Tuesday, January 15, 2008


ESSENCE.com January 2008
Patrik's Picks: Move the Crowd

Our books editor, Patrik Henry Bass, has found three crowd-pleasers to warm your spirit during these chilly winter days.

Remember those you-go-girl! novels of the mid-nineties? They often featured three or four friends with good jobs, great clothes and gigantic man drama. One of the best of the bunch was 1997’s Tryin’ to Sleep in the Bed You Made by real-life friends Virginia DeBerry and Donna Grant. That story of blue-collar-born beauty Gayle Saunders and her brainy cut buddy Pat Reid, was a richly layered tale with twists that made this a not-to be-missed tearjerker. Though the writing duo did well with 2001’s Far From the Tree and 2004’s Better Than I Know Myself, their fans have been clamoring to know what happened with their favorite folks from Bed. At last, DeBerry and Grant are giving readers what they want with Gotta Keep on Tryin’ (Touchstone/Simon & Schuster, $24). This worthy sequel finds Gayle, Pat and romantic interest Marcus Carter (yes, he’s still in the picture) grappling with all kinds of plot surprises, especially involving their children—at least the ones they’re sure are theirs.

STEADY AS SHE GOES If you haven’t read the juicy Francis Ray novels, such as Any Rich Man Will Do, check out her twentieth (yes, twentieth!), and perhaps best, tale, Not Even if You Begged (St. Martins Press, $12). Like Ray’s previous tomes, Begged features a driven heroine who has all the answers at work but not so many in matters of the heart. This time around we meet lovely Traci Evans, a widowed attorney. She has mixed feelings about grieving for her husband, who met his maker when he was cheating with another woman while piloting a twin-engine plane. Traci swears off men and throws herself into her career until she meets Ryan, a man with a heart of gold who’s the hunky son of her best friend. Will Traci open herself up and allow love in, or is this honey dip too good to be true?

THE HARLEM GLOBETROTTER In 1949, when he was just 28, Go Tell It on the Mountain author James Baldwin bid farewell to the United States and went to live in Europe, off and on, for the next three decades. Baldwin, who penned such groundbreaking works as Notes of a Native Son and The Fire Next Time, died in the south of France in 1987 at age 63, having become one of America’s best-known expatriates. But in Baldwin’s Harlem (Atria Books, $24), journalist Herb Boyd reconnects Baldwin to his sometimes-overlooked birthplace, Harlem. Boyd, editor of Autobiography of a People, painstakingly illuminates the influence Baldwin’s Harlem beginnings had on his work, an influence that would weave itself through the talented author’s career. Did you know, for instance, that Countee Cullen, the Harlem Renaissance icon who wrote the poem "Yet Do I Marvel," was one of Baldwin’s teachers? And long before Baldwin contributed to The New Yorker, he dazzled readers at Frederick Douglass High School as the editor of its student magazine. Boyd’s long-overdue look at a key aspect of Baldwin’s life is a worthy tribute to a remarkable man and the community he first called home.

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posted by DeBerry and Grant at 2:59 PM


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