Review: Why You're Still Single

Things Your Friends Would Tell You if You Promised Not to Get Mad
by Evan Marc Katz and Linda Holmes
Publisher: A PLUME BOOK, www.penguin.com
Category: Self-Help/Relationships
Reviewed by D.S. White for Read Zone Book Reviews

"The Power of No: The ability to say no in a relationship, in bed, or anywhere else exhibits the kind of confidence that it takes to walk away and be a happy single and, therefore, be happy in a couple. If you establish your worth, you never have to settle for less." Pg 33

With the above-mentioned quote I have to say, the authors do sum up the plight/condition/life (your word of choice here) of single folk quite well. One must know one's worth.

This passage and others made me think about myself a bit. As they discussed several key behaviors that may be off-putting, the one that jumped out at me was: insecurity.

Me? Insecure?

I know, I know ... shocked me too. For years I had everyone convinced (and myself too) that I had all my stuff together, that I'd successfully overcome the triple threat of abuse, bipolar disorder and rape. I just knew I was All that and a Bag of Chips!

To be frank, I'd done okay with those three, they were upfront ailments and were dealt with as such; but the sneaky sucker was abandonment.

Due to health issues, my mother left Trinidad for the US of A when I was six years old. Although we were reunited at age thirteen, unbeknownst to me, lurking in some small corner of my psyche was the message: the people you love always leave, so do whatever is necessary to ensure that they stay around.

That being said:

I have been known to create a problem where there was none, just because I'm used to the constant struggle of life. In fact, if things go too smoothly, I think something is wrong with it, me and definitely the party involved, so I must then investigate, interrogate, infiltrate and then annihilate the non-existent problem (and of course the relationship as a fallout).

Before I even read this book, I had a little talk with God. Well, actually, He had a little talk with me, for two years ... but I kept hanging up the phone on Him, because He wasn't saying what I wanted to hear, but finally, when you've done the same thing for the fiftieth time and received the same result--you answer the question, "Is it me or?" honestly: it was me!

About the Book:

The subtitle: "things your friends would tell you if you promised not to get mad" is quite on target because certain chapters either make you mad at yourself or at your friends and family for never pointing them out, whether you got mad or not. The book is divided into eight sections:

  • You're knocking Yourself Out of the Game
  • You're Just Not That into Yourself
  • You're Being a Bitch
  • You Know How to Be the Girl Friend, but Not the Girlfriend
  • You're the Patron Saint of Lost Causes
  • You Fight Like a Girl
  • You're Boring Him in the Bedroom
  • You're Missing the Signals for When to Get Out ... and When to Stick Around

About the Authors:

EVAN MARC KATZ is the founder of E-cyrano.com, an online dating consulting service that partners wht JDate and other dating sites. He has been featured on CNN, Fox, NPR, and the Today Show, and, yes, he is , in fact, single and living in Los Angeles.

LINDA HOLMES writes as "Miss Alli" for Television Without Pity and is a frequent contributor to MSNBC.com. She lives in Minneapolis.

Key positives:

  • The authors' voice is that of everyday folk who happen to be single and not gods on a pedestal who have rarified advice to share.
  • The authors themselves are still single so you're not hearing about being single from someone who sleeps with a human blanket.
  • The authors keep it real (translation: blunt). At times a little too real (for me) in terms of language and approach to topic.
  • The book encompasses the male and female point of view, therefore is not one-sided.

Key Negatives:

  • Irreverence.
  • Blue language.

Rating:

This book earned 4 out 5 stars for humor, honesty and sustained relevance throughout the book.

