Overdue Book Posting (more to come)
After visiting several black book websites, most of which are listed in my links section, I came up with a few new titles that everyone appears to be talking about. Call me late, but don’t call me ignorant.
His name is etched on the door of his Manhattan office: LEONID McGILL , PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR. It’s a name that takes a little explaining, but he’s used to it. “Daddy was a communist and great-great- Granddaddy was a slave master from Scotland. You know, the black man’s family tree is mostly root. Whatever you see aboveground is only a hint at the real story.” Ex-boxer, hard drinker, in a business that trades mostly in cash and favors: McGill’s an old-school P.I. working a city that’s gotten fancy all around him. Fancy or not, he has always managed to get by—keep a roof over the head of his wife and kids, and still manage a little fun on the side—mostly because he’s never been above taking a shady job for a quick buck. But like the city itself, McGill is turning over a new leaf, “decided to go from crooked to slightly bent.” New York City in the twenty-first century is a city full of secrets—and still a place that reacts when you know where to poke and which string to pull. That’s exactly the kind of thing Leonid McGill knows how to do. As soon as The Long Fall begins, with McGill calling in old markers and greasing NYPD palms to unearth some seemingly harmless information for a high-paying client, he learns that even in this cleaned-up city, his commitment to the straight and narrow is going to be constantly tested.
Opening Lines: “I’m sory, Mr. um? . . .” the skinny receptionist said. Her baby-blue-on-white nameplate merely read JULIET. She had short blond hair that was longer in the front than in the back and wore a violet T-shirt that I was sure would expose a pierced navel if she were to stand up.”
. . .It is the story of Lilith, born into slavery on a Jamaican sugar plantation at the end of the eighteenth century. Even at her birth, the slave women around her recognize a dark power that they—and she—will come to both revere and fear. The Night Women, as they call themselves, have long been plotting a slave revolt, and as Lilith comes of age and reveals the extent of her power, they see her as the key to their plans. But when she begins to understand her own feelings and desires and identity, Lilith starts to push at the edges of what is imaginable for the life of a slave woman in Jamaica, and risks becoming the conspiracy’s weak link. Lilith’s story overflows with high drama and heartbreak, and life on the plantation is rife with dangerous secrets, unspoken jealousies, inhuman violence, and very human emotion—between slave and master, between slave and overseer, and among the slaves themselves. Lilith finds herself at the heart of it all. And all of it told in one of the boldest literary voices to grace the page recently—and the secret of that voice is one of the book’s most intriguing mysteries.
Opening Lines: “People think blood red, but blood don’t got no colour. Not when blood wash the floor she lying on as she scream for that son of a bitch to come, the lone baby of 1785.”
When fifteen-year-old Olivia Jean finds herself in the “family way,” her mother, Daisy, who has never been very maternal, springs into action. Daisy decides that Olivia Jean can’t stay in New York and whisks her away to her grandmother’s farm in Alabama to have the baby–even though Daisy and her mother, Birdie, have been estranged for years. When they arrive, Birdie lays down the law: Sure, her granddaughter can stay, but Daisy will have to stay as well. Though Daisy is furious, she has no choice. Now, under one little roof in the 1960s Deep South, three generations of spirited, proud women are forced to live together. One by one, they begin to lose their inhibitions and share their secrets. And as long-guarded truths emerge, a baby is born–a child with the power to turn these virtual strangers into a real, honest-to-goodness family.
Opening Lines: “Her father, Turk, went down first, holding his work boots by the strings with his overnight kit tucked under one arm. He walked on his toes, taking the seventh step down with a side maneuver because he knew it creaked.”
The mere mention of soul food brings thoughts of greasy fare and clogged arteries. Bryant Terry offers recipes that leave out heavy salt and refined sugar, “bad” fats, and unhealthy cooking techniques, and leave in the down-home flavor. Vegan Soul Kitchen recipes use fresh, whole, high-quality, healthy ingredients and cooking methods with a focus on local, seasonal, sustainably raised food. Terry’s new recipes have been conceived through the prism of the African Diaspora—cutting, pasting, reworking, and remixing African, Caribbean, African-American, Native American, and European staples, cooking techniques, and distinctive dishes to create something familiar, comforting, and deliciously unique. Reinterpreting popular dishes from African and Caribbean countries as well as his favorite childhood dishes, Terry reinvents African-American and Southern cuisine—capitalizing on the complex flavors of the tradition, without the animal products. Includes recipes for: Double Mustard Greens & Roasted Yam Soup; Cajun-Creole-Spiced Tempeh Pieces with Creamy Grits; Caramelized Grapefruit, Avocado, and Watercress Salad with Grapefruit Vinaigrette; and Sweet Cornmeal-Coconut Butter Drop Biscuits.
Broke and burned-out from grad school, Shay Dixon does the unthinkable after receiving a “vision” from her de facto spiritual adviser, blues singer Nina Simone. She phones Nona, the mother she had all but written off, asking if she can come home for a while. When Shay was growing up, Nona was either drunk, hungover, or out with her latest low-life guy. So Shay barely recognizes the new Nona, now sober and with a positive outlook on life, a love of gardening, and a toddler named Sunny. Though reconciliation seems a hard proposition for Shay, something unmistakable is taking root inside her, waiting to blossom like the morning glories opening up in Nona’s garden sanctuary. Soon Shay finds herself facing exciting possibilities and even her first real romantic relationship. But when an unexpected crisis hits, even the wise words and soulful melodies of Nina Simone may not be enough for solace. Shay begins to realize that, like orange mint and honey, sometimes life tastes better when bitter is followed by sweet.
Opening Lines: “I should have known things were getting bad when Nina Simone showed up. Don’t get me wrong. I love Nina. I’ve been listening to her since History of Jazz sophomore year. The professor taught us to worship the great men of jazz, but it was the women who drew me in: Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, Dinah Washington, Bessie Smith, Mildred Bailey.”
I’m overdue on posts for some of these books. Shame on me. Anyway, better get those summer reading lists ready! Happy reading, y’all.