Tag Archives: E. Lynn Harris

Racialicious Crush Of The Week: James Earl Hardy

By Andrea Plaid

James Earl Hardy. Photo Credit: Sylvester Q. Courtesy of the interviewee.

Award-winning author James Earl Hardy mentioned that quite a few people may have seen his best-selling book, B-boy Blues, outside of college classrooms–where it’s required reading in African American/multiculti lit and queer lit courses–and bookshelves: actor Isaiah Washington, who plays one half of a same-gender loving (SGL) couple in Spike Lee’s 1996 flick, Get On The Bus, is a holding a copy of it.

Lit-checked in a Spike Lee movie? Such is Hardy’s swag.

After the jump is the interview, in which Hardy talks about the “One Superstar Person Of Color At A Time” mindset in publishing, Black masculinity in pop culture, and his writing a one-person play about a man of color who’s a porn star and entrepreneur. (You read that right.) Hardy also talks about Washington’s career-ending homophobic remark, made a decade after his role in Get On The Bus.

Are E. Lynn, Hardy, McMillan & Perry creating art? Do they have to?

by Guest Contributor J. Smith, originally published at jbrotherlove

E. Lynn Harris, James Earl Hardy, Terry McMillan and Tyler Perry

Disclaimer: I’m not offering any real answers to “Do E. Lynn, Hardy, McMillan and Perry create art?” It’s a topic on my mind this morning. Robin Givhan at The Washington Post has a review of novel In My Father’s House, written by E. Lynn Harris before he died in 2009. It’s pretty brutal:

Let’s get this basic fact out of the way: This is not a well-written novel. E. Lynn Harris, who completed “In My Father’s House” before his death in 2009, does not have a poetic voice or even a particularly eloquent one. This is not a work of detail-oriented craftsmanship.

And that’s just the beginning.

The review goes on to call out Harris’ shallow character description and clumsy plot development. Frankly, these are things we’ve known for years. Like fellow black, gay writer James Earl Hardy and outspoken Terry McMillan, E. Lynn Harris spoke to a very specific reader. While the writing in these novels don’t challenge literary circles, they do speak to black female and gay communities longing for written representation.

Which is not to say I’m giving these types of work a “pass”. I was an early fan of E. Lynn Harris and James Earl Hardy simply because nobody was publishing contemporary work about black gay life in the mid-90s. By each of their third novel, the novelty wore off for me. Maybe I’m crazy, but I like my artist to expand as they continue to create; and possible help me to expand with them.

This point of view could be applied to Tyler Perry, as well. While his lack of skill seems blatantly obvious to me, the demand for his work is staggering. However, when a 30-minute cartoon can lampoon and sum up Perry’s plot devices in 15 seconds, you have to question how hard Perry is even trying to elevate his craft. Perhaps one issue is how Perry tries to do everything: write, direct, produce, act, etc. We’ll see when he puts his spin on somebody else’s work; namely Ntozake Shange‘s classic For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf.

Yeah, I’m afraid.

However, I remember an interview with Questlove in which he said he doesn’t categorize music as good or bad anymore. The more important question is if the work is successful in meeting its intended goal/audience. I’ve started to allow that philosophy inform my own prejudices (if only to save my sanity). This is why my second question “Do they have to?” is as relevant to me as my first.

Open Thread: Remembering E. Lynn Harris

by Latoya Peterson

From the New York Times obituary:

E. Lynn Harris, whose novels about successful and glamorous black men with sexual identity conflicts (and the women and men who love them) made him one of the nation’s most popular writers, died in Los Angeles on Thursday. He was 54 and lived in Atlanta. [...]

Mr. Harris clearly tapped a rich vein of reader interest with his racy and sometimes graphic tales of affluent, ambitious, powerful black men — athletes, businessmen, lawyers and the like — who nonetheless struggled with their attraction to both men and women. His books married the superficial glamour of jet-setting potboilers with an emotional candor that shed light on a segment of society that had received little attention: black men on the down low — that is, men who are publicly heterosexual but secretly have sex with men.

Mr. Harris, who was openly gay but who lived for many years in denial or shame or both over that fact, was able to draw on his own experiences to make credible the emotional conflicts of his characters, and his readers, many of them women, were drawn to his books because they addressed issues that were often surreptitiously pertinent to their own lives.

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