Literary Fiction by People of Color discussion

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Book potpourri: Controversy, Questions, Thoughts oh my!

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message 1: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3717 comments Mod
This thread/forum is for any subjects related to books you may have. That includes controversial book-related columns or topics you find online (an example would be the current dust-up over American Dirt) or a book topic you may create yourself (an example might be to engage or poll the members on their reading preference - ebooks vs physical books vs audio).

I’ve actually wanted to create this months ago but William’s posting on the American Dirt brouhaha just forced the issue. Geez, William!


message 2: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3717 comments Mod
Are we still reading the same way since ebooks burst onto the scene? What’s the breakdown on how you read? In the last several years I’ve read print books exclusively. Almost 100%. Ebooks have never been more than 15% of my reading preference at any time.

As for audio books, I’ve never “listened” to an audio book in my life. Furthermore, and I know many people disagree, but I don’t consider listening to an audio book reading at all. I just don’t. That’s my opinion and I’m sticking with it.


message 3: by Monica (last edited Jan 25, 2020 10:26AM) (new)

Monica (monicae) | 460 comments Columbus I'm going to have to quote the King of Pop "You wanna be startin' somethin'!!"

Haha!! I very rarely read a physical book (maybe one or two a year). For me e-books are fantastic for a variety of reasons! They are less expensive (sometimes I can get a spectacular sales), I can carry hundreds of books with me at a time and I can adjust the font size. Also w/ the new kindles I can play audiobooks with wireless ear buds. The audible books sync w/ the e-books so that you can listen in the car and pick where you left off in the audiobook in an e-book. It allows for multiple methods of consumption of the novel. For me the list goes on. Ebooks are my preferred reading media. I seem to be able to read them faster. I think it's mostly for me it gives me good stopping points. It measures (though admittedly not that effectively) the reading speed and predicts how long until you have completed a chapter or a book. That encourages me to read a little more just to get through a chapter, book etc.

As for audiobooks. My goodness I will never understand the issue with how someone consumes information. People take in and comprehend information in different ways. Some people understand better when they are listening. Other understand better when they read. Some people have to read aloud or speak it before they fully comprehend. Word for word when one listens to an audio they are consuming the exact same content. The difference is the performance of an audio book. I can honestly say I have listened to some audio book performances that have illuminated the text. I have also listened to some audio book performances that failed to capture the intent of the author. But I don't understand the idea of controversy regarding how a person consumes a book. The important thing is that it gets consumed (read or listened to). The stories get told. My personal preference is to read, but I have listened to some incredible audio books. Besides, I need something to do on a commute or a dog walk if I have any hope at all of getting through my tbr! ;-)


message 4: by Carol (last edited Jan 25, 2020 10:32AM) (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 563 comments Columbus wrote: "This thread/forum is for any subjects related to books you may have. That includes controversial book-related columns or topics you find online (an example would be the current dust-up over America..."

Where is William’s American Dirt rant? I was surprised that I didn’t hear about it here first, lol. Now I know I just missed it. The suspense is killing me. ..

Never mind. Found it in the Read and Recommended thread, with all appropriate reference links.


〰️Beth〰️ (x1f4a0bethx1f4a0) | 31 comments I have to agree with Monica, Columbus.

I love that I can have hundreds of books on one small device and choose to read or listen. The adjustable font is a plus too.

It only read a few print books a year, I still enjoy the feel and smell of paper but hard backs in particular are difficult to lug around.

As for audio, for a long time I resisted. For me it was a combination of “that’s not reading” and the narrators voices on samples were not to my liking. After pondering the oral history of passing stories down to others and thinking about different learning styles I changed my mind. It took time to find books with narrators I was willing to listen to for hours but now I listen to at least 5-10 books a year. I started with author narrated books because who better to tell me their story.


message 6: by Aubrey (new)

Aubrey (korrick) My father has a hard time seeing these days, and it's great that I can get him audiobooks so he can keep experiencing the books he loves. Not to mention the dyslexic/ADHD people I used to engage with on a regular basis for whom audiobooks were a godsend for school projects and other sorts of activities. In any case, as someone who aspires to be a librarian and who's not impacted by these mentioned issues but is still part of the disabled community, it'd be screwed up for me to throw members of my community under the bus and say that they're not really "reading". The ability to focus on tiny print for hours on end is not a survival skill, and I've built up too much literary cred reading "difficult" treebooks for me to think gatekeeping what actually constitutes as reading is worth my time. I'd rather be doing some reading myself instead.


message 7: by Lata (new)

Lata | 293 comments I’m seconding Monica. I love eBooks, and read most books that way. I love the speed with which I can get through books, the portability, and the highlighting (which helps me remember details for buddy reads).