Comparable books (My List):

Comparable books (Amazon):

Review: He Talk Like a White Boy

Reflections on Faith, Family, Politics, and Authenticity

by Joseph C. Phillips, Foreword by Tavis Smiley
Publisher: Running Press Book Publishers
Review by D.S. White for Active Christian Media


"...I was determined that if I didn't learn to like rap, I would at least develop a working knowledge of the music so I could discuss it intelligently. I dashed out to the music store and bought CDs by Public Enemy, Big Daddy Kane, and a list of other artists who were hot at the time. The only ground rule I set was that I had to play each album all the way through at least once. As an illustration of my lack of commitment, I soon decided that playing an album all the way through didn't necessarily mean I had to be in the same room while it played. Strictly speaking, so long as the album played all the way through. I didn't even have to be in the apartment. I will never forget putting NWA (Niggaz with Attitude) on the stereo. I almost broke my neck sprinting across my apartment to turn the volume down when 'F**k the Police' began blasting through the building."

Bookstore Spotlight: Urban Club Books

This month I'd like to introduce Urban Club Books. They have a brick and mortar location in Long Island, New York and for the online shopper like myself, a web presence, as well.

I found this bookstore by way of one of my Yahoo Groups. They are actively seeking authors for book signings so if you're an author or you know of one ... do pass the word along.

What I like about this bookstore is that they've put some thought into "what makes me unique" which is important in the world of business when you're supplying the same product as your competitors. Your unique factor has to be about more than numbers because everyone can give a discount and pretty soon it becomes about who's going to beat whose price?

But Urban Club Books, by their very name has stated who their main target audience is intended to be: African American Book Clubs. However, if that's not enough, it seems as though they also intend to give Amazon a run for their money. They have a used book list and they also have an option for book lovers to list their used books for a 90-day period for a small fee of $1.00 per book.

Seems like a well thought out plan to me.

Peace,
Dee

Bookstores

Welcome to our bookstore page. Here you will find a list of bookstores where the prices are already discounted or we've negotiated a discount just for our readers. We hope in this way to assist you to get your read on!

Peace,
Dee


Bookstores:

A Conversation with Joseph C. Phillips, author of HE TALK LIKE A WHITE BOY

Question: He Talk Like a White Boy! Where does the title come from?

Answer: I took the title from an experience I had in Junior High School. I was in an accelerated English Class and in the beginning of the year I answered a question. A black girl from across the room raised her hand and said, “He talk like a white boy!” That was one of those signpost moments in life when everything from that moment forward is different. The way I spoke—my diction, lack of regionalism etc. would shadow me in everything I did. As I grew older “talking like a white boy” would influence every aspect of my life, from dating to roles as an actor. Ultimately, the title points to this crazy notion that there is an authentic way to speak and by extension an authentic way to think. Now of course I am not so much accused as speaking like a white boy as I am of thinking like a white boy.

Question: What did you hope to accomplish by writing this book?

Answer: I really hope my book can inspire dialogue and get people talking and thinking about moving beyond labels, beyond race. I would like to get people talking again about how to raise our children, honor our wives and husbands, how we love god, love our country and how we define ourselves as individuals and as Americans.Honestly I didn’t start out to write a book. I love talking to people and sharing ideas and wanted to do more of that…speaking in front of groups and that sort of thing. I have always believed that when you see successful people you ask them what they did to find success, so one day after cutting some commentary for Tavis Smiley I sat down with him and asked what he did to reach his level of success.

The first thing he told me to do was write a book. He laid down the gauntlet. He didn’t believe I could or would do it. To make a long story short I completed my manuscript, a publisher picked it up and once that happened I began the process of writing a real book.

Question: What is the book about?

Answer: The short answer is: the book is a collection of essays that seeks to explore how the Old School values of family, faith and freedom have shaped my identity and how they have shaped black identity and our American identity. The longer answer is that the book is about me. In the book I tell my story. I talk about my marriage, my career, raising kids, my faith, the love I have for my country and the love I have for black people. Some of the book is funny, some of it poignant, some political, but all of it is a good read.over…

Question: What was the most difficult part of the book to write?

Answer: Without a doubt my faith was the most difficult. Faith is I think the shortest chapter in the book. I struggle with my faith and I struggled with writing about it. I am a Christian. I believe in Jesus Christ but like most people I have fears, jealousies, insecurities…I get depressed, angry, disappointed. It is very difficult for me to reconcile that with my belief in the almighty and in scripture, and to make sense of it.Still I would say it is also the most important chapter of the book because faith is the anchor for everything else I do in my life. How I raise my children, how I conduct my marriage, my patriotism and my identity are all anchored by my belief in a God that loves families and loves freedom.

