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Leon Forrest
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message 1: by Nathan "N.R." (new)

Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (nathannrgaddis) | 985 comments Leon Forrest, his Divine Days. Ypeyep.


message 2: by Eric (new)

Eric | 57 comments I took A Tree More Ancient Than eden outta the library last quarter and gave it a flip through. Very lyrical dense good stuff. Can only assume Divine Days is good too . . .


message 3: by Jonfaith (new)

Jonfaith | 12 comments Shit, I'd never heard of such. I am presently hesitant to pull the trigger on a used copy with my Dalkey Doo-Da scheduled for next week, I was thinking headbands and everything.


message 4: by Nathan "N.R." (new)

Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (nathannrgaddis) | 985 comments My apologies, Ali, but your double post from The Cambridge Companion to the African American Novel exceeds Fair Use and I've deleted them. I think it would prudent as well to edit your post regarding the bio from The Norton Anthology of African American Literature. Both of these volumes are still in print.

In general, UnEarthers!, we may wish as well to regard our c-n-p's from wikipedia.


message 5: by Nathan "N.R." (new)

Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (nathannrgaddis) | 985 comments thanks, Ali.


message 6: by Nate D (new)

Nate D (rockhyrax) | 354 comments For future reference, what constitutes fair use when excerpting books?


message 7: by Nathan "N.R." (new)

Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (nathannrgaddis) | 985 comments Nate D wrote: "For future reference, what constitutes fair use when excerpting books?"

I'm only estimating, but it's really only a fairly short few sentences or so. It's all worked out in excruciating technical detail, I'm sure, in the Law ;; but, let's see, for my estimate and for our uses here in the BURIED Book Club, maybe a single paragraph with citation and link to the rest of the piece. Ali's posts were entire chapters which is clearly too much; but on his own spaces on goodreads I'd say nothing about him posting those, only that as moderator I have to pretend to have some knowledge of the law.

a bit of looking I get ::

A short page from the US Copyright Office :: http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html

4 criteria questions ::
"1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
2. The nature of the copyrighted work
3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work"

It was number 3 I had in mind regarding Ali's posts.

This one from the U of Texas is also interesting in regard to the "transformative" purposes regarding copyrighted material :: http://copyright.lib.utexas.edu/copyp...

"Is the use you want to make of another's work transformative -- that is, does it add value to and repurpose the work for a new audience -- and is the amount of material you want to use appropriate to achieve your transformative purpose?"

This article would be relevant to the use of extended citations within a critical essay, for example.

I don't know how Fair Use might apply to Wikipedia articles; but they've certainly got language somewhere in the small print. For our purposes, a short citation from the wikipedia article followed with a link and one's own comments would be what I'm recommending for BURIED purposes.


message 8: by Nate D (new)

Nate D (rockhyrax) | 354 comments Even the official "criteria questions" are rather vague, but still good to keep in mind.


message 9: by Nathan "N.R." (new)

Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (nathannrgaddis) | 985 comments Ali wrote: "In my case the Norton bio is two hundred words of an approximately 1.3 million-word anthology"

But in relation to the specific article, it was the whole thing? Each discrete unit I believe would be the measurement, not the anthology itself. And there's also a library clause in there somewhere; that this anthology is available at your better libraries. If it's one of those out-of-print never to see light of day, I'd take the risk myself just to get it read and seen. But, err on the side of shortness, and what will also give some cover is a) a citation b) a link and c) your own words directed at and discussing the quoted piece (transformative). And for our purposes "c)" also overlaps with ADD=VOC=A=SEE.

No real sweat here, just keep "fair" in mind and have a good time.


message 10: by Bill (new)

Bill | 7 comments excellent article on forrest. i have all of his fiction, including a mint hardcover, with dust jacket, first edition, of divine days, which is hard to find, as many of the copies who weren't actually lost in the fire have smoke damage. now i just need to read some of his stuff.


message 11: by Gregsamsa (last edited Aug 14, 2013 10:16AM) (new)

Gregsamsa | 94 comments I am so filled with shame. I should know this guy. I am currently sending my library an ACCUMULATE HIS STUFF request that is loaded with implicit charges of racism if they don't.


message 12: by Jacob (last edited Aug 26, 2013 03:12PM) (new)

Jacob (jacobaugust) | 21 comments Nah, I have all the books, so I think I'm going to read them in publishing order--the Forest Country Trilogy first, then Divine Days, then the novella collection. I'll probably start in a few weeks.*

*That is, unless everyone else jumps on the bandwagon and starts DD too, in which case I'll have to join or go crazy from all the status updates.


