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May 16, 2007

Reading Update

Just finished Middle Passage by Charles Johnson, which I picked up in a used bookstore.

It was entertaining, but I'll forget it immediately.

I have to say, I hate the genre of funny-funny-until-it-get-serious-and-meaningful historical fiction. God, I hope that's not what I'm writing with Chinaman. The anachronisms of pov were driving me crazy. They were neither enlightening, nor amusing.

Sigh. I just hate it when I finish a book and feel like I've wasted my time. The book was published in 1990, so it was still dealing with the first big skirmish of identity politics (remind me ... did we win or lose?) As such, the 1830's-era freedman protagonist is busier being Johnson's Mary Sue in a blatantly polarized identity world than he is doing the much more interesting job of negotiating freedom in a slave society.

Every interesting opportunity was missed. I realize that that's not what the author chose to focus on, but my God, choosing to base an identity politics ("tragi")comedy on a slaver is about as misguided as the warm-family-tragicomedy-in-Nazi-death-camp peesashit "Life is Beautiful" was.

Plus, the love interest woman who's fat at the beginning? She slims down in the background from agonizing over whether or not to marry the black slave trader who's wooing her, so that she can appear beautiful in the finale with the protag. I realize it's all in "good" fun, but, UGH!

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Comments

Just curious. Have you read Cormac McCarthy's The Road? I'd love to know your opinion on it.

Also, I've been swamped and just did a mad skim of your last few months' worth of posts. I really liked the comments debate in the white blogger post. Personally, I'd be terrified of even writing the word "white" anywhere in my tags for fear of attracting creepy white people. Unfortunately, white people who actively embrace their whiteness tend to suck. Hard. But you're right that it shouldn't excuse our tendency to gloss over the specificity of our whiteness. I realize I probably should have posted this in the appropriate blog post. Very tired.

haven't read it yet, but i'm planning to. you?

Wow. I'll mark this one under 'Books to skip' But thanks for taking the hit for us on this one. :/ One can only wonder WTF the author was thinking...

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