The Twelve-Mile Straight, A Novel

Posted in Books, Media Archive, Novels, United States on 2021-09-21 14:33Z by Steven

The Twelve-Mile Straight, A Novel

Ecco (an imprint of HarperCollins)
2017-09-12
560 pages
6x9in
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0062422088
Paperback ISBN: 978-0008158705
Ebook ISBN: 9780062422101
Digital Audio, MP3 ISBN: 9780062694874

Eleanor Henderson

From New York Times bestselling author Eleanor Henderson, an audacious American epic set in rural Georgia during the years of the Depression and Prohibition.

Cotton County, Georgia, 1930: in a house full of secrets, two babies-one light-skinned, the other dark-are born to Elma Jesup, a white sharecropper’s daughter. Accused of her rape, field hand Genus Jackson is lynched and dragged behind a truck down the Twelve-Mile Straight, the road to the nearby town. In the aftermath, the farm’s inhabitants are forced to contend with their complicity in a series of events that left a man dead and a family irrevocably fractured.

Despite the prying eyes and curious whispers of the townspeople, Elma begins to raise her babies as best as she can, under the roof of her mercurial father, Juke, and with the help of Nan, the young black housekeeper who is as close to Elma as a sister. But soon it becomes clear that the ties that bind all of them together are more intricate than any could have ever imagined. As startling revelations mount, a web of lies begins to collapse around the family, destabilizing their precarious world and forcing all to reckon with the painful truth.

Acclaimed author Eleanor Henderson has returned with a novel that combines the intimacy of a family drama with the staggering presence of a great Southern saga. Tackling themes of racialized violence, social division, and financial crisis, The Twelve-Mile Straight is a startlingly timely, emotionally resonant, and magnificent tour de force.

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Why Did Two People So Poorly Matched Stay Together So Long?

Posted in Articles, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2021-09-21 14:12Z by Steven

Why Did Two People So Poorly Matched Stay Together So Long?

The New York Times
2021-09-06

Eleanor Henderson


Christopher Sorrentino’s parents, Gilbert and Vicki, circa 1972. Sorrentino examines their confounding marriage in his memoir, “Now Beacon, Now Sea.” via Christopher Sorrentino

Christopher Sorrentino, Now Beacon, Now Sea: A Son’s Memoir (Catapult, 2021)

As I was reading Christopher Sorrentino’sNow Beacon, Now Sea,” I heard Rodrigo Garcia, son of Gabriel García Márquez, on the radio, talking about his new memoir, “A Farewell to Gabo and Mercedes.” Garcia’s book is a loving chronicle of the last days of his larger-than-life father and loyal mother. Sorrentino’s book, too, is about his novelist father and his parents’ deaths. Both have the subtitle “A Son’s Memoir.” But “Now Beacon, Now Sea” is no tender tribute. Listening to Garcia speak, I realized that Sorrentino was working in a decidedly different genre: His “son’s memoir” is more autopsy than eulogy.

Sorrentino’s father, Gilbert, was an avant-gardist more prolific than famous, who died in an under-resourced hospital in Brooklyn as his son was en route; his wife, Vicki, who is the real subject of this book and a truly fascinating one, died under even grimmer circumstances. Her decaying body, discovered by her son in her Bay Ridge apartment, is the striking opening image of the book. An autopsy was never ordered…

Read the entire review here.

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When the war started, she took a job in an Air Force office, where she was surprised to realize she was passing for white. She set the record straight, and asked if she would still get her promotion. The answer was no. “I walked out on the U.S. government and told them to shove it,” she later wrote in her 2018 memoir “Sign My Name to Freedom.”

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2021-09-21 03:42Z by Steven

For many who came west, the war years brought increased opportunity, and rising expectations, which would help fuel the civil rights and women’s movements. For Ms. [Betty Reid] Soskin, who had grown up in racially mixed neighborhoods and schools, it also brought her first experiences with overt, formal segregation.

When the war started, she took a job in an Air Force office, where she was surprised to realize she was passing for white. She set the record straight, and asked if she would still get her promotion. The answer was no. “I walked out on the U.S. government and told them to shove it,” she later wrote in her 2018 memoir “Sign My Name to Freedom.”

That same week, her husband Mel, a star college athlete who’d enlisted in the Navy only to be relegated to working as a cook, left the service. “He was going to fight for his country,” she said. “But he found out he could only cook for his country.”

Jennifer Schuessler, “‘America’s Oldest Park Ranger’ Is Only Her Latest Chapter,” The New York Times, September 20, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/20/us/betty-reid-soskin-100.html.

