Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Afrogeek Bookshelf

I thought my sabbatical would be full of lazy days spent reading whatever my heart desired. Instead, I've mostly been writing (which should not at all be read as a complaint) and reading things related to that writing. All that said, here's an update on what I have been reading:

I love Pride and Prejudice. Love it love it in a crazily cliche girly way. I am also terrified of zombies. Don't give me your logical "zombies aren't realy" arguments. Zombies are scary. Imagine my surprise, then, when I started Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and found myself utterly charmed by it. It's exactly what it sounds like: zombies in the P&P universe. Elizabeth and her sisters are Shaolin trained fighters of the "unmentionables" and Darcy is pretty handy with a blade and rifle himself. The plot and setting of the story is exactly the same as the original, only with more zombie goodness. I haven't finished it yet, but I'm enjoying it so far.

I am endlessly fascinated by discussions of black intellectuals not only because of the work that I do, but also because I am a black intellectual. Houston Baker's provocative title, Betrayal: How Black Intellectuals Have Abandoned the Ideals of the Civil Rights Era, immediately caught my eye when it was first published, but I'm only now getting a chance to read it. He posits MLK as the quintessential black public intellectual and measures the likes of Michael ERic Dyson, John McWhorter, Cornel West, and Shelby Steele against that standard. You can imagine how they fare. Baker is a great combination of agile thinker, engaging, playful writer, and snarktastic wit. His book, aside from being both painfully smart and delightfully catty, is also a great resource for those interested in the concept of race man/woman. This book is changing the way I'll teach King/Dubois/Baldwin in the future.

And finally, I am re-reading Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin. I'm writing about this book for a project completely unrelated to my book on Baldwin. I haven't re-read it since graduate school. The Baldwin book (or the Bal-damn book, as my husband as taken to calling it) has made it really hard to remember what I love about Baldwin, his work has been such a huge weight on my shoulders for so long. But this novel is a good reminder. If you haven't read it--the story of 14 year old John Grimes' religious conversion as well as the story of the adults who in his life (and that is such a inadequate description of this book about religion and blackness and racism and urbanity and the difficulty of becoming a whole human being capable of love)--you should rush right out and get it.


susan said...

I am so glad your husband posted once to Color Online. That's how I found your blog. I have since been reading your posts, and I've fallen hard. ((sigh))

You provide good reading. I assure you I'm no stalker but I am habitual once I find what I like and I like how you process and put it to paper (okay, screen, but paper better describes the intimacy I'm going for).

Claudia said...

I've heard so many great things about the P&P zombie book - do you think I'll still enjoy it if I'm not as familiar with the story? Also, can't wait to get into the Houston Baker book! Would love to hear him take on Dyson, LOL.

Conseula said...

I think people who like zombies will probably like it better than people who like P&P.

And Baker doesn't dedicate a whole chapter to West and Dyson, but he does go at them with some snarky backhanded compliments.

Dera Williams said...

You really peaked my interest talking about James Baldwin. He is my all-time favorite author. I have collected a few first editions and reread GTIOTM a few years ago. Absolutely loved it. I can go on about Baldwin. What is the project you are working on? Is it a book about Baldwin?

Conseula said...

Hi Dera--

I am writing (well, now, have written) a book on the critical reception of Baldwin's work. It should be out next year (the wheels of academia turn very slowly).