June 11, 2020
Wendy gave this book to me five years ago. I'm disappointed it took me this long to read it. Well, it didn't take me five years to read it; it is only 155 pages long. You know what I mean. 🤪
If you are not aware of the book, it is a father's (Coates) extended letter to his 15-year old son. I'm humbled by what Coates did. I aspire to share my life story as well as my perspectives with Courtney and Lucian. Like Coates, I do so in the hope of sharing what I think I've learned and what I value. Not so that my kids will be clones of me (shudder!) but to give them fodder to cogitate on as they plot their course (and course corrections!) into and through their lives. And perhaps avoid some of the wrong turns I took - or to take them knowingly.
But I do so through a disjointed set of photos, videos, emails, cards, conversations and letters. Oh, and perhaps through a blog. 🤪. The difference between what I do and Coates did is the difference between walking to the kitchen (me) and climbing Mt. Everest (Coates).
Iff you think Coates' story of one from an episode of Leave It To Beaver ("starring Barbara Billingsley, Hugh Beaumont, Tony Dow and Jerry Mathers as The Beaver"), it is not. (A note on Hugh Beaumont. In the 1970s, after having a stroke in 1972, he spent time in Aiken where his youngest son lived (lives?). He did some work at the Aiken Community Playhouse which was about a mile from the house where I grew up. And did you know that Andy Williams lived in Aiken, too?)
Coates grew up in West Baltimore. A slightly different neighborhood than where you'll find Gillman and Boys' Latin. He provides his unvarnished perspective of what it is what like to grow up in the 'hood and the role that his parents and his extended family played in his formative years. He discusses his experiences during college (Howard University) and his life afterward.
He writes about these things from his perspective as a black man. And that is the gift he gives us. He allows us to get inside the head of a black man, a very curious and observing black man. I found that to be both disturbing and helpful, if that makes sense.
And, in the part that made me smile, he wrote about going to Paris. 🤪
I've read reviews of the book. Some hate it, many applaud it. I'm not sure how you can be critical of a man's letter to his son. 😕 His writing style is not straight forward, which I liked. It is almost as though he crafted each sentence to make you stop at each period and think about what you just read before moving onto the next sentence.
No extended book summary of this book. This one you need to read for yourself. I hope you will.