…just not in the way you think.
I want a monument. I want a memorial on the National Mall. It will be names, like the Vietnam War Memorial, but it will be vertical. It’s base, deep set in the earth, will be 5+ million mostly unknown names of those lost at sea. And then upward it will grow, name after name, Alton, Sandra, Tamir, up and up, Michael, Trayvon, Philandro. Bones and names, blood and names, skin and names. No one should ask for permission to build this monument, just as no enslaved person acquiesced to their shackles, no murdered person begged for the fatal bullet, no loved child said yes, take my daddy from me. Even now, before it has been built, we live in its shadow. We call the shadow America. And maybe we even love it, but love is not enough. Tears are not enough. Rage and screaming and letters to legislators are not enough. Nothing will ever be enough until there are no more names to add, until parents grow old and children grow up. Until parents grow old. And children grow up.
Okay, this is a thing that drives me literally bananas, in the modern sense of literally that actually means figuratively, because GAAAAH.
Not a Self Help Book by Yi Shun Lai, here listed as one of Book Riot’s summer picks from small presses, is totally working the Bridget Jones’s Diary vibe. It is fun and fresh and it is fiction that would make for a fun movie starring hot Asian and Asian American actors who we don’t get to see on the screen enough (or ever) because GAAAH.
Read its description in the library catalog:
Asian & Asian American Studies. Marty Wu, compulsive reader of advice manuals, would love to come across as a poised young advertising professional. Instead she trips over her own feet and blurts out inappropriate comments…
NSHB is also listed with the academic-sounding first line in the Amazon record. What are the librarians or whoever thinking???? “Asian & Asian American Studies”? I did some checking and found that most libraries that purchased it are academic libraries. Only a couple public libraries. Not a Self-Help Book is so totally NOT an academic book.
Granted not every library can buy every book, but I have to wonder if that initial line with the word “studies” in it made potential PL collection selectors think, hey this sounds academic. In fact, the New York Public Library has a copy, which is available for use in library, in the General Research room. Um, huh?
This is a book to read on the beach, or on their phone during their commute, or curled up with a glass of wine, or somewhere that is 100% not an academic library. Bridget Jones’s Diary doesn’t have a description that starts “English and England Studies.”
These things matter. Readers looking for their next read scan the first line of a book’s description; running into academic language on that first line will have them drop it before they even get to the actual description of Marty Wu and her zany life. (Library patrons, many libraries will let you suggest a purchase.) Public libraries will skip this book precisely because it sounds like “an academic specialty niche book with narrow appeal.” Which–did I already say this?–NONONONOPE.
Anyway. Maybe I am alone on this. Maybe I’m wrong. But I am super-annoyed that a book with extremely wide potential appeal is described as if it’s an ethnographic study.
One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia.
Recommend this to readers who love historical immersion or want realistic fiction focusing on African American protagonists. It takes place in the sixties. Three sisters are sent across country by themselves for a visit with their wayward mother. She’s not exactly thrilled to see them. Readers who like stories that feature complex family structures and imperfect parents will also like this book.
Diverse content: This story is an immersion in Black culture at a pivotal time in history. The mother in the story is an artist struggling against a patriarchal world, and we get to see the ramifications of that struggle in the lives of everyone in the story.
Study this for the immersive experience that a detailed and very specific setting provides. I read it when the weather was cold and rainy in Portland, but it takes place in summer LA and I swear I could feel the sweat from the heat. The sensory details, the emotional nuance…you are so physically there in the story world that it feels like time travel.
Critique of Me Before You.
From the article:
“One of the things you don’t tell people who are outraged is they don’t understand,” said Mark Johnson, chair of the Americans With Disabilities Act Legacy Project, who has had a spinal cord injury similar to Will’s for 45 years.
Nisi Shawl is a great writer, thinker and awesome person. Here is a piece by her hosted on Stories of the Imagination Fantastic:
A brief report about a presentation on inclusive language from Shannon Grey:
Are you feeling bummed by Rowling’s poor effort in Magic in America or whatever it’s called? Truth be told I haven’t read it, and based on reviews I probably won’t. But I can recommend The Cultural Appropriation Handbook, a post on Medium by K. Tempest Bradford.