More Than Black & White – March 2011 Minutes

Wendy’s meeting at Mary’s house (thank, Mary!) -Wendy’s apartment is teensy.

The Man in My Basement by Walter Mosley
Katie selected this book because:
1. she dithered too long to select the super-long tome originally topping her list
2. while mulling in February, her annual discontent with Black History Month simmered up (are there no black folks the other 11 months of the year???) – she sought a theme-rich book that was of/for/by the ‘authentic black experience’ without hammering away yet again at ‘just’ racism and/or the Civil War-Civil Rights Eras; Walter Mosley is supposed to be the man for that job
3. she liked the odd plot line and Mosley’s look at good/evil, lazy/entreprenuial, socially acceptable/rude-mean-awkward themes

Katie appreciated Mosley’s wordsmithing & was mostly intrigued by – though not in love with – the book overall.


GENERAL CHATTER:  Wendy’s mega-exam is done & dusted (whoo-hoo, Wendy!); Shelley’s shop (Sunflowers, Kensington, MD) is aces for dresses & she’s always SO busy with fresh inventory of all sorts [end of commercial break]; why does an international software society use Word 2003?; Carl Hoffman (our local lunatic) was in Egypt (revolution) and then off to Japan (tsunami et al) – can you say ‘death wish’?; all of us have experienced at least 1 earthquake (though many slept right through Kensington’s); a general kerfluffle of ideas about menus/recipes – who likes to cook what/do we all have a bookclub speciality?  we think so!

And the BOOTLEG BOOKCLUB REVIEWERS said: was it filled with ‘short & stubby’ sentences or was it ‘lean & mean’?; it did convey good v. evil w/o being a horror story – clever!; the house – empty rooms but junk-filled drawers & basement & sewing room – did he just sell stuff b/c of hard times/no work?  was it symbollic of his empty  life with lots of detritus?  probably; in some ways this IS a black & white tale:  basement dark Anniston moving toward his evil/self-loathing v. upstairs light and Charles moving to goodness/hope;  Anniston – worldly, ‘successful’, dark basement made him face himself & see suicide as the only option to escape his demons; Charles – small town, tries to self-undermine but actually is catalyzed by Anniston to literally & figuratively clean out & start living better; Charles’ uncle & Anniston:  both imprisoned, both in Charles’ care, both died but NOT due to Charles’ direct action, both made Charles nuts & guilty (at least for a bit); the uncle was truly loathe-worthy and those scenes were very well written; Mosley seems to have inserted himself as Clarence &  to truly know people who inspired his writing of the characters; did Anniston have to be Turkish to make the story work?  Was it too gimmicky that we could REALLY see his internal changes as his Anglo disquise gave way to his true phenotype? Maybe not;  Masks:  Charles kept a few – they showed he was part of something bigger/he appreciated his history & his future w/the museum option; why was Bethany-of-questionable-morals there?  gratuitous sex for plot spice or to show Charles’ current millieu & starting point/his self-centered attitude?; Mosley spends lots of words in an otherwise very short read on black skin tone variations & on the ‘extreme white’ woman (horse rider) – the white riding friends scene addressed racism & classism in ‘typical’ manner; would any of us read more Mosley books?  yes – short ones – esp. to compare themes & writing style with this one

CASTING:  People mag doesn’t work…we need Ebony (yes, another data point that we live/meet  in the Kensington Bubble) : Clarence – Quinton Aaron / Ricky – Terrance Howard / Charles – Isaiah Washington / Bethany – Monique / Anniston – Stanley Tucci / Narcisst – Tracie Ross / Extene – Ali Lartner / Irene (old lady) – Whoopie Goldberg

Other websites to peruse:  Sarah Jessica Parker & horses, Paula Deen rides
Did our casting of Water for Elephants match the current movie? We never cast it but author Sarah Gruen says she wanted Scarlett Johansson for Marlena, Jim Carey for August, and Danny DeVito as Uncle Al.  Hmm…

NEXT MEETING:  April 26th at Shelley’s
Wendy’s pick:  The Tennis Partner by Abe Verghese


2 responses to “More Than Black & White – March 2011 Minutes

  1. Let us remember that Shelley went out of the K-Town/People magazine bubble. She went on the web to research african american actors in order to come up with a comprehensive cast list for the movie version of “The Man In My Basement”. Some of her picks were cast by the group and some dismissed…
    Thanks to Sue, many of the picks, by all of the group members, were brought up on her android for all of us to judge.
    Shelley thinks we came up with a great cast list!
    Oh, and, by the way…hahahaha…why am I writing in the third person?!
    Thanks Katie, for the GREAT notes!

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