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Original Essays | September 30, 2014

Brian Doyle: IMG The Rude Burl of Our Masks



One day when I was 12 years old and setting off on my newspaper route after school my mom said will you stop at the doctor's and pick up something... Continue »

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Customer Comments

Stephanie Patterson has commented on (16) products.

Heat Wave: The Life and Career of Ethel Waters by Donald Bogle
Heat Wave: The Life and Career of Ethel Waters

Stephanie Patterson, September 8, 2011

When I was a little girl, my mother used to talk to me about the movie, "The Member
of the Wedding." When, later in my life, I read the novel I learned that there were several characters involved in the story. For my mother there was only Berniece Sadie Brown, the character played by Ethel Waters. She always recounted Miss Waters' singing of "His Eye is on the Sparrow." I knew Miss Waters as older woman who sang wonderfully on various variety shows As Donald Bogle makes clear in "Heat Wave: The Life and Career of Ethel Waters" there was a lot more to Waters than what my mother and I knew.
Waters had a career that spanned decades and she is credited with influencing the style of subsequent popular singers and being the first black woman to innovate and perform in many different venues The huge grandmotherly woman I remember began as a tall, slinky figure who sang sexy suggestive songs like "Shake That Thing." She starred in the movies and on Broadway. She ended her career with television guest shots and as a participant in Billy Graham's televised crusades. Though the image she presented to the world was very pious her personal life included several younger `husbands' and a number of female lovers. Her profanity filled rages during the filming of "Cabin in the Sky" probably cost her a more significant career in Hollywood.
Bogle, who has written many books about black entertainers paints an entertaining portrait of black show business in the Walters era. As new figures are introduced into her orbit, we get mini portraits of them It's in this way that I found out that Billy Graham contributed to Martin Luther King's bail money when he was in jail. This is a wonderful portrait of a important figure who many of my younger friends have forgotten.
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The Cut by George Pelecanos
The Cut

Stephanie Patterson, September 6, 2011

Spero Lucas is a 29 year old veteran of the Iraq War. He has returned home to Washington and decided to make a living as a private investigator. He gets a cut of whatever he recovers for his clients. He bears a Greek name because his adoptive parents are Greek as does his African American brother, a school teacher named Leonidas. Spero may be younger and more techno savvy than other Pelecanos protagonists (he travels light with a moleskine notebook, an Iphone and the occasional gun) but his concerns remain the importance of work, the nature of manhood, and the importance of a strong parent in the life of a child. The Pelecanos writing is still tight, the street wit engaging, and the portrait of Washington D.C. frequently heartbreaking.
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The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall
The Lonely Polygamist

Stephanie Patterson, January 1, 2011

What a delightfully funny book Golden Richards has 4 wives, 28 children and is endearingly hapless There are very sad moments here, but don’t expect a soap opera Udall sees the humor in the chaos of this man’s life. How do you keep track of the names of 28 kids?
Much of this book is incredibly funny but Udall doesn’t make fun of anybody He likes each and every one of these people
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A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America by Stacy Schiff
A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America

Stephanie Patterson, July 2, 2009

This is a wonderful book It's a rendering of history that is particularly light on its feet. This is not your usual everything but the kitchen sink account in which the author gives you masses of facts without art or interpretation. It is as much about 18th century Paris and it is about Dr Franklin and it is smart and witty about everything
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Little Dorrit (Penguin Classics) by Charles Dickens
Little Dorrit (Penguin Classics)

Stephanie Patterson, March 29, 2009

The title character of this Dickens novel is one of his impossibly virtuous young women. But the world she inhabits is anything but permeated with virtue. Her father has been in debtor's prison for many years and she works, without his knowledge, so that he can afford debtor's prison. The world around her will look all too familiar. The most exalted character in the book is Mr Merdle, thought by many to be "the man of the age." If you know the story of Bernard Madoff, Mr Merdle will seem entirely contmeporary. As is true in more than a few Dickens novels, the rogues and eccentrics are the really interesting people here All in all, the perfect book to read now.
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