Posted by the prisoner's wife On 7:43 PM
(i actually liked the cover of this book because i have a strange affection for the A-train. i gave it a shot, but just couldn't get into it)
ok, i'll admit it....i'm a book snob...and i'm tired.
last night, before heading to the grocery store, i stopped off at Borders to pick up a few Curious George books for the munchkin. i used to love going to Borders and browsing for hours. it was nothing to find me there on a saturday night perusing the african-american lit section looking for good reads. you see, unlike the old saying, i DO judge a book by its cover.
when i'm trying to find something to read, i don't run to the NY or LA Times book section to see the bestsellers list, i browse. i pick up books, check out the cover to make sure it is devoid of all cheese, then flip it over and read the back jacket. if it seems interesting enough, i'll crack it open and read a few pages. many books have found their way to my bookshelf via this shallow-yet-effective method. Waiting in Vain, Blues Dancing, and Black Girl in Paris all managed to past the test and become some of my favs, but these days i'm finding it hard (very, very hard) to find a book that even warrants a second look.
i used to love the African-American Literature section. i always preferred Borders over B&N because they (Borders) segregated their books. they made it easy for me to get to the books that i REALLY wanted to read. books filled with interesting, colored characters that looked like me. books that transported me outside of LA, outside of my home, and my life. books filled with intelligent, upwardly mobile black folks with STORIES to tell. i loved that. loved how i'd get lost in a book for days, always trying to get the picture of the characters in my head. but today, every time i browse the Afro-American Lit section all i see are hood novels.
now, i'm all for black people reading, and i don't knock anyone's (legal) hustle, but damn...how many more sexually explicit, violent, and baby-mama-drama books can possibly be written? i remember when i first moved to Harlem and i'd see people on 125th St. pushing self-published books for $5. i admired their drive. as a writer that longs to be published, i understood and appreciated their hustle. i'd see people on the A train reading books with titles like Around the Way Girls and B'more Careful and i'd think...wow...look at all these black folks READING! it was a site to see. but now, as the hood lit section has swallowed the African-American Literary Fiction section WHOLE, i am dismayed.
sometimes i ask myself, am i just a hater? have all of my years of reading, writing, and analyzing literature turned me into a bourgeoisie reader, out of touch with my own community? or do i just expect more...more from my books, my literary brethren, my people?
whatever the case may be, i'm tired of the book section looking like a in-print version of BET Unkut.