Too Black, Too Strong by Benjamin Zephaniah
You can tell that there’s something… different about a book when even its publisher’s logo (BLOODAXE BOOKS) flags up warning signs. This 2001 poetry book is only 87 pages long, but packs a rather lethal punch. When I first picked it up, the title, and the stains on the cover, mislead me into thinking that it was a book about coffee. Trust me, it’s not.
I was perhaps a bit disappointed with this paperback I ordered. Unused to buying poetry anthologies, as previously I either got massive compilations or read modern poetry online, it seemed so thin. I’d bought it because I needed at least a couple of poetry books to analyse to within an inch of their lives for my AS levels. Too Black, Too Strong is perfect in that respect, as though it has been written for the simplicity of analysing it. As for my taste in poetry however…
You may wonder why such a controversial and stereotypical book, which we must all agree it is, has appeared on my blog of classics. My answer is simple: it’s a classic because it’s stereotypical. We need a book of angry zesty poetry on this blog. I’m going into my A level year so you’ll need this little break from ancient hardcore poetry that will be steadily appearing.
Here I will simply quote one paragraph from the blurb, and leave up to your judgement the rest:
Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
I bought Anne Frank’s diary as something to read during any lull on my work experience placement. I’m not sure now about how wise my decision was, since my placement was at a primary school and the young kids there kept asking why I kept crying on my book.
My decision stood, nevertheless, and I’ll never regret reading it. I picked it out mainly because I was studying the Second World War in History and I thought it would be more interesting than reading the textbook that I was meant to.
Published 1947, Diary of a Young Girl is 287 pages long. If you get a copy, get it complete and unabridged. There’s a certain wholeness to having the entire thing there and I wouldn’t be able to pick out a bit which was more or less necessary than the rest.
My God, it’s real! It’s all true, ignoring the fact that this is subjectively written and therefore exclusively from the narrow view of a teenage girl. The blurb comments: Continue reading
The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer
My Literature class (which is almost entirely composed of girls, which is great when we gang up on the lads) were talking about feminism. Although most of us consented that, yes, we were feminists of a type, it seemed such a vague concept in so many ways that I decided to look it up. The Female Eunuch is perhaps the most famous book for feminists; the book that started a whole new movement upon its publication in 1970 (or so it’s said). So I bought it.
Firstly, let’s look at the book cover of my Harper Perennial Modern Classics version. It’s incredible; really bizarre. The symbolism is clear, and disturbing. I admit that it was this interesting little picture that made me look forward to reading it more than anything else though. Maybe I’m just disturbed.
I will give a warning though. This book is 397 pages long if you include the ending notes (but I suggest not reading this since it breaks up the pace of the book to keep flipping to the end). You need committment to get through a book like this, because it isn’t a story- it’s pretty much a textbook.
Obviously, there’s no plot to this book. It is set out in chapters examining the ‘conditioning’ of little girls into crushed women. That’s the general theme of the book. The blurb on the back explains: Continue reading