alisa alering

Writer of fantasy and other fictions


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The History of the World, by Veronica Chambers

This story is in the collection It’s All Love; Black Writers on Soul Mates, Family & Friends.

The ‘love’ angle is that it roughly parallels three Black couples: 2 in New York & 1 in Chicago. The main character is Panamanian and lives in Brooklyn; she speaks Spanish, dates a gypsy cab driver, and works as a nanny for the dissatisfied Evelyn Cooper, wife and mother-of-two, who lives on Park Avenue, “in a stadium-sized apartment with the same marble floors and well-appointed furniture you might find in a bank or an old-money hotel.” The nanny parts reminded me of this interesting NYT article about the politics of Black women nannying for wealthy Black families.

That’s 2 sets of couples. The 3rd couple? From Chicago? When they appeared I thought, hmm, I wonder if that’s supposed to…nah. But sure enough, they live in an “itsy-bitsy house in the suburbs”, and “his wife actually thinks Ann Taylor is a big-name designer.” Then there’s a speech at a political convention and the man starts appearing on TV. Then he announces his bid for the presidency.

As you might imagine, the presidential aspirations of this modest Chicago couple are the bend in the story around which all the characters must flow, exposing their ideas about friendship, love, class, gold-digging, the Peace Corps (“Please, travel in college hardly counts”), and mushroom risotto.

This was my first encounter with a pair of fictional Obamas, but I’ve got a feeling it’s not the last.

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Decmber is ‘Buy a Book by a Black Author and Give It to Somebody Not Black’ Month

I couldn’t believe it when I ran across this video and blog the day after researching my posts about how we all need to make the effort to stop reading so white. The astral plane whirls in my favor!

Carleen Brice, author of Orange, Mint & Honey, has made a video welcoming white folks to the African-American section of your local bookstore.

She makes the very good point that many non-black readers of black fiction only read authors already elevated to ‘classic’ status – Richard Wright, Toni Morrison, etc. To help you out with finding contemporary black authors, she’s got a blog, Welcome Whitefolks.

I’ve already put:

mj1Incognegro, by Mat  Johnson

slp2Getting Mother’s Body, by Suzan-Lori Parks

sy2Black Girl in Paris, by Shay Youngblood

on my to-read list.

pe Erasure, by Percival Everett would be on there too, except I have already read it. Why haven’t you?


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Outposts within the English language

Following up my earlier post about finding books in translation, here are some good sources for different perspectives in the English language.

And because not everything has to be about prizes:

Looking at that Essence list, you may be thinking “No way am I reading something called ‘The Enemy Between My Legs.'” But I don’t see any reason to be on your high horse. Your probably read ‘The DaVinci Code’. Some of you older folks may have read ‘Forever Amber’ or you youngsters “Gossip Girl” or the “Au Pairs” series. What I am saying is that books let you know what other people are thinking – what they are dreaming of, what they wished they thought, what authors think they wished they thought. Try one on.