ChickenBones: A Journal
for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes
As Blades lust for control of the streets grows, so does the attraction between
Neeko and Tay. She even decides to attend a college closer to Neeko
in hopes of establishing a more permanent relationship.
By Irene Nichole Harris
Bottom Heights is a novel set in a city, fighting against drugs and violence. Raymond Drake is like a father to the community, protecting them from Blade–a deadly enemy bent on revenge. But this powerful business mogul is about to face his most challenging obstacle yet which deals with repairing his relationship with his daughter, Tatiana (Tay). Her mother, Evelynn has made sure that after their divorce to prevent any form of reconciliation between the two. But after several years, Tay decides to return to Bottom Heights to attempt to salvage her ties with him and finally have her questions answered. However, she doesnt count on her childhood friend, Neeko Gains coming back into her life.
Tatiana (Tay) Drake spent most of her life growing up under the strict and stern hand of her mother, Evelynn. Her parents divorced when she was twelve and in order to solidify the chances of Tay never rekindling her relationship with her father, Raymond (Ray) Drake, Evelynn filled Tays head with horrible stories of his sorted lifestyle. Evelynn begins by explaining that Ray was a murderous and notorious gangster, ripping the means of survival from the city of Bottom Heights. Evelynn portrayed Ray as an unfit and reckless father who cared for no onenot even his own daughter. Despite the closeness she had with her father when she was younger, she believed her mother. She further explained to her that in order for Tay to live a life free from chaos and pain, Evelynn had no chose but to Ray. Her plan to distance Ray and Tay works perfectly for ten years, until one day Tay decides to visit her father and give him the opportunity to reestablish that which was lost.
Their reunion gets off to a bumpy start when Ray is almost two hours late picking her up from the airport. He apologizes but Tay knew it had something to do with his current line of work. After she accepts his apology, she decides coming back to Bottom Heights was not that bad. It even gave her a chance to reunite with her childhood friendsmore importantly, Neeko Gaines. But her mothers depiction of Ray is confirmed when she questions the extremely built and muscular driver awaiting their arrival outside the airport. Ray reluctantly tells her that the driver is actually his bodyguard and she will be chaperoned by a bodyguard during her visit. Clearly upset by his declaration, Tay is tempted to return to the airport and leave for New York, but her anger subsides.
Once she has settled in, she reunites with three of her childhood friends who are elated to see her again after so many years. All three work for Ray and Neeko is appointed as her bodyguard to the relief of Spice who did not want the responsibility. She is instructed that under no circumstances is she allowed to leave the house without Neeko. Her independent nature revolts against her father but the point is made and the discussion ended for Ray did not have time to deal with her tantrums. He had a ruthless killer on the streets that called himself Blade. No one knew his actual identity but he has a reputation for selling drugs anywhere he could, including schoolyards. He killed one of Rays closest friends after Ray refuses to allow him free reign in Bottom Heights. Ray struggles to keep this from his daughter and instructs no one to discuss the specifics of day-to-day life.
As Blades lust for control of the streets grows, so does the attraction between Neeko and Tay. She even decides to attend a college closer to Neeko in hopes of establishing a more permanent relationship. When she tells her father this, Ray strongly objects and is pushed to explain that Neekos lifestyle is no different from his. He has no chose but to explain how he protects the livelihood of every person in Bottom Heights. He also informs her that Neeko will one day be a Father to the streets of Bottom Heights because of his lung cancer. . . . [The plot thickens. Check out this first novel.]
Irene Nichole Harris is a native of Florida and the oldest of eight brothers and sisters. She went to Divine Mercy Elementary School, John F. Kennedy Middle School, and went on to Cocoa High School. She credits her mothers love of poetry and the ability to create an imaginative world out of words as the driving force behind her talent. During her senior year of high school, Ms. Harris began her first novel, but due to personal setbacks, the piece would not be completed for several years. After graduating high school, she attended the University of Florida as a pre-med major however after she took her first class in African-American Literature, she could not deny her passion for writing. At the same time, Ms. Harris harbored a desire to serve her country. In 1996, she enlisted in the Army and pushed her writing career aside. She has been in the military for seven years and currently a Sergeant. In February 2002, she focused all energies on writing. She completed Bottom Heightsthe novel she began in high school. The accomplishment of self-publishing her first novel created a writing fervor which has spearheaded many other projects in the making, including three novels and a book of poetry. Ms. Harris has written several articles for Brown Diva, pieces for 4LoveofPoetry and Aspire2Write, and is a member of the Black Writers United and the Mighty Write Literary Association.
When not in military uniform, you can catch Ms. Harris sporting her full Afro in front a computer or pencil and paper in hand creating her next masterpiece. Ms. Harris believes that too often writers fall into the habit of conforming to what everyone else thinks they should write, but it takes real courage to express individualism and originality. She is also a student of Cameron University, majoring in Human Resources and Business Management.
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For July 1st through August 31st 2011
#1 – Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark #2 – Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree #3 – Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane #4 – Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper #5 – Stackin’ Paper 2 Genesis’ Payback by Joy King #6 – Thug Lovin’ (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark #7 – When I Get Where I’m Going by Cheryl Robinson #8 – Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby #9 – The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane
#10 – Covenant: A Thriller by Brandon Massey
#11 – Diary Of A Street Diva by Ashley and JaQuavis
#12 – Don’t Ever Tell by Brandon Massey
#13 – For colored girls who have considered suicide by Ntozake Shange
#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree
#15 – Homemade Loves by J. California Cooper
#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper
#17 – Player Haters by Carl Weber
#18 – Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare
#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King
#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey
#21 – The Upper Room by Mary Monroe
#22 Thug Matrimony by Wahida Clark
#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark
#24 – Married Men by Carl Weber
#25 – I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter
#1 – Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable #2 – Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans #3 – Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane #4 – Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper #5 – Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant #6 – Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey #7 – The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight #8 – The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing #9 – The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson
#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History by Ahati N. N. Toure
#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley
#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell
#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore
#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit by RM Johnson
#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins
#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell
#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle
#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard
#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris
#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice
#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields
#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class by Lisa B. Thompson
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A Novel by Jesmyn Ward
On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family thats about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrinas inexorable winds is the voice of Wards narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her familys raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brothers blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt. Her fathers hands are like gravel, while her own hand slides through his grip like a wet fish, and a handsome boys muscles jabbered like chickens. Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isnt usually just metaphor for metaphors sake. She conveys something fundamental about Eschs fluid state of mind: her figurative sense of the world in which all things correspond and connect. She and her brothers live in a ramshackle house steeped in grief since their mother died giving birth to her last child. . . . What remains, whats salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.
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By Michele Alexander
Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama’s political success and Oprah Winfrey’s financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that [w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as a system of social control (More African Americans are under correctional control today… than were enslaved in 1850). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the war on drugs. She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits. Most provocatively, she reveals how both the move toward colorblindness and affirmative action may blur our vision of injustice: most Americans know and don’t know the truth about mass incarcerationbut her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that.Publishers Weekly
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From The World and Africa, 1965
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update 27 December 2011