6 Days in January by William Frederick Cooper
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Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Strebor Books (February 24, 2004)
I am breaking with tradition on my review of 6 Days in January by William Frederick Cooper, because I loathe this book so much, I can't hold my disgust with it in check. I was so frustrated and pissed; I could not even laugh to keep from crying. Every time I tried, I would get frustrated all over again. By the time I finished reading 6 Days in January, I was grateful that the merry go round from Hell had finally came to a stop. I could finally plant my feet on solid ground. A novel about a man traveling downs the road of self discovery; 6 Days in January proves the old adage ’the road to Hell is paved with good intentions’’at least it was for me.
William McCall is in a state of flux. He has been burned by love and has decided to flip the script and do some of the burning. William reaches a point where he can not move forward and find a love that he rightfully deserves until he looks inside of himself and his past.
6 Days in January is a good idea poorly executed. The characters are two dimensional. The story relies on the stupidity of the characters actions in order to move an already predictable story. Cooper's writing style doesn't know if it's walking or riding on horse back. Let me get this thing going, I feel another headache starting; hopefully, I'll be done with this review before it blooms.
William, the central character, is not developed enough to carry a novel, or even a short story. Throughout the story William sounds more like the dime a dozen sista-girlfriend heroine instead of a confused, love-abused man. Shoot, William does not sound masculine at all. A quarter-way through the book, I stopped and started looking around the room for William's balls. I thought maybe they had fallen off of the pages or something.
I am not being too hard on Cooper or his character. True story: I read 6 Days in January while I was traveling on a business trip. I was going to Ann Arbor, Michigan. Instead of flying to Detroit and then getting a taxi to Ann Arbor, I decide to take the Amtrak. Trains are a life long love of mine. During the trip, I am suffering through the novel. All of a sudden, I started physically hearing William's voice in my ear. I thought I was dreaming or something, until I stopped reading the book. William's voice kept talking, except it wasn't a male voice, but that of a black woman. I turned around and finally noticed two black women, sitting behind me, talking. One of the women was telling her friend what she wanted out of a romantic relationship and how she wasn't getting it. When will she find the man that will fulfill all of her requirements? Where will she find the man who will stay romantic, has a good paying job, a car, no hang ups, no baby mamas or Be Be kids, and no criminal record? Where is the handsome black man who will make her his everything? I started to turn around and tell her, ’You can find him right here in this book, or in your dreams.’ I raise my right hand to God, this really happened. The woman was saying the exact same thing, in the same manner, that Cooper's William was saying in the book. This was way too spooky for color TV.
William could have been an interesting character had Cooper taken the steps in order to make him one. Cooper missed a lot of points about William that he should have expanded, further developing William the character. One, William's relationship with his father was under explored. Two, William's marriage, which was constantly mentioned throughout the book, was never explained, no details were forthcoming. Instead the marriage was treated like a tease. And then to piss me off further, Cooper gives me a brief description, including finally revealing the name, of William's wife at the end of the book. What kind of freaking sense does that make? *eyebrow raised*
Third I thought this was suppose to be about William making a self discovery, instead I get treated to a long drawn out telling of William's relationship with Andrea, the first woman William ever loved.
The third person narrative voice doesn't quite fit. William talks one way with his friends, peppered with ’yo’ and other slang terms, not like a thug, but as I talk when I'm not at work. Cooper's problem comes in when the third person narrative voice sounds as if it belongs on a church's Sunday service bulletin. If Cooper did not get anything else nail down in this novel, he took the dual personality thing to a whole new level. With the novel being about William and his self discovery, I am curious as to why Cooper did not choose to use a first person narrative for this story? It would have been a more appropriate fit.
Like William, the character, I am not sure of Cooper's writing style. His style can be ’masculine’ at times, but overall Cooper's style reads in the same fashion as many of our popular African American women writers of the U-go-girl genre, so much so that the only thing missing from the story is rose water, day lilies and Masengill. Strange for a novel who's central character and author is male. I can understand Cooper's desire to establish a strong, yet sensitive, male character. But, just because a man is sensitive does not mean he's feminine. Cooper should know the difference. After reading this novel, I am not so sure that he does.
6 Days in January is about as many days of aggravation I had reading it.
Cooper needs to go back to the drawing board and re-think this character, and
this story concept, through.