Monday, June 17, 2019

Back to Reading with Heads of the Colored People

The one thing I was looking forward to after seminary was being able to "read for pleasure" and not "read for a paper."

In my hiatus from the literary criticisms, we watched an amazing thing over the past three years.

When I started this book blog and my reviews (initially on a RR Donnelly site, then HuffPo and now, here), there were not a lot of books to choose from beyond the known writers. I wanted stories that were relevant, but not stereotypical "urban" genre written by phantom people.  I wanted a story I could relate to and that encompassed the fullest expression of being a Black woman in the world.

The TBR pile in my office is so high right now.  We kept reading over the summers with The Hurston and Hughes Literary Circle, complete with their follow-up reviews on a different site. The teens kept my nose-to-the-page with their selections of YA novels. But my own reading, that is something I am reaching back to for the sheer pleasure of a sister-with-a-pen.

Nafissa Thompson-Spires debut short collection, Heads of the Colored People, is one of the first books I picked up after graduation. I've never reviewed short stories and always put them aside for the deeper love I held for novels. I'm not sure if it was the appealing cover or that I was traveling from Boston-to-St. Louis, but I picked it up at an airport bookstore and settled in for a nice, comfortable, familiarity of reading a Black middle-class experience.

I was not disappointed.

This short little book can easily fill one of those lazy weekend days when one just wants to chill by the pool or sip a latte on the balcony. The vignette, "Belle Lettres" had me saying, "oh no she didn't write that!" and "the nerve!" and "this is some juicy mess from some boogie folks." It was, as my teen  daughters say, all sorts of tea spilling in this little tete-a-tete between these two Buppie (my mid-1980s coming out) moms in an almost-all-white existence.

I laughed. I connected. I commiserated. It was everything you would want in a book.

Thompson-Spires delved into the world of upper-middle-class Black folks in micro-minority status and gave us a glimpse of the humanity that is frail in all of us. It is a must-read.

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