Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Second Time Around

I’ve never been one of those people who reads the same book twice. I go through it, I either enjoy it -- which means I’ll inflict it on my friends before going on my bookshelf -- or I hate it – which means I’m going to donate it to the library/give it away/sell to my local used bookstore. I rarely reread books. The most I’ll do is revisit an interesting chapter or scene, and that’s that. Sure, I have my favorite books, but they are usually books I’ve read ONCE.

My thesis researched has forced me to pick up an old favorite, Nathan McCall’s “Makes Me Wanna Holla.” It’s an autobiography where McCall talks about growing up in Portsmouth, Va, a prison stint, and eventually turning his life around to become a reporter at The Washingotn Post. I cited a chapter, “Native Son”, where he talks about how he read that novel when he was doing time. He related so much to Bigger Thomas that he cried when Bigger was sentenced to death.

It was such a good chapter that I started flipping through the book again. I remember being a teenager when I read it. Back then, I was so naïve that I thought one chapter – “Trains” – was going to be about his fascination for locomotives. (It’s soooo not) I couldn’t understand his trouble adjusting to the corporate world, and I was especially pleased with his confrontation with a coworker that caused the offending man to break down and cry.

Now that I read it again, I notice stuff like the book cover -- with its graffiti on the wall and the beat up chair he’s sitting on. I can easily relate to his workplace adjustment problems. He didn’t have the best taste in women, but sheesh, his life would’ve been easier if he treated them better.

Anyway, I’m not re-reading the whole book, just from the middle on. I like to revisit how he decided to change his life while in prison and how the outside world worked out for him. I learned from an old interview that there had been plans to turn this book into a movie. Nothing ever became of that, fortunately. I wouldn’t want to see a scaled-back/squeaky clean/hero gets the girl/Hollywood version of this story anyway. If you’ve never read this book, I highly recommend it.


ShellyShell said...

I like this book. I haven't read it in years. I just ordered Donald Goines first two books. I can't believe I've never read them. I guess I can since I'm reading three books right now....a mess!

Tha L said...

Ahh, to read something that you actually enjoy. Dissertations suck, can't wait to be done so I can throw myself back into good books like this one.

Strength/Courage/Wisdom said...

@ShellyShell Ahh yes, I remember reading 'Black Girl Lost' by Donald Goines. And don't worry, I always read multiple books at once.

@Tha L Right, research sucks, BIG TIME! It makes me long for the days of reading for pleasure!