MUST LISTEN Audio Books for BLACK HISTORY Month and every other month! :) Part 1 of 2

I first became familiar with these two novels, both by master writers, as novels proper. And both blew my mind in ways both stunning and lasting. Later I listened to the Audio Books. Audio Books, if you get the right reader, for the right work, can be rewarding experiences, even to lovers of the novel.

I love me some Walter Moseley EASY RAWLINS mysteries, I’ve read just about everyone of them, and I have to tell you the pairing of Moseley’s iconic words with a formidable actor such as Michael Boatman, is to have those works enriched, and nuances discovered that may have been skimmed over by even the most loving reader.

A great Adaptation, a great marriage of words and performance can do that, can alchemize into something more than the sum of its parts. Something magical. And an audio book avoids the constraints of time and budget and indeed visuals, that a film or TV show runs into. An audio book has the biggest theater of the world, and the biggest budget, in which to breathe life into the writers words,… the theater of the mind.

So Audio Books when they get that mixture right, become part of a sacred line of story and storytelling, going back to the cradle of not just Black History, but all history.

 

This 2 part post, honors two of the best, that should be loved and listened to and cherished by everyone.

They are:

Charles Johnson’s seminal and National Book Award winning novel, MIDDLE PASSAGE. It is an American epic, a rousing seafaring saga, blisteringly funny at times, deeply harrowing at others, both poetic, prosaic, and magical all at the same time. As someone who has read Melville, and Dickens, and Hemingway, and Crane and Poe and Bradbury and King and Baldwin, all the quintessential American masters, this is the novel I would save when everything else is burning.

 

middlepassge

 

I give the hardcover out as presents. I consider it, in an imperfect world, an arrow toward a more perfect union. So having it on a pedestal that high the audio book has to bring it. It was made into an audio book twice, the first was an abridged and hence flawed cassette version, but read by the author himself, I quite liked it. He brought something… wonderful to it.

The 2nd time was on CD, unabridged thankfully. The performer Dion Graham, gives a different performance than Charles Johnson, that I slowly warmed to. And as the story drew you deeper so did his voice. It’s a wonderful way to be introduced to this great novel.

I would say both audio book versions are indispensable. Start with the unabridged CD version, and then follow up by listening to the Abridged version. And have a copy of the paperback or hardcover, to read over especially loved passages.

In an America where folly holds sway, the words of men who both remember history and learn from it, is of the highest value.

Check them out at the links below:

Middle Passage Cassette Audio Book read by the Author!

Middle Passage Audio CD Unabridged!

By Charles Richard Johnson Middle Passage (Reprint) [Mass Market Paperback]

 

If you like this blog please support it by using the links above and by leaving comments! And come back for the 2nd part where we discuss the 2nd, must own, Black History Month (and other months) Audio book!

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WEDNESDAYS WORDS

WEDNESDAYS WORDS is a new weekly installment that ranks the most interesting, intriguing books of the week (old, new, reissues, digital, etc). Contributors represent a variety of genres and sources. Each book includes Title and publisher blurb.

Yul Brynner: A Photographic Journey
Book Description
Publication Date: October 15, 2010
Yul Brynners reputation as one of the twentieth centurys most charismatic and versatile actors is irrefutable. But his talent as a photographer has been relatively unknown and unacknowledged. YUL will change that, presenting Brynners photographic oeuvre for the first time in a comprehensive and lavish way in book form. Brynners subjects are some of the pivotal figures of cinematic and stage history, and his talent lies in capturing these people and particularly actors (those best at disguising their true selves) at ease, both on and off set: Charlton Heston as Moses in The Ten Commandments, Audrey Hepburn in a gondola in Venice, Elizabeth Taylor relaxing poolside. YUL also contains candid shots of Brynners family. Comprising a selection made from 8,000 images and press cuttings edited by Brynners daughter Victoria Brynner, YUL is divided into four volumes: Lifestyle, Life on Set, 1956 (the pivotal year of The King and I, The Ten Commandments and Anastasia), and Man of Style which contains portraits of Brynner by photographers such as Richard Avedon, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Inge Morath. Published on the twenty-fifth anniversary of Brynners death, YUL is a celebration of Brynners photographic legacy and a complex portrait of the man himself.

Steve McQueen: The Actor and His Films

Book Description
Publication Date: December 15, 2011

Steve McQueen: The Actor and his Films, is the definitive account of every film that the iconic actor made. This lavishly illustrated book devotes nearly 500 pages to Steve McQueen’s career and tracks his journey from juvenile delinquent, to Marine, to an aspiring actor breaking into Hollywood, until he became a global superstar and the highest-paid actor of his era. Included are numerous behind the scenes tales of events that occurred leading up to and during filming, and fascinating insights into McQueen’s acting techniques and motivations.


