No One Is Coming to Save Us by Stephanie Powell Watts: A Review

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This spring I had the great pleasure of attending a reading and book signing by Stephanie Powell Watts for her newly release novel No One Is Coming to Save Us. I have been remiss in putting this review up, so I will remedy that situation now.

First I want to say that this book is one of the most important American novels of the last 200 years. As a professor of English Literature, I do not say that lightly. This is a book that will, I hope, be read and reread and taught in college classes for many years to come.

It would be easy to say that her novel is a treatment of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, but it is not. Watts treats similar themes as Fitzgerald does, but she focuses not on the lives of the idle wealthy but on those of poor and working class African-Americans. These are ideas that inform most of humanity, and Watts is brilliant in her take on them. Her writing is lyrical, witty, compelling, and deeply moving.

Watts shows people who want a home and have hopes of family and relationships. She shows the depths of human desires and feelings. This book belongs on the syllabus of those teaching American literature, and it should be read by anyone interested in a deep and moving examination of the souls of human beings.

If we are looking at books in a five star system, then I give this not just five stars but five shining stars.

Please read this novel!

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R.I.P. Frank Delaney

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The literary world lost an important figure in late February. Frank Delaney, (October 29, 1942-February 21, 2017) the novelist and historian from Ireland, died at the age of 74. Delaney, who loved history and the writings of James Joyce, had a website, Frank Delaney’s site, in which he spoke of both literature and had podcasts, viewed by millions, about Joyce’s novel Ulysses.

Delaney, was also an accomplished novelist with a long list of books to his credit; among them are Ireland, A Novel, Shannon, Tipperary, and The Matchmaker of Kenmare. Delaney’s passing has impact on me because I have used his novel Ireland, A Novel in my Irish  Literature class at the Wescoe School of Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA. The students, all of whom are adults, usually enjoy this brilliant work that incorporates both the history of Ireland with a well woven family saga. It is deeply informative and moving; Delaney speaks to the larger historical issues and events that make up Irish history as well as showing the deep connections of family and story-telling within the texts. If anyone has interest in Ireland, I recommend this book with my highest regards.

To Frank Delaney, I hope wherever you are that you have an audience to hear your wonderful tales! And may you Rest In Peace.

 

Happy New Year!

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I want to wish everyone a happy, safe, joyous, and successful New Year! I wish peace, safety, and comfort to those who need it in the world. I wish courage to those who will face difficult challenges in their lives.I wish love and friendship to all.

I wish writers the discipline to keep writing and remember, do not worry about the quality of the first draft, just get it down! Happy Writing!

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Quotations on Censorship

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“Censorship is to art as lynching is to justice.”

                                                                   Henry Louis Gates Jr.

 

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“Don’t join the book burners. Don’t think you’re going to conceal faults by concealing evidence that they ever existed. Don’t be afraid to go in your library and read every book…”
Dwight D. Eisenhower

 

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“Having the freedom to read and the freedom to choose is one of the best gifts my parents ever gave me.”

                                                                    Judy Blume

Favorite Christmas Movies: Part 2

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White Christmas, the 1954 film about two former soldier who turn song and dance men and who help their former commander as he attempts to run a floundering ski resort, has special meaning to me. It stars Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, and Rosemary Clooney and was directed by Michael Curtiz. It features the songs of Irving Berlin.  As a major piece of American film history, that would be enough to be of interest to me, but it has a much more profound connection.

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My parents were both of “the greatest generation,” which is a description with which I agree. They were born and raised during the depression and were part of the multitudes of America who fought and supported World War II. My father was a Marine, and my mother worked in the Signal Corps.  This group of Americans had a toughness that was forged in the fire of great tumult, both national and international.

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 My mother loved this movie, and it was a tradition in our family to watch it when it aired on television, which was, if I remember correctly, every Christmas Eve. If not that night, then it was always on a nearby night. Of course, as a child who was born a while after World War II, it was all ancient history to me then, but for my mother and father, it spoke directly to their lives and to their hopes and dreams.

Both of my parents have been gone for quite a while now, about 20 years–they were married for 48 years and died within 2 years of each other. As I have become older, I have learned to appreciate what my parents did for us, which, I have to admit, when I was young and stupid, I did not. To paraphrase Mark Twain, –it is amazing how smart my parents got as I got older. And I appreciate and try to continue some of the family traditions, including watching White Christmas, but now with my beloved wife.  I still feel the connection to my Mom and Pop when I watch this movie.  This movie speaks to the connection of people, of hope, of joy, of happiness, and of the power of music.

And I wish we would have a white Christmas, but I think it will not happen this year.

Perhaps next year.

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