Saturday, July 18, 2015

Ta-Nehisi Coates - Between the World and Me

I read Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates over the course of three days. He is a tremendously talented writer. His book reads like poetry and history. At other times it reads like a memoir. Above all it is a letter to his son. I definitely recommend it and can assure you it will stay in my brain, like Derrick Bell's Faces at the Bottom of the Well (a book that Coates references in Between the World and Me). I think it's an important book that people will be talking about for a long time. 

No part of me would react by telling Coates he distorts history and I certainly wouldn't lecture him about the American Dream, as David Brooks did. The book puts me in a deeply reflective mode. It's a serious book and I hope to be able to talk about it in serious ways with friends and colleagues who've read it. I also want my sons to read it when they get older. 

I have written about my sons (ages 7 and 4) on this blog in whimsical ways. Look through the blog if you care and see them having fun and see me celebrating them. I have imagined myself writing letters of my own to them some day. In fact, one of the reasons I keep this blog is so they can see what their father was up to for a stretch of his life if they are moved to do so. If I were to write a book with them in mind some day, it would sound almost totally different from what Coates wrote, and that's one of the points of his book. Different positions in American society lead to different vantage points about America. I can't tell Ta-Nehisi Coates what to think about the American Dream. It would be wrong and arrogant for me to do. I think he knows more about the American Dream than David Brooks. I think he knows more about America than I ever will. 

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