The Maestro aka Winslow Wixin


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Joe Ide’s debut novel “IQ” – young, orphaned, black, brilliant: Sherlock in the Hood

In his childhood, “my favorite books were the original Sherlock Holmes stories” – Joe Ide

The fantastic debut novel “IQ” could fill the void for fans of “Breaking Bad” — “IQ” has already been optioned for a TV series. Can’t happen too soon for me! I love this novel on so many levels – starting with the introvert who didn’t fit in, but he defeats his enemies with the power of his intelligence. Ide “grew up in South Central L.A., so the inner city was comfortable terrain and Sherlock in the hood was born.” See more here:


“… Like me, (Sherlock) was an introvert who didn’t fit in, but unlike me, he defeated his enemies and controlled his world, and he did it with only the power of his intelligence. I was a small kid in a big neighborhood, and that idea affected me deeply. When contemplating the book, a Sherlockian character was the only thing that occurred to me. I grew up in South Central L.A., so the inner city was comfortable terrain and Sherlock in the hood was born.” — “Sherlock in the Hood: PW Talks with Joe Ide”  By Lenny Picker |Aug 12, 2016

“A resident of one of LA’s toughest neighborhoods uses his blistering intellect to solve the crimes the LAPD”

Pre-Order “IQ” Hardcover  – release date: October 18, 2016

Via NetGalley, I received an ARC in August 2016. Wow! Five stars, without reservation!

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s novels inspired a whole wave of crime noir detective stories, but this–this! “IQ” is a rare version of the beloved Sherlock Holmes trope. This detective is brilliant and gifted at inductive reasoning (all the Holmes knock-offs are), but he’s also a high school dropout, an orphaned Black kid living in a rough part of Los Angeles. His name is Isaiah Quintabe, but others know him only as IQ.

The language is laced with profanity. The characters are straight from all the stereotypes of rap, pimp culture and drug traffickers, and yet these characters are fully realized, authentic, carefully rendered – not a single cardboard cutout in the entire cast.

The pain and loss Isaiah suffers, first both parents, then his only brother, come across vividly. “He was empty. A birdcage without a bird.” Beautiful! I’m forever shutting the book on amateur authors who write of “memories, overwhelming in their intensity, flowing through” the hero. Joe Ide gives us a teenaged boy hearing his brother sing in the bathroom, until the anguish crackles toward him, burning away his denial:

“Marcus wasn’t coming out of the bathroom and he never would again and Isaiah felt himself turning to ashes and crumbling into nothing.”

The dynamic of how Isaiah relates with other humans if splendidly rendered. The friend or foe theme with Dodson is classic and all too believable. The spiraling consequences of selling drugs or perpetrating robberies “just until” they have enough money to pay the rent reminds me of the best TV show ever written, “Breaking Bad.” The details about pit bulls, dog fights, attack dogs, and how their training has evolved – fascinating, horrifying. The rapper who’s so rich, he can burn a pile of his ridiculous, expensive possessions – I winced and cringed.

Everything in this story sounds so authentic, I was surprised the author is of Asian/American descent, not African American. I’m curious to hear if he got it all right, because I wouldn’t know, having lived all my life in a fairly idyllic part of the Midwest. It wasn’t any fairy tale, though. My sister, at almost 19, was murdered in one of those nice small towns where crime is supposed to be nonexistent. I wish we’d had an Isaiah here in November 1975 to nail the killer, because all these years later, Julie’s is still a Cold Case.Drug trafficking was rampant in this nice little college town (and the nice little private college, too, where a journalism student was raped and murdered months after my sister, and Lisa, too, is still a Cold Case).

Normally I avoid thrillers and whodunnits, in part because it’s frustrating to see others solve crimes when cases so close to home remain frozen. It’s rare that a detective novel interests me, much less that I should find it riveting and even gratifying. Last time this happened, it was also disturbing (“Rape: A Love Story” by Joyce Carol Oates, in which the vigilante justice was a bit much for me).

Line after line from “IQ” is highlighted in my Kindle. E.g.,

Burnout: it’s “an Oprah disease, like mother-in-law phobia,” right?

I’d have to choose from hundreds of passages worth quoting. For now, I can only say this is the rare book I would buy and give away to others–something that has become my new “gold standard” in critiquing a novel. I’d definitely read sequels, especially with that teaser about the car in the junk yard, in the epilogue. This is a novel that belongs in book club discussion groups, where I could spend hours hearing what others think.

I wince and cringe at the gritty details of urban gang life and the bad choices people make, but I laugh at the crisp, darkly humorous dialogue,  and marvel at Isaiah’s intelligence and powers of observation. With that teaser in the end of a certain car in a junkyard, we can be confident that this is only one of many great stories about IQ, the first Sherlock I know of who grew up in the hood.

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Jason Overstreet’s “The Strivers’ Row Spy” -Black FBI agent in 1919 Harlem

Obama is the 1st black President. Who was the 1st black FBI agent and why did J. Edgar Hoover need him?

Being a black FBI agent in 1919 was unheard of…until J. Edgar Hoover had no choice.

During the early days of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover was forced to hire a black agent. Why?