message 13: by Perifian (new)

Perifian | 17 comments My copy arrived on Saturday; I'll Slowdive in in several days though progress will be glacial, multiple tomes and whatnot - excited regardless.


message 14: by Aloha (new)

Aloha | 16 comments I just ordered mine. I'll probably flip through but won't commit. I have too many other books I'd rather get to. Did J Fred gave up on it?


message 15: by MJ (new)

MJ Nicholls (mjnicholls) | 209 comments I appear to be using the book as a prop for my beside lamp at the moment. Not as a criticism, simply because the Book Elves keep sending me other things to read, and I am failing to read my minimum 40 pages a day. Really great book to meander excruciatingly slowly through.


message 16: by Jacob (new)

Jacob (jacobaugust) | 21 comments And for those interested, there are plenty of cheap copies available on Amazon and AbeBooks. That's where I turned when it became clear that I wasn't going to find any of Forrest's work in any local bookstore.


message 17: by Jacob (new)

Jacob (jacobaugust) | 21 comments Yep, I'm in. I'll start tomorrow. Haven't decided on a plan for future reviews yet, but if the current troubles subside a bit (and barring any more fresh hells next week), I'll likely return to my regular schedule of occasionally reviewing stuff, this included.


message 18: by Jacob (last edited Oct 13, 2013 06:34PM) (new)

Jacob (jacobaugust) | 21 comments Also, now that I finally have librarian status, I started editing/adding information about the books and each edition, mostly covers and such, but I just added the original hardcover edition of There Is a Tree More Ancient Than Eden, which is only 163 pages compared to 214 in the paperback (the hardcover lacks the final chapter, "Transformation," present in later editions--is there a reason for that?), and I included the following description from the book jacket:
The little boy, Nathan, is sitting in the Fleetwood following his mother's hearse which is following the route of the peddler's wagon. It glides along DuSable Street, Black Bottom Street, past Abe Weinstein's dog, Wild Helen, on past Douglass "hungover and sunken with cracks deep like the very cavities in Uncle Dupont's bad wisdom teeth," past the gutted building where seven black children played and "plunged down singing...as if even in their looted youth, they were possessed by wings," past the Joe Louis Theater, the Salem Cup-Overflowing Tabernacle. Auntie Breedlove is holding his hand.

And we are there. Moving with this boy through the places, the consciousness, the lives that make up this incredibly beautiful first novel.

We see the smashed melon that coal-black Jamestown throws against the house of the light-skinned Negroes who tell him to use the back door. We listen to Madge describe her mother setting fire to their house in a tidal wave of fury and later lying on the floor of the white woman's kitchen, her "eyeballs rolled up to the sky like she done turned all her visions to the sky after everything else done failed on her." And we are there at the crucifixion that, after a whispered word, becomes a lynching. Also there with Jericho Witherspoon, branded on the shoulder by his own white father and wanted "Dead or Alive" by that father's brother. And while we are there -- watching, listening, flying, falling -- like Nathan, we order the chaos and recognize the matrix of these lives as the black man's moral confrontation with God, land and the "pale ghostlike man with the green coin-shaped eyes and the dripping red rose in his lapel."

Leon Forrest understands the struggle of black people as a massive ethical war fought by the people whose habit was dignity, whose questions were moral ones, who transformed pain itself into the creative and complicated art of survival.

This rich, elegant, deeply moving novel pulls its language, its imagery, its structure from the very wells of black life; the campground, the Black Bottoms, Genesis and Douglass, and outstrips itself and moves beyond a reading experience into epiphany.

Now that should explain things for curious readers.


message 19: by Jacob (last edited Oct 13, 2013 07:11PM) (new)

Jacob (jacobaugust) | 21 comments Just added the description of The Bloodworth Orphans from the hardcover edition:
"How furiously eloquent is this man Forrest's prose...how admirable the manner in which the great themes of life and literature are revealed...it was impossible not to be amazed."
-Ralph Ellison

Such was the impact of Leon Forrest's first novel There Is a Tree More Ancient Than Eden. No less stunning is Mr. Forrest's achievement in The Bloodworth Orphans, a big juicy novel about the lives and interconnected relationships of the bastards and orphans -- both black and white -- sired by members of a slave-owning family named Bloodworth.

We are introduced to the Bloodworth line of orphans by Rachel Carpenter (Flowers), also known as Mother-Witness, church mother of River Rock of Eden. Toward this blind, righteous prophetess (part of whose mission is the care and instruction of orphans) gravitate Regal Pettibone -- a foundling whom she adopts and who grows into a fascinating "street man -- and La Donna Scales, a refugee from a Catholic convent. They fall in love, these two, before they discover they are brother and sister and before their half brother, Otis Thigpen (another Bloodworth Orphan), can turn his rage on them.

