Tag Archives: African American Literature

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 83: Wild Women and the Blues by Denny S. Bryce

If you live to be 110, how would you look back at your life? 

With Fondness?

With Regret?

Missed Opportunities?

Or At Peace?

The protagonist of Denny S. Bryce’s debut novel, Wild Women and the Blues, gets to answer that question. Honoree Dalcour is in mid-1920s Chicago during the heart of the jazz age where her ambition to make a name for herself as a dancer runs smack into the gambling, drinking, drinking, and gangster culture of that time.

Fast forward to 2015, she is at a nursing home where a film student name Sawyer Hayes is coming to interview her as the last living connection to legendary African-American filmmaker Oscar Micheaux. He is trying to put together his thesis about the filmmaker and learns more than he bargains for about Honoree’s life.

The novel switches back and forth between the two timelines and weaves the story of Honoree’s life in surprising ways. As a reader, we learn about the highs and lows of her life and how she could survive during such a volatile era. Bryce does an excellent job of bringing mid-1920s Chicago to life and I felt were the strongest parts of the novel. Honoree grew as a character and a woman’s ambition would have seemed “uppity” for the time would serve her well.

Sawyer reveals his past to Honoree in piecemeal fashion and learns about a family connection that he had never known before meeting the dancer. The story does a solid job showing how family secrets can have a devastating effect on a family and the truth will always set you free, no matter how much pain or discomfort it reveals.

The movie Chicago will come to mind in this novel for some readers.  But I think Bryce creates a fictional world I had not read in fiction since Toni Morrison’s Jazz. Wild Women and the Blues will be one of my favorite reads of 2021. Historical fiction readers and fans of musical fiction should definitely check it out.

 

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 78: The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton

“The easiest thing in the world is to be yourself. The hardest thing in the world is to be yourself.” Those two sentences were appropriate for one of the two major characters, Opal Jewel, in Dawnie Walton’s excellent debut novel, The Final Revival of Opal & Nev. Walton told the story of the early 1970s… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 77: Joplin’s Ghost by Tananarive Due

As a reader, you notice what kinds of books that you keep gravitating towards. Even though I’m an eclectic reader, I keep gravitating recently towards novels that are about the creative process (books, art, food, or music).  Human creativity has always been fascinating to me, because it showcases the power of imagination in interesting and… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 76: Mama Day by Gloria Naylor

I have always been more of a backlist reader than a new release reader.  There are so many books published, and it is impossible to keep up as a reader.  However, on social media and throughout the publishing world, the new release books especially in fiction are celebrated and promoted.  I totally get it.  There… Continue Reading

Icon #2

The Mayor of Dakota, Thomasina Jefferson, is being held hostage at city hall.  The police commissioner calls in S.H.R.E.D, the city’s most elite police unit.  They hold Icon and Rocket at gunpoint. Icon wants to comply with the police officers and Rocket reminds him of his social status despite being able to defeat the entire… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 75: Invisible Men by Ken Quattro

Black History Month is in full swing and I have seen many social media posts recognizing the achievements of African Americans throughout the nation’s history.  However, I have always wanted to find out something that does not get much recognition or overlooked during this annual celebration in February. Invisible Men: The Trailblazing Black Artists of… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 74: Playing in the Dark by Toni Morrison

I still consider realistic fiction the standard for American Literature.  However, imaginative fiction has made significant strides in the past two decades to create its own place in American Literature. As one who prefers imaginative fiction over realistic fiction, this is a much-needed development for the survival of literature as an art form. As a… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 73: The Dark Fantastic by Ebony Elizabeth Thomas

“The principles of the dark fantastic are so ingrained in our collective consciousness that when the expected pattern is subverted, most audiences cannot suspend disbelief. Readers and viewers complain that dark heroic protagonists are not likable. Critics observe that the characters, settings, circumstances, and resolutions are unbelievable. Agents regret that they just cannot connect with… Continue Reading