Book Review: Got to be Real: Four Original Love Stories
Publication Date: Dec 01, 2000
List Price: $14.00
Format: Paperback, 384 pages
Imprint: NAL Trade
Publisher: NAL Trade
Parent Company: NAL Trade
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Book Reviewed by Thumper
Got to Be Real is a thrilling collection of four original love stories, told by fellas who get pulses racing from Los Angeles to New York, Chicago to Detroit. New York Times bestseller E. Lynn Harris shares a heartwarming Valentine's Day tale in “Money Can’t Buy Me Love.” A man travels south of the border where he discovers that passion is a universal language in New York Times best-selling author Eric Jerome Dickey's “Cafe Pile”. The balmy beaches of Jamaica lend a romantic backdrop to the love triangle that makes up Colin Channer's “I'm Still Waiting.” And in Marcus Major's “Kenya and Air,” a playa recalls his relationship with the right woman and how he screwed it up.
Here are four takes on seduction, romance, and
love from today's most popular black male writers. Got to Be Real offers
all the thrill of a first date, all the heartbreak of a failed relationship, all
the hope of a new love.
There was a time, not that long ago as a matter of fact, when I complained that I didn’t see enough short stories being written by many authors today and I wanted to know why. I believe I had read Dorothy West’s The Richer, The Poorer. I had looked around my little library and noticed a majority of our well-known AA authors had published at least one short story collection, some two or three collections. In all fairness the number of literary publications that would publish short stories, today, is so small that these publications should be placed on the endangered species list. The Crisis, The Opportunity and The Messenger have long been ashes of the past (Random House recently published The Crisis Reader, The Opportunity Reader and The Messenger Reader-Thank Goodness). So even if our today authors have short stories to published, where would the stories be published? Having said that, I also have to admit that I had been reading a number of books, at that time, that weren’t well written and I felt like telling the authors that they should learn how to write short stories before they tackled a novel.
It must also be acknowledge that many of us in the reading audience don’t read a lot of short stories either. This too could go back to the number of publications out there that feature short stories, or how about the fact that we don’t think about reading short stories. I was guilty of the latter for years. Until I read J. California Cooper’s Some Love, Some Pain, sometime about 5 years ago, I hadn’t read a short story since my last English Lit class. Today, fortunately, that is not the case. I have now read a number of short stories and short story collections. I don’t know if the popularity of short story collections are growing or that I’m more aware of their existence. I am pleased that more authors are writing and publishing short stories. I was pleased when I heard about Got To Be Real: Four Original Love Stories written by four of our leading AA contemporary authors: E. Lynn Harris, Eric Jerome Dickey, Colin Channer and Marcus Major. I’m even more pleased since I read it and enjoyed the hell out of it. *smile*
The first story is “Cafe Pile”, written by Eric Jerome Dickey. Bobby Davis has been cheated out of some money by his former college classmate, John. Bobby isn’t the only one, there’s a whole slew of people that have been ripped off by John. Bobby’s quest to get his money, the rent is due, bills are piling up, leads him to go after John in Mexico, where John offers him a job and his money. During his Mexico trip, Bobby falls for Alejandria. Will it work out? Will Bobby and Alejandria ride off together in the sunset?
“Kenya and Air,” was written by Marcus Major. If you have read Major’s first book Good Peoples, then you have already been introduced to Kenya and Amir. I had always wondered how Kenya and Amir got together and now I know. Kenya and Amir is the story of the year—how the two met and how they came to be married.
“Money Can’t Buy Me Love.” is the third story, written by E. Lynn Harris. Jimmy was presented a little present by his good friend Thunder. The present was a man, Trevor. Trevor is an escort. Jimmy, instead of knocking the boots, starts talking and taking an interest in Trevor. Now, not only is there a physical attraction, there’s an intellectual one as well. But, Jimmy don’t know a thing about Trevor. Is Trevor the man Jimmy’s been looking for, is Trevor the One?
The fourth and final story was written by Colin Channer, “I'm Still Waiting.” Patience, a former teen singing sensation, has one last chance to seize a recording contract. Through her manager, she’s introduced to Michael Chin-see. Michael was formerly in the music business but is now in advertising. Michael is ask to produce some sides for Patience. The recordings are to be record in Jamaica, where Michael was born and raised. Back on the island, Michael runs into his ex-wife, Mia Fortuna. It appears that the ambers haven’t all died out between Mia and Michael. Now it’s on!
I loved the book!! (Sorry Carey, I had to go there. *LOL*) I enjoyed all of the stories. Dickey’s “Cafe Pile” was a nice, smooth little story. A little adventure, a nice amount of drama, and a bittersweet love affair. As I was reading it, I thought of Elmore Leonard, which didn’t hurt my feelings at all. Actually, it was a nice change of pace. E. Lynn Harris’ story, “Money Can’t Buy Me Love.” was enjoyable and smooth too. It reminded me of Harris’ earlier works and now I know that he haven’t lost his touch, I was beginning to wonder.
Midway through reading Channer’s I’m Still Waiting, I realized that I owe Channer a serious apology. Years ago, when Channer’s novel Waiting In Vain came out, I hated that book. I dogged it. I talked about that book like it had two horns and a tail. Now, I don’t know what I was thinking. At the time, I wasn’t feeling his groove or his style at all. I heard it, felt it, and rode it with “I'm Still Waiting.” What a remarkable story! Hell, I felt like standing and applauding it when I finished reading it.
Now, I have an idea that these four authors are fans of each other and that they approached this book in a show of brotherhood and all of that other stuff that makes people smile after watching an animated Disney movie, but it was a little hard put for me not to compare the style and all of the four. I tried not to compare, but then why I lie to myself when there’s plenty of other people will do it for me. I know that there is plenty of room for all four authors. It doesn’t take that long to read a book. I’m throwing all of this out to say, Dickey and Harris have some major competition. In case you didn’t know, as far as my money goes, Dickey is the king. I didn’t so much as read his book as I inhaled them. After reading Marcus Major’s “Kenya and Air,” *shaking my head* all I can say is that Dickey should tighten his grip on that crown. Major’s writing is like a breath of fresh air, as if somebody threw open the windows in a musty, closed up house. “Kenya and Air” is a tight story, arguably the best in the book. I got the warm-and-fuzzys after I read it.
It was good to see and read Got To Be Real for a number of reasons. One being that the short story format will, hopefully, gain in popularity among both authors and the reading audience. Two, that four of our top contemporary authors came together to bring forth a good collection. Third, but certainly least, I had to dig up my CD with the Cheryl Lynn recording. I hummed it while I was reading the book. *smile*