Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Sunday Sundries, 91

1. AOTW: It happened twice this week on two different roads: The AOTWs, approaching me, turned left right in front of me (brakes! curses!)--even though no one was behind me for. WTF?!?!?!

2. I finished another book by John A. Williams (1925-2015) this week--Sissie (1963), his third novel. As I've said in earlier posts, I'm reading my way through the works of this writer I'd never heard of until his obituary appeared last summer in the New York Times (link to obit). I thought Id try one book; I liked it--a lot. Next thing I knew--I knew I was going to read them all. And I'm on the way!

Sissie is one of three principal characters in the story. She's the mother of Ralph and Iris. The former is a playwright beginning his career in NYC; the latter, a jazz singer now working in Europe, where she faces far less racism. Sissie, out in California, is dying, so Iris flies to NYC to meet with her brother, and they will fly together out to see their mother.

Williams very skillfully interweaves the three stories--shifting the point of view throughout. We get Ralph's story, Iris', but not until the very end do we see events from Sissie's perspective.

Ralph is definitely struggling--a black man in a white world. At one point, he says his confidence is gone--"Because I'm a Negro. ... I want everything that living means. ... I am a human being" (111).

What struck me, over and over in this 1963 novel is how so little has changed in so many fundamental ways. I was 19 the year the novel appeared, a college sophomore. And Sissie echoes the cries that still resonate in our streets.

4. Joyce and I watched this week a fine 2011 documentary (via Netflix DVD)--Page One: Inside the New York Times. (Link to trailer on YouTube.) We go right in the newsroom, out on the road with reporters, and we witness the decline of print journalism firsthand. We see Times employees weeping when they're being "downsized"; we see the efforts of everyone to keep the Times what it has always been. But ... advertising revenue has plummeted; fewer and fewer people subscribe to daily newspapers; social media now perform many of the functions the newspaper once did. It was particularly sad for me because of the declines I experienced at the Plain Dealer. The paper has shrunk, become a far more quiet voice in northeastern Ohio, and all of this makes me surpassingly sad.

5. Our grandson Logan (5th grade) plays on a traveling Kiwanis-sponsored basketball league in Green, Ohio (where they live), and this weekend he's had a tournament in the Hudson High School gyms. Amazing to see so many kids playing, so many folks in the stands. I didn't play on a team until seventh grade in the Hiram (Ohio) Schools ... is it too obvious to say that things have changed? Logan loves it, and I remember the thrill of running around on the court, trying to figure things out, realizing there were kids who were just a lot better than I, enjoying the friendships with my teammates. Ah, youth!

6. Last night, Joyce and I had another Hot Saturday Night, Office Depot, TJ Maxx, Books-a-Million, McD's for a Diet Coke. Party on!

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