In Jason Overstreet’s debut mystery, The Striver’s Row Spy, the FBI’s first African-American agent has a secret agenda. Sidney Temple’s assignment is to move to Harlem, New York, in order to infiltrate “dangerously radical” Marcus Garvey’s inner circle and report any incriminating activity to FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. But Sidney is secretly working to thwart the FBI’s investigation while aiding black leader W.E.B. Du Bois. As Sidney and his spirited wife, Loretta, rise in Harlem Renaissance society, his mission becomes far more dangerous than he ever imagined. We asked Overstreet a few questions about his new novel. – BookPage interview by Lily McLemore 

* My own book review is posted at NetGalley, goodreads, amazon, and at the end of this blog.

Click here for the Audible  Unabridged version with Avery Glymph (Narrator)


I love Jason Overstreet‘s pithy, provocative one-liners on Twitter– e.g.,

Every man wants his family to live and thrive, but sometimes he must be willing to die to ensure it.

Some things are worth dying for, and in THE STRIVERS’ ROW SPY, that “something” is freedom.

I would further explain why the spy I created felt called to outsmart J. Edgar Hoover.

this story about the 1st African American FBI agent on the Big Screen. So important historically  –


By Carol Kean VINE VOICE on September 3, 2016
Format: Kindle Edition

Middlebury College, 1919. Only two black men have earned diplomas. “Momma had saved up for Lord knows how long” for Sidney Temple’s graduation gift, shiny, black patent leather shoes. For years she’s been “scrubbing other families’ homes, cooking for and raising their children,” but at age 25, with a degree in civil engineering, Sidney resolves, “I would see to it that she wouldn’t have to do that anymore.”

Much sooner than expected, Sidney is buying expensive new suits, driving a car in New York City at a time when hardly anyone could afford to own a car, throwing parties for his beloved wife Loretta and meeting her friends in the art world, and living in a beautiful home with security on Striver’s Row in Harlem.

“Harlem was quickly becoming the epicenter for colored politics–perhaps throughout the world,” Sidney narrates. Strivers’ Row was an aristocratic area in West Harlem, attracting well-paid professionals, aka strivers. “The colored folk who lived there had supposedly ‘made it.’ In fact, most were involved in the fields of law, medicine, the arts, and even architecture. I was likely the only government spy.”

Sidney’s occupation as an FBI agent for a young J. Edgar Hoover puts him in contact with some of the most fascinating people in U.S. history, from Jamaican-born poet Claude McKay to W.E.B. Du Bois and Marcus Garvey, “the fiery little man” who tried to start a Black Star Line to Africa to remove America’s colored people, descendants of slavery, to a new country in Africa where they’d be free of white dominance. That sounds like a plan the Ku Klux Klan would support, and once the FBI set out to take down Garvey, he did indeed stir up even more controversy by meeting with KKK leaders.

Sidney’s job is to take advantage of his skin color and get close to Garvey, offering his civil engineering skills while secretly reporting to Hoover. Little does Hoover know that Sidney is a great admirer of W.E.B. Du Bois, and that whenever Du Bois is targeted, Sidney writes anonymous letters to tip him off.

His secret life comes with dangers, of course, one of them being what his wife might do if she learned the real reason her husband won’t talk about his job or allow a phone inside their home. Other threats, like attempted assaults from armed men, are easier for Sidney to ward off. Sidney’s aversion to murder is one of many good qualities he manifests. He’s the most devoted, supportive and loving husband, but his career may put his wife in jeopardy.

Tension, conflict, and hard choices confront him at every turn. Sidney faces an order to assassinate someone. Does he end up killing anyone, even in self defense? The violence that comes with his line of work is bound to change him. How does an honest man keep up so many pretenses, and what happens if an adversary blows his cover?

The prose is packed full of historical incidents, names, and descriptions. Fans of the thriller genre might feel the pace isn’t fast enough, but fans of historical fiction could hardly ask for more. The climax is as tense and brutal as any thriller reader could wish.

The ending is a lovely but bittersweet surprise. The future Sidney envisioned for himself and his family in America is ripped away from him, but for the rest of America, things are looking up. No more talk of shipping all the Blacks back to Africa, united as one nation under Marcus “the Emperor” Garvey. The NAACP under Du Bois is making strides, no thanks to the FBI, but thanks to people like Sidney, who would sacrifice so much for the good of all his people.

I learned so much from this novel that none of my history teachers ever mentioned. We’ve all heard of W.E.B. Du Bois but how many of know about Marcus Garvey? Overstreet’s novel inspired me to spend hours online, learning more. I’ve added several nonfiction titles to my Kindle. One author says if Garvey had accomplished his dream of getting the African diaspora to leave the United States and Europe, uniting them in their own nation in Liberia, Garvey would have been as despotic as Idi Amin. I still haven’t read enough to find out how crazy or dangerous Garvey was, but his grandson recently asked President Obama to grant a posthumous pardon to clear Garvey’s name of mail-fraud. Was Garvey framed and unjustly imprisoned? His red-green-black flag has been brought back. Watch for it in news photos of Black Lives Matter events.

How many Americans know the fascinating history of a little nation called Liberia? I can only hope Jason Overstreet will make it the focus of a future novel. If he doesn’t, I might have to drag memories out of my son-in-law, who fled Monrovia during the Charles Taylor takeover, spent three years in a refugee camp in Ghana, found his way to America, and now has a degree in engineering, a good job, a home, and a family–in America–not Liberia. Why was there no exodus from the United States to young nation in Africa that promised economic opportunities, abundant natural resources, and freedom from white majority rule? History teachers, start with a novel like “The Strivers Row,” and set your students on fire with the desire to learn more.