Question: How did the guy from “The Cosby Show” get to be such a conservative?

Answer: I will admit to being a conservative so long as I get to define what that means. If by conservative you mean one who wants to conserve the founding principles of this nation—god given rights to life, liberty and private property, the equality of all men and a limited government that receives its just powers by the consent of the governed then I am a conservative. If you mean a man that believes in the sanctity of marriage, the importance of men raising their sons and honoring their wives; if you mean someone that believes freedom and virtue are inextricably tied then yes I am a conservative. If you mean something you scrape from the bottom of your shoe I respectfully decline. What I am talking about are values. The values I talk about in the book—the conservative values—are values taught me by my parents, both life long democrats and liberals. I do not advocate now anything that I did not learn from them. This suggests to me that values are bridges. Most Americans agree with the founding principles. Most Americans agree with the values of marriage and family, of faith and freedom. We spend a lot of time talking about the things that divide and not about what binds us together.

Question: What links blacks together—race or class?

Answer: If I had to choose one I would say class. But again I think the real answer—the more liberating answer—is values. It is values that bind us together as communities and as a nation. One of the things I love about America is that people become Americans not through ethnicity or religion, but by virtue of adopting a set of values and principles. We may focus on race and class, but it is values that make our families strong, our communities strong and our nation strong. What I find fascinating is that when you put values aside and begin to focus on race you most always quickly move to class. When one says I want to befriend or know black folks (or white) just any black folks won’t do. One wants to know authentic black people and that almost always leads to discrimination based on class.

Question: Is being black skin color or a state of mind?

Answer: Obviously it is a bit of both. Clearly the darker your skin pigmentation the more you are identified as black. However, skin color often has little to do with culture. So, just as the colors of American cultural blackness cover the spectrum from white to blue black so too does the “Black state of mind.” What I am rejecting is a dogma that says black is only this list of things—this list of sounds, of wants, desires and experiences. I am rejecting a notion that there is a limit on what blackness can be and more importantly that there are some who are anointed to decide what those limits should be. Free men are able to define themselves as they wish. You can be whatever you want to be—create yourself and recreate yourself as often as your time, energy, creativity and resources allow. In other words I am a black man. This is how I speak. This is how I think. As the kids say, “This is how I roll!” Therefore, this must be within the spectrum of black thought and speech. It is authentic because I am a free man in a free society at liberty to create myself. It is authentic because it is of my creation.

Question: You write about black authenticity. Why should a white person buy a book by a middle class black guy?

Answer: I think mine is a story that we don’t hear very often because it is not seen as an authentic black experience. We need to disabuse ourselves of that thinking. More significantly, the arc of the book is about the universal values of family, faith and freedom. White people with families will recognize themselves in the struggle with faith, the joys of fatherhood and the enigma of marriage. White folks love their country and believe it or not also struggle with notions of identity. This is not a black book. As I have traveled the country speaking to groups and sharing my story and my ideas, people of all different races have responded not just intellectually, but emotionally. Here I am speaking, sometimes very personally about my life as a black man, a husband and father, conservative etc. and white folks were saying to me: “you were telling my story.” It is through the specific that stories become universal. And I can’t stress it enough that values transcend race.

Question: Aren’t there differences between conservatives and liberals?

Answer: Sure. There are some very fundamental philosophical differences. All of us do not share the same vision of the world. Political differences have been a part of American life from the very beginning. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams didn’t speak to each other for years. But their disagreement was on the role of government not on our basic values. Like everyone else, when I hear folks on television talking about things I disagree with I would like to toss something at the set. What I am suggesting is that we begin from a values framework. That is to say a framework that doesn’t assume, for instance, that conservatives want to see little children die in the streets. It is a notion that says we are all concerned about the poor, the elderly and national security. Absolutely we will have debates about the best way to address these issues. Democracy demands debate and sometimes heated debate. Let’s look first to where we agree and begin to build bridges to those places where we disagree. Otherwise you have a lot of broken television sets and not much progress.

