Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Summer Reading 2011

Greetings all (at least I hope SOMEONE is reading :-) !) -

Since the semester is over I really have time to tackle the mountain of books here that I haven't yet read.  This spring, I did get one book read - Abraham Bolden's The Echo from Dealey Plaza.  It was quite interesting and a gripping read.

My first summer read in 2011 was Jill Nelson's Volunteer Slavery (subtitled my Authentic Negro Experience).  Certainly a different book, I guess.  My "review":

I bought this book several years ago and finally got around to reading it.  To be honest, I was expecting more about her time at the Washington Post, and not quite so much about her own pysche and family (although sometimes it worked).  The stories of her job at the Post(which I thought were the real strength of the book), continually had me thinking, 'it just couldn't be that bad, could it? or "people couldn't really be that unenlightened or insensitive, could they?' , stunning to me as this happened mostly in the late 1980's.

I would have liked to have read a bit more about her work at the Post.  What was is like to actually get a byline - what hoops had to be jumped though?  What were some rejected ideas? What kept her going in a practical sense, day to day?

Nelson's style is very fluid and readable. She also isn't afraid to cover difficult topics. Throughout the book she offers a unique perspective on racial and gender politics, the workplace, and even family dynamics. To me, some of her most insightful statements had to do with the corporatization of media and what she saw and felt African-American journalists had to go through in  order to be successful.

It was challenging in many respects, but it did seem a bit "snarky" at times.

I read some reviews of this book at Amazon.com and toyed with the idea of doing a review there.  I was a bit put off by some who suggested Nelson couldn't handle office politics or failed .I don't think either is (completely) accurate.  I think she may not have been the best at office politics because she was not willing to totally compromise herself, and she saw no other way it could be done.  I also don't think she failed at all.  I think there were a few there who recognized she had talent and a voice, but she really got no chance to succeed - little in the way of decent editing, little chance to develop or get good assignments.  I think she (as she alludes) tried until it became just unbearable.  And I applaud her wanting to be read rather than just getting a paycheck.

Well, that's one book down.  Now I have to select the next one.  After Nelson's, I'm looking for something definitely lighter.  And I can't forget to keep making dents in David McCoullough's  John Adams.

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