This review doesn’t even begin to cover the political climate, race relations, segregation, and the sheer excitement of 1920s Harlem. I absolutely love all the references to jazz (my son Miles is a jazz bassist in Chicago), the Cotton Club, and the aspiring musician Peavine, a minor character who plays a major role in one of Sidney’s most daring and dangerous plots.

My Kindle is packed with lines I highlighted, but for a book review, there’s room only to say, “Trust me. You will love this.”

Note: Thanks to NetGalley for an ARC of this novel.

P.S. Jason Overstreet’s debut novel “The Strivers’ Row Spy” has inspired me to do a lot more research on real-life characters who come to life in historical fiction. Rare is the book that opens so many doors and makes me so eager to learn more about a time and place, the movers and shakers and people who defined an era.
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“A Killing Snow” by Dave Hoing and Roger Hileman

Penmore Press is looking at a Black Friday release date (the day after Thanksgiving) for “A Killing Snow” by Dave Hoing and Roger Hileman.

“A Killing Snow” is inspired by the tragic blizzard of 1888, “a nice dramatic backdrop for a novel,” this writing duo thought. So did the unpublished memoirs Roger had in his possession from his great-great-uncle Michael Hileman Jr., who lived from 1820 to 1915. Hilman and Hoing had always wanted to find a venue to incorporate Michael’s story, and when they noticed in his memoirs that he had experienced the blizzard firsthand, they found it.

14051653_894617880684819_7440170215033292843_n  Lottie Pirnie and her father, Michael Hileman, Jr., at age  93. Michael was Roger’s great-great uncle. His memoirs give a rich, detailed account of life on the prairie during the Dakota homesteading years. He inspired the character of old Mike, who survived Andersonville during the Civil War, in “A Killing Snow.” Lottie also appears in the story, but her image here served as the visual template upon which the heroine Mariel was created.

Hileman’s ancestors also inspired the duo’s previous historical novel, Hammon Falls51mrvl1w43l “a journey through multiple settings, points of view, and time periods, with every scene, every emotion, and every action described in beautiful prose that sparkles but is never overwrought. Hoing and Hileman are musicians as well as authors… In addition to their skill with lyricism, Hoing and Hileman are also masters of clear, direct prose…” – Melissa Studdard, Amazon Reviewer

Dave and Roger have been collaborating since high school on projects ranging from stage plays and musicals to novels. Living 90 miles apart, they do all their writing via email, passing chapters back and forth. Roger is more structured and methodical while Dave prefers to a more ad-lib approach … at least at first. But because he also loves to revise, he eventually rounds up the words and makes them do his bidding. The Facebook page Hoing and Hileman “Where Fiction and Music Meet” is a treasure trove of photos and anecdotes that inspired this treasure of a novel. 13062276_831417700338171_7436338392685626734_n  Click on the link, visit the page, and view images (nope, not gonna put them all here for your convenience) with captions like these: One of the earliest known photos of a tornado, taken, conveniently enough, in Dakota Territory in 1884. Our novel doesn’t actually depict a tornado as it’s happening, but it does mention a cute little fellow affectionately dubbed “Randy’s Whirlwind” that occurs while our heroine is out of town.

Back to “A Killing Snow” – here is the publisher’s synopsis:

In 1886, when school teacher Mariel Erickson leaves the civilized comforts of Chicago for Goss Valley, a small town on the Dakota prairie, she isn’t prepared for the hardships she and her husband encounter. As if hostile homesteaders, harsh weather, impoverished Indians, and shady frontier politics aren’t bad enough, she soon finds herself embroiled in Goss Valley’s first murder case. In full view of five witnesses, wagon driver Clyde Hartwig beats an Irish immigrant to death with a base-ball bat.

By all appearances, the victim was a decent and hardworking family man. Or was he? Rumors have surfaced of his involvement with homemade bombs and Fenian terrorism. Could that have been Hartwig’s motive for the killing? On assignment for the town’s fledgling newspaper, Mariel must get to the bottom of the incident by interviewing him before he is silenced by the hangman’s rope.

His January trial promises to be the biggest event to ever happen in the short history of Goss Valley, and the residents eagerly anticipate a fine spectacle.

Little does anyone know that a much larger force is about to visit the town, one which will reveal how capricious life on the prairie can be.

My own commentary (with excerpts from the lyrical prose) will be coming soon. These things take time…


Meanwhile, here are more captions, from the authors, which you’ll find with photos at the Facebook page:

A hay burning stove. Loose hay produced too much smoke and required constant monitoring, so it was twisted into twig-like bundles called “cats.” These were much more compact, produced less smoke, and didn’t need to be watched all the time.

This is the Buffalo County courthouse in Gann Valley, South Dakota, circa 1914. “A Killing Snow” is set almost 30 years earlier in a similar, although fictional, town called Goss Valley, before the Dakotas were states yet. The courthouse is the venue for the big trial near the end of the book.

Laudanam: Used as a pain reliever and cough suppressant for centuries, it was about 10% opium by weight and could be bought without a prescription at any drug store well into the 20th century. Although it’s still around, laudanum reached its height in the late 19th century, when a powder known as salicytic acid started to overtake it in popularity. Salycitic acid was then further refined, and in 1899 it was widely manufactured and marketed as a pill known as aspirin.

A Scholes & Glidden typewriter, 1876. Our fictional newspaper editor Herb Goss has one (okay, this one, I can’t resist sharing): 800px-s26g1


A sewing machine, circa 1880. Our ladies of the Fragment Society use them. (Carol has one too!)

