Literary Fiction by People of Color discussion

Virgin Soul
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message 1: by ColumbusReads (last edited Aug 26, 2013 05:02PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3844 comments Mod
Here we go again.... My library location will not acquire Virgin Soul for 3-6 months. Anyone else having this problem? Those that have read it or reading it or plan on reading it soon please let me know if you'd like to lead this 1960's Black Panthers discussion taking place in the Bay Area. Can't locate a readers guide for it either.


Tiffany Anderson (miss5elements) | 158 comments I was able to get Virgin Soul easily. It's Ghana Must Go, Americanah and We Need New Names that I was/am on the waiting list. I wouldn't mind but I'm in the middle of moving. I don't know if I can devote the time yet.


message 3: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca | 386 comments I am not able to get a copy from my library.


ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3844 comments Mod
Tiffany wrote: "I was able to get Virgin Soul easily. It's Ghana Must Go, Americanah and We Need New Names that I was/am on the waiting list. I wouldn't mind but I'm in the middle of moving. I don't know if I can ..."

Oh, Tiffany, I know how moving is. Thanks anyway.


Tiffany Anderson (miss5elements) | 158 comments Exactly lol.


message 6: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Weathersby (saraphen) | 261 comments My library doesn't have it, and has no plans to get it.


Michael | 432 comments I have it on hold at my library but I have too much going on at the moment to lead the discussion. I will participate if there is one, though.


message 8: by ColumbusReads (last edited Sep 02, 2013 09:16AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3844 comments Mod
Virgin Soul by Judy Juanita is our discussion book for the month of September. We'll take it a little slow this month since there appears to be problems obtaining this book from the library. If it's alright with everyone we'll start the actual discussion on the 10th unless someone has something to add before then.

Judy has an all-encompassing website that provides her bio / reviews / interviews / Poetry and much more...,

Website:
http://www.judyjuanitasvirginsoul.com/

Anyone familiar with this author before this book? Read her poetry?

Has anyone read any fiction or non-fiction on the Black Panthers? There's a slew of well known members including: H. Rap Brown: Bobby Seale; Stokely Carmichael; Elaine Brown and of course, Eldridge Cleaver who released the classic memoir, Soul on Ice in 1967. Has anyone read it? I never read it myself but it was mentioned recently in an excellent documentary with PBS, American Masters series on James Baldwin. Cleaver, I understand, would not have been a part of Baldwin's fan base.


message 9: by ColumbusReads (last edited Sep 02, 2013 09:19AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3844 comments Mod
Was Angela Davis a black panther? Does anyone know? Reading a short bio on her and nary a black panther mention at all. Yet, if someone were to ask me a list of BP members her name would've been at the top of my list.


Wilhelmina Jenkins | 2049 comments I'm tossing this one to Bill. Eldridge and Soul On Ice are not on my list of favorites. Stokely and Rap were officially Panthers, but were not central to the organization at all. Angela, as far as I know, was not officially a Panther, but was very close to the organization. I always loved Angela and had much respect for Huey in the early days. The Panther history is complex - all yours, Bill!


William (be2lieve) | 1317 comments Mod
Angela Davis was never a Panther, although she had a very close relationship with them. She was "married" to murdered/martyred Soledad Brother and panther George Jackson. She was a Marxist and member of the Communist Party. Angela's entire story was told in the movie, ":Free Angela Davis" released earlier this year. Coincidentally she was just last week on a panel discussion with the filmmaker and others which I decided to skip. If the movie didn't make it to your town look for it on video soon (it was produced by Jaz Z and Will Smith). Fascinating story.


Beverly | 2883 comments Mod
I have read many books by Black Panthers (and I suppose I have read books about Black Panthers also but none are jumping out at me this moment.

My fav one is The Taste of Power: A Black Woman's Story by Elaine Brown.

Yes, I did read Soul On Ice - back when first released.

Later this month - Another group is going to be discussing - Assata: An Autobiography.


Beverly | 2883 comments Mod
Here is a link to a discussion guide for Virgin Soul

http://www.us.penguingroup.com/static...


ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3844 comments Mod
William wrote: "Angela Davis was never a Panther, although she had a very close relationship with them. She was "married" to murdered/martyred Soledad Brother and panther George Jackson. She was a Marxist and memb..."

Free Angela Davis! Hmm, thanks William I'm going to check that out if I can find it. Angela Davis has always been a unique, most fascinating person to me. Furthermore, growing up, my older sister devoured anything about her and also Nikki Giovanni-- who she absolutely loved.


ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3844 comments Mod
Beverly wrote: "Here is a link to a discussion guide for Virgin Soul

http://www.us.penguingroup.com/static..."


This group is so resourceful. I'm telling you! Beverly, good looking out we all appreciate it!


Michael | 432 comments Thanks for starting the discussion, Columbus, and the link to Ms. Juanita's website. And thanks to everyone else for chiming in with Black Panther info. I managed to get the book from my library and will start reading it tomorrow.

Thanks for the discussion questions, Beverly! I was going to wait and read them later - can I assume there are spoilers in them?


ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3844 comments Mod
Yes, I forgot to mention, my library system got a copy of the book over the weekend and I had to drive well out the way to pick up a copy. It was worth it though. I'm gonna start reading either late tomorrow or early Wednesday. Feel free to comment on the early part of the book whenever you like.


Michael | 432 comments Columbus wrote: "Yes, I forgot to mention, my library system got a copy of the book over the weekend and I had to drive well out the way to pick up a copy. It was worth it though. I'm gonna start reading either lat..."

Yay!


Beverly | 2883 comments Mod
Michael wrote: "Thanks for starting the discussion, Columbus, and the link to Ms. Juanita's website. And thanks to everyone else for chiming in with Black Panther info. I managed to get the book from my library ..."

Not sure about this discussion questions but I usually do not look at them until I have finished the book as yes - they usually have spoilers.


Michael | 432 comments Just as a first impression, I am enjoying this so far. It doesn't have the poetry for me of the last three or so entries we've read, but it makes up for it in energy, humor, and a constant peppering of slang phrases (many of which I'm having to look up!). I'm really liking the race-consciousness she is filtering everything through.

For those who followed the Americanah thread, I just noted a paper bag reference on page 15 of the hardbound edition of Virgin Soul: "It puzzled me that the bourgie students looked so confident and secure inside Snookie's, inside their no-browner-than-a-paper-bag cosmos."


William (be2lieve) | 1317 comments Mod
Wilhelmina wrote: "I'm tossing this one to Bill. Eldridge and Soul On Ice are not on my list of favorites. Stokely and Rap were officially Panthers, but were not central to the organization at all. Angela, as far as ..."

Oops..how could I have been so remiss...you should have directed this to Rashida, Mina. She worked with Angela Davis on a couple projects while at Stanford Law...


ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3844 comments Mod
William wrote: "Wilhelmina wrote: "I'm tossing this one to Bill. Eldridge and Soul On Ice are not on my list of favorites. Stokely and Rap were officially Panthers, but were not central to the organization at all...."

No, seriously?! Rashida, we're waiting....


message 23: by ColumbusReads (last edited Sep 03, 2013 10:27AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3844 comments Mod
Michael wrote: "Just as a first impression, I am enjoying this so far. It doesn't have the poetry for me of the last three or so entries we've read, but it makes up for it in energy, humor, and a constant pepperi..."

Michael, I agree. I actually started reading this late last night and I'm really enjoying it so far. And yes, it's not poetry-like writing like Selasi or Adichie, but it's intelligent writing and it's no less effective in its own way. She mentions Huey Newton early in this book and I just wonder how much of this will be real incidents and how much will be fictional.

And, yes, she's really heavy on the slang and I'm loving it!


Wilhelmina Jenkins | 2049 comments William wrote: "Oops..how could I have been so remiss...you should have directed this to Rashida, Mina. She worked with Angela Davis on a couple projects while at Stanford Law... "

Very cool!


