Wednesday, October 17, 2007

What Happened to the Great African American Author?

So, I am part of a reading and writing discussion group moderated by the owner or www.apooo.org, and sometimes these topics come up that I think are really good. So, I post them.

Here is a link to this article What Happened to the Great African American Author? I obviously do not agree with everything this chick had to say. I may be wrong but that is my opinion. You should read the article before looking at my comments below.

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"Are we so used to salacious gossip that it has become literature? "
-- Uh, yea! Duh. Not only Black folk but everyone everywhere. I'm not saying it is right but it is what it is.

"There are few great examples of African American literary authors on bookstore shelves. "
--I disagree. There is a variety. It may not be the type of variety some would like but a variety none the less. There are still good books by AA of the shelves. They may not be literary but they are not all street lit either. Unfortunately, street lit gets more attention like rap does in the music business. Please, we know why.

"Terry McMillan’s ex-husband Jonathan Plummer has made his debut as an author. His book, Balancing Act, is a thinly veiled fiction version of his very public divorce from McMillan."
--I will be honest. I am so over this. The man had a connection. He wrote a book based on his life (or hers LOL). Umm, no one was saying anything when Terry wrote "How Stella Got Her Groove Back" all about how they hooked up. She needs to get over it and move on with some grace and dignity still intact.

"These books basically tell young black girls how to become hip-hop groupies. It is sending the message that fame and sex are interrelated. Real talent is only a minor detail."
--I agree with this. We need to balance this out and that is hard right now with all the negativity that's bombarding the kids these days. Ummm, wait ... there is one way ... hmm, it's called parenting and education. That is a whole other issue, I know.

"The publishing industry is sending a message to African American readers. Black Americans do read, but only at a superficial level. Substance and great writing talent does not sell; well at least in our communities."
--I will admit that I might read one or two literary novels a year. Literary anything is a hard sell just like drama is in the movies. I have to give it up to TP (that's what I call Tyler Perry now LOL) for bringing a black drama to the big screen that actually had an impact on the box office even though it was camouflaged as a comedy.

However, the publishing industry is not sending this message. We are. They are about the business. They go with the trend and milk it until it runs bone dry. We are the ones buying and buying these. We are the ones that said we will buy these books. The publishing industry did not bring street lit to us; we brought it to them. No matter how much we cry about it, street lit is not going anywhere.

The questions is how do we create a demand for the quality books that we want to see within this new environment.
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