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Troy

Documentary: About black authors and the publishing business

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After absorbing all the comments on this thread, I'm convinced more than ever that writing a book calls for a lot of hard work, dedication and confidence. But it is also an endeavor where the odds against financial success are stacked against an author. It's amazing how seductive validation is, and apparently a published book fulfills a compulsion to make the world aware of one's existence by making one's self-expression available for public consumption and critical praise. In other words, writing a book is not only a creative project but also an ego trip. To believe in your book is to believe in yourself. Not a critcism because I, myself, have gone this route and there are, after all, worst roads to travel. If they could, everybody would write a book. Obviously some people are more driven than most, because I've also reached the conclusion that, to me, trying to establish a career writing books is more trouble than it's worth; unless you are enthralled with the notion of ars gratia artis. Just some musings.

As for "The Coldest Winter Ever", for the life of me, I could never figure out why this book was so acclaimed. It was not particularly well-written, the characters were materialistic, superficial, shallow, unlikeable people, the story line improbable, and the author had the gall to inject self-serving chapters about herself into the uneven plot. My negative opinion probably had to do with the fact that I was past middle-age when I read this book which came out in 1999, and I had been spoiled by previously reading good books, as opposed to Sistah Souljah's demograph who were a younger breed, new to the reading experience because they could not relate to what was out there. Literary critics who did appreciate this book undoubtedly recognized that it was in the vanguard of a new genre which made it noteworhty. I also never took to the author because she was so militant and afro-centric but always wore straight bangs and a long coarse looking pony tail hair extension that looked like a horse's tail. Why not a natural "do" reflective of your esteemed culture??? Whatever.

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As for "The Coldest Winter Ever"... My negative opinion probably had to do with the fact that I was past middle-age when I read this book which came out in 1999, and I had been spoiled by previously reading good books, as opposed to Sistah Souljah's demograph who were a younger breed, new to the reading experience because they could not relate to what was out there.

This is why I'm looking forward to re-reading The Coldest Winter Ever. I am curious to see if the 40year old me will agree w/the opinions of the 20year old me as to the greatness of this book as well as several others. I recently read some short stories that I'd read as a teenager (like "Hills Like White Elephants" by Ernest Hemingway and "A Rose for Emily" by William Faulkner) and I found them just as thought-provoking today as I had twenty years ago. I want to see what happens when I read Sister Souljah's book again. I'm hoping for another positive experience bc I'm so hyped about this book, still! l am going to be disappointed if it isn't right the 2nd go round. lol

correction: When I say 20year old...I really mean to say 20-something year old. I know I was closer to 30 when I read it.

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Troy

The Coldest Winter Ever was unique for its era considering that the book was pretty much the only Street Lit novel that was out at the time of its release…a lot of books that are out nowadays are copying Sister Souljah’s formula

Sister Souljah didn’t invent the wheel…she just put rims on it

To each their own

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Yep, to each their own Nah'Sun. This is the only reason talking about books and ideas is even interesting -- people are different.

If you have not already done so I'd encourage you to read some of our old conversations, if may get to to think differently about this issue.

Interestingly Writegirl I can't ever imagine wanting to go back an re-read Coldest Winter. Maybe as Cynique suggested it is a age thing. I was in my 40's when I 1st read this novel and t was not the first urban novel that I read (I think that might be Gansta by K'wan). It will be intering to read what you think of the book in middle age.

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I’ve read old conversations on this board dating back to 2003

I’ve been a lurker since 2007

From the classic discussions about Street Lit to arguements with authors such as Kola Boof and Relentless

You never know who's watching

POW!

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Troy,

I read some of the old thread...not too much, just a little...I want to re-read the book before reviewing too many of the comments. The re-read has been on my to-do list for a year now, so I think I may go ahead and knock that out this weekend. I'll def post my thoughts here when I'm done. Should be interesting. It was kind of cool to see the old comments though...looks like I've missed out on some lively discussions on these message boards.

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Yeah Writergirl it used to be jumping up in here, but those were the old days. Days that I'm afraid may be gone forever. I'm glad the archives persist 'cause I actually stumble across them on Google searches it is interesting what I discover or re-discover. Re-reading that old conversation -- even though I did not participate in it brought back some memories -- indeed it may have been a reason I decided to read the Coldest Winter Ever myself.

Nah'Sun, I'm glad you stopped lurking -- what made you come out of the shadows? Was it my invitation from Facebook? Lurkers always out number contributors by a substantial margin. Thanks for helping to keep the conversation active!

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Nah'Sun, I'm glad you stopped lurking -- what made you come out of the shadows? Was it my invitation from Facebook? Lurkers always out number contributors by a substantial margin. Thanks for helping to keep the conversation active!

BINGO!

Also…

I think the reason why there are fewer comments in contrast to the past is because of the growth of Facebook and other social online media

This site in particular was pretty much one of go-to-spots of the publishing industry at one time

That's not a knock against this site...a lot of homegrown sites have taken a hit since the MAJORS have taken over

That scenario looks familiar, doesn't it?

