I’m making progress on my nonprofit, but have at least another month before finding out if I’m approved by THE MAN!!! Pissed off into my purpose, the goal of DSquared initially is to offer partial housing grants to the homeless, mentally ill population. The grants will range from clients that might need assistance with rent […]

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Review of a Young Adult book on Slavery still relevant today: Chains, by Laurie Halse Anderson

Chains (Seeds of America, #1)Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am so glad I spotted (#Coverlove!) this book in the library, my second read by wonderfully supportive author Laurie Halse Anderson. This first person, past tense Young Adult historical coming of age novel was amazing! Halse Anderson does an excellent job of distinguishing indentured servitude from slavery from hired service while characterizing the main characters quickly and effectively. An excellent and poignant reference to the Memphis Garbage Workers’ Strike via a slave father’s sale is just one of the many places in this work that moves to tears, both of terror and of joy, in the end. Please read this one, as I know I shall, again and again.

Let’s #EndPoverty , #EndHomelessness ,& #EndMoneyBail starting by improving these four parts of our good #PublicDomainInfrastructure 4: (
1. #libraries,
2. #ProBono legal aid and Education,
3. #UniversalHealthCare , and
4. good #publictransport )
Read, Write, Ranked Choice Voting and Housing for ALL!!!!, Walk !


#PublicDomainInfrastructure
ShiraDest

April, 12019 HE

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Black Women Writers at Work: Review of an older but very persistently worthwhile book

I am so glad I happened to see this book Black Women Writers at WorkBlack Women Writers at Work by Claudia Tate
at the public library.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was moved with both recognition, and with fear, at Audre Lorde’s comment that “it’s scary because we’ve been through that before. It was called the fifties.” Then I was moved with that stirring to act, upon reading in print what I have known and been told in different words since Dunbar (High School): “My responsibility is to speak the truth… with as much precision and beauty as possible. … We’ve been taught that silence would save us, but it won’t.”
And we must not remain silent while the blood of our sisters/brothers/neighbors/communities/fellow human beings is shed.

Sherley Anne Williams reiterates this responsibility of a writer to write as well as one can and to “say as much of the truth as I can see at any given time.”

Although this book is dated, and does not include my favorite author (Octavia Butler), I am so glad that I read this book in spite of my initial misgivings. From Bambara’s hope that “We care too much … to negotiate a bogus peace,” to DeVeaux’s “responsibility to see,” I find my own compulsion to write validated by the responsibility of a writer to render individual expression into a universal expression, and to give voice to the voiceless/unseen/erased. To show the unspoken and to “empathize with the general human condition.”

Society needs all perspectives because without those perspectives, we are missing vast parts of what our society actually looks like, which leads to deep problems. Writing, as was pointed out, must transcend individual experience, but it also comes from and is filtered through individual experience, so we desperately, as leaders from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr to Octavia Butler have pointed out, need every point of view.

Last note (not in my GR review): I think that this book has helped me to see that my intended audience has two possibly conflicting sections –
I. those who have endured traumas in early childhood or also in adulthood, particularly due to structural racism, and
II: those who can change that situation.

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Let’s #EndPoverty , #EndHomelessness ,& #EndMoneyBail starting by improving these four parts of our good #PublicDomainInfrastructure 4: (
1. #libraries,
2. #ProBono legal aid and Education,
3. #UniversalHealthCare , and
4. good #publictransport )
Read, Write, Ranked Choice Voting and Housing for ALL!!!!, Walk !


#PublicDomainInfrastructure
ShiraDest

April, 12019 HE

Painters of Sultan Murad III [Public domain]

A short short story, merging Bible and song

I’ve had a song I grew up with circling in my head for days now, and also a story that I wrote, of which I posted a bit back a few years ago, as I pondered rewriting my first practice novel around this idea. What if some of the folks who didn’t get on Noah’s Ark stood outside the Ark as a way of protesting the injustice of destroying the entire world? I’m going to try this in 2nd person, to see how it reads: what do you think, Dear Reader?

The clear waters are lapping at her breasts. You can see the goose bumps on her flesh. The woman is shivering, looking right at you. She lifts her head, drawing a deep breath from her belly, and bellows these words out with her diaphragm:

“Soon and very soon,we are going to see the King!”

You’ve heard this song before, in a church, a long time ago. Now, the others join in, linking arms and responding to her call:

“Soon and very soon, we are going to see the King.”

The waters have reached the woman’s neck. You wonder what are they doing singing at a time like this. Then it hits you. Tears sting your face as you cry out to Shem, Japeth, and Ham:

“Get them in here! Now! Drag them by their idiotic hair if you have to, but get them in this boat! Right now! They …”

Your words are drowned out by the woman´s next call,

“No more crying!”

The others, lifting their voices above the waves, respond:

“No more crying there, we are going to see the king.”