And audiobooks saved my for years from utter boredom while sitting in traffic. At first I was resistant to them, but I have found that audio narration has improved greatly over the years with so many skilled voice actors working in the field. And, though very much not a kid anymore, I still enjoy someone telling me a story. I find the experience is necessarily different from being curled up and reading, but audiobooks have accompanied me on many a walk, grocery trip, boring commute, and allowed me to make tiny dents in my TBR.


kittykat AKA Jo Tortitude My format of choice is the ebook, by far. For a number of reasons, but reading in low light or the dark, storage issues and book sizes (thank heaven for ereaders for those doorstoppers out there) are the primary ones. I have some exceptions to this including graphic novels, but not many. I thank the heavens every single day for the existence of digital books and my kobo is worth more than gold to me.

As for audio reading, I'm not the biggest fan personally - the main reason being that most narrators over enunciate and that grates on my nerves like nails on a chalkboard. I completely understand why they tend to do that I just hate it with a passion. However, that being said, I disagree wholeheartedly with the argument that it is not reading. It may not be reading in the same way that following the words with your own eyes is, but, it is reading in that one is consuming the exact same words of the exact same story, albeit in a totally different manner. And that is ok as we all process and understand information in different ways too.

Also, it is an incredibly ableist point of view. What if someone can't see to 'read', or if they can't hold a book/ereader? Or if they have attention issues that they don't have via audio? Or any number of other disabilities I know nothing about that exclude them from reading words on a page? For some people, audio is a godsend as it's the only way for them to read books and or others it's is the preferable way for them to read books that fits into their lifestyle.


message 9: by Erin (last edited Jan 25, 2020 12:27PM) (new)

Erin (erinm31) | 22 comments It astonishes me that anyone would argue that listening to audiobooks was “not reading”! It seems so obviously a great thing to enable people to enjoy books when and how works best for them and certainly hearing people tell stories predates reading them! I have a fondness for the printed page but have also benefitted from audiobooks and lectures.


message 10: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 103 comments I'm going to jump in here and agree with Columbus. I don't see him saying e-books and audio should be abolished. And I'm going to assume there is an implied "for me" at the end of his statement that he doesn't consider listening to a book "reading."

It isn't ableist to prefer reading paper books if one is fortunate enough to be able to do so. I also prefer reading paper books, and for me (strong emphasis) listening does not feel the same as reading. It is a different way of taking in information, and as was mentioned above, people have different preferences and that's fine. Listening is reading for many people, and that's wonderful.

Also, I hate reading on a screen. I'm sick to death of reading on a screen. We have to read on a screen all day in our professional and personal lives, and when I get the choice, I really like to move to a printed page.

So, glad to hear I'm not alone out there, Columbus. :-)


message 11: by kittykat AKA Jo Tortitude (last edited Jan 25, 2020 12:24PM) (new)

kittykat AKA Jo Tortitude Whilst I think everyone is entitled to their own opinions, I just need to point out...

Kathleen wrote: "... I don't see him saying e-books and audio should be abolished..."

No-one else has said this so far?


Kathleen wrote: "And I'm going to assume there is an implied "for me" at the end of his statement that he doesn't consider listening to a book "reading..."

An assumption is merely that, an assumption rather than fact.


Kathleen wrote: "It isn't ableist to prefer reading paper books..."

Totally agree. However the statement "I don’t consider listening to an audio book reading at all. I just don’t." is not an expression of individual preference.


message 12: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3717 comments Mod
Great to hear all of your comments. I really wanted to hear your thoughts on this as my views about ebooks have evolved since they came on the scene and I wanted to know how others felt.