But the Bloodworth line is tortuous. It has spawned young white girls who are raped by their own brothers, Rachel's own illegitimate sons: Industrious and Carl-Rae; gamblers, doctors, prostitutes, journalists -- all of whose lives touch. Bound by the past, they are hamstrung by destiny.

Viewed through the perceptive vision of Nathaniel Witherspoon --this is a driven story that builds, climbs and tunnels through many lives: a Muslim leader afraid for his life; a blind musician housed in an asylum; a Victorian Negro lady in love with her dead brother; a 350-pound diabetic swathed in diapers; and midwives who write thousand-page records of the passion-ridden Bloodworth Orphans.


Wow. Cannot believe I didn't bother reading the jacket description when I first got it.

I haven't bought Two Wings to Veil My Face in hardcover yet, but I'll make sure to post the jacket description when I do.


message 20: by Jacob (new)

Jacob (jacobaugust) | 21 comments Update: Everyone here who isn't Ali is really missing out. There Is a Tree More Ancient Than Eden is pretty damn amazing.


message 21: by Jacob (new)

Jacob (jacobaugust) | 21 comments Just got Two Wings to Veil My Face in hardcover, so here is the jacket description as promised:
Leon Forrest, author of the powerfully praised novels There Is a Tree More Ancient Than Eden and The Bloodworth Orphans, now gives us perhaps his finest achievement: a work of fiction about a strong black woman, Sweetie Reed, domineering and hellbent on survival, and about the perils of her hubris, pride she needs to overcome painful memories with dignit.

In Two Wings to Veil My Face -- a tale of horror, wonder, woe -- grudge-holding ninety-one-year-old Sweetie Reed recounts her passage from slavery to freedom to her vain twenty-one-year-old grandson, Nathaniel Witherspoon. Throughout her life she has had to cope with psychological devastation caused by two relationships: one with her philandering husband, Jericho Witherspoon, a noted judge who had "purchased" her from her grandfather; and the other one with her father, who had spurned her as a child

Forced to confront herself in the darkness of her final years, and increasingly dependent on her grandson, Sweetie Reed faces the choice of abandoning her self-righteousness or else perishing both spiritually and intellectually.

Also, a fact from the author bio: "Mr. Forrest delivered the first annual Allison Davis lecture, on Benito Cereno, in 1981." Now that would be something worth finding.


message 22: by Mark (new)

Mark | 2 comments Just joined this group and I am stunned to see a thread devoted to Leon Forrest. His books are amazing. I managed to plow through what I believe are all of his novels this past year, and I can't recommend them highly enough. In addition to the satisfaction of hunting them down, the novels encompass a cohesive world that only gets richer with each book you read.

I was able to read in order of publication, ending with Meteor in the Madhouse. It works well proceeding that way because - as Forrest's last published work, that I believe he finished just before he died - he wraps up the stories of several characters. And not just those from one volume but from several.

I look forward to hearing what others have to say about his work - can't wait.


message 23: by Ronald (new)

Ronald Morton | 65 comments Huh, apparently I never came in and posted after reading There is a Tree... the first time, so let me rectify that after my second reading of it:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

Going to be reading his other four over the course of this month, I'm currently alternating them with another set of books, but I should be able to start Bloodworth Orphans sometime this evening.


message 24: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan (nathandjoe) | 138 comments Excellent - I will be working through all of his this year too - Orphans is great so far, and I am looking forward to the rest. Quite a few of his interviews etc can be found on google inside


message 25: by Jonathan (last edited Jan 04, 2016 09:23AM) (new)

Jonathan (nathandjoe) | 138 comments My review of the excellent Bloodworth Orphans is up here https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


message 26: by Ronald (new)

Ronald Morton | 65 comments Nice work Jonathan! I'm reading that now : : unsurprisingly, loving it.


message 27: by Ronald (new)

Ronald Morton | 65 comments Finished Bloodworth Orphans on the plane this morning:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


message 28: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan (nathandjoe) | 138 comments great review Ronald, thanks


message 29: by Ronald (new)

Ronald Morton | 65 comments Finished Two Wings to Veil My Face (again, on a plane) last night:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

Moving on to Divine Days this evening...


message 30: by Nathan "N.R." (new)

Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (nathannrgaddis) | 985 comments Ronald wrote: "Moving on to Divine Days this evening... "

