For The Writers.

For the writers out there. I know Elizabeth Gilbert is not fucked with by every literary person out there, but I liked “Eat Pray Love”, and this TED talk she gave is just what I needed to break out of some writer’s block I’ve been having. Thought I’d pass it along:

Happy reading/writing! And Eastern Seaboard family, please be safe. I’m praying for you! Let me know what you’re doing to stay sane during Hurricane Sandy in the comments section.

 

~T.

Cuffing Season Required Reading

Now that everyone is settled down with their winter boo-thang, it’s about that time to cozy up on a bear skin rug with your honey and read some sensual lit to keep the warmth going all season. Here are some reads that will curl your toes:

This Is How You Lose Her, by Junot Diaz – This book gives of pheromones like a motherfucker. Even though it’s a bit of a cautionary tale of what not to do if you are trying to make a relationship work, the sensuality and sexuality within it are scintillating. The narrator, Yunior, has never me punanny that he could say no to. This heartbreaking collection of short stories is the expression of doomed love, and it’s nothing short of marvelous.

Sliding Door Series, by S. “Muze” Brown – Original fiction by a young woman who knows how to keep her readers’ heart rates up. The characters – Jade, Nigel, and his twin brother Nathan – form a dramatic love triangle that will keep you at the edge of your seat guessing how things will turn out for the doomed trio. So, so messy, and yet so, so good. Read it for yourself here (make sure you start from the beginning).

Poems by Pablo Neruda – The Chilean poet Pablo Neruda (born Neftali Ricardo Reyes Basoalto) is the king of delicious lines that make the skin tingle. His work is intense and deeply felt, and has a way of tapping into the awe of being madly in love someone. Read “Carnal Apple, Woman Filled, Burning Moon” to your boo and watch her (or him) melt like sugar in warm water.

The Kama Sutra – This is the perfect book to read with your significant other – sex tips on unleashing the power of the yoni and the lingam? Add to that the fact that the pictures look like an ancient version of strip-Twister and you’ve got a read hot enough to melt all of Snowmageddon. “Her yoni resembles the opening lotus bud, and her love seed (Kama salila) is perfumed like the lily that has newly burst.” Talk to me dirty in Sanskrit, baby!

A Rich Man, by Edward P. Jones – this short story is another one about how cuffin’ young stuff can go terribly, terribly wrong for an old pimp. Based in Washington DC, the author illustrates what happens when a retiree whose wife has just died starts up new ‘relations’ with some young tenderonis, only to have everything he’s worked for go down the drain.

And a special shout out to those on my Twitter TL who recommended or are writing some freaky reads of their own:

- The Story of O, by Frenchwoman Pauline Reage (Recommended by Roy Pickering)

- All works by Colin Channer (Recommended by Donna Lee and The Love Hater)

So tell me, what tempting books/short stories/poems have caught your eye this autumn?

Book Review: Gone Girl

This book made me think of: Lynn Whitfield’s character in “A Thin Line Between Love and Hate”, Old girl from “Fatal Attraction”, and the white chick from “Obsessed.”

Mini-synopsis: Nick and Amy Dunne are an all-American couple. But when they move back to Nick’s hometown of North Carthage, Missouri after both are laid off from their NYC writing gigs, things start to get ugly, really fast. Amy goes missing and Nick is the number one suspect and he seems to have ever motive to off his wife – he uses her inheritance to start a business, he has a very young tenderoni side piece, and Amy’s diary seems to indicate that he has Chris Brown tendencies (very LifeTime-esque, to be honest). But then around the middle of the book the author flips the script and you find out Amy isn’t quite innocent and wholesome as she seems. That shit cray.

Favorite description in the book:  Jacque Collings, the mother of a potential suspect in Amy’s case, is described as smelling ‘vaginal’. I mean, Jacque is super rich and classy and what not, and she still smells like budussy? I thought to myself, she can definitely afford some Bath & Body works at least, c’mon Jacque. I guess it means she’s still human and is not above smelling like an animal. Just a very visceral way to describe someone, and Flynn employs similar gut-checking language throughout the book.

Read this book if: You want a good (kind of) murder mystery where you don’t know what happens next. Be prepared to feel duped by the characters. For some reason, being tricked by fictional people is so…disturbing. I felt taken advantage at first, and then by the end I was so scared for Nick and sickened at the same time…whew.