A mid-1880s cash register from the National Cash Register Company. Our general store owner is very proud of his.

This is an anemometer, a device used to measure wind speed. Before there was a National Weather Service, the Army Signal Corps used to take weather readings and issue “indications” (forecasts). These Signal Corps readings play a big role in the novel.

A macabre practice of the 19th century: photographing dead family members as if they were alive. Our upcoming novel “A Killing Snow” touches on this curious fad.

The tombstone of Herst Gann, the founder of Gann Valley, South Dakota, upon whom our fictional character Herb Goss is loosely based.

This is odd-looking contraption is a Beardslee portable telegraph machine. The things only had a range of ten miles or so, and didn’t work worth a damn. :) 


What’s up next for this writing duo? Scroll to the end of this post. Meanwhile, the bio:

Dave Hoing is a library associate in the Special Collections and Archives unit of the University of Northern Iowa Library. He lives in Waterloo, Iowa, with his wife, Joni, a dog named Doodle, and a cat named Itzy. Dave is a member of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America who no longer writes science fiction or fantasy. 81lonvesml-_ux250_ He dabbles in composing, drawing, painting, and sculpting. Music is his first love, but he concedes that he’s better at stringing words together than notes, so there are times when he must tear himself away from one kind of keyboard to work at another. He also enjoys traveling—42 states and 27 countries to date—and collecting antiquarian books printed before 1800.

Roger Hileman writes nonfiction for a testing company by day and fiction by night. Naturally, the biggest challenge for Roger is keeping them straight. He and writing partner Dave Hoing collaborated for many years by mailing reams of paper back and forth through the US mail. Then one day someone invented this thing called the Internet. There was much rejoicing.

 31gcmzxs6yl-_ux250_  Through the years, Roger has been involved with numerous musical theater productions on stage, in technical roles, and as orchestra director. He gigs around Iowa with groups such as the New Venue Big Band and CR Jazz. He began his writing career as a playwright, but Dave eventually turned him to the dark side of prose. Roger loves history, especially the family kind, so his ancestors frequently become fodder for his fiction.

In his nonfictional world, Roger and his wife, Lu, live in Iowa City. No pets, but he plays a bass trombone he named Eddie.

Up next, “In the Blood,” a title with a double meaning. Dave posted on Facebook:

Our buddy Midori at Penmore Press has pointed out that my posts about the new book are mostly word counts, with virtually no information describing what the book’s about. She’s right, of course. When we first started this project, I mentioned the premise, but that was a while ago, so it wouldn’t hurt to do it again. Here’s the deal:

It’s 1948 in a racially divided town very much like Waterloo, Iowa. An exceptionally gifted musician has a dream of playing alto sax for a jazz band. The problem is, the musician is a 19-year-old white woman named Kasey Brown, and the jazz band is made up of middle-aged black men. This was at a time when black musicians could occasionally cross over to play with otherwise all-white bands, but it was never the other way around. In addition, while some women sang in jazz bands, it was exceedingly rare for them to be instrumentalists, especially alto sax.

The story is told from two separate points of view, one the 19-year-old Kasey, and the other a 50-year-old black trombone player named Freddie Ross.

The novel not only explores race relations and the economic caste system separating white from black, but also looks at the (platonic!) friendship that develops between Kasey and Freddie, and the interactions of whites with other whites and blacks with other blacks (the term African American didn’t exist then). If that isn’t enough, Freddie has a troubled past and an even more troubled relationship with his wife, and Kasey’s not having much luck getting along with anybody, including her fiance Jack and either of their families.

And of course you can’t have a post-war novel without talking some about the effect the war had on the characters. Kasey lost her beloved brother in North Africa in 1943, while one of the black characters discusses some of his experiences as a sailor in Hawaii.

BTW, for those of you who have read our first novel “Hammon Falls,” “In the Blood” is set in the same quasi-fictional town of Waterton, Iowa. Freddie Ross is the son of Lewis, a secondary character in “Hammon Falls,” and one of that book’s main characters, Will Hammon, even makes an appearance.

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“Talking to Luke” raises $ for Tazewell 501(c)3 nonprofit Animal Rescue

When you buy “Talking to Luke” all proceeds from all sales benefit Tazewell ARC1edc3cfa-7362-4be8-b4df-aaabff379129_profileSee  March 13 “UPDATE” on Facebook:

. . .once again, I’m left asking the question: WHY do we have to reach the point of desperation — of screaming and yelling and kicking and screaming — to get any help with the needs of these animals? This sponsorship came, once again, from OUT OF THE AREA. What does that say about us, Tazewell County? That we really, truly can’t take care of our own?


41b3tjfjczl-_uy250_ Diane Ryan is a pseudonym for a very real person living and writing in the mountains of Southwest Virginia. She is married with two grown children and more pets than good sense dictates. Her heartfelt passion is saving animals. In the past, she has rescued horses and wildlife, but currently focuses on dogs imperiled by cultural indifference toward animals in Appalachian communities. She is the Executive Director of a 501c3 rescue that regularly transports unwanted dogs from areas of shelter overcrowding to regions of high demand, where No Kill methods are firmly established. Her organization is a member of the Virginia Federation of Humane Societies and a Best Friends Network Partner. For at least the entirety of 2016 (this novel’s year of publication,) 100% of the proceeds from the sale of this book will go directly to animal rescue in Southwest Virginia. The need is very great. If you purchase this book in print or electronic form, you will play a vital role in the very real lifesaving efforts underway in Appalachian communities to save animal lives. Your contribution is deeply appreciated.