As Kathleen stated, I wasn’t implying in any way that ebooks and/or audiobooks should be permanently abolished or anything. On the contrary, I think it’s wonderful that we have as many options as possible to read regardless of what format we choose. In fact, I’m still adding ebooks to my Kindle, iBooks and iCloud whenever a new discounted ebook is posted to the site (thanks, Monica and others!). I feel at some point I may go back to reading ebooks and want to have an electronic option available when I do. My extreme love and nostalgia for physical books, I guess, supersedes everything else though including audiobooks. So, no, I’m glad they are both in the world.

Now, the same does not hold true for how I view audiobooks. I guess it’s semantics but I will always view audiobooks as “listening” and not “reading.” Again, it’s just my opinion and I know others feel differently and I’m ok with that. As one previously said, “reading is something you do, where listening is something that happens to you.” If I ever completed an audio copy of The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke I would say I “listened” to the book I didn’t “read” it. It requires a different set of skills (yes, listening is a skill).

All that being said, I’m glad they are all available to us.


message 13: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3717 comments Mod
This is getting more real by the day. Amazon and American Dirt. Any thoughts?

https://www.marketplace.org/2020/01/2...


message 14: by Monica (new)

Monica (monicae) | 460 comments Heh! Perhaps the site should change the name from "goodreads" to "goodbooks" or "goodconsumption" (though the latter may be confusing to those who believe that there is no "good" version of tuberculosis).

Whatever anyone's preference, my hope is that we continue to learn from and enjoy books!!


message 15: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3717 comments Mod
We had a discussion a couple of years ago in one of our monthly reads about who is allowed to write what. The issue of cultural appropriation and specifically white authors writing from a black perspective or primarily black characters. I certainly would take the author of AMERICAN DIRT to task about some of her depictions and stereotypes of Mexicans she displayed in this book (or what I’ve seen since I personally have not read the book). But, I for one am a little uncomfortable telling her she cannot write about Mexicans or any other group of people if she chooses to. I would certainly advise one to use one of those sensitivity authors or readers (what’s the official term for that?) to look over her work. What often irritates and irks me are the awful slang, patois or dialect they often get wrong. Woefully so!


message 16: by Beverly (new)

Beverly | 2873 comments Mod
Columbus wrote: "Great to hear all of your comments. I really wanted to hear your thoughts on this as my views about ebooks have evolved since they came on the scene and I wanted to know how others felt.

As Kathle..."


I am late to this conversation.

I love all of the different options we now have for reading books.

And I am also glad to see that libraries are now offering more and more options to make books more accessible to every type of reader.

I still love print books (and so enjoy the smell of new books).
Most of the books I borrow from the library are print books.
I still buy a fair number of books, but most of these are books by small presses - to help support these presses as I have found a lot of their stories are more diverse than those from the big publishers and may not as readily available from libraries.

I only listen to audiobooks while driving.
Because once I start a short story I want to finish it in one sitting, I do not tend to listen to short story collections on audio books.
I tend to enjoy speculative fiction, mysteries, narrative non-fiction on audio.

I read ebooks on my kindle.
I use my kindle at night as I like to read in bed and it is lighter to hold than a book.
Also for traveling and being on vacation - kindle is a great way for me to take a bunch of books.


message 17: by Carol (last edited Jan 26, 2020 10:46AM) (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 563 comments Columbus wrote: "This is getting more real by the day. Amazon and American Dirt. Any thoughts?

https://www.marketplace.org/2020/01/2......"


As with Yelp, when comments start getting made by users with the goal of tanking a restaurant rather than engaged in more-typical reviewing activity, I’m glad Amazon took action on this.

I feel for whomever is in charge of crisis comms for the publisher but none of this would have surprised them if they had a diverse team making the original bid decision.

See also the front page (bottom left for print readers) article in today’s NYTimes. That its editors made this a front page story speaks to the broad relevance of the kerfuffle. This is very different on its facts, but i believe we’ve hit Rachel Dolezal territory. When might Oprah weigh in? We’ll see.


message 18: by Beverly (new)

Beverly | 2873 comments Mod
Columbus wrote: "We had a discussion a couple of years ago in one of our monthly reads about who is allowed to write what. The issue of cultural appropriation and specifically white authors writing from a black per..."

Publishing companies are for-profit companies - so they publish what they think can sell.

