“How’s the book doing?”  Everyone asks with an inquiring smile.  

I smile and reply, “I’m not really sure yet.”, because, I’m not sure what they mean by “doing” .  Because “doing’” can mean different things to different people.

I assume that by “doing” they mean how many books have been sold, which means how much money have I made.  And then I feel that maybe I haven’t been working aggressively enough to promote the book.  So I go into overdrive, contacting outlets that might allow me to discuss the work that is being done in STATE OF THE NATION.

Racism Bigotry Wiggers Faggots Perverts NonEmpathetic Police State Apparatus Prostitution Immigration Legionnaires Disease Cancer AIDS HIV Pedophilia incest

But then I have to remind myself 

I did not write STATE OF THE NATION to make a lot of money.

I did not write it to be mainstream

To “crossover”

Yes, I want my book to touch as many lives as possible

But I also want it to be ‘cool’.

And cool is NOT mainstream.

That is the same reason I shopped my book to independents.  I didn’t want a phalanx of editors reconfiguring the book into a book of the month selection.  Quieting my voice.  diluting the rawness of the work because they might interpret the intentional as a misstep.

“Why are there random names written on blank pages, with no other narrative - delete!”

No.  Those names have meaning.  They are the names of the murdered children of Atlanta.

They are there like ghosts, haunting the chapter that follows their name.

They are the bodies of the black bodies felled by police overeaction.

Do you forget their names?

Well, their names are here.  They are here so that you can’t forget them.  So that you must say them.

Edward Smith, 

Alfred Evans, 

Milton Harvey, 

Yusef Bell, A

ngel Lenair, 

Jeffery Mathis, 

Eric Middlebrooks, 

Chris Richardson, 

Latonya Wilson, 

Aaron Wyche, 

Anthony Carter, 

Earl Terell, 

Clifford Jones, 

Darron Glass, 

Charles Stephens, 

Aaron Jackson, 

Patrick Rogers, 

Lubie Geter, 

Terry Pue, 

Patrick Baltazar, 

Curtis Walker, 

Joseph Bell, 

Timothy Hill, 

William Barrett

Cool is 'the underground'.  Known to a select group of people before the masses jump on board.

Cool is like house music.  The music that wasn’t played on the radio.  That you had to go to the clubs to hear, back before everyone decided that they wanted to hear the same top 40 crap in the clubs that they hear on the radio.

Cool is the opening gasps of Michael Jackson on “Workin’ Day and Night”.  Where he’s African, elemental; chanting along to that tribal, percussive beat before it descends into crossover banality.


Hillbilly Elegy vs. State of the Nation: Similarities in theme

While J.D. Vance's "Hillbilly Elegy" focuses on a mostly White demographic, and is a work of non-fiction, there is a shared thematic to my work of fiction, "State of the Nation".

The common thread is the disaffection of American youth that seems to be a fallout from the lack of options and resources as blue collar jobs became less available as we moved from an industrial to an information economy.

White working class people were of the impression that they were losing out to non-white people via affirmative action and government entitlements.

Black working class people were of the impression that they were losing out to white people due to the preferential treatment built into American society from systemic racism.

These perceptions seem to be creating a bigger rift between groups that blind us to the fact that we are more the same than we are different.  This country belongs to all of us.