So, I was sitting in my writing chair, starting to work on another piece of fiction, when I realized something very, very wrong about my writing.
My characters are pretty white.
I’m not sure what to do about this, either.
You see, I’m a straight, white male. Most of my friends are straight, white males. It makes it easiest to write about straight, white males. I do actively try not to be one of those people that whitewashes their fiction, but I’m just not worldly enough (yet) to convincingly write for minority characters. I hope that as I continue to grow and evolve as a writer and a human being, that I can overcome this horrible flaw in myself. I really do. In the meantime, though, I wanted to take a moment to stop and highlight some of the great writing I’ve read that isn’t straight, white males. I hope that some of you will pick up these books and read them because they are wonderful.
The Icarus Girl
I listened to the audiobook version of The Icarus Girl during my drive from Kansas City, MO to Helena, MT way back in July. The story is about Jessamy, an eight-year-old girl living in London. Her mother is Nigerian, and her father is extremely British (I picture him very much like Mr Banks from Mary Poppins, although that description in no way fits the character. Sorry.). She’s a clever introvert that wants very little except to be left alone. She’s often sickly and prone to outbursts when she’s pushed too far emotionally by the adults in her life. During her holiday from school, her mother decides to take her back to Nigeria to visit her family and learn more about her Nigerian culture.
What follows is a great book that is steeped with Yoruba culture and folklore.
I loved this book. The story was completely new to me, the aforementioned white male. I learned quite a bit about the Yoruba people and because I read it, I was drawn into a month of researching the folklore and legends of the culture. I’m a geek. Legends and folklore are what I enjoy, and this book was like a gateway drug to an entirely new set of ideas.
More than that, though, it was an amazing book with a plotline that sucked me in. I found myself not wanting to stop for gas or food because I’d have to pause the audiobook while I was doing that. I wanted to know what was going to happen to Jessamy and how she was going to solve all the trouble she had gotten into.
I’m not going to go too heavily into the plot, but it was a great young adult read. I would happily give this book to my niece if she was a little older. There is some truly scary stuff in here, psychologically speaking. Maybe I’m over protective. I might recommend it to her parents, though. See if they think she’s ready for it. It was brilliant.
Hello Kitty Must Die
<p>Now, on the other end of the reading perspective, I would definitely not give this book to my niece, at least not for another 10 years or so. This book opens with a small monologue from the protagonist about taking her own virginity and proceeds down the rabbit hole from there. I pray to the angry sky dog that I will be this courageous in my own writing. I truly think this is the best book I read in 2012. Yes, it’s been all the way back in 2012 when I read this book. It’s due for a re-read. </p> <p>Since I already wrote a review for this on <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7873259.M_A_Brotherton" target="_blank">Goodreads</a>, I’ll just share that here:</p> <p><em>My first impressions of this book were wrong. Dead, freaking wrong.</em></p> <p><em>I went into it open minded, and I picked it up because honestly, <u>Hello Kitty Must Die</u> is an intriguing title. It just screamed to me, "You crazy bastard! You should read this shit here!"</em></p> <p><em>So I did.</em></p> <p><em>The very first line of the book is, "It all started with my missing hymen."</em></p> <p><em>My immediate thought was that here was a feminine empowerment book, something a man like me isn't supposed to read. I through that thought out on twitter and was pleasantly surprised when I actually got a response back from the author, Kate Kamen (Angela S. Choi), "You could be surprised."</em></p> <p><em>I was.</em></p> <p><em>This is a book about people doing God's work.</em></p> <p><em>By that I mean...</em></p> <p><em>Well, I don't want to give you spoilers.</em></p> <p><em>Let's just say, if you're like me, in that you're a complete sociopath, you'll probably appreciate the narrative.</em></p> <h2> </h2> <h2>1Q84</h2> <p></p> <p>I’m not even sure if I should review 1Q84. I mean, hasn’t it already been reviewed by everyone and their mother? I mean, this book has 3,000 reviews on GoodReads alone. </p> <p>This book is just good. It’s creative and clever. It makes me want to learn Japanese so I can read the original. </p> <p>The story is so complex and interesting that I don’t think I can do it justice to explain it. You should just check it out. </p> <p> </p> <p>I will say this: it isn’t a book for everyone. I’ve seen some pretty harsh negative reviews, especially in regards to the length. But, then again, there are a lot of people out there that can barely read a short story, let alone a 900+ page, multipart novel.</p> <p>I guess to each his own. </p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <h2>More? </h2> <p>I love to read as much as I love to write. I want to know more about the world and culture. I want to explore outside my own wheelhouse and find new and amazing writers from all over the globe. Fortunately, we live in a world where technology has allowed us to do that in new and unprecedented ways. </p> <p>If you know of a book that I should read, please, PLEASE <a href="mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">drop me an email</a>. </p> <p>One of my goals for this year is to not only write more, but also to be a more active book reviewer. There are so many great books out there that get completely overlooked by the world at large. I think we should all work as hard as we can to make them more known.