But I do think that publishing company should have been a little more sensitive at the book launch party with the "barbed wire" looking decorations (well at least I hope it wasn't real barbed wire.

I have read the beginning of the book - it is evokes a feel of sensationalism that you often see in thrillers and you know almost immediately that it screams make me a "movie".

I equate this book (at least what I have read so far) with a book that I read a little while ago - The Force by Don Winslow which was a sensational story of corrupt cops that it is meant thrill us not to take a look at a serious subject.

And what I have read so far - there is much violence and there are stereotype characters.

But, the publishing company and the editor knew what would appeal to their readers and put big PR bucks behind this book.

I do like that there are now lists of books by Latinx writers being circulated all over social media, so hopefully readers will be pick up one or more of their books to read.

As Carol - this is so much about the mood of this time!


message 19: by Ella (new)

Ella (ellamc) | 219 comments Well, I've decided to take a step back from this one, since it seems to be akin to the insanity caused by The Help - and I'm still spinning from that, but I did like this piece from the LATimes entertainment pages, so here's a crosspost from another group I'm going to just copy/paste myself:

I'm going to leave this topic alone, but one more link before I close my mouth on the topic forever (unless I actually read it - unlikely as the library wait is like 9 mos minimum.) I thought this was a nice non-literary-critic response: https://www.latimes.com/entertainment...


message 20: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 563 comments Ella wrote: "Well, I've decided to take a step back from this one, since it seems to be akin to the insanity caused by The Help - and I'm still spinning from that, but I did like this piece from the LATimes ent..."

Thanks for this link. I loved this article. Yes, this reflects a homogeneous industry.


message 21: by Aubrey (last edited Jan 26, 2020 11:18AM) (new)

Aubrey (korrick) This 'American Dirt' business is part of why I prefer that a book simmers for a good five years or so before I even begin to consider reading it: the drama is nauseating and very rarely leads to any true solidarity-building commitments in literature.


message 22: by Meera (new)

Meera | 6 comments I don't know as a new participant in this group, I should even post in this discussion from the passionate postings I've read but I have to admit that most of the books I read are ebooks. Probably about 75% of it. I am at that age where I long for reading glasses when I have to read a print book. And since I don't like reading glasses, kindle books or books on scribd are an easier option.

Another reason why I read more ebooks than print books are that I have too many print books already that I haven't read so I don't buy too many new ones that I know I won't read right away. This means that I borrow most of what I read and ebooks are just as easy to borrow as print books from where I live so I choose the easier option most of the time.


message 23: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 563 comments Meera wrote: "I don't know as a new participant in this group, I should even post in this discussion from the passionate postings I've read but I have to admit that most of the books I read are ebooks. Probably ..."

Yes, you should post :)


message 24: by Meera (new)

Meera | 6 comments I was interested in reading American Dirt till I saw the controversy. Ever since I read Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters and saw the photo of the author at the end and I had been surprised that the author did not appear to be African-American, I look at a photo of an author before I read a book with poc characters. Makes me feel a bit weird about it and question whether I am being narrow minded but it's what I do.


message 25: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3717 comments Mod
Monica wrote: "Heh! Perhaps the site should change the name from "goodreads" to "goodbooks" or "goodconsumption" (though the latter may be confusing to those who believe that there is no "good" version of tubercu..."

Hahaha, Amen!


message 26: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3717 comments Mod
Aubrey wrote: "This 'American Dirt' business is part of why I prefer that a book simmers for a good five years or so before I even begin to consider reading it: the drama is nauseating and very rarely leads to an..."

I hear ya, Aubrey. Also, now that you brought it up, I professed to read more of my backlist TBR which have reached unmentionable numbers lately. I need to commit and just do it.


message 27: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3717 comments Mod
Meera wrote: "I don't know as a new participant in this group, I should even post in this discussion from the passionate postings I've read but I have to admit that most of the books I read are ebooks. Probably ..."

Meera, I’m in denial about my eyesight and need reading glasses also. I’m very clumsy and forgetful so instead of purchasing the $250 Prescription pair I had been buying, I’m now getting the readers at the dollar store. You know the 1.75, 3.0 etc power glasses. I honestly didn’t realize these were available until the middle of last year. I could’ve saved a lot more money before then. Geez


message 28: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3717 comments Mod
Meera wrote: "I was interested in reading American Dirt till I saw the controversy. Ever since I read Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters and saw the photo of t..."