Excellent! I've got the remainder of his trilogy ; then I'll be following you into DD (several weeks late I'm sure!).


message 31: by Griffin (last edited Jul 23, 2016 01:00PM) (new)

Griffin Alexander | 23 comments SO, made my way to The Strand to do my regular sweep and I found a copy of DD in great shape in the stacks:
 photo IMG_1898_zpspewjrht7.jpg

It was $15, so a little bit above the Abebooks market rate, but it was a true 1st from Another Chicago so I went with it. Only later on the subway did I realize it had this in it, that Strand workers totally overlooked:
 photo FullSizeRender_zpsuphefuys.jpg

So I am happy! And got a DEAL!


message 32: by Nathan "N.R." (new)

Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (nathannrgaddis) | 985 comments Holy $W$#! Whatta find!

Have you checked prices on the Another Chicago edition ; because I'd thought those were well above fifteen bucks.


message 33: by Griffin (new)

Griffin Alexander | 23 comments Huh! it appears you're right! ~$25 for the Another Chicago edition. Damn! A real deal then. Now i am conflicted over whether or not I should read this copy though! I bought it as a reading copy, but I always mark up my reading copies. Not like I'd ever sell the thing though, so why keep it non-personalized? It is a shrine through and through either way.


message 34: by Nathan "N.R." (new)

Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (nathannrgaddis) | 985 comments Griffin wrote: "Huh! it appears you're right! ~$25 for the Another Chicago edition. Damn! A real deal then. Now i am conflicted over whether or not I should read this copy though! I bought it as a reading copy, bu..."

I understand that nearly the entire Another Chicago edition got burned up in a warehouse fire. So there are very few of these around. I'd probably go with a pb or ex-libris copy for marginal notations. But that's just me.


message 35: by Nathan "N.R." (new)

Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (nathannrgaddis) | 985 comments Or I'll just trade with you! er, wait... I've got an inscribed Norton copy!


message 36: by Griffin (new)

Griffin Alexander | 23 comments hmmm yeah you are probably right and justified in that move. I have been marking my unabridged RURD (as always in pencil), but that will stand to be forever a book of reference that I wouldn't part with...plus not like there are affordable "reading copies" of it floating around.

I have been resisting the collector aspect of reading for quite some time as I don't want to sit on doubles of doubles of increasingly rarer and unread books—but i started with a book of Delany's a couple of months ago, and I guess since it is indeed rare (as per your fire anecdote) I guess I can always find a beat up paperback.

This line of thought is going to kill my already limited storage!!


message 37: by Nathan "N.R." (new)

Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (nathannrgaddis) | 985 comments Griffin wrote: "I have been resisting the collector aspect of reading for quite some time "

Totally understood. It's a deep rabbit hole. On the other hand, in this case, you really did fall into it ;; so not really your fault.


message 38: by Ronald (new)

Ronald Morton | 65 comments Dude must have signed a bunch of stuff, my copy of Two Wings is signed as well - I was doubtful of its provenance, but the signature is the same as the one pictured, so I guess it's legit. Cool stuff.


message 39: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan (nathandjoe) | 138 comments My review of Divine Days is here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

A truly extraordinary piece of work, and one that certainly benefits considerably from prior reading of the other three in the sequence (I would certainly not recommend starting one's Forrest reading with DD)

I don't agree with the suggestion that his prose becomes watered down/easier - what actually happens is that his range increases dramatically. The jazz-fire from Tree is still in DD but there is also much more.

In musical terms Tree is kind of like later Coltrane, then Orphans and Wings add in maybe Hawkins, Coleman etc as well. But DD brings in Leadbelly, Nat King Cole, The Impressions etc on top of all of that (hence, in some ways, the length of the book).

I now have signed first of all four, need to get to Meteor soon.

His interviews/essay collections are also well worth reading - I would say the best place to do so would be just prior to reading DD as it really helps get a grip on what he is doing.


message 40: by Thomas (new)

Thomas | 54 comments is anyone still reading this guy, i finished divine days last night after reading it very slowly since december. it's good, in case anyone still wasn't sure. i wonder if he might have edited it himself though, because i noticed quite a few little spelling and punctuation errors here and there. i've got the first edition so i don't know if they were corrected later on.


message 41: by Nathan "N.R." (new)

Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (nathannrgaddis) | 985 comments Thomas wrote: "is anyone still reading this guy, i finished divine days last night after reading it very slowly since december. it's good, in case anyone still wasn't sure. i wonder if he might have edited it him..."

Divine Days is my next by him (I read the trilogy this past year).


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