Book Review: It’s All Love: Black Writers On Soul Mates, Family And Friends
Publication Date: Feb 03, 2009
List Price: $16.95
Format: Paperback, 432 pages
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Parent Company: Bertelsmann
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Book Reviewed by Robert Fleming
If there is a commodity that is seriously misunderstood in our community, it is the emotion of love which binds us to each other. Marita Golden, a prominent writer and co-founder of the Hurston-Wright Foundation, has edited an important literary dialogue on love, It's All Love: Black Writers on Soul Mates, Family and Friends, from a cadre of veteran and novice authors. The book will be used to benefit the work by the foundation, a national resource center for writers with an extensive youth community outreach program, to expand their services. The various themes of love expressed in this collection are just the type of clear-eyed conversation we need to have with one another.
’Working on this anthology was an honor,’ Golden writes in her introduction. ’The spirits of these writers have enlarged and restored me, my faith in myself and in Black Love as a living, breathing source of strength that is real and imagined.’
Celebrating the essence of love in all of its forms from romantic to familial and sacred, the contributors convey a wide range of voices, some humorous, some sardonic, some joyous, but always thought-provoking. The cast of wordsmiths in this anthology of poetry, non-fiction and fiction are very noteworthy: Nikki Giovanni, E. Ethelbert Miller, Kwame Alexander, Gwendolyn Brooks, Tina McElroy Ansa, David Anthony Durham, Nicole Bailey-Williams, Victoria Christopher Murray, Tracy Price Thompson, Faith Adiele, Abdul Ali, Jonetta Rose Barnes, Kim McLaren, Jill Nelson, Pearl Cleage, Patricia Elam, William Henry Lewis, and more.
While the short section of poetry is a delicious appetizer, the main meal of the collection is the wide spectrum of topics under the heading of love, both in non-fiction and fiction. On the non-fiction side, Will Bester, a New York writer, writes of a lack of communication before a romantic break-up in the story, ’After She Left.’ In ’Loving Johnny Deadline,’ Lisa Page recalls how life strengthened her 20-year union with award-winning columnist Clarence Page after the death of his first wife and her own past emotional miscues. Marita Golden, the anthology's editor, contributes a warm, delightful real-life fairy tale with a few wrinkles about finding Mr. Right in ’My Own Happy Ending.’ New York Times bestselling author L.A. Banks returns to the innocence of a child beloved by family in ’Two Cents and A Question.’ The sometimes perplexing relationships between family members takes center stage in two essays: Dwayne Betts' lengthy release from prison and reunion with his missing father in ’Learning The Name Dad’ and Kim McLarin's ’Love Is A Verb’ with its undying mother's love for her children.
With some of the most impressive fiction in the collection, David Anthony Durham, Veronica Chambers, Tina McElroy Ansa, and William Henry Lewis weave magic in their depictions of love. Take a look at Nicole Bailey-Williams' ’Coming Clean,’ which offers a few surprises of a former Homecoming Queen's wedding to her high school sweetheart with a little Old School advice from her experienced mother. Also, Victoria Christopher Murray, one of our most effective novelists, recounts the occasion when Ruth Henderson trusted her mother to arrange for a new love in a new city in ’The Story of Ruth.’
One of the finest edited anthologies of love in recent memory, Golden has selected a few samples of contemporary Black literature that speaks eloquently about our most prized emotion with tenderness, sensitivity, and spirit. Readers will no longer wonder where our love went, for as this astonishing collection shows, it lives and thrives in our community.