The Oxford Encyclopedia of African Thought: Two-volume set
Book Description
Publication Date: April 27, 2010 | ISBN-10: 0195334736 | ISBN-13: 978-0195334739 | Edition: 1
From St. Augustine and early Ethiopian philosophers to the anti-colonialist movements of Pan-Africanism and Negritude, this encyclopedia offers a comprehensive view of African thought, covering the intellectual tradition both on the continent in its entirety and throughout the African Diaspora in the Americas and in Europe. The term “African thought” has been interpreted in the broadest sense to embrace all those forms of discourse – philosophy, political thought, religion, literature, important social movements – that contribute to the formulation of a distinctive vision of the world determined by or derived from the African experience. The Encyclopedia is a large-scale work of 350 entries covering major topics involved in the development of African Thought including historical figures and important social movements, producing a collection that is an essential resource for teaching, an invaluable companion to independent research, and a solid guide for further study.

Bals: Legendary Costume Balls of the Twentieth Century

BALS: Legendary Costume Balls of the Twentieth Century
BY Nicholas Foulkes
Hardcover in Luxury Slipcase / 11 x 14″
308 pages / 250+ Illustrations
Item Quote

From the twilight of the Romanov dynasty through les années folles of Art Deco Paris to the jet-set seventies, Bals explores the nine most exceptional private costume parties of the twentieth century. The most lavish, beautiful book ever produced on the subject, Bals features social commentary both by and about the colorful characters—Truman Capote, Cecil Beaton, and others—who immortalized these extraordinary events, as well as first-person narratives by Jacqueline de Ribes, Hélène David-Weill, and Marisa Berenson.


The WEDNESDAYS WORDS column is a new blog feature, appearing (you guessed it!) every Wednesday. Come back next week to see which books make the list!

If you’re a publisher, writer, or other creative representative looking to submit items for WEDNESDAYS WORDS, just leave a comment on this post with your email/contact info, comments don’t get posted they come right to me, and I’ll reach out to you with the snail mail details.

And as far as readers, if you see items on WEDNESDAYS WORDS you’re considering purchasing then, if you are able and would like to support this blog, please utilize the attached links.

Your helpful purchases through those links, generates much appreciated pennies to keep this blog running. Your feedback and support… just way cool, and way appreciated. Thanks!

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POLITICAL CORRECTNESS… Defined??!!! Noooooooooooooooo!!!!!

So called spokesmen for the people, representatives, annoy me.

Whenever you see someone using the term political correctness, they are disparaging it, typically. Which is funny considering the ones bitching about the term are the ones who coined the term in the first place.

Well it wouldn’t be America if people didn’t build things up so they could have something to tear down.

Like African-American.

Incredibly stupid term, taken out of the unifying context it was first used in (most clearly in the 60s as a call for economic and cultural ties with the larger global African/Black community, including Libya, which today a loose-cannon American administration and war-machine is currently bombing into the stone-age).

If you’re Black and you happen to live in America, you’re not fucking African-American.

I’ll say it again… You are not African American.

You’re Black. You also happen to be American.

But Nationality and Ethnicity are two separate fucking things and should remain so. Because these days, your nationality is doing its level best to exterminate your ethnicity. And if you confuse where you live, with what you are, the truth of that genocide may be lost on you, until they come knocking on your door. And by then it’s going to be a little damn late, isn’t it?

And of course being puppets of an inane media we all, regardless of color, tend to some degree to integrate these divisive stupidities that the propaganda machine feeds us.

But that’s why you have to wake up a bit, and be aware of the strings that are pulling you.

So that you can cut them, or at the very least… pull back.

So getting back to Political Correctness, and these morons who can’t go a single day without whipping on Political Correctness for this or for that. They never quite make sense do they?

It’s because political correctness is a nonsense word, put in place just to muddy the conversation, even in the head of the speaker.

I’ll say that again.

Even in the head of the speaker.

If you want to know what people are railing against when they use the term Political Correctness, replace it with respect. And you’ll see what people are really arguing against. They are arguing against having to respect each other. It’s that simple. They are even arguing against having to respect themselves.

So the next time that moron in your life or at your job starts going on about Political Correctness, have him say again the sentence, substituting the word respect, and you’ll both really understand how idiotic and petty are the things he’s really bitching about.

Images of the Day: Art to make you go WoW!! Paintings from the Masters!

Title says it all, enjoy:

Beksinski has been called, and rightly, the master of the Aftermath, check out my previous posts on him.