Beverly | 2883 comments Mod
This book takes place in Oakland. I would be interested in there are any Oakland residents (past/present) in the group who will be reading the book and their impressions on how Oakland and these times are portrayed.


message 26: by Lisa (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lisa | 9 comments I am just starting to read the book today. I am intrigued, because I grew up In Oakland in the 60s and 70s, and use to play in Arroyo Park, where the Black Panthers frequently gathered.


Paige (paigeawesome) | 59 comments I just got an email from my library saying they got it through interlibrary loan for me. :) Yay! Will probably pick it up tomorrow. I'm excited! I don't always get my loan requests fulfilled...


ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3844 comments Mod
Lisa wrote: "I am just starting to read the book today. I am intrigued, because I grew up In Oakland in the 60s and 70s, and use to play in Arroyo Park, where the Black Panthers frequently gathered."

That's great, Lisa! If you run across anything that seems familiar or you can add more to the discussion, please share with us. This period is so interesting and fascinating.


ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3844 comments Mod
Since several of us have been able to grab a copy of the book earlier than expected, there's no since in waiting until the 10th to start the discussion. Let's get this discussion started now! Here's the breakdown:

Freshman Year / Sept 6th - 11th
Sophomore Yr / Sept 12th - 16th
Junior Yr / Sept 17th - 21st
Senior Yr / Sept 22nd - 30th

As-salaam-alaikum!!!


ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3844 comments Mod
How is everyone enjoying the reading thus far? In Geniece's freshman year (pages 3- 52) we're introduced to her family members and a physics major by the name of Allwood who has dropped out of school to read a thousand books. Whoo! What are your impressions of this motley crew of characters and how is your reading progressing - or not?


Michael | 432 comments I just want to take a moment to talk about the title. For some reason I was not thinking this was going to be about actual virginity, and then I finished chapter 1, and I said "oh". But now I think there are at least 3 different things Ms. Juanita is playing on: the idea of a virgin with "soul", the idea of having a "virgin" soul, and possibly the idea of "virgin soil", where ideas germinate. I like the layers.

My main impression so far is wow, what a time and place to be learning! I mean, my college years were easily my greatest period of intellectual growth, but nothing like what she is getting exposed to, and direct from the movers and shakers. Am I justified in thinking this was a time of both greater turmoil and greater idea exchange than the current era, or am I deluding myself?


Beverly | 2883 comments Mod
Columbus wrote: "How is everyone enjoying the reading thus far? In Geniece's freshman year (pages 3- 52) we're introduced to her family members and a physics major by the name of Allwood who has dropped out of scho..."

I will be able to read The Freshman Years later today.
I am interested in this book as I grew up in this era and while this novel starts in 1964 - I was little behind as I started by freshman in 1967. Though I lived on the East Coast and went to college on the East Coast.


Kathleen | 16 comments Columbus wrote: "Since several of us have been able to grab a copy of the book earlier than expected, there's no since in waiting until the 10th to start the discussion. Let's get this discussion started now! Here'..."

Thanks Columbus for the Timeline, I look forward to joining in the conversations.


ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3844 comments Mod
Kathleen wrote: "Columbus wrote: "Since several of us have been able to grab a copy of the book earlier than expected, there's no since in waiting until the 10th to start the discussion. Let's get this discussion s..."

You're very welcome, Kathleen! Looking forward to your comments!


ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3844 comments Mod
Michael wrote: "I just want to take a moment to talk about the title. For some reason I was not thinking this was going to be about actual virginity, and then I finished chapter 1, and I said "oh". But now I thi..."

Very perceptive, Michael. I was thinking along the lines of your first idea, a virgin with "soul." Hadn't really thought about the others but certainly they all make sense. That would be a good question to ask the author. Anyone else with thoughts on this? What do you think about the title and also book cover/jacket?


Beverly | 2883 comments Mod
I have finished the first section - The Freshman Years.
And I am not sure how I feel about this book yet.
- The writing seemed a little "jumpy" to me. While I have not read any of the author's poetry so not familiar with her style but usually I love novels written by poets because of the fluidity I find in their novel language
- there was a lot of skin color/tone references and often Geniece initial expectations were based on this but often she found out that there was more to a person than their skin color
- I see this as a coming-of-age story and thought the voice was good for a college freshmen.
- I liked the family scenes
- I will be interested to see what Geniece's next steps/adventures will be - it seems she will do the reading books because Allwood wants her to read them and see wants a boyfriend.