Don’t read this book if: You are about to get married/engaged, or are questioning your current relationship, because it will make you look at your significant other with an ill side eye. Gillian Flynn does a really good job of unearthing the seamy, messy parts of coupledom, especially the anger and mania that can sometimes be just under the surface.  It’s actually pretty uncomfortable to think how far some people will go just to hold on to another person.

What do you think? Would you give this book a shot?

~T.

Book Review: The Dead Do Not Improve

I will read anything. The phone book, the back of a cereal box, those creepy proselytizing pamphlets you find at bus stops, it doesn’t matter. Even if it’s boring I will give (almost) any printed word a whirlHowever, it frustrates me when I expect something to be a savory, sumptuous read and it doesn’t deliver what I want. This is how I felt after reading Jay Caspian Kang’s “The Dead Do Not Improve”. Kang writes for Grantland, and I really enjoy his essays – they’re incisive, thoughtful, a little bit irreverent, all around pretty dope. So I was cised to get his book and support another writer of color, just to see what he had to offer. And while he has a unique voice and I love Kang’s non-fiction work, the novel left me craving more. Below are my lamentations:

I was confused – Let me clarify: I was more confused than I normally am. This was supposed to be a crime/murder novel with hipster leanings, set in San Francisco, but the whole time I could not figure out what was going on. Philip Kim, the main character, is the neighbor of an older woman who is mysteriously killed, and finds himself on the run because he think he might be next. Apparently upset somebody (?). The trouble is that it was hard to understand why anyone would want to kill Phillip (he’s not that popping or interesting enough to kill, IMO).  It’s also not easy to follow all the people in the book and get a good grasp on who did what, and what their connection was to murder. There were also reflections on race/minority status (Philip is Korean), relationships, hip-hop culture, dating, the Virginia Tech shooting, and the liberal culture in San Francisco. The book switched between Phillip’s first person account of his life on the run, and the third person view of Siddharta Finch, the detective responsible solving the murder. Flipping between the two narrative styles was a bit jarring. By the time I got to the end of the book I didn’t really care if they found the killers or not, I just wanted the book TO TELL ME WHAT HAPPENED so my brain wouldn’t explode. It was just too much.

The characters got on my nerves – So, I mentioned Philip Kim, who falls for this chick Ellen who is supposed to be some east-coast fleece wearing elitist who recently gentrified his neighborhood. Ellen is on the run with Phillip because he somehow managed to get her mixed up in the murder situation and she has to flee with him. Phillip was annoyingly mopey, and so THIRSTY for this Ellen chick that I worried that she wasn’t really worth it. It felt like he worshiped her whiteness more than telling me what was so special about her – she was bor-ing. At least let her be fly! At least let her be interesting! He made her seem like some Vera Bradley wearing chick who liked to bounce from minority to minority, sampling men like an international buffet. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I did dig Siddharta’s character. He loved his wife, he loved his job, he surfed – a standup guy. His partner Jim Kim was a hard ass, which is cool because he’s a detective and that’s what detectives are, firm in the buttockal region. Outside of those main characters there were miscellaneous miscreants,  heavy-breasted hippie women, surfers, fat men, and homeless people. I can’t tell you exactly what all they were doing, but they were there doing something.

San Francisco seems ass – San Fran was a place that I always wanted to go: I imagined streets paved in Rice-A-Roni, super mellow inhabitants, great book shops. And then my homegirl went there and reported back – people are overliberal, it’s cold, there ain’t no black people. At least Kang seems to have gotten the liberal condescension right in “The Dead Do Not Improve.” Reading the book made me leery of ever booking my flight northwestward. I don’t think there would be any people that I could connect with in that city, with all its dot com millionaires and activists and granola types. The “anything goes” spirit of the city that comes across in this book as creepy and seedy. I guess I’m not as free-wheeling and laissez-faire as I want to believe *womp womp*.

So that’s it, those are my thoughts on “The Dead Do Not Improve”. Not my fave, but I can’t fault Jay Caspian Kang for not writing a book that I enjoyed – there very well may be some people who this story spoke to, it just wasn’t me. As a writer you can’t please everyone with your work.

Oh Wassup?!

(sometimes a good read doesn’t come from a book)

Hey all! I’ve been pretty ghost this week (boo), but I promise that I working on some cool surprises & big news that will knock you argyle-polka-dotted-swirl colored socks off! To keep you busy, here are a few pieces I wrote for Madame Noire, here and here. Hope you enjoy!

Also, can you believe it’s October already? Time is F-L-Y-I-N-G. Hope you have a good weekend! What are you reading??? I am re-reading some good old James Baldwin.

~T