I love it when a book--any book--is hot property. This is certainly the case these days "Push" which I bought from a book vendor on 125th street. He hI love it when a book--any book--is hot property. This is certainly the case these days "Push" which I bought from a book vendor on 125th street. He had to summon another vendor who came sprinting down the street, book in hand, because the title was so popular the weekend "Precious" came out.
So is the book any good, hype aside? Yes. It's a quick read, and a painful read, but I found it incredibly worthwhile first as an example of experimental narrative, second as an incredibly real window into a place and time and a person's psyche. Precious--the abused teen who tells our story-- improves her literacy as she writes, thanks to a second chance school and a visionary teacher, Blu Rain. This leads not only to an improvement in her ability to tell her story as we read on, but also a new sense of self, an expansion of her goals, an ability to question if not abandon the things she repeated like a mantra early on in her tale. As in the film "Precious", you are witness to the awakening of a human being years into her life, "the birth of a soul" to steal the promotional copy.
More than the film, though, which aims for a certain degree of universality, Sapphire's "Push" is meant to really expose conditions in Harlem in the 1980s. This is evidenced by a lot of specific cultural references, but also by the book's coda, which is the collection of writing done by the girls in Precious's class. Each one of their stories rivals hers for horror and sadness, painting a picture of a lost generation of girls, a few of whom have found some light in the darkness by learning the tools of self-expression.
The book is valuable on its own, and is also an interesting counterweight to urban narratives of deprivation and redemption that have a male perspective, like my beloved "Down These Mean Streets."...more
Stephen King's personality appeals so very much to me. I like his brash forthrightness, his meaty language, his emotional immediacy and wisdom about tStephen King's personality appeals so very much to me. I like his brash forthrightness, his meaty language, his emotional immediacy and wisdom about the human (particularly the American human) condition. But I sometimes can't take all the supernatural violence in his novels. So it was such a pleasure to dip into this book and read about King's rather hardscrabble but loving upbringing in industrial towns throughout new england, his philosophies on the writing process and his very sweetly-enduring love for his wife, Tabitha.
From his vignettes about being a young teenager and writing zombie stories that he sold to his classmates you really get such an incredible sense that this was his destiny.
It also helped remind me, in my secret life as an aspiring fiction writer, to really work on chopping out my adverbs and passive constructions in my work. And he stresses the importance of really prioritizing your work, having a good space to work in and treating yourself as though your writing matters, all of which are really crucial elements to success, both on a personal and professional level.
All in all, as good as it's cracked up to be!...more