Beverly | 2883 comments Mod
Columbus wrote: "Michael wrote: "I just want to take a moment to talk about the title. For some reason I was not thinking this was going to be about actual virginity, and then I finished chapter 1, and I said "oh"..."

I like the cover - I think it represents the time period. Buttons were a big think then - you wore a button to show what your interests were and to support groups.

As the the title before I started reading the book I thought it represented the transition a character would make as you learned more about her world/times and started to think more on her own.
I can also see how it will be a transition in her relationships with males.
Both will be big steps in her life.


Michael | 432 comments I loved the scene with Goosie, Allwood, and Geniece. I cannot believe Goosie told him the frog story! She is a character, and I mean that in a good way. She seems like someone who is always up front with people, and is a great person to have Geniece's back.


Jessiree Jenkins | 2 comments Hi all,

I read this book a couple of months and loved it. I'm curious to see others' thoughts on it.


message 40: by Dera (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dera (dwillwrite) | 13 comments Columbus wrote: "Virgin Soul by Judy Juanita is our discussion book for the month of September. We'll take it a little slow this month since there appears to be problems obtaining this book from the library. If it'..."

I was raised in Oakland still there and like the main character came of age in the 60s and 70s. I also have read several books by and about former Black Panthers. A Taste of Soul is a personal favorite. I belong to Marcus Book Club out of Marcus Book Store in Oakland and this was our August selection. I will post comments at a later date.


Beverly | 2883 comments Mod
Michael wrote: "I loved the scene with Goosie, Allwood, and Geniece. I cannot believe Goosie told him the frog story! She is a character, and I mean that in a good way. She seems like someone who is always up f..."

Yes, I too liked the Goosie. But one of Goosie's stories reminded me of one of the differences between growing up in the 60s/70s and now. Growing up then as a female - you constantly heard the tales/warnings of don't "ruin" your life by getting pregnant. Getting pregnant and being unmarried (even if you did get married) was very much a life changing event because of the social stigma and the doors that were closed to you. So I liked how Goosie was open to listening to the changes going on but also had the wisdom to know some things still had not changed.


Paige (paigeawesome) | 59 comments Michael wrote: "I just want to take a moment to talk about the title. For some reason I was not thinking this was going to be about actual virginity, and then I finished chapter 1, and I said "oh". But now I think there are at least 3 different things Ms. Juanita is playing on: the idea of a virgin with "soul", the idea of having a "virgin" soul, and possibly the idea of "virgin soil", where ideas germinate. I like the layers."

I've been thinking about this. When I first heard the title of the book and read the first section (freshman), the one that really resonated with me was the idea of "virgin soil"--she's young and impressionable and I guess "untested" in the first section. As she put it, "Allwood was the reason I became black."

Does anyone have any thoughts about the book mutilation? I was a little uncomfortable with it--destroying your partner's possessions, especially their favorite things, especially when you know it's their favorite, is abusive. I know he didn't do it in some kind of rage at Geniece, and even if he IS "right" about knowing things that she doesn't and even if books by Philip Roth are perhaps not the way to racial consciousness, it still hurt to read it. Allwood could see that Geniece would benefit more from a different reading list which she was resistant to... I just wish he'd been able to get his point across without destroying her stuff. :\

I really like the scenes with Goosey and also the dinner. So far I am really enjoying the book :) I like her writing style, it's very engaging. One thing I like about it is that--well, a lot of times reading books in the first person can be distracting to me, because it just seems implausible that someone would remember minute details and I always imagine them sitting down to write it (or are they composing it in their head as they go along, I wonder?)...but I don't have that distraction (so far) with this book. It seems like a journal--it has that kind of personal feel to it--or a memoir.


Tiffany Anderson (miss5elements) | 158 comments The book mutilation horrified me. What gall! I almost wrote off Allwood after that scene. They barely knew each other and he gets into her personal space like that. I did warm up to him a bit more, as he fills the void with the 10 books. Maybe that was their first act of intercourse, where he needs to penetrate her mind. It was a rude awakening.

