Saturday, February 26, 2011

And the Prize Goes to W.E.B Du Bois for The Quest of the Silver Fleece

Dear W.E.B.,

The 2010 Ellstrom Award for Literature is late in being awarded. It is not that the decision had not been made. It was clear in my mind that this was a stand-out book based on the criteria set up for the award. That is, it is the book that I liked the most and was most deeply affected by during the reading year 2009. However, I stopped posting for longer than I care to think, and you were left waiting.

So, The Quest of the Silver Fleece by W.E.B DuBois is our choice.

This book is now in the public domain, so all of us are welcome to read it online for free. And it is a meaningful read. I believe that you described the overall affect best, yourself, in the introductory note.

He who would tell a tale must look toward three ideals: to tell it well, to tell it beautifully, and to tell the truth. The first is the Gift of God, the second is the Vision of Genious, but the third is the Reward of Honesty.

In the Quest of the Silver Fleece there is little, I ween, divine or genious; but, at least, I have been honest. In no fact or picture have I consciously set down aught the counterpart of which I have not seen or known; and whatever the finished picture may lack of completeness, this lack is due now to the story-teller, now to the artist, but never to the herald of the Truth.

And it is so, that you are not a writer of fiction who is fully matured and refined. Your sentences do not leave all of us in awe. Your story has some limits, though I have read far worse that were chosen from the New York Times best seller lists. But I am convinced that you have given us a picture of the angst and dignity of two creative young people, living, and wanting to succeed, in a time and environment that was difficult.

The wholeness of the characters, Zora and Blessed, is striking. We empathize with their dreams. We feel for their plights. They convince us. And they give us hope. And I suppose, in 1911 when this book was published, you, too, had those hopes.

Your dream lived within you until the day before Martin Luther King spoke the words, "I Have a Dream," but by that time you had left us for Ghana, finding, perhaps, at least for yourself, a better vantage point to see your dreams unfold. Perhaps, were you with us today, you could help our country build a new and better quest for interracial relationships that address the complexities of our lives today.

Thanks for your soul and your words.


Books and Music 2011

Dear Book Lovers,

This year my reading goals are going to include a genre of books that are difficult for me--long books. Most of my reading in the past couple of years has been centered on the classics of new and old literature. However, I have always used one qualifier. It can't be too.o.o.o.o long. This year, I plan to head into that storm of excessive wordiness, letting the howling sentences plash upon the prow of my vessel, setting myself adrift upon the endless roll of interminable ideas and utterances. Simply, I will read some long books. I will also read some others.

Books like Ulysses and War and Peace, even In Search of Lost Time, have long been on my list of "I couldn't get through that" books. Maybe, after this year, that list will have diminished. So far, I'm halfway through my first. I might even try to dabble in The Eight Dog Chronicles, though I don't think I want to commit the next 30 years of my life to them!

And here's a list to choose from.


The Public Domain by Stephen Fishmen

Complete Copyright: An Everyday Guide for Librarians by Carrie Russell

Broken Glass by Alain Mabanckou

American Mind Part I by Allen Guelzo

Ulysses by James Joyce--first 1/2 and I'm taking a break!

A People's History of Christianity: The Other Side of the Story by Diana Butler Bass

The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About your Organization by Peter F. Drucker et al

North and South by Elizabeth Cleghorn Stevenson Gaskell

A Spirit of Tolerance: The Inspiring Life of Tierno Bokar by Amadou Hampate Ba

The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott

Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath

To Have and to Hold by Mary Johnston

The Dark Child by Camara Laye

The Razor's Edge by W. Somerset Maugham

The Truth about Muhammad: Founder of the World's Most Intolerant Religion by Robert Spencer

The Enlightenment: Reason, Tolerance, and Humanity in The Modern Scholar Series by James Schmidt

The Moon and Sixpence by W. Somerset Maugham

The Reivers by William Faulkner

The Theory of Everything: The Origin and Fate of the Universe by Stephen Hawking

Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy

Hard Times by Charles Dickens

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

The Chronicles of Barsetshire by Anthony Trollope

Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel

The Life of an American Slave by Frederick Douglass

Racism Explained to My Daughter by Tahar Ben Jelloun

Islam Explained by Tahar Ben Jelloun

True Grit by Charles Portis

Life and Operas of Verdi - Course 1 by Robert Greenberg

Life and Operas of Verdi - Course 2 by Robert Greenberg

by Hermann Hesse

2 States, The Story of My Marriage by Chetan Bhaghat

Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo

Life and Operas of Verdi - Course 3 by Robert Greenberg

Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salmon Rushdie

Muhammad: A Prophet for Our Time by Karen Armstrong

Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller

Midnight's Children by Salmon Rushdie