Wednesday, February 04, 2009

It's a Start: 'Why I Love Oakland'

So this guy is probably all down for redevelopment and gentrification in a bad way, and you gotta be wary of any white dude who says 'I've never been a racist', but I'm so glad to finally have the San Francisco Chronicle print something positive about Oakland, even if it is just a column, that I am compelled to post this here. I know a lot of people who feel the same way, or even more passionate, about Oakland.

I've been toying with the idea of starting a new blog about Oakland, mostly because of all the negative and extremely biased and racist press it's been receiving lately, but also because there are so many enlightening, lovely and poignant stories being lived and never told in this beautiful city that I want to help expose to the rest of the world. Oakland is not a perfect place, by any means, but it's also not the 'hell', 'scumhole' and 'wasteland' that I've heard so many people who don't live here (and who may have never even really spent time here) say it is.

Oakland has been my home for the better part of the last seventeen years, and it's the home of thousands and thousands of die-hard Bay Area folks who know no other haven. I wish the people that talk so badly about this place would remember that. And the fact that we love it in spite of, or in some cases, because of its flaws and imperfections and the way the people here rise above all those things, is a beautiful thing, something to emulate.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Quick Review of Sherman Alexie's New Book

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
I liked this book quite a bit, more by the end than I thought I would. I still don't understand why it's being marketed as a 'young adult' book--if that was Alexie's goal or if that was his agent's or publisher's way of trying to make more money. In any case, there are plenty of harsh grown-up truths in this book to make it challenging even for a cynical reader like me to breeze through. Although I didn't enjoy the fact that the protagonist, Arnold Spirit, seemed so in love with white people throughout the book--when they weren't beating him up or acting racist, that is--I think Alexie did a great job helping me understand how Arnold in some ways HAD to love white people in order to have any hope to escape the poverty and misery of the reservation where he lived. The political activist of color in me wanted Alexie to show more of the positive things about Rez life, but in the end, I'm glad he didn't, because that wouldn't have been honest to the character or the story he was trying to tell. And he did describe some lovely details from the character's perspective (moments with his grandmother and best friend, Rowdy, for example) that were achingly beautiful in their painfulness and irony. I would love to hear what a teenager/young adult thought about this book!

View all my reviews.