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Marita Golden is an award-winning author of more than a dozen works of fiction and nonfiction. She is the cofounder and president emeritus of the Hurston/Wright Foundation.

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Summary: Interviews with notable Black writers about formative influences on their reading and writing, significant books and their particular writing callings.

This is a wonderful gateway book into the world of Black authors. Marita Golden engages in interviews with some of the foremost black authors filled with discussion of books that influenced their lives and of the books they have written. Each interview concludes with the interviewed author’s recommended books.

As if this were not enough, this is a work on reading and writing and the integral relation between the two. In many cases, parents were a significant influence in fostering a love of reading through reading aloud, through having books in the home and encouraging regular trips to the library. Columbus native Wil Haygood said, “I read my way into opportunity. The more I read, the more I realized the world was big and I could find a place in it.”

That was not always the case. Nathan McCall did not read until he went to prison and discovered Richard Wright on the prison book cart. He said:

“I had never been pulled into a book like that before. It just made me cry. I remember I finished it at about three o’clock in the morning and I was just weeping. After I read [Native Son] it was like, damn, I didn’t know somebody had written something like this” (p. 114).

He went on to read Malcolm X, Eldridge Cleaver, and George Jackson among others and started thinking about his own life and began writing down his thoughts in a notebook, the beginning of his life as a writer.

In the case of Edwidge Danticat, it was reading Ludwig Bemelmans Madeline that opened her eyes to the possibility of telling stories by writing them down. For Chimamanda N. Adichie, it was the experience of reading Chinua Achebe that opened her mind to the possibility of being a Nigerian writer. In fact, for so many, it was the model of another Black writer, of many Black writers that gave them the courage to write as well as expanding their cultural literacy and vision of the world.

For some, a book set them directly on their own writing career as was the case with David Levering Lewis, who has written Pulitzer Prize winning works on W. E. B. DuBois. Reading The Souls of Black Folk was transformative for him. J. California Cooper, the playwright, spoke of how Isaac Bashevis Singer taught him how to “take life and make it a great story.” We also learn about the journeys of these writers in becoming writers and some of their process, such as young Wil Haygood working for a pittance at the Columbus Call and Post and discovering how much he loved journalistic writing.

What all seem to agree upon is the importance of reading and books to enriching one’s writing life and that the two are inextricably bound together. This leads to a discussion in the book about the purported decline in reading, which Golden asks about in her interviews. While some decry this, some question whether younger readers are reading in different ways or simply have yet to find the books that answer to them. Nikki Giovanni presents the counterfactual that kids wanted to read the Harry Potter books (and at one point her own) so badly that they stole them if they couldn’t afford to buy them.

Book lovers love talking about or even overhearing conversations about books and how writers come to write the books we love. Reading this book is to overhear thirteen rich conversations that speak of the transformative power of both reading and writing. I will conclude by leaving you with this gem from Edwidge Danticat:

“Reading is important–although we can so easily go into platitudes here–because it expands your mind, your life. It extends your world. It’s traveling without a passport. I feel like there are people in my life I will never know as well as the people in the books that I’ve read. I believe that it’s the duty of every truly free citizen to read, especially to read beyond your borders, to read and read extensively. Writing is our footmark in the world. We’re still looking at cave writings of centuries ago and are asking, what are they saying? It’s one of the most important gifts we leave the world” (p. 72)
… (mer)
BobonBooks | 1 annan recension | May 30, 2021 |
In this novel, a family confronts Alzheimer's disease in the patriarch, a former architect in Washington, DC. It advances suddenly and quickly until he is institutionalized in a "home" with others who have the disease, dementia or other health issues. There, he is glommed on to by a woman who becomes his lover, while his wife witnesses, and ultimately has her own affair with a longtime friend. The book shows the human side of how the disease affects everyone in the family, including two adult children, and the man's business and business partner. It is both devastating and hopeful, because, as the title suggests, love is at its center. Filled with Washingtoniana, it is a beautiful tribute to a terrible thing happening in families, and especially African American families everywhere.… (mer)
sungene | 2 andra recensioner | Jul 4, 2019 |
In this novel Marita Golden brings so many issues to the forefront of her story--Alzheimer's Disease, racism, family, loyalty, and some history of Washington D.C., and does so in a wonderful way. Gregory Tate, who helped establish the first major black architectural firm in Washington D.C., is an active, dynamic man in his 60's, still with a very active career, when he begins to have concerns about his memory and mental confusion. His wife Diane is a family court judge, and they have a vibrant marriage, with two adult children. As Diane becomes increasingly concerned about her husband, she reflects back on the early years of their courtship and marriage. As the family comes together to help Gregory in every way they can, they also struggle with their own pain and conflicts. This is an excellent read, on many different levels.… (mer)
jhoaglin | 2 andra recensioner | Sep 30, 2017 |
To me, this book could not be any better. Marita Golden's The Wide Circumference of Love gives us a realistic story of a African-American family experiencing Alzheimer's. Alzheimer's is a major storm to the stability and love of a family. Instead of being mainly about Gregory who has Alzheimer's it more about the tremendous effect on his wife, Diane, his daughter, Lauren and his son, Sean. For each of them there is a before and after. What was their relationship to him before he started having symptoms. What was his life like at work before? What about Diane who totally missed out on having a comfortable childhood?

Racial issues were there but they were not the main focus. I am very impressed with Diane who goes from a child more in hiding from a terrible crime that tore her family apart to a woman who could come to terms with her anger and learn forgiveness and express her understanding. It Diane, Lauren and Sean were real people I would love to have them in my life.

The author's writing is very straightforward and intelligent. I would be very happy to read any of her future books. As a person with family member who had dementia and Alzheimer's she totally portrayed it truthfully and understood the violent pain it causes on spouses and the children of the person having it.

I received this Advanced Reading Copy by making a selection from Amazon Vine books but that in no way influenced my thoughts or feelings in this review. I also posted this review only on sites meant for reading not for selling.
… (mer)
Carolee888 | 2 andra recensioner | May 6, 2017 |


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Jewelle Gomez Contributor
Pearl Cleage Contributor
Faith Adiele Contributor
Edward P. Jones Contributor
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