by Ishiguro or the stories of Andre DuBus, Shirley Jackson or Joyce Carol Oates.

A Black Reader Out

lincolnperry said...

Well said, but they need hope not Apathy!
Hmm, I buy 3-5 books a month, but if you cant find good black authors, check out black girl lost…in a book blog...http://naysue.wordpress.com/2009/06/02/soulful-readers-book-group-information/ I found many good recommendations that I only wish there was time to read!

Monica said...


I suppose I didn't make myself clear. I'm not interested in reading a book just because the author is black and the protagonists are black. I'm interested in reading good books that are both entertaining and thought provoking. I'm at the point now that I don't care what the author's background is.

I said it here before, I've read enough slave novels, bougie coming of age novels, 'buked and scorned novels, "we be po'" novels, relationship/romance novels and girlfriend "sex and the city" novels to last me the rest of my damn life.

Unfortunately, that's what most of our non-ghetto lit authors produce. It's certainly their right to write whatever interests them. I'm just not that interested in reading it.

When I go to a used bookstore or B & N, I pick up a book read the first 5 or 6 pages, the 5 middle pages and the last one. If there's a sex scene in the first 5 pages, I don't buy the book. If I can figure out the plot from 10 pages and the prose is awful, I don't buy the book. This system has brought I tremendous amount of satisfaction. Unfortunately, it prevents me from buying a large number of books by black authors. It also prevents me from buying books by people like James Patterson too.

As such is life.

Sad Black Reader Out

CommonSenseChaim said...

Why are you so afraid to be honest? ["You" as in blacks?] You have stupid bitches like this and her followers making you all look like retards and band together?

Anonymous said...

SoCal 82Tiger Says:

Common Sense - Ranting ignorant while making your point doesn't help you in making your point...

I have no aspirations to be a literary critic but in my view the complaints I've read from Prof Nat and his fans apply equally well to all areas of American Culture. In particular to what’s happened to film and music.

Thanks to our love of pop culture we’ve permitted all Arts to be homogenized into a product of commerce that’s now one big bowl of bleck!

As you wax on about the lack of great modern literature, regardless of whether or not it genises is “black”, your complaints mirror my same misgivings about the failings of today’s movies. Any comparison of the themes, timing, language and dialogue of past films to today’s product reveals almost a complete abandonment of the writing art. Yes most of today’s films are shiny, glossy products of commerce that highlight amazing advancements in visual and sound technology BUT acting and dialogue is generally simplistic and amateurish.

There was a time when American movies at least attempted to be both art and commerce!
I always thought that Italian, French and Germans moviemakers referred to their movies with terms like film and cinema as a nod or reminder to all of us, that art and commerce should exist together in the same product.

From the 1940’s thru the mid 70’s American filmmakers tried to do the same – And to that end they lost - The bean counters in America won so now the goal of commercial success has killed the “art” of American Films.

Modernist in education, media and government will blather on to us that we have lost touch with embracing modern Pop Culture. Today’s “Depeche Mode” is what’s important but what this really suggests is that we’re all just pushed to dumb-down. The cynical part of me sees that as a pernicious attempt to turn us all into sheep – Sheep that don’t ask questions, don’t care, and are easily lead to cultural slaughter.

Great Literature like Great Film is alas a dying breed...

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
lincolnperry said...

@SoCal 82Tiger
Unfortunately in American Society commerce trumps Art, I agree with you on the decline in writing, last week I saw the Taking of Pelham 123, and of course it pales in comparision to the original with Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw, the interplay between the two, dialogue and other characters makes for good script that makes up for special effects, like many recent films that hypnotise the xbox and mtv generation with cgi, thx sound and 120ipm!

Deocliciano Okssipin Vieira, aka Ochyming said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Deocliciano Okssipin Vieira, aka Ochyming said...


In this age of aadvertisement …
Clever way of selling books to a demographic.

Actually bad writers, those from whom we learn nothing about human conditon are the ones who sell more.

Why we read?

According to Reuben Abati (nigerian writer):

… as they read about others, people see their reflections in a hall of mirrors [ MOST people who love to read and care about art cut themselves from any psicological ghetto ], reliving their own anxieties, hopefully they feel entertained, or shocked, or [ And what really counts ] taught a lesson or two about life, their enviroment, society, being and Nothingness TOO.
from NewAfrica mag.

You cannot expect people to start reading Finnegans Wake by James Joyce (an unreadable book even for the likes of John Cage and Marcel Duchamp), as their first book.

My favorite book, Tony Morrison's PARADISE starts with reference to shooting at a white woman first, i gave the book to my sister-in-low to read - i hand to others all my fav books and CDs [these days i download more music than buying, eh], wonder of wonders …, she is an afro-brazilian, she could not pass that first page!
And yes, it shocked me too!

So, any first reading IS important.

Books only make you wiser if you are Open. Dostoievsky knowledge of human condition ( perhaps to this day STILL ) was unparalleled to anything that was written in his time (many experts will tell you that), but he was a rabbid anti-semite, contradicting all you can learn from reading him.

So, i will pass her, maybe in some couple of years ahead she will look back and say, f*** that, how could i?
Who knows.

Also, Mr. Nat. is right, who knows this post can speed that change ?

Well, do not mind me that much.

Monica said...

Paradise and Jazz are unreadable.

Deocliciano Okssipin Vieira, aka Ochyming said...


At leat they are in plain English but Finnegans Wake is almost Sound art on paper.

You know, art Mostly does not entertain.
Art often kicks you in the head, some times violently.
Just look at political cartoons as ex.

Compare Elizabeth Cotten's lyrics [download her - Shake Sugaree -album] with lyrics by 50 cent for ex. , you'll note whose work consumes you more. Them to me entertains more.
But i understant that the other way may entertain others Best, which is fine.

But then Mr. Nat used the word culture …

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