And why does it ALWAYS take drama to rouse any interest in the cause ARC stands for? We’ve tried all the fundraising methods suggested by the experts to no avail. We’ve tried the positive, upbeat, cutesy posts. NOTHING WORKS.

And here’s the kicker: we’re doing the work for the animals. We aren’t a “for show” organization, or some cute little politically correct ornament to hang on someone’s accomplishment wall. We house, feed, vet, and transport. We do the work ourselves, 24/7. Rain, shine, snow, freezing cold. We don’t just sit around talking about what “ought” to be done for the animals. People avoid us because we’re controversial? Yet these same people are tickled to death over Target Zero’s interest in Tazewell County and collaboration with the shelter. Well. . .who the heck do you think brought that to bear? Someone’s Fairy Godmother? You can’t love the fruit and hate the tree, folks. It doesn’t work that way.

Those of us who work closely with ARC are tired. We’ve worked for three years to bring positive changes to this county where its animals are concerned. And looks like we finally may have gotten what we wanted. But it came at a price. We are exhausted. We’re broke. And we’re darn near burned out. We’re not quitting — not by a long shot — but we’ve crawled out on the last limb we’ll be crawling out on for a good long while to come. Rescue will continue. But how available we are at the beck and call of a community who only remembers us when it needs something. . .well, that remains to be seen.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to the people who have hung in here with us, who didn’t get caught up in petty drama or believe the lies. Tazewell ARC will never, EVER play politics, not if it means animals suffer one day longer than they have to because of it.

“Because it’s a helpless animal!!!!” What about THIS “helpless animal,” then?

This cat was found homeless at age two, and re-homed:



41b3tjfjczl-_uy250_    Phenomenal. Fantastic!! I’m smitten with Luke and his story. So swept up in it, so captivated, I dropped everything else in my Kindle queue, failed to write a second review of the month for Perihelion Science Fiction and barely made the deadline for the first review. Luke is so compelling, I’d put my life on hold to hear just a few sentences from him every once in a while, which is sort of what Tania does in this ground-breaking novel, “Talking to Luke.”54552744_1392321215

I have a long list of fantastic lines excerpted from the prose, but so many of them would be spoilers. I must sift through them all and post whatever is “safe” to post. That could be tricky. Luke and Tania are so sizzling and electric, I’m afraid my Kindle will explode if I try the Kindle Highlight feature.

I’ve posted a much longer, more detailed review…

View original post 1,343 more words

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“Let’s Go Back to Africa”- but Marcus Garvey went to jail instead

Having just read Jason Overstreet’s debut novel “The Strivers’ Row Spy,” I’m inspired to do a lot more research on real-life characters who come to life in historical fiction. My review of the novel appears at Amazon, Goodreads and NetGalley .

Coincidentally, one of the historical figures is in today’s news.

(NOTE: The novel brings Marcus Garvey to life better than any nonfiction source can.) I’ve summarized, excerpted, and reworded this from via @nbcnews.

AUG 17 2016 – On His Father’s 129th Birthday Marcus Garvey’s Son Seeks Presidential Pardon

Julius Garvey, 82-year-old, semi-retired doctor, wants President Barack Obama to posthumously pardon his father.

“The Civil Rights movement started with Marcus Garvey, as acknowledged by Brother Malcolm, as acknowledged by Martin Luther King, and acknowledged by anyone who knows history. The president stands on that foundation,” Julius Garvey said during a press conference on at the National Press Club.

However, not all members of the civil rights movement at the time were fans of Garvey.

W.E.B Du Bois, who established the NAACP, called Garvey “the most dangerous enemy of the Negro race in America” for championing against the idea of black integration as a movement to create an equal United States.

Instead of integration, “Garveyism” called for  political, social, and economic separation from whites. Africans who remained in America, he feared, would continue to suffer as a minority under repressive Jim Crow laws and race based segregation in the post-World War I 1900s. Garvey encouraged a diaspora of people of African ancestry to reclaim their homeland – and for European colonial powers to get out of Africa.


“Where is the Black man’s government?” Garvey asked. “Where is his King and his kingdom? Where is his President, his ambassador, his country, his men of big affairs? I could not find them. And then I declared, ‘I will help to make them.’” Further, Garvey adopted the term “Black is beautiful” decades before it became widely acceptable, understanding that in order to succeed, a people had to feel good about themselves and have positive self-identification.  @Atlanta Black Star

DISCLAIMER: please do not assume I agree with Garvey on his plan to bail out of the USA and creating a new nation in Africa. I’m merely calling attention to a  novel that shows the dark side of Garvey’s proposals. 51wliwxhqsl-_ac_us261_fmwebp_ql65_  81a4m5rvxil-_ux250_ M. Jason Overstreet was born in Denver, Colorado. He lives in Los Angeles where he works as a screenwriter and author. He has appeared on NPR and C-SPAN’s Book TV. He holds a B.A. in mass communication and an M.S. in education.

Born in Jamaica, Garvey studied in London, traveled through Central America, Europe and then the U.S., and saw that those of African descent were almost always the poorest members of society. Garvey founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), urging African descendants to find their own economic independence by leaving their home countries and reclaiming European territories in Africa as their own.

