Thursday, April 28, 2005

Booknote: _What's Going On_ (1997)

This is Nathan McCall's second book, also author of Makes Me Wanna Holler (1994). I have not read the first book, which is his autobiography, but it is one of the books I have on my perennial to read list. This book came in as part of a recent new books batch, so I grabbed it off the cart of new books we put at the Information Desk. I noted before in my first post that in our library the librarians get to review new books before we put them out for the public in the new books shelf display. We place the cart at the Information Desk, and I think the Circulation people give us about a week or two for review before shelving. Of course, if a patron comes by and sees something they like, they are welcome to take it as well since the books are ready to be checked out, thanks to the efforts of our great Technical Services people. At any rate, I picked up the book to look over, and it seemed interesting, so I began to read the introduction, and his direct and simple style just drew me right in, so in spite of having three books I am reading through, I put this one ahead of the list. I started it on Tuesday the 26th, and I finished it during lunch today.

Reading on the way home day before yesterday, I have to say the book is very engaging. McCall writes with a plain style that shows common sense, and at times, reading it, you can't help but be angry with him at some of the observations he makes about race relations in this country. From the Black kids who invade a White kids' pick up basketball game only to lose in a major way to the "Negro problem" in Old Town, Alexandria, Virginia (and other Old Towns across the United States). The book is a collection of essays that reflect the author's "perceptions about some of the issues that divide people and keep us racially polarized" (from the introduction). McCall looks at everything: White and Black relations, Black on Black violence, rap music, stereotypes, and so on, and he basically tells it like it is. The book has its moments of humor, but it also has its moving moments as well as moments of reflection. I highly recommend this book. Similar books may include the works of Jonathan Kozol, though his books are bit more formal.

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