Welcome to 2009.

Hello, friends.

We’re already five days into the new year. Just two days ago, I was in Baltimore, happily spending the end of my winter break with my mother and grandmother. Now, it’s back to the frigidity and conservatism of Grand Rapids… not that there’s anything wrong with that. (:-/)

Classes began at Grand Valley today, though I don’t start teaching until tomorrow. At 8 am. Which means waking up at 4:30 almost every Tuesday and Thursday for the next fifteen weeks.

I know normal people with normal careers are totally sitting there, like, “Get over yourself. Waking up before dawn comes with the territory of adulthood,” but even at 29, I have yet to accept this.

Anyway, between teaching four classes this winter and (hopefully, finally!) getting a driver’s license, I really do intend to write and update this site. Thanks to all of you who’ve read what’s here and who’ve left thoughtful and encouraging comments. I do so love a good comment.

Here are a few book recommendations to start your new year off right:

1. The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. I know it’s late to be recommending a book that’s been out long enough to win a Pulitzer and be printed in paperback, but still. I’d be doing Junot Diaz and you a great disservice if I let buzz die on this amazing novel. Read it, if you haven’t already. I’d love to discuss it with you. I read it back in October and I still contemplate it, regularly.

2. Keep the Faith, Faith Evans. As memoirs go, this one is very well done. There haven’t been many (if any) well-written memoirs by ’90s r&b chanteuses. Co-writer Aliya S. King lent a polished, professional, and highly readable bent to Faith’s entertaining romantic and professional life.

3. The Other Hand/Little Bee. Chris Cleave is one of my favorite authors. So I have to recommend his sophomore novel. It isn’t out here in the states until February and it’ll be called Little Bee when it’s released. I read its UK printing, The Other Hand. To clarify: same book, different title. Though I liked it slightly less than his first novel, Incendiary (which I’d recommend reading while you wait for Little Bee‘s release), it’s beautiful and odd in just the right measures; the characters will haunt you, particularly Little Bee, who spends the first half of the book finding the easiest way to kill herself whenever she enters a new room of a house or turns down a different Kingston-upon-Thames street.

4. The Book of Dahlia. I’m still reading this one, but I love it so far. It’s bitingly satirical and Dahlia reminds me of me, my friend Melissa, and most members of Generation X I’ve had the pleasure of meeting.

5. Last but not least, I’d LOVE it if you’d preorder the anthology that will contain my very first national fiction publication. It’s called It’s All Love: Black Writers on Soul Mates, Family, and Friends and it’s slated for February 3 release. The legendary Marita Golden edited it. My friend Felicia’s in it, as well as the poet Kwame Alexander (for whom I interned in undergrad, when BlackWords Press was still up and running) and a host of established artists (Pearl Cleage, Nikki Giovanni, Gwendolyn Brooks, E. Ethelbert Miller) and up-and-comers. I’m totally stoked and I want you all to support the project.

Do see The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, but not before reading the short story which is vastly superior.

Don’t see The Day the Earth Stood Still, because it sucks.

Do see Doubt, I guess, but I don’t recommend it with much enthusiasm.

Other than that, welcome to the new year, folks. Have a grand time!

6 responses to “Welcome to 2009.”

  1. Love your taste in books. And I’m not just talking about mine. =)

    I’ll be diving into Junot’s latest as soon as I can. I actually haven’t read it yet because I’m scared. He’s so good at putting together a simple sentence that it makes me want to just give up and get a job at Staples. Sigh.

    Good luck with It’s All Love. I’ll be checking that out as well.

    Aliya S. King

  2. Wow! Thanks for writing. I really did love what you did with Faith’s memoir. I read it in a little under three days, thoroughly engrossed. lol

    Needless to say, don’t start puttin’ in Staples applications just yet.

    But if Junot’s earlier work makes you feel like quitting your day job, you definitely wanna insulate yourself against self-doubt before reading Oscar Wao. If ever there was a book that would make you wanna put down your pen in defeat, it’s this one. But of course that’s a great thing. 🙂

    Take care & happy new year!

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