Garvey established the Black Star Line shipping company as a push toward African economic independence. By 1920, he claimed to have 4 million committed members. His first convention in New York City’s Madison Square Garden attracted 25,000 people who cheered and applauded his call for African Americans to move to Liberia and reclaim it as a de facto homeland.

The prospect of a new, independent Liberia run by the African diaspora, right next door to British-controlled Sierra Leone, made certain Europeans nervous. Under a young  J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI investigated Garvey for mail fraud when he solicited donation for a “back to Africa” movement. He was convicted in 1922 and sentenced to five years in prison. He served roughly two and a half years, was commuted by President Calvin Coolidge, then  immediately deported back to his native country of Jamaica — a move which effectively ended his civil rights work in the U.S. Garvey eventually moved to London in 1935 where he died five years later.

The Garvey family and several members of the Congressional Black Caucus have pressed the president for a pardon. Neither the Department of Justice nor the White House have responded, Justin Hansford the Garvey family attorney told NBC News.

Those behind the push to pardon Garvey are trying to connect the dots between his movement and those that have followed, particularly the Black Lives Matter movement today.

“I think what the black lives matter movement is showing us is that our young black children are tired,” Julius Garvey said. “They’re tired of living in a society that marginalizes them and restricts their opportunities to be full human beings. That’s the way it was when Marcus Garvey came to America.”

damgarvey1  red-black-and-green-flag

Why Marcus Garvey’s Teachings Are as Important Today as they were over one hundred years ago via @Atlanta Black Star

Historian Lawrence Levine calls the UNIA “the broadest mass movement” in African-American history. Inspired by Booker T. Washington, Garvey originally established the UNIA in order to provide economic and educational uplift for Black people.

Garvey’s UNIA developed the Pan-African flag. As Azizi Powell noted in The History & Meaning Of The Red, Black, And Green Flag, the flag was created in 1920 in response to the popular 1900 coon song, “Every Race Has a Flag but the Coon,” which helped popularize the word “coon” in the American vocabulary.

–Africans, trafficked to the Americas from as early as the fifteenth century,  their scattered descendants (“diaspora”) longing for a return to the homeland

— the American Colonization Society founded the colony of Liberia for the resettlement of free blacks

–Garvey, a product of Pan-Africanism … [established] the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) and African Communities League (ACL) in 1914 to liberate Africa from alien rule and establish a united and powerful African State

The Garvey-Liberia Connection

by KesiaWeise


Liberia in West Africa was selected as the base for the establishment of the great African nation envisioned by Garvey…Founded for the purpose of helping the refugee slaves and exiled Africans to re-establish a foothold in their native land, Liberia was seen by Garvey as the rightful home of those wanting to return to Africa. He felt it expedient also to establish a foothold before white nations of Europe robbed Liberia of its autonomy, under the guise of friendship. The UNIA, in exchange for the permission to settle and establish new enterprises, would work assiduously to improve conditions that existed in Liberia and thus position the country as a great commercial and industrial commonwealth. The Liberian government accepted Garvey’s proposal because at the time he represented the only source of assistance and the government recognised the need for infrastructural development. However on the matter of administrative involvement there was conflict. To address this, the Liberian government outlined that ‘every emigrant before leaving America shall subscribe to an oath that they will respect the established authority of the Liberian government’. Such an oath ran contrary to Garvey’s mission. The regeneration of Africa for Garvey meant the imposition of European values and customs which were upheld as the epitome of civilization.

Those African nations that exhibited no knowledge of these western norms and values were thus regarded as ‘backward tribes’ and in need of Africans from the West who had benefited from western education and cultural habits. Thus Garvey, and all those who espoused ‘back to Africa’ views were intent on a ‘civilizing’ mission. They envisioned West Indian and American blacks, as the most likely administrators of affairs in Africa and in particular, Liberia. The growing popularity of Western bred blacks who settled in Liberia did not sit well with the Liberian Government, and indicated that it would be difficult to keep these ‘outsiders’ in check. Therefore, when the Firestone Plantation Company of Akon, Ohio proposed to develop the natural rubber resources of the country, Liberian President Charles King without hesitation signed an agreement with the Company in 1926 and retracted the offer previously made to the UNIA. Firestone promised to be a very lucrative venture and President King became personally involved in the project. The failed acquisition of lands in Liberia began the downward spiral of Garvey’s ‘back to Africa’ scheme. A power struggle between UNIA members Cyril Crichlow, secretary of the Liberian legation, and Gabriel Johnson, UNIA potentate in Liberia, further exasperated the situation. Crichlow “took the extraordinary asinine step in turning to the U.S. Minister in Monrovia for support. In the process, he turned over confidential UNIA documents to this representative of the U.S. government and thereby contributed more than his share to the downfall of Garvey’s Liberian plans”.
Read more:

My own summary based on Wikipedia entries:

Garvey thought communists were white men who wanted to manipulate blacks. Communism “is a dangerous theory of economic and political reformation,” Garvey said, “because it seeks to put government in the hands of an ignorant white mass who have not been able to destroy their natural prejudices towards Negroes and other non-white people. While it may be a good thing for them, it will be a bad thing for the Negroes who will fall under the government of the most ignorant, prejudiced class of the white race” (Nolan, 1951).


Recent studies on the African diaspora bring to light the roles Blacks have played in bringing about modern culture–roles that have been buried by the eurocentric perspective that dominated history books, showing Africans and its diasporans as primitive victims of slavery,  without historical agency.

According to historian Patrick Manning, Blacks toiled at the center of forces that created the modern world.

