Tuesday, April 28, 2009

#8 The Autobiography of Malcolm X

When I first read this book, it changed my life. While I couldn't subscribe to the notion that the white man is the devil, the man did make some valid points. Whites have dominated others by force and left many non-whites in dependence and disarray. However, with an African-American president in the White House, is this book relevant today? Who knows. What is relevant is X's path to becoming Malcolm X (and then El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz). Growing up poor, being a hustler in Harlem, going to jail where he copied the entire dictionary, becoming the voice of the Nation of Islam and completing the pilgrimage to Mecca. X- traordinary.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

#7 Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Woman 1: Girl, did you hear about Anna?

Woman 2: Uh, uh what happened?

Woman 1:  She left her husband for that swaggering officer, Vronsky.

Woman 2: No!

Woman 1: Yes, and get this…the husband won’t give her a divorce, so she and Vronsky are just shacking up.

Woman 2: Shameful!  What about her son?

Woman 1:  I heard her husband won’t allow her to see him.  She’s not even allowed near the house!

Woman 2: What?  Well, that’s not right! Anna loves that little boy. He’s her whole world.

Woman 1:  Well, she gave him up for that Vronsky.  God help her when things cool down between the sheets!




Tuesday, April 21, 2009

#6 The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

I read this book so long ago, that I don’t remember much of the story.  What I do remember, though, is that the drunken father rapes his own daughter.  Her name is Pecola and every night she prays for blue eyes. Blue eyes would make her so beautiful that her parents would love her too much to beat each other senseless in front of her.   In her mind, nothing bad could ever happen to a blue-eyed child.   She has a better chance of waking up with blue eyes than she has of her life ever changing.  This story will bring tears to your eyes, no matter what color they are.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

#5 Maus: A Survivor's Tale by Art Spiegelman

  Maus: A Survivor’s Tale, is an amazing account of the Holocaust written in the form of a comic book.  In these books, the Jews are drawn as mice and the Germans, cats. Maus I, tells about Art’s complex relationship with his father, Vladek, and the story of his parents' courtship in 1930’s Poland.  IMaus II, we get a detailed and horrifying account of life in Aushwitz through Vladek’s eyes.  His McGyver-like resourcefulness and luck help him survive. Years later, Vladek becomes obsessed with thrift and when he returns an almost empty box of cereal to the supermarket for fear of wasting it, one can understand why.  The Holocaust. Oy Vey. 

Friday, April 17, 2009

#4 The Crucible by Arthur Miller

Witches’ Brew:

 1 cheating husband

1 jealous lover

1 wronged wife

Add a greedy preacher and a handful of naughty children. Stir until all hell breaketh lose.


Based on the Salem witch trials of 1692, The Crucible tells the story of how dozens of people in the small puritan town of Salem, Massachusetts fell victim to naught but the fanciful accusations of children. One girl,  Abigail Williams (a 17th century Amy Fisher) has an affair with John Proctor, a well-respected farmer. Elizabeth Proctor, his wife, learns of the affair and confronts John.  He ends the affair, but Abby will not be scorned. Hell hath no fury like a teenager in love. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

#3 My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell

Gerry, a 9-year-old boy, brings all types of bugs, birds and lizards into his house to keep as pets and even smuggles in a mother scorpion whose eggs hatch at the dinner table!  When their dog is in heat, strays tear through the house trying to get some action. What makes this book even more precious is that it’s a true story. The older brother, Larry, is a trip. He says witty, Britty things like,  “bloody, great albatross” to describe a gigantic, ailing bird that Gerry brings home.  An epic battle between a praying mantis and a lizard gave me a new respect for that insect.  Props to the mantis. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

#2 The Color Purple by Alice Walker

 It’s difficult to write about this book without thinking of the movie.  After all, I’ve only read the book once, but I’ve seen the movie countless times.  Who can forget Oprah’s angry, sweaty face stomping through the cornfield to rip Whoopi a new one? “You told Harpo ta’ beat me?” Too rich!   I think of The Color Purple as a sad story, but I’ll usually quote some dialogue from it in an attempt to be funny. Rainy day? “It’s gon’ rain on yo’ hey-ed” is my mantra.   Ask me if I think the economy will turn around and I’ll respond, “Could be, could be not.  Who’s to say?”  I’ve got tons.


Sunday, April 12, 2009

#1 Madame Ho'-vary

 Written in 1857, Madame Bovary was censored when it was published.  I can see why.  Flaubert’s writing makes you see every illicit act. In spite of her scandalous sneaking about, I felt sorry for Madame Bovary.    I also hated her for the way she treated her loving though dull husband.  This poor creature has no idea that his wife is out doin' the nasty while he's riding all across the country-side to earn  money for her to fritter away.  By the end of the book, the Bovarys  are as deep in debt as any modern day sub-prime mortgage victims.  A poignant lesson to those of us for whom good enough is not enough.