28 8 / 2012
An Accidental Affair by Eric Jerome Dickey
James Thicke is a man whose mysterious past runs as deep as his violent streak. He’s channeled the intensity of his soul into twin passions-success as a screenwriter, and marriage to movie actress Regina Baptiste. In the midst of filming his latest script, starring Regina and leading man Johnny Bergs, James receives a video of his wife caught in the most compromising of situations.
Hours later, the clip of the on-set infidelity has hit the Internet and gone viral in the blogosphere and across all channels of social media. James responds to the affront by savagely attacking Johnny Bergs, and the spectacle has both the paparazzi and the police amassing at the married couple’s estate. James goes on the run, but only as far as the city of Downey, California. As James tries to protect Regina from Hollywood’s underbelly, lust, blackmail, and revenge become his constant companions. Does an accidental affair spell permanent danger?
I haven’t been as enthused about Dickey’s novels for a while now. His stories used to be one of my “Black girl who loves to read” staples, but I eventually either grew out of his story lines or he stopped putting much effort into creating enjoyable books. From the above book synopsis, one would think that this story would be entertaining, but unfortunately, An Accidental Affair falls into the “un-enjoyable” books category.
My book club chose this for our August themed “New Novel” selection. From the get go, the book was filled with name dropping and attempts to put the reader into the world of the modern blog and social network driven media. Every few pages contained a blog entry or a Facebook status or a reference to a tweet. That would have almost been ok had the story line been somewhat believable and not ridiculously repetitive, but all it did was add to the already long list of irritating quirks within the book that were excessively distracting:
- Every characters’ full name was given every single time they were mentioned
- Every character always wore a t-shirt with a quirky saying on it
- The author seemed to intentionally keep the race of the two main characters a secret
- There were full pages of dialogue with no mention to who was speaking, or HOW they were speaking, resulting in a lot of confusion about the conversations taking place
This book was unneccessarily long as well. Had it been cut down by 200 pages, or even reduced to a novella, I think I would have enjoyed it much better. Not being too much of a fan of erotica, I thought I’d be severely turned off by the sex scenes, but the actual scenes weren’t so bad. The circumstances surrounding them were, though, causing much of the story to be completely unbelievable.
All in all, I wouldn’t recommend this story to anybody. It almost came across as if Dickey may be stuck in a contract requiring him to produce a certain amount of books, so he’s doing that, but not using the talent and thought in structure that put him on the map. I hope he gets back to writing good, entertaining novels, soon and very soon.
28 8 / 2012
The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by Lola Shoneyin
When Baba Segi awoke with a bellyache for the sixth day in a row, he knew it was time to do something drastic about his fourth wife’s childlessness.
Meet Baba Segi …
A plump, vain, and prosperous middle-aged man of robust appetites, Baba Segi is the patriarch of a large household that includes a quartet of wives and seven children. But his desire to possess more just might be his undoing.
And his wives …
Iya Segi—the bride of Baba Segi’s youth, a powerful, vindictive woman who will stop at nothing to protect her favored position as ruler of her husband’s home.
Iya Tope—Baba Segi’s second wife, a shy, timid woman whose decency and lust for life are overshadowed by fear.
Iya Femi—the third wife, a scheming woman with crimson lips and expensive tastes who is determined to attain all that she desires, no matter what the cost.
Bolanle—Babi Segi’s fourth and youngest wife, an educated woman wise to life’s misfortunes who inspires jealousy in her fellow wives … and who harbors a secret that will expose shocking truths about them all.
This was BookTini’s July book club selection for our International theme. Based in Nigeria, Shoneyin’s novel burrows deep into the polygamous lifestyle of the well off Baba Segi, and his conniving and dangerous wives who will stop at nothing to make sure their position in his life is safe.
Though polygamy is taking a downturn in the African country, it still remains a practiced custom among those who have yet to embrace the mostly modern practice of monogamy. So what happens when a polygamist adds a modern, educated woman to his list of wives, a woman who couldn’t fit in as wife #4 no matter how hard she tried?
