Friday, February 26, 2010

Happy?


I was always the type of kid that got into stuff I shouldn’t have. By stuff, I’m talking about books. I can’t remember a time in my life where I wasn’t able to delve into my mother’s massive book collection. No subject was off limits – I read novels with their fair share of violence, cursing, sex and anything else that most folks want to shield from a kid’s eyes. But I was lucky to have a mother who was just grateful that I was reading, so she never censored anything I’d read.

So I was particularly young when I started reading Terry McMillan. At the time, she was the only contemporary black author around that I felt comfortable reading. Toni Morrison was too far over my head; same goes for Alice Walker. (things have changed and I’ve learned to love their work) I was more comfortable reading about the dysfunctional family in Mama, the on-again, off-again lovers in Disappearing Acts and the friendships in Waiting to Exhale.

Waiting to Exhale wasn’t my favorite Terry book; I thought it was just okay. But I was pleased to see it being made as movie and went to see it opening weekend, if I do remember correctly. Disappearing Acts was my favorite book – actually that’s in a close tie with Mama – and I still have the HBO movie version of the book on a VHS tape somewhere. I learned recently that Terry has written a sequel to W2E and that’ll be released this fall. ‘Getting To Happy’ will revisit the women 15 years from where they left off in the original book.

Let me just give that a big fat no. Albeit, I have an immediate bias against sequels that come like hundreds of years after the original (i.e. Back to the Future 2; Sisters & Husbands, the sequel to Connie Briscoe’s Sisters & Lovers, etc). I mean, if it takes the writers that long to figure out the plot, what makes me think it’s going to be any good? So already my expectations for W2E 2 are low, very low.

The thing about it is, I can’t think of many characters in that book with a storyline worth revisiting. Maybe Robin, who wound up pregnant and abandoned by her married lover, yet in the book was giving overweight Michael a second chance. (the latter was overlooked in the movie). Gloria (Loretta Devine’s character) seemed like she was getting the happy ending she was looking for and Savannah was being open minded about dating again. Bernadine (Angela Bassett) had started living with a new man (portrayed by Wesley Snipes in the movie). I wonder if a sequel to the book will mean a sequel to the movie too? Hmmm.

I’ve been proven wrong before, I’d be happy to be proven wrong again. In all honesty, I think W2E might have been the last Terry book I’ve read. I loved the movie version of How Stella Got Her Groove Back, but I never read the book. I do remember that the movie helped me realize that Angela Bassett is THE TRUTH. Generally, cigarrettes gross me out, but I desperately wanted to smoke one with her when she set her husband’s clothes on fire. There was a lot of passion behind those puffs.

I do remember W2E being one of the few times back then where black folks were on the big screen and there was no gunfire. I enjoyed that. It was also the first in a long line of examples I saw of somewhat similar stories that portrayed black woman as being unhappily single because all black men are gay/on drugs/in prison/dogs/into white women/etc. I didn’t enjoy that.

But I’m interested in seeing what the new W2E will bring. Listen to Terry talk about it here.

4 comments:

landismom said...

I think that W2E was the first of her books that I read--and I thought it was revelatory. I saw her read from it when she was on the promotional tour, at the SF Book Festival, and it was everything I hoped for.

I hadn't heard that she was working on a sequel--and while I agree with you about the likelihood that it will disappoint, I'ma buy it anyway.

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Diasporique said...

I actually read and enjoyed Disappearing Acts, though I've not read any of her subsequent works. I saw Waiting to Exhale and did not enjoy it. In my opinion, it's yet another media snare determined to make Black women believe that a healthy, lasting, loving relationship is somehow out of our reach.

She's writing for Messence magazine, now, so I definitely won't be revisiting her work again - on or off the screen.

Good luck to her after that craziness with her ex-husband. That was a really humiliating situation, especially after she made W2E based on their own relationship.

Strength/Courage/Wisdom said...

@landismom Cool! Yeah, W2E didn't do much for me, so it'll be interesting to see where she goes from here.

@Diasporique I did not know that Terry was writing for Essence. Interesting. Yes, her personal life finds its way into her writing, so I'm predicting a few down low/Jamaican love interests!