Page 17


*4 “”`%41%. Sea -iv het Horse ..” Inn I rt Kitchenettes Cable TV it , 4,, Heated Pool . $ beside the Gulf of Mexico oa k On Mustang Wand Available for private parties Unique European Charm o f c A rmesphere iconumical Spring and Summer 16teN’t Pets Welcome \(e 1423 11th Street 410 0′ Port Aransas, TX 78373 1$ call for Reservations f /i .4″”OglamItik ,,16 0 14 we l ler Celebrating Black Folk BY ROXANNE BOGUCKA TALK THAT TALK SOME MORE! On the Cutting Room Floor. Edited by Marian E. Barnes. 375 pp. Austin: Eakin Press. $18.95. READERS AND FOLKLORISTS who were delighted by the 1989 book Talk That Talk: An Anthology of African-American Storytelling \(edited rejoice in Barnes’ new effort, a collection of African-American poetry, prose, short stories, essays and memories that didn’t make the cut for the first book. Talk That Talk Some More is such a headlong pleasure that I’m willing to discount as “nitpicky” all sorts of things that I’m usually a martinet about. So you should be warned, I’ll tell what kinds of nitpicky things. The section “Newspaper Columns and Letters Revisited,” all by Marian Barnes, makes an otherwise wonderful book seem suspiciously like a vanity press issuance. Then again, if you do a book, why shouldn’t it be your bully pulpit? When I edit a book one day, its contents will likely be weighted. to the wise words of Roxanne Bogucka. Barnes is so very preachy, though. Several entries in this book are outright homilies. Some pieces are so repellently moral that they’re irritating, yet I found them compelling reading. They sounded like stuff my folks have said over the years, which made the readings compelling as “home voices” for me, but I’m not sure how they’ll play to the current generation of young people in need of such counsel. And it’s that very group, young black folks, for whom this book can be such a great resource. \(Barnes’ style is to capitalize “Black”: …and when I use the word ‘Black’ to denote race, not skin color, I use a capitalized proper noun as should be used to define any ethnic group. … While ‘white’ is an adjective that describes the color of European races and nations, ‘Black’ is a proper noun which identifies the race and culture of Africans and African-Americans who The selections “Fifty Men of Color Who Changed the World” and “Fifty Women of Color Who Changed the World” are excel Roxanne Bogucka is a copy editor in Austin. lent jumping-off places for further reading about contributions to our world from underrecognized races and ethnicities. I suggest you test yourself with these sections. I did, and I’ll confess: I failed to recognize 16 of the men and 19 of the women. The allegorical “East Meets West” is a prime example. It’s preachy and self-righteous and very correct, but you can’t take your eyes off of it, sort of like the movie Philadelphia. At a junior high school, a young man who lives strongly by his African culture winds up in a clash with a young man who lives strongly by his street culture. Both students, and their peers, profit from the experience, and a feeling of general harmony and human goodwill spreads over the school. It could happen. Yet this story is vitally important because it shows that there are as many different ways to be black as there are black folks. SEVERAL OTHER SELECTIONS are particularly affecting. “School Play Audition,” by Doris Barnes Polk, could have been pulled directly from the personal experience of any black student anywhere who gets good grades.”The Wood Bowl” is a bittersweet story by Barnes about mothers, daughters and aging. And just read “My Day As A Migrant Farm Worker,” chronicling Barnes’ experience picking tomatoes, then follow it with Texas author J. California Cooper’s “How, Why to Get Rich” \(about children picking onions, from The Matter Is Life, laughing to keep from crying in your weary bones. Barnes writes. .a couple of items about her teaching days. She dealt with kids who had been labelled as low-achievers, kids no one expected to have much interest in learning, except Barnes. Naturally under her tutelage, little educational renaissances occurred, kids responding like flowers to rain. It just reads too good to be true, even though I’m sure it is true; I wondered if the kids were composites of students she had known. And there was a certain flippant anti-feminism in one column \(“Modern Woman vs. ‘Traditional mitted, though, that even when reading things that contained elements I didn’t agree with \(“Who Needs Richard Pryor?”, ful to get to read views for which there are too few outlets. The biggest delight of the book, for me, was Barnes’ 1946 novella “The Roaring Bottom.” I didn’t want to read it; in fact, I looked with dread at 100 pages of unrelieved Barnes prose. Once I started, not only did I not want to stop, I was angry that I hadn’t been exposed to this work in a long and varied scholastic career. How good was it? Good enough that I forgot I was reviewing it, forgot to read it critically, just curled up on the couch in the sun and devoured. “The Roaring Bottom” is the story of Rev. and Martha Bailey and their four daughters, in a neighborhood that warps, changes and sours its inhabitants’ lives. The marvelously crafted, dialogue-driven novella reads like a play or a movie. Barnes has the eye of a director. Chapter VII, describing the progress of a black grocery store opened in competition with an established white-owned store, is a perfect montage. Better copy editing would have improved this book, but Talk That Talk Some More is what a McGuffey’s Reader would be if readings by and about black folks were compiled \(This is praise. I love THE TEXAS OBSERVER 21