I had no intention of keeping you all in suspense. This week I've just been swamped at work. So I will be following up on all four topics. But my Lauryn Hill post will have to wait because it's going to take a minute....
So...facebook. Even though I felt really ancient doing it, I started a MySpace page... I think that was last year. Yawn. It's ok. But then one of my much younger friends sent me an invitation to join facebook a few months ago. I love it! It could just be the novelty of it all, but I like the environment at facebook much better. It's like they've taken the best elements of all the other social networking sites and combined them into something that really works like a community.
1) Invitations-- I really like that you have to have a real connection to another person to add them to your network. LinkedIn, the professional networking site works this way also. I got invited to join LinkedIn when it was still in beta... also Doostang--but I don't even know if they're still around. Friendster is just boring...but it's very easy on that site and especially on MySpace to get flooded with 'fake' friends. MySpace is really like a free-for-all. There's porn and blatant shilling...you've got to wade through a lot of muck to enjoy it.
2) Groups-- The ones I relied upon most are my (many!) alma maters, but you can also extend tour network by geography. I managed to find someone I went to elementary school with (!) and someone from my high school graduating class found me. Cool. I also joined a whole lot of the interest groups.
3) Applications-- OK. I am a dork. Somebody 'bit' me and made me a zombie...after that I was hooked. I became a vampire and a werewolf. If you're not on facebook, you're probably wondering what I'm talking about...there are all these silly applications like the Vampires and 'buying' rounds of drinks or gifts for your friends that are just fun ways to pass the time... The best application so far is Virtual Bookshelf. You can add titles you want to read, have already read and are currently reading. Plus you can share your bookshelf with others. There are similar applications for movies and music. Very cool. It's really interesting to see what is popular right now....
Which is a good segue to the next topic...A book a day. At the beginning of the summer, I found myself with a lot of time on my hands and decided I wanted to get back to reading. I've been burned out on reading for a long time--I associated it with graduate school All the joy was sucked out of it...but I won't go there. Anyhow, since I am doing all this rediscovering, I decided reading should be right up there.
Having started the new job, I decided what I really needed was to escape. I've read enough Literature to last me awhile so I thought it would be fun to read some contemporary authors I missed out on because I didn't have the time and they didn't fit canonical standard. And I just wanted to read some trashy books...and many were, but with some I've been pleasantly surprised. I still have the residue of my academic past so I quickly decided that I would read as many titles any particular author had written.
I started with Zane. I told you I wanted trashy (lol). Wow. That stuff was...what's the word...graphic. I am very intrigued that after so many generations of trying to combat stereotypes of black hypersexuality Zane has embraced a very defiant sexual tone. While she calls her work erotic, I can't really agree. I've read some authors who fall more comfortably in the category of erotic. I found Zane to be really just interested in depicting sex in the most graphic terms possible. Her story structure suffered as a result. I read 5 of her books, all full of steamy sexual encounters. But her plots always reached a point of incredulity. Her endings were often just ridiculous. But I'm glad I finally found out what the fuss was about.
Staying on that theme, the next writer on my list was E. Lynn Harris. His books started on the market when I was in grad school, so I missed them. I just didn't have time to read 'popular' books. I was really impressed with his writing and though a bit gimmicky, I liked the continuity of characters across books. Gay and lesbian writing was one of my 'sub-fields' in African American literature. I was very touched by the realization that while gay and lesbian writers of previous generations-- especially during the Harlem Renaissance--were compelled to cloak their thematic interests and personal orientations...and that even open writers like Baldwin were often marginalized for their honesty, E. Lynn Harris has been able to attract a wide popular audiences and write some pretty good novels about gay characters. On the down side, I find a lot of the conversations that followed his works pretty tired. I'm sorry y'all..I think the whole Down Low thing is just ridiculous, black men and women have been gay and lesbian since forever-- I can't process homophobia. This is not some new ''plague" in our midst...But that's fodder for another post. Let me get off that soapbox.
After that, I've just been bouncing around. I read three books by Benilde Little, very good. And I forget her name...but I started on the second book of the Nappily Ever After series...I'm currently going through Bebe Moore Campbell's books. I loved 72 Hour Hold and also read What You Owe Me and Singing in the Comeback Choir. All really good writers...Not stellar, but very enjoyable was the work of Kayla Perrin. I had never heard of her , but she's quite prolific.
I decided to ratchet things up a bit. So now I'm reading Shay Youngblood's Black Girl in Paris...I met Shay while I was in grad school...she's definitely an Important Black Writer. I've had New England White by Stephen L. Carter for months. It's so damn big! I just start a new book rather than cracking it open. But I will get to it because I really enjoyed The Emperor of Ocean Park.
The best thing about all this. I finally got a library card. I realized right away that I could not afford to buy all the books I was tearing through. So now I'm working two branches for titles.
OK...I need to get to bed....I'll blog about the other topics soon!