Jealousy, stubborness, and “mean girl” antics permeate throughout the story. When the beautiful and sophisticated Bolanle is heralded as Baba Segi’s new wife, the older, more experienced wives begin to worry that she’ll soon take over their household. But when it is apparent that Bolanle can’t bear any children, the women use that to their advantage to keep her low on Baba Segi’s totem pole.
Shoneyin doesn’t just regale us with negative stories of women, though. She makes sure to include every wife’s back story, starting from their birth, so that each woman’s reasoning for their actions is apparent: powerlessness will make you do what you have to do to survive.
I greatly enjoyed this peek into Nigerian life, customs, and tradition. Though the ending seemed to wrap up much too quickly, leaving me (and much of my book club) wanting more, the overall story was entertaining. The book club had a great time discussing what we all would do if ever put in such a situation.
I’d recommend this to those interested in African literature, Nigerian lit in particular. Also, those who are interested in stories filled with polygamy, the lives of women in Nigeria, and cat fights.
31 7 / 2012
As we do every year, my book club met in June for a coed meeting to discuss a books based on a gender related topic. This year, we chose We Real Cool: Black Men and Masculinity, bell hooks ode to Black men in America.
hooks took us on a journey through American history while explaining the whos, whats, whens, and whys surrounding the lack of direction and responsibility within the Black community. She explains how the introduction of white male patriarchy was extremely damaging to African men brought to America in shackles because they were bombarded by the image of men taking financial care of their families, while being members of a society that would not allow them to due so because of their status as slaves. With the abolition of slavery, came the black codes, KKK, segregation, and other discriminatory practices that prevented Black men from fitting into the American definition of “man”. Left to do little or nothing for their families, many have turned to either lives of crime or laziness, relying on the women in their lives to be responsible for Black households.
Very interesting stuff. Due to my background in Black/African American studies I was aware of much of the information shared, but it was still eye opening to read hooks’ point of view and review her research.
The book was extremely textbook-ish though, so many within the book club complained about it being boring and a lot of people gave up on it. I admit that after the first few chapters, I felt like something was missing. I kind of expected to read of the “cool” of Black men, how and why they are envied, where it originated from and what aesthetically and culturally makes them so cool, but the book seemed to solely rely on explaining why Black men have not been able to be the best they can be; their coolness resulting in them being treated like second class citizens. Nothing is wrong with that kind of subject matter, but the title seems to be a bit misleading.
Regardless, the book discussion resulted in a raucous, sometimes serious, sometimes hilarious discussion between the men and women within our group. Throw in BBQ, other good eats, and Tropical Orgasms (our signature drink) and a great time was had by all.
06 6 / 2012
32 Candles by Ernessa T. Carter
Ernessa T. Carter brings us the story of small town Mississippi native, Davie Jones, the oft overlooked ugly duckling with a mean mama, an infatuation with the cutest guy in high school, and classmates who insist on calling her Monkey Night. She finds solace in the movie 16 Candles, and goes by the mantra, “What would Molly Ringwald do?” After an embarrassingly horrendous incident, Davie escapes to Los Angeles, and reinvents herself into a sought after singer in a well known night club. Everything is fine until the cutest guy from high school shows up a decade later and turns her world upside down.
As I’ve stated a gazillion times, I love romantic comedies and chick lit, so this story was right up my alley. Davie’s antics had me yelling at the pages, threatening to throw the book out of my window, and smiling really hard at the cheesy stuff. What can I say? I’m a romantic who always wants a happy ending.
There were a few parts that I can say kind of rubbed me the wrong way, but I can’t delve into specifics without spoiling the story. I’ll just say that I would have preferred that the author had explained events as they were happening, instead of all of a sudden clumping a million things into a particular section.
Other than that, the book was enjoyable and a perfect read for our BookTini’s Chick Lit month selection in May.