Unique Voices

Every so often, a book review really catches my imagination. Sometimes a review grabs me because it showcases a book on ideas, like How to Live — an engaging romp through the mind of Montaigne (see Montaigne Moonlights). And sometimes a reviewer piques my interest by talking about an author’s fresh, provocative writing style. That’s the case in a NY Times story about Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts, the 30-something author of Harlem is Nowhere. Here’s how the reviewer, Dwight Garner, describes the book:

“It reads, in fact, as if Ms. Rhodes-Pitts had taken W.E.B. Du Bois’s ‘Souls of Black Folk’ and Maya Angelou’s ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’ and spliced them together and remixed them, adding bass, Auto-Tuned vocals, acoustic breaks, samples (street sounds, newsreel snippets, her own whispered confessions) and had rapped over the whole flickering collage. It makes a startling and alive sound, one you cock your head at an angle to hear.”

Wow, now that is a spirited and jazzy description of a unique voice! It reminds me of the kind of manic energy that jumped off the page when I read The Brief Wondrous Life of of Oscar Wao, the Pultizer Prize-winning novel by Junot Diaz (see Summoning Beauty for some wonderful advice from Diaz). Although I didn’t totally love the book, I have to admit that Diaz definitely has a voice that makes you sit up and take notice. You may not adore it, but you can’t ignore it!

Dwight’s enthusiasm for Harlem Is Nowhere dampens a bit as his review goes on. He tempers his praise by saying that “the book never coheres or locates its own beating heart.” He also seems to feel that Sharifa overreaches herself and doesn’t quite pull off what she’s trying to do. Still, he has high hopes for the young author’s future. Here’s how he ends his review: “This book’s alive, though. It’s intoxicating, and lighted by the promise of better things to come.” Alive, intoxicating, and lit from within — now that’s the kind of unique voice and energy I’d love to capture in my writing. How about you?

About karinwritesdangerously

I am a writer and this is a motivational blog designed to help both writers and aspiring writers to push to the next level. Key themes are peak performance, passion, overcoming writing roadblocks, juicing up your creativity, and the joys of writing.
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2 Responses to Unique Voices

  1. remodeling says:

    I was lucky to find this karinwritesdangerously.wordpress.com website.
    What a striking post! I am just starting out in community management/marketing media and trying to learn how to do it well – resources like this article are extremely helpful. As our company is based in the United States, it’s all a little new to us. The example above is something that I worry about as well, how to show your own real enthusiasm and share the fact that your product is useful in that case.

    • Hello,

      Thanks so much for your wonderful note and your enthusiastic response to
      my thoughts in this post. You know, it’s so important in your marketing
      communications to stress what makes you unique and to let your
      passion about your product shine through. Telling stories about your
      firm — how it was founded and its philosophy — is a great way to
      engage customers and bring them on board.

      Good luck — and I hope you keep visiting for more ideas.

      Write on!

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