Now a landscape painter I was introduced to just today, who was born nearly two centuries before Zdislaw Beksinski, and does not deal in Beksinski’s fantastic/visionary imagery, however in mood, in languid foreboding and beauty, he is very much a kindred spirit to Beksinski. I speak of German landscape painter Caspar David Friedrich.

However where Caspar David Friedrich was the greatest painter of German Romanticism, the American Romantic movement would broaden that movements intimate, small scope, and improve upon it, introducing the world to the grandeur and beauty of the landscape en masse. There was and is no better representative of American Romanticism/Landscape Painter, than the criminally neglected Robert Scott Duncanson, Abolitionist, Painter, World traveler. Born in Cincinati to a Scottish Father and African Mother, Duncanson’s work unfortunately remains underseen and underdocumented (unlike Beksinski and Friedrich, we still await the beautiful over-sized art book on Duncanson) . Where Beksinski is the master of the Aftermath, Duncanson is the master of the Grandeur.

The Best Films You Haven’t Seen! or Medicine for Melancholy

MEDICINE FOR MELANCHOLY- Acclaimed debut by Barry Jenkins. Only screened at film festivals, and still waiting on anything beyond a token DVD release.

BLACK DYNAMITE- Easily one of the best movies of 2010, and screened Nationwide in less than 10 theaters. With a proper theatrical release this satire could have been one of the hugest most influential comedies in decades, instead of being added to the growing list of… invisible movies. There is something horribly wrong in a nation that can find screens for abysmal garbage like THE WEATHERMAN or tripe like THE OTHER GUYS but no room for a film such as BLACK DYNAMITE.

SAMPSON AND DELILAH- I’m hearing fantastic things about this Aboriginal directed and starred movie, by Warwick Thornton, and currently breaking my neck trying to get a copy. Sounds a bit like the films of the late great Djibril Diop Mambety (his HYENAS is a masterpiece, and his short films are essential viewing to all fans of film)

HARIMAYA BRIDGE- Another film I haven’t seen (due to it not coming to a theater anywhere near me, and not getting DVD distribution) is Aaron Woolfolk’s HARIMAYA BRIDGE with Danny Glover. But it is getting nothing but acclaim, yet still such an acclaimed film with a Black Director, and Black Protagonist, that actually has something to say beyond stereotypes, that might actually say something to Black audiences that is not about denigration and debasement, cannot find broad theatrical release, or even to this date a DVD release.

It is utterly sickening.

Even more sickening are the distribution channels that do buy up the rights to a filmmakers films, just to bury them. Here it is three years after Ousmane Sembene’s passing and his most legendary, challenging, and proactive films (EMITAI, CEDDO, CAMP THIAROYE, and GUELWAAR his colonialism quadrilogy), are still not available on DVD.

The company that holds the rights to Sembene’s films, (and we all know who you are) should be fucking ashamed of themselves. First to let a filmmaker die without his most powerful work seeing any type of release, to languish in decades rotting away in vaults, and second because of the filmmakers that could-have-been, had they allowed Sembene to flourish and influence.

I mean they, finally, gave his BLACK GIRL, and MANDABI, and MOOLADE, minimal DVD releases, but for the most part while fine films (haven’t seen MOOLADE) , these are films (with the exception of BLACK GIRL) that steer away directly from the controversy of colonialism. The distributor give his, if not quite nuetered, less critical films releases, while burying for decades his (by all assements) best films.

It’s a crime.

And one they are continuing to committ with a new generation of filmmakers, both domestic and international.

Well at least we can do what we can do. We can spread the word that the movies exists, and do our best to view them at film festivals, and give the film and the filmmakers the audience and the attention they deserve.

Start local movie clubs, start local film festivals, start local indie theaters, spread the word. Cinema is more than just entertainment, It can be infinitely more.

The studios know this.

They know cinema can alter world views, on the micro and macro level. They can be didactic, and in the best of all possible worlds they should be. By Didactic I don’t mean preaching, I mean informing and formative.

I don’t believe in Escapist cinema, I think all cinema no matter how comedic or fantastic, can and should say something relevant and I think expansive to our view of the world. Whether that’s the notion of hubris and friendship in THE THIRD MAN or the notion of loyalty and individualism inherent in PAT GARRET AND BILLY THE KID or the notion of courage and sacrifice in EMPIRE STRIKES BACK or the understanding of the needs of the people and the land as in I AM CUBA, all cinema if its any good, is to some measure didactic.

Cinema that isn’t informative, is deadening. Is a drug to lull you into apathy, and I don’t want that kind of cinema.

Cinema should strive to move more than our eyes, to reach, in the hopes of finding, our mind and our soul.

In the words of Boorman’s King Arthur… “It’s a dream I have.”