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Now Beacon, Now Sea: A Son’s Memoir

Posted in Biography, Books, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, Monographs, Passing on 2021-09-21 03:34Z by Steven

Now Beacon, Now Sea: A Son’s Memoir

Catapult
2021-09-07
304 pages
6.33 x 1.07 x 9.27 inches
Hardcover ISBN: 9781646220427

Christopher Sorrentino

A wrenching debut memoir of familial grief by a National Book Award finalist—and a defining account of what it means to love and lose a difficult parent, for readers of Joan Didion and Dani Shapiro.

When Christopher Sorrentino’s mother died in 2017, it marked the end of a journey that had begun eighty years earlier in the South Bronx. Victoria’s life took her to the heart of New York’s vibrant mid-century downtown artistic scene, to the sedate campus of Stanford, and finally back to Brooklyn—a journey witnessed by a son who watched, helpless, as she grew more and more isolated, distancing herself from everyone and everything she’d ever loved.

In examining the mystery of his mother’s life, from her dysfunctional marriage to his heedless father, the writer Gilbert Sorrentino, to her ultimate withdrawal from the world, Christopher excavates his own memories and family folklore in an effort to discover her dreams, understand her disappointments, and peel back the ways in which she seemed forever trapped between two identities: the Puerto Rican girl identified on her birth certificate as Black, and the white woman she had seemingly decided to become. Meanwhile Christopher experiences his own transformation, emerging from under his father’s shadow and his mother’s thumb to establish his identity as a writer and individual—one who would soon make his own missteps and mistakes.

Unfolding against the captivating backdrop of a vanished New York, a city of cheap bohemian enclaves and a thriving avant-garde—a dangerous, decaying, but liberated and potentially liberating place—Now Beacon, Now Sea is a matchless portrait of the beautiful, painful messiness of life, and the transformative power of even conflicted grief.

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I wish I could ask my grandfather what drove his family to stake such a full claim to their Blackness. Why did they choose to celebrate it when they could have easily hid it?

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2021-09-21 02:09Z by Steven

I wish I could ask my grandfather what drove his family to stake such a full claim to their Blackness. Why did they choose to celebrate it when they could have easily hid it? Not only did they choose to live in a Black world, my family rejected the idea that their proximity to whiteness made them better than their darker brothers and sisters. Even when they could take advantage of the privilege afforded to them by the Black community — joining elite Black organizations because their skin was indeed lighter than a paper bag — they didn’t. This kind of self-determination set the foundation for radical self-determination seen during the Civil Rights and Black power movements, decades before it was fashionable or even accepted.

Elizabeth Wellington, “Choosing Blackness,” The The Philadelphia Inquirer, September 15, 2021. https://www.inquirer.com/life/inq2/black-identity-america-wildest-dreams-20210915.html.

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Feeling proud and confident in one’s racial-ethnic identity can potentially protect Multiracial individuals from discrimination and the negative mental health consequences associated with rejection or attacks on their identity.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2021-09-21 02:05Z by Steven

Feeling proud and confident in one’s racial-ethnic identity can potentially protect Multiracial individuals from discrimination and the negative mental health consequences associated with rejection or attacks on their identity.

Annabelle Atkin, “Multiracial identities and resilience to racism: The role of families,” Medical News Today, September 14, 2021. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/multiracial-identities-and-resilience-to-racism-the-role-of-families.

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We have grown tired of the pressure to claim one side of our heritage over another.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2021-09-21 02:03Z by Steven

We have grown tired of the pressure to claim one side of our heritage over another. The antiquated social and legal principle that one drop of blood determines if we’re Black or that complexion, hair texture or facial features decides whether someone of mixed ancestry is more White, Asian or Latino has been harmful.

Steve Majors, “A birth certificate masked my multiracial truth. For me and 33 million others, the 2020 Census asserts it.The Washington Post, August 31, 2021. https://www.washingtonpost.com/s/nation/2021/08/31/its-about-time-2020-census-caught-up-with-my-multiracial-life/.

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‘America’s Oldest Park Ranger’ Is Only Her Latest Chapter

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2021-09-21 00:50Z by Steven

‘America’s Oldest Park Ranger’ Is Only Her Latest Chapter

The New York Times
2021-09-20

Jennifer Schuessler


Chanell Stone for The New York Times

Betty Reid Soskin has fought to ensure that American history includes the stories that get overlooked. As she turns 100, few stories have been more remarkable than hers.

