Thursday, May 30, 2013

Some of My Best Friends Are Black

Nonfiction by Tanner Colby.

Some of My Best Friends Are Black: The Strange Story of Integration in America

The title is intended to be ironic, because this book is all about how the author has NO black friends, best or otherwise. He's pointing out how forced integration has been less than successful, despite its apparent success (again, it's IRONIC), especially in the South.

As a girl from the suburbs of Birmingham myself, (I went to high school near the lily-white Alabama town the author did at around the same time) I was interested in the idea of this book.  Although I'd heard of "bussing" black kids into the white schools during the sixties, I didn't think it was still happening in the eighties. At my school there were a few black kids, and as far as I knew they lived in the school district, same as the white kids (and the Asian kids, whom no one counts as non-white by the way).

But I knew, and everyone else knew as well, that we kept the lines carefully drawn between black and white, socially speaking. Black kids hang out with other black kids; white kids hang out with other white kids. We each had our own churches. At college, we had black sororities and white sororities, none of which was actually designated that way by name, of course. You just KNEW what was what.

No one I know back home considers themselves a "racist." Blacks and whites agree (at least in public) that we're all equal. We just also agree that "they" wouldn't be "comfortable" in here with "us," whatever "here" happens to mean for our particular race. So we stay on our respective sides. Usually politely. And we don't mention it either.

Back to the book: The author is pointing out these unspoken boundries between the races that keep us from true integration. (And everyone in Alabama is wondering why he's mentioning the unmentionable.) This may be true. So like I said, I was interested in the idea of this book.

Unfortuntely I didn't find the book itself quite as interesting. In fact, I kind of wandered off and didn't finish reading it. This may be simply because I've been reading too much nonfiction recently, and it's really NOT my genre. I don't deal well with reality, I guess. Still, the bottom line is: I got bored.

So I'll have to give this book a mixed set of thumbs.


P.S. To finish my little monologue on race relations, it is only distance from my own hometown that helps me to see things the way the author does. (He also is distant, writing from New York City. Feel free to say that in a total hick accent like the old Pace Picante commercial, "Noo Yarrrk Sitty!") I've lived in several different places during my "career" as a military wife, and it does give some perspective.

One thing that the military has done exceptionally well is integration. The Army is accepting of all races, and everyone truly works and socializes side by side, mostly regardless of race. This is partially because of the rootlessness of the armed forces, enforced by the transinet nature of military assignments, which forces people to abandon extended family structure and band together with their fellow soldiers. The main reason, however, is that the military has its own rather rigid class system, which can easily replace a race-based class system. So the uniformed serviceman can say, "I don't mind associating with white/black people, as long as they are officers/enlistedmen like me." It works.

P.P.S. Young Southerners, If you are embarking upon a mixed-race marriage, I advise joining the military. Seriously.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Confessions of a Slacker Wife

Nonficton by Muffy Mead Ferro.

Confessions of a Slacker Wife

Good book. Funny but with a bit of a message. Also an "easy read." :)


Friday, May 24, 2013

Death Comes as the End

Fiction by Agatha Christie.

Death Comes as the End

This is slightly different for Agatha Christie, since the story is set in 2000 B.C. Also there is a murder (or two), but it takes a long time to get there.

Still a good book.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Lost Years

Fiction by Mary Higgins Clark.

The Lost Years

A good mystery with an ancient religious documet at its center.


Monday, May 20, 2013

Just a Minute

Nonfiction by Wess Stafford.

Just a Minute: In the Heart of a Child, One Moment...Can Last Forever

A good book to read in short snippets. Like in the bathroom. (Was that TMI? Sorry.)

No seriously, this is a collection of true stories about how a moment of interaction in child's life can make a huge difference for good or bad. Thought-provoking.


Friday, May 17, 2013

The Marriage Plot

Fiction by Jeffrey Eugenides.

The Marriage Plot

This book was full of well-written characters, but the people were so very unpleasant! (Perhaps that's how one wins a Pulitzer, by writing about those whom no one likes.)

Unfortunately, I ended up not caring what happened to them at the end...


Thursday, May 16, 2013

The 13: Fall

Fiction by Robbie Cheuvront and Erik Reed.

The 13: Fall

A good thriller. But it's a two-parter, so I have to wait for the conclusion. Sigh...


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Daddy Love

Fiction by Joyce Carol Oates.

Daddy Love

From the beginning I was mesmerized by this book, but in kind of an awful way. It begins with a five-year-old boy named Robbie being abducted from a mall, snatched literally from his mother's hand. It's heartbreaking.

It may not have been a good idea for a mother of a five-year-old boy (such as myself) to read this one, because I found the storyline quite terrifying. Still, I couldn't put it down.

This is a short novel by Joyce Carol Oates' standards, only 240 pages, but it's just as wonderfully horrible as other stories of hers I've read. (We were the Mulvaneys and The Falls were about 500 pages each and packed an emotional punch.)

While they could never be called uplifting or feel-good writing, Ms. Oates' novels are both fascinating and terrible... and essentially good books.


Saturday, May 4, 2013

For Women Only

Nonfiction by Shaunti Feldhahn.

For Women Only, Revised and Updated Edition: What You Need to Know About the Inner Lives of Men

This is a book about what married women should know about their husbands.

The following conversation with MY husband resulted:

Me: I'm reading this to understand you better.
Him: Ah! ...and this book was written by a...?
Me: Um. A woman...
Him: I see.
Me: She did a LOT of research.
Him: Hmmm...
Me: There's one for men too.
Him: Really?
Me; Yes, so that they can understand their wives.
Him: Guess who WON'T be reading that?


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Beautiful Disaster

Fiction by Jamie McGuire.

Beautiful Disaster: A Novel

Okay this was not as bad as Fifty Shades of Grey but it had similarities. It was definitely about an unhealthy relationship.

I'll admit to not finishing it.


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Sybil Exposed

Nonfiction by Debbie Nathan.

Sybil Exposed: The Extraordinary Story Behind the Famous Multiple Personality Case

This book tells the true story of the woman with the zillion personalities in the 70's bestseller.

Surprise! She made it all up.