Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

>Curl up by the fire with a good book

November 8, 2010

>Don’t forget to cast your vote in the poll to the left which asks your opinion of what Congress will do in the next two years.

Book News

These books have connections to Bessemer, in one way or another. With colder weather just around the corner, it’s time to stock up on your reading material. Make yourself a cup of hot chocolate, and wrap yourself in your Snuggie and begin turning the pages.

The Sermon on the Mall

John Tarrant has written a nice book that explores the connection between progressive politics and the teachings Christianity. The Sermon on the Mall is based on the inauguration speech of Barack Obama. Here is part of the introduction.

The Messiah has come! Or so one may have thought
upon hearing the passionate, tear-stained declarations of hope
for universal peace, prosperity and goodwill to all men, women,
gays, lesbians, white folks, black folks, sick people, poor people,
and assorted “mutts like me” on the tongues of the multitudes
lining the streets, throwing their cloaks in his path. This was
the Palm Sunday-like scene at the inauguration of the 44th
President of the United States, Barack Hussein Obama. Never
before had a president been welcomed with such unattainable
expectations for change in every phase of the national life, from
foreign policy, to heathcare reform, to the rebirth of scientific
inquiry, to the crisis de jour, an economy that was sucking the
life out of the entire planet. Can he pull it off? That was the
question in all our minds. And the other mostly unspoken
question we all still have in a knotted place in our stomachs is,
can he survive, literally, or will he suffer the fate of most every
messiah and fall to the cries of “Crucify him!,” egged on by the
doomsday prophets and publicans predicting the end of the
American franchise.

This book is available from lulu.com.

A good read for those who understand that Jesus was a progressive, and that today’s Republican party has become a tool of that faction of conservatives that doesn’t mind dividing the people and demonizing anything and anyone progressive. Heck, they would even throw Jesus under the bus if he was involved in the current debate about health care, but I digress.

People who should read the book:

1) Anyone who feels that their “conservative” political views are substantiated by Christian principles.

2) Anyone who would like to be able to better articulate the way in which their liberal political views are based in the foundational principles of Christianity.

3) Anyone who enjoys an entertaining read.

The author’s son is a friend of mine.

The Teller of Burnham Bank

Troy Post, formerly of Bessemer and the Bessemer Development Board, has written a novel titled The Teller of Burnham Bank.

From the publication page:

In The Teller of Burnham Bank, a small-town newspaper editor struggles to save an historic building from an evil politician who has a different view of historic “renovation.” But when the editor stumbles across a mystery (as they often do in these types of books), the suspense will keep the reader turning page after page …. because, of course, that’s the only way to read a book.

Mr. Post most likely draws from his experience in Bessemer in writing this novel. It will be available one week from today, from Palmetto Branch Press.

Here’s the back cover hook.

“Hey, look at this one,” said James, holding up one of the photographs. “I wonder what’s up with her?”

The photo he held was a picture of the Burnham Bank Building from 1939, as evidenced by the tax assessment sign in the still documenting the year. No longer a bank but the location for a five-and-dime store, the building itself appeared to be in good repair, with an ornate, wooden door at the building’s corner and perhaps fifteen arched windows, each topped with a marble lintel. An elegant spire, a feature missing in the present structure, covered the roof. But what instantly drew our attention was not the building – it was, rather a woman who stood in the foreground.

With arms drawn high to shield her face, one thing was apparent: she did not want to be photographed.

An interesting read, no doubt, and with the tie to local politics and historical preservation (although the book is fiction) I’m looking forward to reading it.

Those Others

My book, Those Others, is in the mix for a Lambda Literary Award, in the Gay Debut Fiction category.

Check that out here, and also you can watch a video trailer and order a book from that site.

>"Those Others" now available

March 29, 2010

>My book, Those Others: Navigating the “Riddle of Homosexuality” in 1965, is now available.

Buy from Amazon, right here, or get one directly from me. Details plus more information about the book and the articles from the Washington Post that inspired me.