Question: Has being a conservative hurt you in liberal Hollywood?

Answer: To my knowledge I have not lost a job because of anything I have published. In fact I am always surprised when people make a point to tell me that they are reading me or hearing me on the radio. Of course often they make a point to tell me that they don’t agree with me, but what is significant to me is that they go out of their way to let me know that they are following what I am doing. Part of that is simply that show people love to see other show people doing something. It’s one of the things I love about show people. The other thing it tells me is that there is something I am saying that is resonating across party lines. It tells me that family, faith and freedom mean something to people. I anticipate a similar reception to the book.Last summer I was at the national black theatre festival and the number of people who commented that they were reading my column and listening to my commentary on NPR was amazing. I knew that many of them didn’t share my political ideology, but my peers went out of their way to say, “Hey, I read you every week.” Later, at the inaugural fund raising ball for the African American Museum more people pulled me to the side to talk about my column then they did to talk about “The Cosby Show.”

Question: Do you foresee politics in your future?

Answer: I have considered it. In fact at one time I was looking at a race for the California state assembly. Ultimately it proved not to be the right race at the right time. Honestly, I enjoy writing and speaking much more than I enjoy learning the intricacies of state or federal tax policy. That stuff will make your eyes roll into the back of your head. I also appreciate that as a politician you have to compromise and you are constantly raising money. I haven’t ruled out politics, but what I am doing now is a lot of fun.

To schedule an interview, please contact:

Seta Bedrossian, Publicist
Running Press
215-567-5080, ext. 234
seta.bedrossian@perseusbooks.com


AN INTERVIEW WITH KIM MCLARIN




Q: Tell us about Jump At The Sun.

A: Jump at the Sun is a novel of motherhood. It is also a novel of race, of love and sacrifice, of isolating suburban life and the continuing legacy of slavery, of generational change and the price of living the dream for which our parents fought and several other things, but primarily it’s a novel of motherhood. It is not a sentimental one. Many of the thoughts Grace things about being a mother would not make it to the inside of a Hallmark greeting card.

Q: Is the novel a reflection of your own thoughts and feelings about motherhood?

A: Well, I could try to deny that, but no one would believe me. So I’ll just say yes – but with a big caveat. As I tell my writing students, fiction is not life, it’s the essence of life. It’s life distilled. So, yes, my protagonist and I share some things and some thoughts and feelings. Absolutely. But no, she’s not me. The reason I write fiction, as opposed to memoir, is to try to push beyond myself, to write outward from my own experience toward a more universal one. That’s the beauty of fiction.

Q: What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of being a mother?

A: It would be easier to say what’s not challenging about being a mother. Loving my children is not difficult for me; they are amazing, complex, complete little creatures who have bulldozed their way into my heart and taken it over. Praising them when they do something terrific isn’t hard for me, or grinning like a fool when they say something smart, or even pushing them to do more for themselves, to become more independent. What’s challenging is being consistent and consistently patient and understanding and present, being always beyond myself. Being a writer demands a lot of time inside one’s own head, one’s own experience of the world. Being a mother demands just the opposite. I find it very, very challenging to reconcile those twin demands. But when my kids were younger, what I found most challenging was the bizarre isolation of stay-at-home motherhood. No doubt about it – it is unhealthy and unnatural to lock a grown woman in a house with only kids for company all day, every day.

Q: In the novel, Grace wonders if all mothers go through what she’s going through. Do you think they do?