Honestly, I do as well. You aren’t alone.


message 29: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3717 comments Mod
Meera wrote: "I was interested in reading American Dirt till I saw the controversy. Ever since I read Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters and saw the photo of t..."

Have you ever read George Pelecanos? I understand his African American characters are pitch perfect (or very close to it). I heard that from several people.


message 30: by William (new)

William (be2lieve) | 1257 comments Mod
Columbus wrote: "Meera wrote: "I was interested in reading American Dirt till I saw the controversy. Ever since I read Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters and saw ..."

Pelecanos is great. He benefits from having grown up a Greek in majority Black D.C.. He also co wrote the HBO shows the Wire and Treme


message 31: by William (new)

William (be2lieve) | 1257 comments Mod
Meera wrote: "I was interested in reading American Dirt till I saw the controversy. Ever since I read Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters and saw the photo of t..."

I also have a problem with novels about Black people after I find out the author is White. I read more cautiously. I recently read a book called Gilly Gall, a retelling of the Scottsboro Boys case. It just seemed weird knowing it was a first person account written by a white man. (And he kept using the term "Africanos" to describe Black people. I've never in my life heard a Black person say that.)


message 32: by Beverly (new)

Beverly | 2873 comments Mod
William wrote: "Columbus wrote: "Meera wrote: "I was interested in reading American Dirt till I saw the controversy. Ever since I read Underground Airlines by [author:Ben H. Winters..."

I agree - Pelecanos is excellent.
He gets it right, plus I liked that in some of his books he was describing streets and locations that I recognized due to living in the Silver Spring area for a number of years.


message 33: by Beverly (new)

Beverly | 2873 comments Mod
Columbus wrote: "Aubrey wrote: "This 'American Dirt' business is part of why I prefer that a book simmers for a good five years or so before I even begin to consider reading it: the drama is nauseating and very rar..."

One reasons I love my library - If a read a couple of pages and not enjoying, I stop reading a book.

I don't feel like I need to finish a book.

I do this with "new" releases and older books.


message 34: by Beverly (new)

Beverly | 2873 comments Mod
Meera wrote: "I was interested in reading American Dirt till I saw the controversy. Ever since I read Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters and saw the photo of t..."

All thoughts are welcome and respected here.


message 35: by Aubrey (new)

Aubrey (korrick) Columbus wrote: "I hear ya, Aubrey. Also, now that you brought it up, I professed to read more of my backlist TBR which have reached unmentionable numbers lately. I need to commit and just do it."

That's the spirit! I actually have a specific tag for the oldest 20% of my TBR that I like to incorporate into any long term planning I happen to be doing, so that helps keep myself on track.


message 36: by Ella (new)

Ella (ellamc) | 219 comments Aubrey wrote: "I actually have a specific tag for the oldest 20% of my TBR that I like to incorporate into any long term planning I happen to be doing, so that helps keep myself on track.."..."

That's a great idea! I may steal that from you.
I put myself on a rather stringent budget this year, and I cancelled some of my small independent publisher subscriptions too. Partly b/c my library acquisitions have improved and partly b/c I have too many books I own that I need to read. But mostly b/c I used a tag for books that had some hype in my reading spreadsheet last year & overall they were several rungs lower on my "glad to have read this" scale. I decided all of these lists w/ new exciting books were mostly just not worth it. I never read many of them, but it was still too many. I'm reading Greek classics at the moment. They have their own issues, but at least nobody's throwing Homer a book party with barbed wire decorations.


message 37: by Carol (last edited Jan 27, 2020 04:06PM) (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 563 comments Ella wrote: "Aubrey wrote: "I actually have a specific tag for the oldest 20% of my TBR that I like to incorporate into any long term planning I happen to be doing, so that helps keep myself on track.."..."

Th..."


