What Would Martin Say? ~ Highlight and Giveaway

January 19, 2009 at 11:26 am | Posted in Books, LIfe | 10 Comments
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If ever there was a cause to celebrate Martin Luther King, it is today.  As we are about to embark upon the first African America presidency, it is apparant just how far we’ve come as a nation.

“I Have a Dream” is one of my favorite American speeches.  It never fails to give me chill bumps.

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We know what MLK said, but wouldn’t it be interesting to know what he might say himself today?  Clarence Jones, a close friend, asked himself that same question and has written a book entitled, What Would Martin Say? To give you a little more information about his book, here is some information I found on the HarperCollins website:

On April 4, 1968, the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, depriving the world of one of the greatest moral authorities of the twentieth century. He was thirty-nine. King had achieved so much at such a young age that it is hard to believe that he has been gone longer than the brief time he spent on this earth. He spoke out not only on segregation and racism against African Americans, but about many other issues of the day, from police brutality and labor strikes to the Vietnam War. Given the current state of the world, we would all benefit from hearing Martin’s voice, if only he were alive today. . . .

If anyone would have insight into what Martin would say, it would be Clarence B. Jones, King’s personal lawyer and one of his closest principal advisers and confidants. Jones—now seventy-seven, has chosen the occasion of this somber anniversary to break his silence—removing the mythic distance of forty years’ time to reveal the flesh-and-blood man he knew as his friend, Martin. Jones ponders what the outspoken rights leader would say about the serious issues that bedevil contemporary America: Islamic terrorism and the war in Iraq, reparations for slavery, anti-Semitism, affirmative action, illegal immigration, and the vacuum of African American leadership. Delving deep into his memories of the man he worked closely beside, and with help from the King Institute at Stanford University and reams of formerly top-secret and now declassified FBI files, Jones offers the guidance and insight his friend and mentor would have provided for us in these troubled times.

Many Americans today know of Martin Luther King only from video clips and history books. As Jones so aptly reminds us, this legendary figure was also a warm human being full of life—and more relevant now than ever.

You can take a look inside this book by clicking here.  You can buy this book here.

What Would Martin Say? Giveaway

In celebration of current events, The Literate Housewife Review is offering a copy of this book to one reader.  Since tomorrow will probably be the first inauguration that my daughter Emma remembers, I’m going to write a post about my memories about my first inauguration – Jimmy Carter’s, which was also historic in its own way.

To enter this contest, leave a comment to that post by 11:59pm tomorrow.  In your comments, please give your thoughts about Barak Obama’s inauguration.  I will draw the winner from those comments at noon on January 21st. “Please enter me” comments will not be considered.

Good luck and Happy MLK and Inaugeration day, everyone!

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#114 ~ Bad Monkeys ~ Review and Giveaway

November 2, 2008 at 9:28 pm | Posted in Books, Reading | 9 Comments
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Bad Monkeys by Matt Ruff

Jane Charlotte is in trouble.  She’s been arrested for a murder that she committed as it was authorized by Department for the Final Disposition of Irredeemable Persons, otherwise known as “Bad Monkeys.”  Bad Monkeys are part of a much larger covert organization.  As a Bad Monkey, Jane Charlotte had the responsibility to eradicate evil in American society.  The Bad Monkeys did what the government couldn’t or wouldn’t.  Bad Monkeys tells Jane Charlotte’s story through her discussions with her court appointed psychiatrist.  As he questions her in an attempt to determine whether she is fit to stand trial, he gets into her story, which is reminiscent of “The Matrix,” and just as compelling almost all the way through to the end.

This novel was much more science fiction than I normally read.  There are some neat gadgets and special powers, such as the gun that can give someone a fatal heart attack or brain aneurysm when you shoot them, educational classes that took place during sleep, cameras that were everywhere and recording everything that you were doing for playback at any time, and some wicked mind altering drugs that allow the characters to move and react exceptionally fast.   Still, the fact that this novel was science fiction didn’t occur to me until nearly the end because it’s all housed within Jane Charlotte, the most deliciously unreliable narrator I’ve come across in a long time.  She is so unreliable that when aspects of her story are called on the carpet by her psychiatrist, she brushes them off using one of the oldest of Biblical stories: Cain and Abel.  After killing his brother, Cain was banished from his family to live with those in the land of Nod.  Given that his parents were Adam and Eve and were said to be the first people on the earth, what was Nod and who lived there?  Those from the Judeo-Christian tradition accept that story on faith, despite the obvious hole in the plot.  So, when Jane Charlotte’s story runs into a wall with her story, the wall is simply just another “Nod problem.”  She believes it and expects her audience to as well, despite its improbability.  To me, this was pure genius.

Bad Monkeys hooked me from the very beginning and, as always, I love going along for the ride with unreliable narrators.  I only wish that it ended as her story did in Las Vegas.  Instead, what could have been an ending that would have kept me pondering whether Jane Charlotte was insane, a supreme and able liar, or a woman caught between the society and a covert operation that enabled society to run despite itself was resolved in a dirty, messy bow.  I suppose one could argue that there are still multiple ways to read the ending, but none of them are nearly as satisfying as what each reader could imagine for themselves.

Although the ending left a bad taste in my mouth, I loved Jane Charlotte and the story of her life.  I enjoyed that she secretly could not get enough of straight laced Nancy Drew but turn on anyone when it suited her.  Because there was a slight little bit of conscious to her, I was squirming along with her when the least savory scenes from her life with the “Pet Boys” were displayed on the big screen in front of her.  She couldn’t leave.  She was forced to confront her ugliest self.  Those scenese reminded me of how uncomfortable it is to  watch Chris Hansen walk out and confront child molestors on Dateline NBC’s “To Catch A Predator.”  She got herself into that situation, but I just couldn’t help wanting to rescue her.

While in the Bad Monkeys, Jane Charlotte helped those her organization determined were beyond the hope of redemption by a heart attack or anuerysm delivered from her gun.  This novel raises interesting questions about living in a civilized society: Who has the right to judge whether another human being is suitable to remain in society?  If the government can’t or won’t, should someone else to up the gun and dole out rogue justice?  What do we really know about the motivations groups and individuals like that?  What should happen with Jane Charlotte?  I guess the answer to all of those questions depends upon whether you are a Nancy Drew, a Bad Monkey or a bad monkey.

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As luck may have it, I received two copies of this novel and I would love to share both copies.  To enter this giveaway, simply leave a comment below.  I will enter your name into the List Randomizer and will give the books to those who end up in the first and the last slots.  You can enter this giveaway until midnight EST on Tuesday, November 4.  I’ll announce the winners on November 5th.

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To buy this novel, click here.

Immortal ~ A Second Chance

August 9, 2008 at 7:33 am | Posted in Books | 3 Comments
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When I had my co-workers help draw the winning names for my Immortal contest, I wished that I had enough copies for everyone.

What’s the next best thing?  Another blogger having copies to giveaway!  So, if you entered my contest but didn’t win a copy of Immortal by Traci Slatton, Lisa at Book on the Brain has two copies up for grabs!  Her contest ends on August 15th.  Click here for details on her give away.  Good luck!

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