The African diaspora refers to the communities throughout the world that have resulted by descent from the movement in historic times of peoples from Africa, predominantly to the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and among other areas around the globe.

In 1928, Garvey travelled to Geneva to present the Petition of the Negro Race. This petition outlined the worldwide abuse of Africans to the League of Nations.

In September 1929, he founded the People’s Political Party (PPP), Jamaica’s first modern political party, which focused on workers’ rights, education, and aid to the poor.

In 1935, Garvey left Jamaica for London. He lived and worked in London until his death in 1940. During these last five years, Garvey remained active and in touch with events in war-torn Ethiopia (then known as Abyssinia) and in the West Indies.

In 1938,  he set up the School of African Philosophy in Toronto to train UNIA leaders. He continued to work on the magazine The Black Man.

While imprisoned Garvey had corresponded with segregationist Earnest Sevier Cox who was lobbying for legislation to “repatriate” African Americans to Africa. Garvey’s philosophy of Black racial self-reliance could be combined with Cox’s White Nationalism — at least in sharing the common goal of an African Homeland. Cox dedicated his short pamphlet “Let My People Go” to Garvey, and Garvey in return advertised Cox’ book “White America” in UNIA publications.

In 1937, the Peace Movement of Ethiopia openly collaborated with the United States Senator from Mississippi, Theodore Bilbo, and Earnest Sevier Cox in the promotion of a repatriation scheme introduced in the US Congress as the Greater Liberia Act. Bilbo, an outspoken supporter of segregation and white supremacy and, attracted by the ideas of black separatists like Garvey, proposed an amendment to the federal work-relief bill on 6 June 1938, proposing to deport 12 million black Americans to Liberia at federal expense to relieve unemployment. He wrote a book, “Take Your Choice, Separation or Mongrelization,” advocating the idea. Garvey praised him in return, saying that Bilbo had “done wonderfully well for the Negro”.

Garvey died in London on 10 June 1940, at the age of 52, having suffered two strokes.

NEXT UP*: more on the Harlem Renaissance, W.E.B. Du Bois, and other fascinating aspects of America in the early 1920s.

*It may be a while. I have four more NetGalley ARCs in my Kindle – and dozens of requests from authors for reviews. Perihelion Science Fiction, a monthly ezine, gets top priority.

*Futhermore, I’m still trying to learn the history of Liberia up to the present.

“Charles Taylor Testifies: Prince Johnson Killed Doe” 

Former Liberian President Charles Taylor … testified that Liberian senator Prince Johnson killed the country’s former president, Samuel K Doe, in 1990. Johnson, a former warlord turned politician, has publicly denied killing Doe, despite a well-publicised video of him drinking Budweiser beer as he ordered his men to cut off the former president’s ears. Taylor, another former warlord who led a revolution to oust Doe in 1989-90 and was elected president in 1997, is defending himself against 11 charges of supporting a campaign of terror by rebels in Sierra Leone’s 1991-2002 civil war.

He said Johnson caught Doe in the Liberian capital, Monrovia, around September 1990.

“Prince Johnson captures Doe alive and subsequently kills him,” Taylor told judges at the Special Court for Sierra Leone.


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“Talking to Luke” by Diane Ryan is #phenomenal

41b3tjfjczl-_uy250_    Phenomenal. Fantastic!! I’m smitten with Luke and his story. So swept up in it, so captivated, I dropped everything else in my Kindle queue, failed to write a second review of the month for Perihelion Science Fiction and barely made the deadline for the first review. Luke is so compelling, I’d put my life on hold to hear just a few sentences from him every once in a while, which is sort of what Tania does in this ground-breaking novel, “Talking to Luke.”54552744_1392321215

I have a long list of fantastic lines excerpted from the prose, but so many of them would be spoilers. I must sift through them all and post whatever is “safe” to post. That could be tricky. Luke and Tania are so sizzling and electric, I’m afraid my Kindle will explode if I try the Kindle Highlight feature.

I’ve posted a much longer, more detailed review at The Leighgendarium.

The voice of Luke is like no other. Not since Daniel Day Lewis brought Honest Abe to life in the 2012 movie Lincoln have I heard so much thoughtfulness and eloquence. Lewis says he found the voice of Lincoln, “almost as if being drawn into the orbit of another life; almost a physical sensation.”

Wherever the voice of Luke came from, Diane Ryan has channeled it, and I’m hooked.

“My fate has been fortuitous,” Luke tells us. “I survived this mockery of war, this blight on a nation where I saw the ground saturated with Rebel blood.”

Lest anyone suggest that a real life 22-year-old soldier wouldn’t sound so formal and eloquent, try what Diane Ryan did: reading letters written by Civil War soldiers. 10warletters6-master675

She’s captured a time, a place, a voice we rarely hear.

234cf50700000578-2812304-private_joshua_s_mason_wearing_a_covering_apparatus_on_his_arm-38_1416416042269Private Joshua S. Mason, who had four inches of his humerus, or upper arm bone, removed

I’d never come across Civil War photos of shirtless men with battle-weary eyes and tousled hair, but Diane Ryan did. And boy, does she know how to deploy these images in her prose. Not just Luke’s voice, but his face and eyes and whole person haunt us. countway5 Having devoured sepia photos from the Old West, I know what it’s like to stare into the eyes of a long-ago face and dream of meeting that person in the flesh. Talking to Luke pulls us right into that dream-come-true.