You lung at the side, one foot already hooked over the edge, but your sons catch you by each arm, the third clutching your waist, dragging you back inside as Noach closes the door. The last thing you see is the writing on a plank of wood held high; demanding an audience with the One who sent this Flood. Demanding land for everyone, and justice for all.

The writing looked like blood.

Noah's ark and the deluge

Let’s #EndPoverty , #EndHomelessness ,& #EndMoneyBail starting by improving these four parts of our good #PublicDomainInfrastructure 4: (
1. #libraries,
2. #ProBono legal aid and Education,
3. #UniversalHealthCare , and
4. good #publictransport )
Read, Write, Ranked Choice Voting and Housing for ALL!!!!, Walk !


#PublicDomainInfrastructure
ShiraDest

March, 12019 HE

Persist: review of a good but difficult book

Stronger Than You KnowStronger Than You Know by Jolene Perry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This first person #YAlit novela (a bit short for a novel, I imagine) was both very hard-hitting in its accuracy, and very hope-giving, if a bit too much so, perhaps, in the ending. I find myself agreeing with another reviewer about the timeline being too short for certain things, but I can understand or imagine that the author wanted to give hope and encouragement, and teenagers have very short attention-spans and time-line perspectives, in general.

For me, this was a difficult read emotionally because it had me reliving events from my own early childhood and teenage years, and the earliest were the worst, as the ending of the book brought the external and internal conflicts together in ways that confirmed my own experiences very uncomfortably. But this is a very important work, and it is crucial to persist.

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Review of a book worth reading

The Female of the SpeciesThe Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow, #TheFemaleOfTheSpecies, written in first person and present tense for all three PoV characters, is a book which is both difficult to read, and also cathartic. There are also some really good zingers, funny lines and situations, believe it or not, and some really spot-on descriptions of the humanity of one of the main characters from whom you’d not expect human warmth. I can only hope that I can make such a contribution one day, but if I manage to publish a book half as good as this crucial work by @MindyMcGinnis, I will feel my writing career to have been worthwhile.

I noticed that this was not her debut novel, and that the author seems to have had a bit of a time getting her agent to push for this work, which spent 15 years in a drawer. That tells me that these types of books are either coming into their time, now, after the ME TOO movement, or that I’d best better start with more light and fluffy novels until I get established as a fiction author. Either way, I am grateful and glad that McGinnis kept this work, and got it to see the light of day after all those years in the dark. In publishing this book, she has also helped many of us to believe that we can come out of the dark, as well, if not entirely whole.

(Reminds me of the female MC of Purgatoire des innocents English review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show… )

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How crucial it is to believe in The Good

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's StoneHarry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Upon reading again, I see that she uses the omniscient story-tellers voice more than I thought, in the first book, to excellent effect.

I find it amazing that Rowling managed to include child neglect, child abuse or bullying, ptsd and drugs all in one book, without coming off as preachy, and even giving it a happy ending. Then, managing to get kids to read it!

I only hope that my WIP can accomplish half as much, one day.
Shira, of The MEOW Community Cooperation Blog,
William-James-MEOW Date: 16 September 12014 H.E. (Holocene/Human Era)

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Review of Riding the A-Train With Einstein

Riding the A-Train With Einstein: Notes of a Heretic JanitorRiding the A-Train With Einstein: Notes of a Heretic Janitor by John H. Sibley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

First, let me say that this book is not, and should not be, an easy read. But it is a crucial read, in my opinion. Other reviewers have taken pains to point out that the title seemed a bit confusing, to them. I did not find it confusing, probably due to the fact that my father was called “The Professor” by his cultural cohort: fellow Black men of the Vietnam generation. So, I felt right at home with the idea of homelessness, which pervades this important work, when I started the book. I think that my Dad and the author would have gotten along very well, and I wish my father were alive now to meet him.

While the book itself was important, if a bit earthy, I personally found the interview and list of references most interesting, after the book itself. That is likely in part due to the many similar gut-wrenching memories triggered for me while reading the experiences of a man similar in many ways to my own father, a light-skinned Black man in DC, experiencing alarmingly similar events in roughly the same historical period.

The author is clearly well-read and working to raise points that are not only ignored but also feared by our system. The facts the author presents relating the slave trade and 1860’s market prices to current structural components of our American capitalist system are both taboo and inconvenient for those who benefit from our current economic arrangement. These are highly important things for all of us to look at squarely in the face, and to begin to shovel our own shit, as so much of the book does in metaphoric and literal terms.

Let’s #EndHomelessness, #EndPoverty, & #EndMoneyBail starting by improving these four parts of our Public Domain Social Infrastructure:
#PublicDomainInfrastructure 4: (
1. #libraries,
2. #ProBono legal aid and Education,
3. #UniversalHealthCare , and
4. good #publictransport )
Read, Write, Ranked Choice Voting and Housing for ALL!!!!, Walk !

This post also discusses some of the background issues I experienced while reading the book and writing the review.


#PublicDomainInfrastructure
ShiraDest

March, 12019 HE

View all my reviews