A: When I began this novel, deep, as I was, in the hormone funk of my own early childbearing and child raising years, I thought so. I thought all women felt what I was feeling – the crushing boredom and suffocation and bewilderment and dissatisfaction and anger and yes, resentment at finding myself trapped in a house interacting with toddlers all day. I thought all those happy-mommy women at the park, those types you see babbling nonstop and giddily interacting with their kids as if the stream of nonsense coming out of some one-year-old’s mouth was the most fascinating conversation they had ever had – I thought those women were either faking or delusional. Nuts. But as I came out of it, as I talked to other women and read essays by writers I admire who are also mothers – Anne Tyler, Alice Walker, Grace Paley – I realized that it really was an individual thing. Anne Tyler wrote an essay about how she really, truly did not mind when she had to put aside her work – herself – to scrape peanut butter off the wall or wipe a nose or even clean the litter box. And when you’re a writer, putting aside may mean losing forever, btu she never minded. So I realized mothers vary, just as women do. A rather obvious epiphany but then they are usually the most powerful ones. Do I think I’m the only woman who has never looked at her kids and wanted to run the other way – no. Bud do I think all women feel that way – not necessarily. Some women seem to be born to it, just in the same way some people are born with an ear for music or great vocal chords, a knack for dance, with an artistic eye or the potential for great mathematical skill. If I took up voice lessons and practiced for six hours every day for a couple of years I could learn to carry a tune but I would still never be never be Marian Anderson. It’s just not there.

Q: The novel is grounded in Grace’s struggle, which is contemporary. But the narrative moves back and forth through time to also illuminate both her mother’s story and her grandmother’s. Do you worry about what your grandmother or mother might think of the grandmother and mother characters?

A: Well, my grandmother has passed, but I do sometimes wonder what she might make, not only of this book, but of my writing in general. Though she lived until I was in my mid-twenties I regret to say I did not know her well. Mostly that’s my fault. In my late teens and early twenties, when I might have made the push toward connection with her, I was, like many folks, incredibly self-centered. I paid lip service to family obligations but in reality I was focused on one person and one person only – me. Before that, when I was a child and would have been interested and open and eager for her engagement in my life, she was busy with her own. Adults of my grandmother’s and mother’s generations did not, as a rule, engage with children, at least the ones I knew. They fed us and bathed us and sheltered us and sent us to school and church and once those needs were met they forgot about you. They had bigger fish to fry: jobs, mortgages, unhappy relationships. They didn’t find children that terribly interesting. Now, of course, we’ve swung to the opposite extreme, many of us, ordering our lives around our children, intent not only in parenting but in befriending our kids, interacting with them as though they were adults in smaller clothes. The trick is to find a middle path.

Q: What about your mother? Will she read the book and what might her reaction be?

A: My mother is a courageous and determined woman who lives in California and who may well cut me out of the will after reading this book. She did, in fact, give up a tremendous, a heartbreaking chunk of herself to raise me and my four siblings. And it cost her. I try to honor that sacrifice by recognizing it and by trying to make sense of it, the way all art tries to make sense of the human condition. I also know that if I make different choices it is largely because I have different options, and that I have those options in part because of what she did.

Q: So our mothers could not have it all –

A. Especially if they were black and especially if they were poor and denied an education.

Q. Yes. But what about contemporary woman. Can we have it all?

A: Beats me. I suppose it really depends on one’s definition of “all”. Women of my generation can certainly have children and careers and relationships; I know a lot of women doing it and some doing it well. I don’t know any doing it easily. Or without cost. But that’s life.

Q: What about your children? What’s it like to try to write honestly about mothering knowing that your children will probably read those thoughts some day?

A: My kids were still babies as I wrote, still demanding “Good Night, Moon” every evening, so that concern was not one I carried while I was struggling with this book. I’m glad I didn’t. But now that my daughter has learned to read and my son is learning, I realize that it’s true: someday they will probably want to pick up mommy’s book and see what’s inside. And they might wonder if some of the more raw thoughts Grace has about being a mother are ones I shared. Again, it’s an interesting dilemma, even more so than creating characters around other family relationships because one’s other relations, as much as you love and are loyal to them, are adults. But your kids are your kids, forever. And isn’t it a mother’s duty to protect her children from pain if she can? So if what you’re writing might some day cause pain, do you not write it? No right answer, of course. For me, I guess the answer is to write from love and empathy and not from pettiness or childishness or vengefulness or whatever, and to be as rigorous with my own self-reflection as in my view of the world. Then hope for the best. The other route is to be enormously successful; then nobody cares as long as you buy them a car.