The story is better than a synopsis could convey. Tania, like Luke, is 22. She’s smart, friendly, attractive–an overtly (not overly; overtly) normal college senior–but when it comes to boyfriends, she has better luck in dusty mausoleums, listening for voices from the crypt. One of her electives is research in Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP). Sometimes the equipment registers a crazy amount of electromagnetic disturbances which coincide with other signs of a ghostly presence.

Tania discovers she is a natural for attracting the attention of those who haven’t moved on yet to the other side. All her life she’s had a peculiar sensitivity to electrical activity, but ghost hunting ratchets it up to something unbelievable.

“By degrees, the air developed a charge. Her body tingled, and the fine hair at the nape of her neck stood on end. A lot like–no, exactly like–she’d come in contact with a mild electric current.”

When a Civil War soldier speaks to her without the techno-gadgets, Tania knows she’s achieved the Holy Grail of researchers everywhere. Even her professor and mentor, Evelyn, is eclipsed by a novice, which is one reason Tania keeps Luke a secret.

Seriously, the chemistry between these two is all that, and hotter, and more explosive, than anything else I’ve ever read. Not that I was ever into Edward and Bella, but this blows “Twilight” out of the ether. –Okay, I’m Team Wolf, not Team Vampire, but please know that I did not read all of “50 Shades of Grey” because the “chemistry” of the sadomasochist and his virgin just didn’t do it for me, but Luke and Tania – well, you’d better go to your basement and flip the circuit breaker to “OFF.”

Every character, however major or minor, comes to life as if you’d walked into their hometown. Lily and Chris – she’d tackle a grizzly bear to defend a friend, and she puts up with Chris’s ADHD and assorted annoying habits. Phillip. Ohhh, Phillip. I’ve met you before. Tania’s parents are so likable, who can blame her for moving back home after college? And Evelyn – just when you expect her to flip out because her student upstages her in paranormal research, the author pulls back – ha! – and doesn’t deliver some contrived conflict with a jealous boss. No need to. The conflicts with Luke are so intense, neither Tania nor the reader could handle much else.

There’s a maddening subplot with Tania realizing she has no future with a ghost, so she allows herself to fall for the advances of the local bad boy. Luke has ways to show his disapproval, forcing Tania, ultimately, to find a scientific way to banish Luke from her life.

Just try not to laugh about the “Pest Control” scene. I dare you.

Diane Ryan can find humor in the darkest hours of human existence. She also flips a trope like nobody’s business. We can laugh when a dead woman mutters “spider webs” yet cry over a single, simple word, “braids.”

Evelyn warns Tania not to interact with ghosts, and Luke himself tells her how dangerous it can be. The more she sees or hears of him, the more things blow up or catch fire. X-Ray machines malfunction (nope, not telling you who ends up in the hospital or why). Photos are ruined by inexplicable glare or flukes of lighting when Tania’s ghosts are in the picture.

Luke’s knife-edge of satire, his sense of timing, and his capacity for mischief leave readers begging for more. This guy has been around for parts of two centuries and a new millennium. Ghosts tend to blink in and out, with long gaps in between, and lots of questions that haven’t been answered or they’d have moved on by now. Luke has been eavesdropping in a classroom and picking up contemporary slang while staying close to the site of his death.

Excerpting my favorite lines is a daunting task, when every line is pithy and meaty, so spot-on, with poetic simplicity (the hardest thing to pull off in writing). I need to head on over to goodreads and post a list of Diane Ryan quotes.

Escapism is what I want from fiction, and this novel is a great trip away from every-day life. Talking to Luke is unconfined by genre. There’s snappy dialogue, ghost hunters as intrepid as tornado chasers, smart women, foolish choices, and men who can be selfish bastards even though they’re really not evil. Call it romance-ish, paranormal-ish, historical, contemporary, funny, fantastic, science-ish, but above all, call it great.

One of the perks to buying “Talking to Luke” is that proceeds benefit an animal rescue in Virginia. On her Facebook page, Diane Ryan tells us The Kobi in “Talking To Luke” is “based on a very real dog named Kobi, who was found in the middlle of winter (2013) dragging a logging chain through the snow. My husband and I followed him for miles, until finally my husband drove our Blazer’s front tire over the chain and Kobi couldn’t run any more.” bdljrn1i_400x400 Kobi, in real life as in the novel, “was skin and bones, terrified of everything that moved, and in the company of another, much more aggressive dog who bullied him relentlessly. There was some reason to believe, based on the way the chain was bolted around his neck, that the two dogs had actually been chained together for some length of time. In Virginia, this constitutes cruelty, and had an owner ever been discovered, they quite possibly would have been charged with a crime. Kobi was adopted to a wonderful woman who loves him dearly. Today, Kobi lives in New Hampshire, the first state in the U.S. to achieve state-wide no kill status.”

I can attest that the author of this novel spends her last dime on dog food and risked her marriage to shelter 20 to 40 dogs at a time to spare them from the kill shelter. In the past three years she has put her writing on hold and dedicated all her energy and resources to saving the lives of creatures other people irresponsibly cast aside. Am I mad enough about this to blow up like Tania’s lamps and light fixtures? Yes. But at last, we have “Talking to Luke,” and more novels to come from Diane Ryan, who is one of the most polished writers I have read in recent times, and the most high-impact.

I can’t say enough good things about this book. For only $3, and for the sake of lost, orphaned, abused, but lovable furry animal companions, this is a must-have book.


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