You gotta watch out for those Greeks, though. Don’t drink any beverages that have been out of your possession, :)


message 38: by Ella (new)

Ella (ellamc) | 219 comments Carol wrote: "You gotta watch out for those Greeks, though. Don’t drink any beverages that have been out if your possession, :)"
This actually made me grin so hard, someone asked what was wrong with my face; "you look like an insanely happy cat." (I think she meant feline...) Anyway, thanks for the reminder :-D


message 39: by Aubrey (new)

Aubrey (korrick) Ella wrote: "They have their own issues, but at least nobody's throwing Homer a book party with barbed wire decorations."

So true. My reading of 'Three Kingdoms' has its own issues with historical veracity vs propaganda, but drama's a lot easier to handle when it's all in the endnotes.


message 40: by Meera (new)

Meera | 6 comments Columbus wrote: "Have you ever read George Pelecanos? I understand his African American characters are pitch perfect (or very close to it). I heard that from several people. "

Yes, I have read one of his books and enjoyed it and kept meaning to to back to him one day... but that tbr list! I loved The Wire so I knew going into his book that he had been part of the show.

And thank you all for welcoming the newcomer's thoughts :-)


message 41: by Ella (new)

Ella (ellamc) | 219 comments Aubrey wrote: "drama's a lot easier to handle when it's all in the endnotes."

So very true, though I'll admit to being fairly baffled about some of those historical dramatics in 3 kingdoms. I am glad to have read it though.

Meera - welcome!


message 42: by B. P. (new)

B. P. Rinehart (ken_moten) | 34 comments So I guess I'll randomly come in with my own thoughts on this controversy around American Dirt.

I am not surprised at all by this as someone who is African-American and reads "classic" literature and has been brought up in the American education system being forced to read books like "AD". Before I give my own feelings I want to talk about James Baldwin and his involvement with two previous examples. In one of his early essays "Everybody's Protest Novel" he takes apart Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe. You all may not be able to read that essay, but I do have an interview here: https://youtu.be/MuyInnpbAx0?t=514 where Baldwin basically states that Uncle Tom's Cabin is simply white missionary tract meant to raise support to help civilize the poor, barely-civilized darky that is being mistreated by Southern slavers. Of course, even white reviewers here on Goodreads who have not read Baldwin's essay have seen this to be true. The moral is that anytime someone says they want to "humanize" (Cummins' words) human-beings--watch out! This is what Ellison called "the boomerang" in his prologue to Invisible Man. The blurb for AD said Steinbeck, but it's lineage is Stowe...and maybe another.

As far as a prior antecedent to the uproar to AD, in 1967 William Styron published his historical novel The Confessions of Nat Turner which came-out during the ascendancy of the Black Arts Movement. This book caused so much controversy (especially given the stereotypical-characterizing of Nat Turner) that James Baldwin ended-up moderating a debate between Styron and Ossie Davis that I recommend everyone listen to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCkpi... The interesting similarities are striking.

I myself have the same problem with the idea of absorbing fiction in which the white character bestows some kind-of humanization or mercy to the non-white character. I felt this way reading To Kill a Mockingbird and somewhat The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn when compared to imperfect, but more honest views by some of Faulkner's work (though lord-knows he was as much a bigot as anyone--but he was an honest one about how the mind of white supremacists worked) and The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson, respectively. It is shameful that white missionary fiction like this still gets published, but not surprising. The publishing industry (including the industry of literary criticism) is overwhelmingly controlled by white hands so this books progression was quite natural. The really sad fact was that if Cummins wanted to be a white woman writing on the harder experiences of Latin Americans--there was a model. It is repulsive to see that this author is treated like the white savior to the poor brown-folk at the boarder. This book wants to have the effect of Uncle Tom's Cabin, but may end up being the next The Clansman.

I contemplate picking this book to hate-read it, but I could better read actual Mexican-American writers than read a book that literally is arguing in its introduction that it will solve immigration for the "faceless people at the boarder." I say this to say: just read Pedro Páramo instead--or better yet read "Writing MY Latino Novel" if you want a good laugh.


message 43: by Aubrey (new)

Aubrey (korrick) B. P. wrote: "So I guess I'll randomly come in with my own thoughts on this controversy around American Dirt.

I am not surprised at all by this as someone who is African-American and reads "classic" literature..."