The Rosie the Riveter / World War II Home Front National Historical Park, which sprawls across the former shipyards in Richmond, Calif., on the northeast edge of San Francisco Bay, tells the enormous story of the largest wartime mobilization in American history and the sweeping social changes it sparked.

Visitors can climb aboard an enormous Victory ship, one of more than 700 vessels produced in Richmond — and, in the gift shop, pick up swag emblazoned with the iconic image of the red-kerchiefed Rosie herself, arm flexed up with “We Can Do It!” bravado.

But for many, the park is synonymous with another woman: Betty.

Betty Reid Soskin, who turns 100 on Sept. 22, is the oldest active ranger in the National Park Service. Over the past decade and a half, she has become both an icon of the service and an unlikely celebrity, drawing overflow crowds to talks and a steady stream of media interviewers eager for the eloquent words of an indomitable 5 feet 3 inch great-grandmother once described by a colleague as “sort of like Bette Davis, Angela Davis and Yoda all rolled into one.”…

Read the entire article here.

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A Love Letter to Indigenous Blackness

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States, Women on 2021-09-21 00:36Z by Steven

A Love Letter to Indigenous Blackness

NACLA: Report on the Americas
Volume 53, Issue 3, November 2021 (Published online 2021-09-13)
pages 248-254

Paul Joseph López Oro, Assistant Professor of Africana Studies
Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts


A Garifuna ritual gathering to honor the ancestors at Orchard Beach in the Bronx, New York, June 2017. (Paul Joseph López Oro)

Garifuna women in New York City working to preserve life, culture, and history across borders and generations are part of a powerful lineage of resistance to anti-Blackness.

Mirtha Colón. Janel Martinez. Aida Lambert. Tania Molina. Carla Garcia. Tola Guerrero. Karen Blanco. Miriam Miranda. Ofelia Bernandez. Olga Nuñez. Luz Solis. Siria Alvarez. Isha Sumner. Sulma Arzu-Brown. Dilma Suazo-Gordon. Isidra Sabio. These are just some names of Garifuna women whose hemispheric political labor highlights a transgenerational and transnational tradition of preserving Garifuna life. Garifuna women are the very foundation of conjuring, mobilizing, and safeguarding Garifuna ancestral memory, rituals, language, and oral histories—all embodied histories of knowledge production—across generations and national boundaries. Some of these Garifuna women live in New York City, and some of them live in Central America’s Caribbean coasts. Some have never been to Central America, but their family’s nostalgia remains with them.

Garifuna life is matrifocal. Garifuna women are not simply the head of the household, but they are also at the center of organizing and governing every family structure, which extends beyond biological kinship. This is not a uniquely Garifuna experience. Throughout the African diaspora in the Americas, Black women are often the head of the household. Especially if we consider non-heteronormative notions of family and kinship, Black women have been at the forefront of preserving and protecting Black life over centuries, as anthropologists Christen A. Smith and Keisha-Khan Y. Perry have documented. However, a matrifocal or matrilineal society does not dismantle misogynoir, patriarchy, racial capitalism, and anti-Blackness. I write this matrilineal love letter to honor, celebrate, and center Garifuna women’s political, intellectual, spiritual, cultural, and knowledge producing labor that often goes unseen, uncited, or undervalued in a world that remains heteropatriarchal and anti-Black…

Read the entire article here.

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The Ruin of Everything

Posted in Books, Forthcoming Media, Novels, United States on 2021-09-21 00:03Z by Steven

The Ruin of Everything

Paloma Press
2021-10-19
126 pages
5.98 X 9.02 X 0.3 inches
0.43 pounds
Paperback ISBN: 978-1734496550

Lara Stapleton

The Ruin of Everything tells tales of abandoned children living in adult bodies. Bastards, bi-racial half-siblings, and orphans raised by aunts, they lose their last best love through brokenness like “the impossible loop in a stress dream.” Racial ambiguity abounds and confounds US color lines. Tones stretch from lugubrious sorrow to wicked dramedy. Obstinately fluid in architecture and identity, stories range from slick Hollywood glam to essayistic musings, from traditional immigrant realism, to rehearsals of autofiction that grow more metatextual as the book goes along. Just as we think we’ve learned how to read Stapleton’s stories, they shapeshift. And yet, the pieces reflect each other, a sad-clown funhouse hall of mirrors. Through wanton experiments with character, The Ruin of Everything asks us what is important to a tale and what it means to be American in country and continents. Lovers of Clarice Lispector and Luisa Valenzuela will find much to admire here.

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