A WRITER'S WIT
My Book World
In some passages of this book, my impulse is to underline nearly every sentence I am reading; the text seems that important. Ta-Nehisi Coates has written a book that everyone, and I mean everyone, should read, regardless of who you are or where you live in the world. He, in the tradition of Malcolm X and Eldridge Cleaver, articulates what it is to be an African-American male in the twenty-first century, an image that illuminates the agony his ancestors have experienced for hundreds of years. Indeed, the entire text is an address Mr. Coates is making to his son, informing him where he has come from, what he must watch for now, and how he can prepare for a future reflecting the fact that sixty percent of black men who drop out of high school wind up in prison.
Mr. Coates’s most important motif may be that of “fear.” He expresses in a multitude of ways the fear that African-Americans experience each day of their lives.
“I heard the fear in the first music I ever knew, the music that pumped from boom boxes full of grand boast and bluster. The boys who stood out on Garrison and Liberty up on Park Heights loved this music because it told them, against all evidence and odds, that they were masters of their own lives, their own streets, and their own bodies. I saw it in the girls, in their loud laughter, in their gilded bamboo earrings that announced their names thrice over. And I saw it in their brutal language and hard gaze, how they would cut you with their eyes and destroy you with their words for the sin of playing too much” (15).
This compact book covers so much: Coates’s upbringing by parents who eschew religion, his education at Howard University, the loss of a great friend he makes there, Prince Jones, the afternoon-long conversation he has with Jones’s mother, a woman with a PhD, who lives in a gated community after having escaped poverty in Louisiana. Each sentence is a plea for his son to pay attention to what I am saying!
And we must pay attention, as well. I say this as an old white man, who has witnessed several manifestations of black power, and this tome is, as Toni Morrison proclaims on the book's dust jacket, "required reading."
"Jespers has skillfully created a literary album of sorts, full of melodies that pop and hiss with real life. And because a variety of relationships—gay, straight, and paternal—are represented, Jespers is able to dig underneath the muddy web of identity to reveal the shared roots of all relationships; namely, vulnerability and trust." Foreword Clarion Review
Date of Original Post:
11/13/14 — Introduction to My Long-Playing Records
11/20/14 — "My Long-Playing Records" — The Story
11/27/14 — "A Certain Kind of Mischief"
12/04/14 — "Ghost Riders"
12/11/14 — "The Best Mud"
12/18/14 — "Handy to Some"
12/25/14 — "Blight"
01/01/15 — "A Gambler's Debt"
01/09/15 — "Tales of the Millerettes"
01/15/15 — "Men at Sea"
01/22/15 — "Basketball Is Not a Drug"
01/29/15 — "Engineer"
02/05/15 — "Snarked"
02/12/15 — "Killing Lorenzo"
02/19/15 — "The Age I Am Now"
02/26/15 — "Bathed in Pink"
Listen to My Long-Playing Records Podcasts:
03/12/15 — "A Certain Kind of Mischief"
03/26/15 — "The Best Mud"
04/02/15 — "Handy to Some"
04/09/15 — "Tales of the Millerettes"
04/16/15 — "Men at Sea"
04/23/15 — "My Long-Playing Records"
04/30/15 — "Basketball Is Not a Drug"
05/07/15 — "Snarked"
05/21/15 — "Killing Lorenzo"
05/28/15 — "Bathed in Pink"
Also available on iTunes. Watch for more podcasts!