So the Twitter book club I’m a part of, N(injas) B(e) R(eadin’), is tackling Junot Diaz’s “This is How You Lose Her” tonight at 9 PM EST. The tag is #NBR, and the stories for discussion are Otravida, Otravez; Flaca; and The Pura Principle. It’s really a lot of fun, you never know where the convo will turn, and you always get unique perspectives. Also, this book is all that and a bag of Lay’s Chicken and Waffle Chips. Get into it!
This is from the ColorLines Facing Race 2012 keynote speech. I’m just going to drop this right here.
Pulitzer-and-numerous-other-literary-prize winner Edward P. Jones’ “Lost in the City” was one of the books that had been chilling on my bookcase for a while before I cracked it open, and I’m glad I had the opportunity to grow a bit before digging into it. I got the first nudge from Junot Diaz at the National Book Festival, when he listed Jones as one of his influences. I’d read “The Known World” back when it came out, but I don’t think I’d developed the teeth necessary to really chew on and digest that book; as a result “All Aunt Hagar’s Children” and “Lost in the City” languished in unread-book-land for years. It was totally worth it, though, because now that I live in the DC metro area the stories resonated with more depth for me. Books be knowing, y’all.
Synopsis: It’s a book of short stories, and it’s easy to see where Junot Diaz got his inspiration for “Drown” and “This Is How You Lose Her” – Lost’s characters are connected to characters in All Aunt Hagar’s children, and are sometimes connected with stories in the same collection as well. Jones skillfully examines mid-century DC when it was still a ‘chocolate city’. The streets, locations, and descriptions of people are spot on. He captures the voice of old-school black DC in a quiet, unassuming, non-judgmental way. He’s just telling it how it is. I appreciate Jones’ narrative straightforwardness – Jones builds stories bit by bit, each piece appearing to just be matter of fact, and before you know it you’re at the end, pondering the bigger issues the story has quietly laid out. It’s great when good storytelling sneaks up on you.
Favorite characters: Marie, an elderly woman who fends off a potential thief with her homemade serrated shank; Joyce, who acts like it’s all good that her son buys her a house using dope money and fakes like she can have kids with her man even though her tubes are tied; a store-keep who watches the rise and fall of a neighborhood corner store from his perch behind the counter.
Read this if you: like DC, want to understand what the city was like for black folks before 2000, like Toni Morrison, like books with depth. Also, I was super pumped that my edition, published by Amistad, had “A Rich Man,” which I posted here as required cuffing reading not too long ago, included as a bonus to introduce readers to All Aunt Hagar’s Children. Gotta read that next!
Ok, I’ve been stanning on this book for a while, and I just couldn’t shake how deeply it touched me. So I linked up with my homegirl Erika and we had a lengthy heart-to-heart about the emotions this book took us through: tears, passion, frustration. Something about the characters and the writing got deep into my marrow, y’all. Like this book will have you swan-diving headfirst into your feelings and backstroking in the sea of your emotions. Peep the discussion below and let me know what you think.
Also, I made a tumblr dedicated Junot Diaz’s carnal-ass way of depicting women in his stories. ThisIsHowYouDescribeHer.Tumblr.Com. Since even Slate agrees his literary lady descriptions are segsy. Enjoy!
DopeReads was in the building for the 2012 Nationals Book Festival in Washington DC. Peep the pictures below for a quick recap!
As you can see, the weather was great! Clear skies, a cool breeze here and there, and not a (rain) cloud in sight. The only thing that was tough was the dust from the gravel/clay on the lawn, it made my sinuses itch, but other than that it was beautiful!
First stop at NatBookFest: grab a complimentary book bag! Last year the bags were turquoise blue (my fave color) and this year they were hot pink (my second favorite color). My sister is the bag model
So many books, so little time, it’s a good thing I have most of the books on this table
Like Chris Matthews, I was unable to attend all the readings I wanted to get to. The reality is that there were so many people I wanted to check out (Nikki Finney, Nalo Hopkinson, Jeffrey Eugenides) and their schedules were so matrixed that you couldn’t get to everyone.
Tayari Jones! She was so great, and gracious about answering my question about how her HBCU experience (Spelman) shaped her writing. She talked about her struggles and triumphs as an author, as well as her relationship with Judy Blume. Definitely an uplifting speaker and writer!
As you can see, it was crackin’ for the Junot Diaz event. People were sitting on the ground just to hear the man speak. And boy, was it worth it. He cusses a lot, but in a good way, and totally made the crowd feel special and appreciated.
Peep the BookIt! t-shirt though…where can I cop one???
Happy Monday y’all!
This is how you describe someone from the Caribbean trying to put on airs
She was from Trinidad, a cocoa panyol, and she had this phony-as-hell English accent. It was the way we all were back then. None of us wanted to be niggers. Not for nothing.
This is how you describe a woman who is in love with a married man:
Ana Iris once asked me if I loved him and I told her about the lights in my old home in the capital, how they flickered and you never knew if they were going to go out or not. You put down your things and you waited and couldn’t do anything really until the lights decided. This, I told her, is how I feel.
This is how you describe a cheater who knows, but doesn’t want to believe, that his relationship is over:
I’m going home tomorrow, she said.
I sat down next to her. Took her hand. This can work, I said. All we have to do is try.
This is how you write a book of short stories. This is How You Lose Her. Cop it here.
***You seriously need to cop this book. Junot Diaz does an amazing job of keeping it real and keeping it literary – AT THE SAME DAMN TIME. That is so rare and much appreciated. I don’t want to give too much away. Trust me, just get it.***