By the way…Thumper is a funny dude…hahahahahahaha

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I clicked on to the link you provided, Troy, and I was amazed! What I said about "The Coldest Winter Ever" was almost verbatim to what I said 8 years later. In both comments, however, I neglected to mention how turned off I was by the detailed descriptions of the expensive clothes and gear that the characters in this book wore. This seems to be a requisite in street and urban books; something the young black readers are really in to.

We did have some great discussions on the board back then, didn't we? Those were the days when I had lots of folks to argue with. Now I have to content myself with bouncing off boitumelo's gripes. Kooooooola! ABMMMMMMM! Chris Hayden! Yukio! I miss you. Forget Carey; he and I fell out. Actually, I fell out with a lot of people; 'think they're tryin to tell me somethin? Ahh the tribulations of a contrarian/iconoclast...

Speaking of the past, a little while back, there was a regular poster who went by the name "Urban Scribe" and who signed off here because she wanted to focus on an expose she was researching for a new book. She, herself, was an editor with a small press. Anyway, wonder of wonders, she and I hit it off. She requested a copy of one of my books and posted a fairly favorable review here and sent me a copy of a novel she had written. The book was an urban/street product entitled "And It Goes Like This". It was a novel very much in the vein of "The Coldest Winter Ever" and although it took some gettin into, I did eventually like the book, mostly because her writing skills helped her pull it off. I actually think that her book was a better representation of the genre than Sistah Souljah's. And maybe by the time I read her book I was more acclimated to the street lit that was becoming increasingly popular. So, although my age did contribute to my negative assessment of "Winter", I was also affected by what I considered its flaws. "And It Goes Like This" is still available on line and I recommend that fans of "the Coldest Winter Ever" check this book out to make the comparison.

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Okay...okay...I'm feeling some kind of way and I need to confess.

I dug up the book The Coldest Winter Ever, and I started reading it tonight. And I couldn't get past the first chapter. I tried. I really wanted to finish it if for no other reason than that I said I would. But I guess some things do change. Back in the day, this book grabbed my interest right from the moment Winter describes her own birth...and now...

Well, I'll just say that once I realized that I don't really have to read it again, I opted not to. Moving on.

This was truly an unexpected experience (or maybe I should say non-experience). For those who love the book, I can relate because I once loved it too, even if not enough to dive into heavy discussions about it.

I guess the things that annoy me now weren't factors that I noticed when I was twenty. It hardly seems fair to say that something "annoys" me about this book, seeing as how I didn't make it out of the first chapter. Nevertheless, there were very specific things that jumped out at me immediately and caused distractions to the point where I put the book down. For example, the tense switch-ups really threw me off early on. I couldn't tell if the author was doing that on purpose or if there were editing issues. Further, Winter, the character that I remember so well, seems much more simple-minded now than when I read her story back in the day. She is not likeable enough for me to find out anything else about her. Again - I only made it somewhere in the first chapter. Maybe it gets better. I don't know.

I thought about picking up the book that Cynique mentioned (And it Goes Like This), but I decided not to. I never really became a fan of street lit. The Coldest Winter Ever was the only book I've ever read that had a story line involving the drug game (oh, my bad...and White Lines by Tracy Brown was the other one). So two books. That subject matter didn't hold my interest pasts those two books. So I'll take it for what it is. A phase in the life of me. Ah, my twenties. Loved em, but can't say that I miss em. B)

______________________________PART 2

On a lighter note, I just went to the old thread and read through some of the comments re The Coldest Winter Ever. And guess what? Somebody mentioned a series by Walter Mosley that I'm going to go out and find. The "Socrates Fortlow" books. I'd seen an HBO movie with a Socrates Fortlow. Never knew Walter Mosley wrote the book. Gotta love this site.

I've only read one Walter Mosley Book (Devil in a Blue Dress) but I recall that it was pretty good. (Oh there I go again with what I "remembered was good"... :rolleyes:). Anyway, I always get excited when I get a book suggestion that I think I actually just might go out and read - like, immediately.

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Hickson I'll try to check you out in city other than New York.

Writegril, I'm not surprised I think it really is an age thing with The Coldest Winter Ever -- and that is cool. In fact I think the NYC city board of education classifies it as young adult -- it was not intended for a 40-something audience. I read the book because of it's iconic nature -- required reading.

Please share your thoughts on Walter Mosley's Socrates Fortlow when you are done.

When I get a few minutes I'm going to re-read Jean Toomer's Novel Cane I discovered that gook here. In fact it was Thumper's choice of the 1st book on our book club's reading list over 14 years ago

Cynique, yep those were the days :-) I still believe/hope they can be revived. Speaking of Iconoclast ever since Christopher Hitchens died last year I've been checking him out on Youtube -- I think you might find him interesting.

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