Thank you Uncle Joe (who provided me with the Washington Post articles), and Frank Kameny (who provided special insight into the gay protest in DC in 1965).

>Four books

February 26, 2010

>There are four books that should be required reading for anyone interested in learning why Alabama is the way it is.

You could add the 1901 Alabama constitution to the list of required reading also. I’ll have something to say about that in my Western Tribune column next week.

First, though, some housekeeping.

To the left you will see a button where you can donate to Bessemer Opinions. While you will never be required to pay to read what is on this site and my others, it does take time to research and produce the content that you see. So if you feel generous from time to time, and appreciate my effort to get the progressive blue message out in this red state, click on the button and make a donation. Thanks.

Carry Me Home, Birmingham, Alabama, The Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution, by Birmingham native Diane McWhorter, is a must read. Published in 2001, Carry Me Home is both a personal memoir and a historical account of the fall of segregation. If you are from Birmingham, you will recognize family names of the your friends and co-workers and you might be surprised by what you learn.

Alabama in the Twentieth Century by Wayne Flynt was published in 2004. Flynt is a Distinguished University Professor of History at Auburn University, and this book outlines the issues by topic rather than chronologically. The books is divided into three parts: Alabama’s Political Economy (starting with the 1901 Constitution), Alabama’s Society, and Alabama’s Culture (with a chapter titled What Would Jesus Do? Religion).


Slavery by Another Name by Douglas A. Blackmon was published in 2008. “Shocking…Eviscerates one of our school-children’s most basic assumption: that Slavery in America ended with the Civil War” is how the New York Times described this book. There was an article about it in the Birmingham News recently, but many of us heard the author during interviews on NPR or read of this story in the Wall Street Journal.

As if our history of slavery is not bad enough, what is exposed in this book should make very American look to the ground in shame. The photographs are particularly disturbing.

The book tells the history of a post civil war systematic re-enslavement of blacks in our state under the guise of law enforcement and justice and deals of human labor trafficking. It is a difficult book to read because the personal stories of the individuals are so tragic and so, unfair.


Trying Times, Alabama Photographs, 1917-1945, by Michael V. R. Thomason, was published in 1985. This book may be difficult to find but I might let you borrow mine. Or look at it over here.

This book is a photo-essay of the social and economic history of our state during those years. There is an introduction and a short commentary, and each photograph is accompanied by a paragraph explaining it.

Near the middle of the book, opened to pages 152 and 153, are two photographs. On the left hand side is a picture of a tenant farmer family in Greensboro in 1941, in their newspaper lined cabin, with a black and white cat curled up on the floor. On the facing page is a photo of a white family taken in 1939. The children have hookworm and the woman has pellagra. “Neither affliction was uncommon,” the caption informs us. Unexpectedly, under the bed in the photo, is a black doll, presumably belonging to one of the little white girls in the photo.

There are other good books about our history and society, bu these four can catch you up. What better on a cold winter evening than to turn off the tv (once the Olympics are done) and crack open a book that may do more than just educate you. It might lead to some self-discovery, and that means being honest with yourself and your feelings and beliefs, and that is always a good thing.

>My Book

January 29, 2009

>I have basically finished my book that I have been writing for the past few months. I still have some editing to do, and I want to tweak the ending a bit. I also have to get a couple of permissions to use materials that require such.

Now comes the hard part. Publishing.

If anyone has any advice, email me.

In the meantime, I have to consider self-publishing or finding a literary agent, those types of things. E. Lynn Harris, the author of Basketball Jones who will be in town Friday(The Book Seller, St. Vincents (11-1) and Books-A-Million, Wildwood, (7 PM), self published his first book and sold copies out of his trunk. Now he’s on his 11th novel and has had 5 New York Times best sellers. I don’t really want to sell books out of my trunk. I drive a pick-up and there is no trunk.