Q. Will you write more books about mothering or family relationships?

A. Never say never. But right now I’m feeling done with that. I’d like to move on to something completely and utterly foreign to my life, to some wild story of adventure and mayhem perhaps.

Introducing: Age is Just a Number: Adventures in Online Dating

Title: Age is Just a Number: Adventures in Online Dating
Author: D.S. White
Publisher: Divine Truth Press
ISBN: 0977810305
Release Date: September 15, 2006
List Price: $9.95

Description:

MEET DIVINE: female, thirty-seven, slaphappy, young at heart, self-employed; an online newbie, living in New York. She is fresh out of a long-term relationship and has completed the two-year mandatorywound-licking I-hate-men mourning period. Unfortunately for Divine, someone neglected to inform her that dating has been upgraded to new millennium level. But maybe she shouldn’t worry ... hemlines aren’t the only things that have gone up.

Thirty-somethings are premium dating material now ... at least for the twenty-year-olds … Divine’s experiences are the basis for the serialmemoir I call
Age Is Just a Number, a lens through which to view the world of online dating.

Read an excerpt
Buy Now

About the Author:

Her motto: I am who I am by the grace of God

An avid reader, D.S. White is the former proprietor of an online African-American bookstore and wholesale dealership. Unfortunately, she didn't have a back up plan for 9/11/01.

She is the divorced mother of a fabulous 21-year-old who is in her senior year at the University of Pennsylvania.

D.S. White loves traveling but most of it to date has been done within the pages of a book. While planning that mother/daughter trip in the distant future, she's tried her hand at acting, singing, dancing, modeling, cosmetology and sales.

A budding wordsmith, she has few credits to date which opened her eyes to the need for a place where writers of color could congregate, a Water Cooler, if you will. There writers of all levels of experience can find awards, contests, markets, scholarships and more, specifically geared to writers of color.

Aware of the need for reading material which accurately reflects the look and mindset of the person of color, she decided to do her part to facilitate the same. If you remember nothing else from her bio, remember that she loves God and is always happy to share what He's done in and for her life.

Newsletter Archive











Welcome to Book Zone's Newsletter Archive Page. Here you'll be able to catch up on the issues you've missed. Get your read on... in the Book Zone!


Does It Get Any Better Than This?

I just received this note from Sara at Black Expression:

Dear Dee,

Your poem titled: "The Strong Woman is Not Dead" is included in our anthology.

Please send us an address to mail it to you.

Sincerely,

Sara



My decorous response:

REALLY!!!!!

Yeeee hawwwww!

What a lovely surprise.

my mailing address is:

D.S. White
P.O. Box 145
Whitehall, PA 18052-0145

Thanks for the great news Sara.

Dee.


Although the little gremlin on my left shoulder tried to bring up the fact that the title of the poem was actually "The Strong Black Woman Is Dead! Or Is She?" I treated it like my alarm clock and beat it into submission, while I continued doing a dance of joy!

How Ya Like Meh Now?

Hi Folks,

I've discovered a new blog designer Zoot! This is one of her FREE Blogger Templates. Cool huh? I figured it would go along with my sassy-and-celebratory-book-released-and-finally-out-of-my-durn-hair attitude on this first day of June.

That being said, I could sure use your help with the promotion of my book.

"What's in it for me?" you ask.

Only about $3.00 for every book sold that your send my way... cool huh?

I've created a new affiliate program. At 25% off of the list price of $11.95, you earn $3.00 for every copy of AIJAN sold that is traced back to your link. The program is set up with a 90-day cookie so even if your referral takes a while to decide, you still get the credit for the sale.

You can place the referral link on your blog, website, newsletter or even in your email signature!

To find out more information or to sign up, click here.

Thanks for your help in getting the word out.

Peace,
Dee