Thursday, December 13, 2012

BC2012: Barack Like Me: The Chocolate-Covered Truth by David Alan Grier

This book was a pleasant surprise courtesy of the Borders bankruptcy sale. I had never heard of Grier—apparently I should know him from In Living Color or Dancing with the Stars, but I didn't watch either show—but I saw this book at the Oak Brook store as a $4.99 remainder when Humor was reduced 80 or 90%. It looked like it might be funny, so it was worth risking less than a dollar on it.

I was buzzed on countless refills of Coca-Cola on Monday night so I read the entire book out loud to my wife from 9 PM to 2:30 AM (with one bathroom break).

I expected this book to be funny, but I was surprised how choked up I got reading it (literally since I was reading aloud). Grier weaves his own story with the story of Barack Obama's ascent to the presidency, particularly his attendance at Obama's inauguration. Millions of blacks could tell a similar story, but Grier does it pretty well (with help from co-writer Alan Eisenstock) without over-dramatizing it.

Grier had a middle class upbringing in Detroit. His stories are mostly typical adolescent experiences, aside from the time he and a friend tried to join the Black Panthers. The stories from his professional life are a little weaker, although I liked his discussion with Lawrence Taylor about pounding on the DWTS judges. The Preface about being in the process of divorcing his wife (who appears many times in the book) kind of casts a pall over everything; I wish he had put that info in an Afterword instead.

My wife and I both enjoyed this book. Obviously it was good enough to hold our attention for more than five hours in a row, and it was also easier to read out loud than most books.

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