Other popular self-publishers are Richard Paul Evans (The Christmas Box), Tom Peters (In Search of Excellence), Christopher Paolini (Eragon) and Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen(Chicken Soup for the Soul). Oh, and James Redfield (The Celestine Prophecy).

So, much of selling a book seems to be marketing, and creating anticipation and that type of stuff. So here is the first publicity regarding my book. The genre is historical fiction. The time is 1965. The setting is Washington, D. C. Here’s a preview.

Those Others
Navigating “The Riddle of Homosexuality” in 1965

In January and February of 1965 The Washington Post published a major series of 5 articles (titled “Those Others”) dealing with homosexuality. (They really did, my uncle, who lived in D.C. at the time, sent me the articles last year which were given to him by a friend in 1965). These articles play a major role in the book.

My main character, 18 year old Michael, is sent from Tennessee to Washington by his family to find direction for his life under the guidance of Senator Ross Bass (Tennessee’s junior senator at the time).

Michael is forced to deal with issues regarding his sexuality, and he uses the information in the newspaper articles to further his understanding. But the mis-information of the times also leads to confusion.

Michael also confronts his lack of understanding of race issues, and he befriends two college age civil rights workers from his home state who are in DC lobbying for passage of the Voting Rights Act, and in March, joins them and thousands of others in the Selma to Montgomery March, where he learns from certain high profile speakers about equality and human rights. But that trip is not without conflict and drama as well.

1965 was a turbulent time and Washington saw the first large scale anti Vietnam War demonstration (25,000 people) and the first gay rights picketing (10 people), which both occured on the same day, April 17. That was the day before Easter, and Michael’s family was in town visiting for the first time. Things did not go well.

Woven through this is the story of Michael and his first lover, Alan.

The historical figures in the book include Senators Ross Bass and Al Gore,Sr., Bayard Rustin, Martin Luther King, Jr., Viola Liuzzo, and Frank Kameny (who I spoke to about this work).

Doing the research on the Selma to Montgomery march, Bayard Rustin, and Frank Kameny not only helped create the basis for this book, but also increased my own understanding of history. And this, at a time during which so much history was being made, made all the research and time spent well worth it.

>We Love the Librarians

September 29, 2008

>Freedom of speech. Sounds nice doesn’t it.

Freedom to read. That’s a different story, at least to some. The Birmingham News has a front page story Book banning attempts still occur throughout U. S.

And you might be surprised at the titles. Little Red Riding Hood, Harry Potter, Huck Finn.

This is American Library Association’s Banned Books Week (Sept 27 through Oct 4). Everyone should read a (attempted) banned book this week, I guess.

This was interesting:

Also drawing attempted bans are books that imply the Bible should not be interpreted literally, and books that include references to evolution, he said.

I will let you draw your own conclusions about that.

Here are the 10 most challenged books of 2007:

And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson
The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
Olive’s Ocean by Kevin Henkes
The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
TTYL by Lauren Myracle
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

10 Most challenged books of the 21st century

The Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling
The Chocolate War by Rober Cormier
Alice Series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Fallen Angels by Waler Dean Myers
It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
Scary Stories Series by Alvin Schwartz
Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey
Forever by Judy Blume

How many of you remember this? (Also from today’s Bham News, no link. The article gives this as well as other examples of Attempts to ban or regulate books at public and school libraries in Alabama)

In 2004 an Alabama lawmaker failed in an attempt to ban novels with gay characters from public libraries, including university libraries. The bill by Rep. Gerald Allen R-Cottondale, would have prohibited the use of public funds for “the purchase of textbooks or library materials that recognize or promote homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle.” Allen said he filed the bill to protect children from the “homosexual agenda.”

Some of you already know this, but I am writing a book, a historical novel of sorts, that takes place in 1965 in Washington, D. C., Franklin, Tennessee and Selma/Montgomery, Alabama. Although this is not my goal, if the book actually get published, maybe somebody will attempt to ban it. What better publicity! The book should be finished by the end of the year.