This post over at Serendipity by Lauren-Rain Snow reminds me that the upside of it being Friday already (how is it Friday already?) is that means it’s Bookish Friday, an opportunity share what I’ve been reading and connect with other book bloggers (books are always a win!). The blog specifically highlights the Book Beginnings meme by Rose City Reader and The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice. I’m specifically going to look back at one of the books I’ve progressed (since I haven’t finished any) this past week. But I have progressed an unpublished history of Barbuda, audio books of How to be Black by Baratunde Thurston and James Baldwin’s Sonny’s Blues (trying, I still struggle to stay focused when reading audio books), the PEN America Journal #18, and The Black Rose by Tananarive Due. I’m going to pick the latter, the book that’s been most frustrating to me because I really don’t understand why I’m not finished reading it already, like is it one of those magical books that adds pages as you read it? What is going on? Someone recently asked me what I was reading and I mentioned that and they were like that doesn’t sound like fun at all, and I easily defended it because Madame CJ Walker, the subject of the book really did lead an interesting life…with so many chapters to it. So many chapters. And now that I’ve sold you on it! Here’s The Black Rose.
Here’re the opening lines:
No one had seen a car like it.
Delta was not a rich town, mostly an assemblage of weather-beaten country stores, banks, and feed shops beneath faded, hand-painted signs. Residents sat on barrels in the shade and engaged in their cheapest town entertainment, which was watching the episodes of the day: a hitched horse trying to rear up, the parade of cotton growers’ wagons on their way to market, or a motorcar owner cursing in the middle of the street, working up a sweat as he cranke furiously, trying to coax the engine of his stalled Tin Lizzie back to life.
So when a long, sleek black convertible touring car glide its way into Delta that day, driven by a somber-faced colored chauffeur in black cap and uniform, the entire street took notice.”
…and here’s an excerpt from page 56:
“That’s right,” Miss Brown said. “You’ve got a pretty girl buried down there somewhere. You’re not in the cotton fields anymore, Sarah. Out here in the world, folks try to look nice. An’ even menfolk don’t, womenfolk better.” At that, Miss Brown patted her sharply on the backside. “Now you better get to that pressin’. An’ don’t expect to leave ‘til it’s done, even if you have to stay late. I’m not giving you any special favors.”
“No, ma’am,” Sarah said, smiling more widely. Her eyes were still drawn to the image of herself in the little mirror, and the bows Miss Brown had placed in her hair.”
This is not my first time sharing this book here and each time I’ve shared it I’ve been optimistic about finishing it, just now. I’m currently at Chapter 30, page 304 of 375 so fingers crossed. We getting there. There was good reason for my optimism. I like biographies and Madame C. J. Walker was one of those African American trailblazers I used to see mentioned in Ebony magazine, so odds were good I’d breeze through a biography on her. But while I have breezed through parts of this book and been deeply moved by parts of it, for some reason, reading it has been more of a slog than I anticipated. Could be me (though I’m so far reading at a pretty good clip this year). Especially since I usually like Tananarive’s writing – for instance, her horror film short Danger Word, and her short story The Reformatory…she’s better known for speculative fiction but she writes the black experience well in general. So I don’t know have you ever had a book that you enjoy when you’re reading it but can’t seem to finish? That’s been my predicament with The Black Rose but I do feel committed to finding out how Sarah’s Cinderella story turns out.
p.s. while you’re here, check out my She’s Royal series (use the search window).