Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Slapboxing With Jesus

And one more thing I got from taking Kerry Madden's fiction class through UCLA Extension Writers Program...

I met a cool classmate named Monica P. She was the other black person in the class, so she and I just kinda bonded in the way that you do when you're outnumbered in a college classroom.

But she always mentioned that her all-time favorite book was a short story collection by Victor D. LaValle. It's called Slapboxing With Jesus. A short story collection about young men and women, coming of age or finding themselves, in the outer boroughs of New York City.

Several years after her recommendation, I finally picked up a copy. This weekend at EsoWon Books in L.A. Also saw a novel he wrote, The Ecstatic, and picked that up too.

Looking forward to finally reading what my classmate described so passionately.


Cashana said...

The Ecstatic is just wonderful.

Joseph said...

it's funny you should mention this book, or this writer actually, because i just finished having a heated argument about him.

his collection of stories is fantastic--LaValle is fantastic! BUT "The Ecstatic", to me, left a lot to be desired especially because of how talented he is. the story is orginal and heartfelt but craft-wise...well, it just isn't as solid. sometimes i feel some writers rush the second novel just so they won't be forgotten.

one good example of the opposite is Junot Diaz (have you read "Drown"), a contemporary of LaValle. i think Diaz was his professor at one point, or they are friends, but the point is that their style is VERRY similar. anyway, when Diaz came onto the scene (in 1996) he was the hottest thing ever. many of us were worried because the years were passing on by and he had yet to publish his first novel. i was hoping he wouldn't turn out to be a literary one hit wonder. now 11 years later he finally published his first novel, and Fred it was so worth the wait.

so going back to LaValle and "The Ecstatic", i wish he had done the same. yeah, it's an enjoyable read, but this guy is not in the business of writing one-day-reach-reads. he, along with Diaz and Packer (have you read "Drinking Coffee Elsewhere" b/c if not you should immediately) will be the writers the next generation will be doing dissertations on. hopefully he is taking his sweet time with the next one.

ok, enough with my lil' rant.