Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Reading Corner: The Moanin' After (Part 1)

This week, I'm reading L.M. Ross' novel, The Moanin' After, the sequel to his debut novel Manhood: The Longest Moan. Before I get in too deeply, let me say that I absolutely loved the first novel! I cherished it so much, I've placed Ross on the same level with E. Lynn Harris and James Earl Hardy. High praise indeed! I enjoy novels that are extensive and provide me time to truly understand and appreciate the characters. Believe me, once I finished Manhood, I was well acquainted with Face, Ty, David and Browny.

The first novel focused on four friends, their journey into adulthood, the search for love while confronting their past demons. I know, it sounds cliché. Tyrone Hunter (songwriter), Pascal 'Face' Depina (pretty-boy model), David Richmond (dancer) and Faison 'Browny' Brown (voice) formed a boy band named Da Elixir which hurled them into instant stardom. However, such notoriety came with a price and each fell from fame and struggled to adjust to new realities. Now for those of you that didn't read the book, too bad (nah, for real, go buy the book!). SPOILER AHEAD so avert your eyes! To describe the sequel, you need to realize that two characters from the first book died. You'd imagine the story ended there but oh no, the secrets were just beginning!

The second book concentrates primarily on David and his struggle over the death of his best friend. Furthermore, the story focuses on Bliss Santana, Face's girlfriend and Browny's wretched attempts at revenge on his former group members. That is the most unpretentious way I can phrase the summary. The read is FAR more interesting. Words simply cannot do it justice.

Ross utilizes excessively descriptive adjectives and adverbs to create a rhyme-scheme that illustrates not only the characters but the rhythm of the city too. He weaves scenes together and integrates past events, journal entries and introspective thoughts into the narrative. The dialogue he applies to each character is consistent from the first book and the characters practically leap off the pages. I found myself mourning with David, reminiscing about his friend and struggling to find love and growing extremely irritated with Browny's get-rich-quick schemes. At some points, I realize I am feeling sorry for him.

I have two major concerns regarding grammar usage in addition to "spotlight" time. Ross is a talented writer but you'd never know it due to frequent errors. I don't recall numerous mistakes in the first novel but I was probably extremely immersed and didn't really care. Don't get the wrong idea; Ross’ second novel is surprisingly good. In fact, it's remarkably better than his first. The plot developments build on what was previously established demonstrating his adeptness at constructing a story. However, he merits a prominent publisher who can enhance his genius, skill and brilliance. Additionally, Ross does not balance time spent on the major characters. The initial chapters are devoted to David with subsequent chapters focusing on Browny. I believe Bliss only received about two chapters.

The story is climaxing and I'm quite eager to finish the book. I'm hoping David doesn't dig himself in some crazy messed up pit he will regret but I suppose the story will resolve positively. I can identify with his character regarding certain issues. Moreover, several points concerning relationships (platonic and romantic) have led me to re-examine my relationships.

Anyway, I'll get a post up when I finish the novel.

1 comment:

Cash S. said...

I read both as well. Let me know what you think when you're done.