Good thoughts, B. P. I've consciously avoided the Styron, as well as to a lesser extent the Stowe, because I doubt either story manages to transcend the voyeurism of their origins. I have the same attitude towards The Orphan Master's Son and some others that, for whatever reasons, have less controversial standings in the mainstream. If I'm going to read about a topic, fiction or otherwise, I'm going to do my best to get it right the first time, rather than settle for milktoast rehashings of Wikipedia first and seek out the real stuff second.


message 44: by B. P. (new)

B. P. Rinehart (ken_moten) | 34 comments The sad part is, it's not like you can't write outside of your demographic--you just have to try. You have to do the hardwork of telling the story the right way, having folks look-over your work or asking questions, not the sleazy/easy way. I think of something like the black characters in Ragtime as an example of how you don't screw this up.


message 45: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3717 comments Mod
B. P. wrote: "So I guess I'll randomly come in with my own thoughts on this controversy around American Dirt.

I am not surprised at all by this as someone who is African-American and reads "classic" literature..."


So much to get from this. Thanks!


message 46: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3717 comments Mod
121 writers ask Oprah to reconsider American Dirt:

I liked this particular paragraph from this piece. Sort of reinforces what I said in message 15.

Many of us are also fiction writers, and we believe in the right to write outside of our own experiences: writing fiction is essentially impossible to do without imagining people who are not ourselves. However, when writing about experiences that are not our own, especially when writing about the experiences of marginalized people, still more especially when these lived experiences are heavily politicized, oppressed, threatened, and disbelieved—when this is the case, the writer’s duty to imagine well, responsibly, and with complexity becomes even more critical.

https://lithub.com/dear-oprah-winfrey...


Nadine in California (nadinekc) | 189 comments On a related side note - the exuberantly positive blubs from other authors for this book have soured in the face of all the critiques of the book's literary quality. I've often read books where author blurbs seem over the top compared to the quality of the book, and it seems like more than just a difference in taste. I wonder if this book's author blurbers will keep a low profile or defend their words.


message 48: by B. P. (new)

B. P. Rinehart (ken_moten) | 34 comments @Nadine: It seems in some cases, the people promoting the book have such low expectations of the non-Latino reading public that they thought that any book on this subject from a trusted (i.e. white) source would do, as was apparently the case with Sandra Cisneros. Basically nobody counted on Mexican-Americans of my generation or younger to speak-up and protest as forcefully as they did. There was that New York Times review and the beatdown from Myriam Gurba, but I first heard of it last Friday when I saw folks sharing the Los Angeles Times article by Esmeralda Bermudez. I had paid almost no attention to the book. I was going to talk about it here last weekend before Kobe Bryant, but I kept it in-mind and read-up on this whole outlandish saga.

@Columbus: Your welcome and thanks for sharing that link.


message 49: by lark (new)

lark benobi (larkbenobi) | 331 comments I loved this podcast from Latino USA re: American Dirt...highly recommmended. All four people interviewed came across as human and caring even if their views are different. I already knew I'd enjoy hearing from Gurba and Urrea, but I also gained surprising respect for Cisneros, who comes across as very loving and forgiving, and for author Cummins, who comes across as penitent. I can understand how she may have become quite giddy about her publisher's enthusiasm and sort of lost her footing, I guess.

https://www.latinousa.org/2020/01/29/...

Maria Hinojosa spoke to four people at the heart of the American Dirt controversy: Myriam Gurba —writer and author of Mean— who wrote an explosive critique of the novel; Cisneros, who speaks publicly about the book for the first time; Luis Alberto Urrea, a Mexican-American author who has written extensively about border life; and finally, Cummins, the author of American Dirt.


message 50: by B. P. (last edited Jan 30, 2020 11:32AM) (new)

B. P. Rinehart (ken_moten) | 34 comments I've also listened to the podcast episode. When you think you aren't going to get caught, you do everything that gets you caught. I have seen so many renditions of this historically in literature (and more commonly in movies), but I did not think I would see this sort-of-thing get called out so early in the third decade of this millennium. I take heart that it ain't just one minority group that calls foul when the overlords are up to shenanigans. I guess after The Help, folks have been keeping there eyes a little more open. I'm glad this wasn't made into a movie first like The Green Book.

At least I now know more of the works of Luis Alberto Urrea and Sonia Nazario whose works were plagiarized to make American Dirt


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