As far as the title goes, i didn't see "Virgin Soil", although it fits. I took it initially as a neophyte of the Black Power Movement after reading its description. The word "virgin" didn't come into play for me until I went to visit family. I wasn't ready to answer the possible question from my young niece or nephew, "What's a virgin?" I'm sure their parents appreciated me leaving the book home also.

I am enjoying this book - such an original concept. Her writing style does take a little getting used to, it's choppy in some places. Her Oakland vernacular is one I've never heard before & that's refreshing.


Michael | 432 comments If that was intercourse then it's even worse!! I do remember being horrified and angry, but now I am trying to figure out how I forgave him so easily. Maybe it was because Geniece rationalized it away when she thought maybe she didn't need those books. That should be her decision, though. Like when she decided to cut her hair. If at that moment she had instead decided to burn her books, and Allwood supported her by getting her matches or something, it would have been a lot more meaningful.

Also, I think that scene faded as other instances of dominance/sexism started bothering me: The men all preaching/orating while the women cook and set up the chairs (the men can't even set up their own chairs??). How Allwood's list of 10 books included no female authors. Allwood's empowerment being that he is intelligent, while Geniece's is that she is beautiful. I'm wondering if she is going to reach a level of consciousness in this book where all that becomes a problem for her.


Beverly | 2883 comments Mod
Michael wrote: "If that was intercourse then it's even worse!! I do remember being horrified and angry, but now I am trying to figure out how I forgave him so easily. Maybe it was because Geniece rationalized it..."

I agree with you Michael that there are a number of sexism remarks/situations in the book.
As for someone burning my books - especially my favs would have been a warning sign to me.
I wondered about the reason that Geniece while mad in some ways went along with it:
- was the idea of having a boyfriend more important
- she is in many ways discovering her "blackness" through Allwood and his associates and she does not want to do anything that would be perceived as questioning her "blackness" or seeming not to go along with the program.

And while a lot of times it was the individual that did not act in a sexist way - a lot of groups would display sexist ways. This was the beginning of the second wave of Women's Lib - so sexism was rampant and accepted. And because we were also fighting for the rights of Blacks - and at times (not all of the organizations) it was a Black male who was the spokesman and the front people.

I too am interested to find out if she finds black women in these groups to befriend. At this point it is mostly black men that Geniece is interacting with.

Also Geniece noticed that the light skinned men in the groups had dark skinned girlfriends and the comment back was that the guys were doing this to acknowledge their blackness. So it makes you wonder if they just choose these women because of their skin tone when a few years earlier they would have been chosen a women if they were a lighter tone.


ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3844 comments Mod
We've made it to our Sophomore year! The year started with Geniece and Allwood going to the "Black House." What did you make of her experiences there? Also, here's a question from the readers guide that Beverly was kind enough to share with us:

How does Geniece’s parentless upbringing shape her character and affect her sense of self?


message 47: by Dera (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dera (dwillwrite) | 13 comments Beverly wrote: "This book takes place in Oakland. I would be interested in there are any Oakland residents (past/present) in the group who will be reading the book and their impressions on how Oakland and these ti..."

Me. From Oakland and read the book.


message 48: by Nakia (new)

Nakia Columbus wrote: "Virgin Soul by Judy Juanita is our discussion book for the month of September. We'll take it a little slow this month since there appears to be problems obtaining this book from the library. If it'..."

I am not familiar with the author's work, but I did attend a book signing put on by the Oakland library for her a few weeks ago. I hadn't planned on reading it at all because the synopsis didn't intrigue me and I'm ore interested in deeper accounts of the Panthers (e.g. "A Taste of Power" and "Assata"), but after hearing Judy speak on her years as a Black Panther, and how closely connected the book is to her real life experiences, I'm giving it a try as soon as I get a copy.

She has a very warm spirit.


Wilhelmina Jenkins | 2049 comments I've got my copy and I will catch up!


ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3844 comments Mod
Junior year begins today. Any thoughts?


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