I love to read and lately, I've been on a roll reading biographies and memoirs. Especially if they're humorous. Because I love humor. Just ask me; I'll tell you how much I love humor. So I hear about this book, "I'm Down" by Mishna Wolff that is supposed to be huh-larious. It's about a white girl who grew up in a poor black neighborhood with her single father who truly believed he was black.
This sparked my interest because for a period of time back in the '70's, my dad, who was of Eastern European descent, seemed to think he was black. His best friend was a black guy we called "Brutha Taylor." Brutha Taylor was a former football player from USC and he had the requisite 'fro with the hair pick sticking out of it so of course my dad had to get a perm so that he too could have a 'fro. My dad would wear dashikis and whenever Brutha Taylor was around, my dad would start speaking "jive." Unfortunately, his "jive" was on the level of the "Slap my hand, black soul man!" variety. It was pretty hilarious. I'm sure if he could have, my dad would have been driving a 1975 convertible Cadillac El Dorado instead of a Datsun. But thems the breaks.
So when I heard about "I'm Down" I thought to myself, "Self, you are so going to relate to this!" Plus, the description on the book jacket claimed that the story was "hip" and "hysterical" and would have you "howling with laughter!"
Well I guess MY version of "hysterical" is something completely different from THEIR description of hysterical. While "I'm Down" is a very good book, hysterical it ain't. I just don't find myself "howling with laughter" when I'm reading about a girl who is desperate for her cuckoo-pants father's love and approval, even as he's treating her like crap because she's not "down" enough despite his efforts to force her to be more, I dunno, black. And whack-job dad publicly announces that he prefers his younger daughter which only makes the author even more desperate to earn his approval. At 14, the author finally reaches her breaking point and runs away to live with her "super needy" (also weak and spineless) mother so that she could have a semblance of a normal life. Yep, HUH-larious! A real knee-slapper!
After reading "I'm Down" all I could think was, "I'm Disappointed." Not because it wasn't a good book; it was. It was also bittersweet, tragic and painful to read what the author experienced as someone who was too black for the white world and and too white for the black world and so she fit in with neither.
I dunno, maybe I've lost my sense of humor since I didn't find reading about such a dysfunctional and sad upbringing funny.
Or maybe, I'm just not "down" with it.