Thursday, June 4, 2009

New favorite book?

So it's nearly 4 weeks into my summer, and I've just finished my first summer reading book. Let's for the time overlook the stack of 20+ books I told myself to TRY to get through. (Fortunately, I try to be realistic and as soon as I realized how many books I'd brought back with me I admitted that I'll consider it a minor-major miracle if I get through half. The beauty is in the effort.)
Book 1 was Lorraine Hansberry's To Be Young, Gifted and Black, and, frankly, if the other books are half this good or poignant it'll be tragic for me not to read them.

Before you read anymore of this, I'm gonna ruin the ending of this post. GO READ THIS BOOK! If you quit reading this blog post (or my blog as a whole) and instead decide to read this book, I'd consider it a fair and totally worthwhile exchange—this|deal|not|applicable|if|you've|already|read|To Be Young,Gifted and Black. (That last sentence is intended to be read as a list of medical side effect at the end of Prozac, Viagra or Valtrex commercials.)

So, whatever, I read a good book. Why in the name of all that is good and all that is time-wasting should that get a blog entry? The answer is hopefully found in excerpts like this one:
Part 3 Chapter IV Section 2

America as Seen through the Eye of the TV Tube

1. Most people who work for a living (and they are few) are executives and/or work in some kind of office.
2. Sex is the basis of all psychological, economic, political, historical, social—in fact, known—problems of man.
3. Sex is very bad.
4. Sex is very good and the solution to all psychological, economic, political, historical, social—in fact, known—problems of man.
5. The present social order is here forever and this is the best of all possible worlds.
6. The present social order is here forever and this is the worst of all possible worlds.
7. The present social order is all in the mind.
8. Women are idiots.
9. Negroes do not exist. . .

Hopefully you can see part of why I love the book just from this excerpt, which is possibly the only list in the book but thoroughly encapsulates L.H.'s (yeah, I will probably always call Lorraine Hansberry by her initials when it's not an academic piece). Maybe I'm trippin' but, I thought this list was hilarious. It's filled with commentary on the state of the entertainment industry (of her time) without taking itself too seriously. And by, "of her time," I actually mean period, unfortunately. The sex bit is hilarious—ly true—and applies to life in general (mine in particular)rather than just the tv industry. Plus she tackles extra heavy social issues without the jokes at the end, making them carry more weight. Beautiful, if you ask me.

Excerpt #2 also comes Part 3/3 of the book. (this blog didn't exist when I read parts 1 and 2.) This one's more a quick shot than an excerpt just so you can get a feel for the powerful things this woman writes throughout.
"I am thinking of a time when revolutionaries tended to be made out of idealism rather than cynicism."
"Well maybe that's what botched up the revolutions so far, Mr. Morris."

Written as a piece of dialogue between an African man of questionable revolutionary ethic and an American white man, this stuck to the surface of my soul. When I consider the reality of revolutions and revolutionary attitudes, I want all of them to be rooted in idealism—I try to live my life rooted in idealism. On the flip side though, that very same idealism would absolutely undermine the success of any intended revolution. I know that personally, as soon as I saw the tail-end of victory (whatever my goal may be) I would overlook lingering malice from those changed and blindly assume that change I brought was welcomed on all fronts. Clearly not the case, and clearly guaranteed to cause complications down the road when the defeated try to reclaim what they've lost. An idealist doesn't factor that attempted revival into the equation and omits critical preparations. So, yes, revolutions should be rooted in optimism, but if they are entirely idealistic I think they're doomed to succeed.

AND ALL OF THAT ON IDEALISM WAS A TANGENT... but it's directly relevant to why I love the book. The book isn't even really about race or revolution when considered on the whole. It's about people. Somewhere L.H. referred to people, on an personal basis, as "dramatically interesting." The women loves people and it oozes through her writing, even though it's clear that her love of people isn't perfect and that she too is most certainly human. It makes me love people too (or remember why I do). I'm trying to get on that Lorraine Hansberry status, from which if someone collects my work to sketch my autobiography, all that they find will invariably point to the fact that I love people. An artist with love as a legacy...

READ THE BOOK!!!!!!!!!!!


  1. If I can find the book for cheap before I leave, I will definitely get it--you saying it's great is enough for me to want it =]

    Plus, with that 14 hour flight and all...

    PS What else is on your list??

  2. I think I'll want to read this, as it sounds quite interesting haha

  3. Allie, I love how you now unequivocally take my reading recommendations nowadays :) I had forgotten that I told you to read |The Shadow of the Wind|.

    I don't so much have a list as I do a stack of books on my floor that I borrowed from friends before leaving :) Currently reading |Freakonomics:The Hidden Side of Everything| and after that I may scoop Junot Diaz's |Drown|...or just randomly close my eyes and reach into the stack. Also, I'm sure you can find |To Be Young, Gifted and Black| sub $10 if that's cheap enough.

    Shane- Yes, you should. lol. Sorry your response is comparatively so lackluster.