From Speakeasy to City Hall
There's never been a career, or a memoir, quite like "Basic Brown: My Life and Times." Willie Brown, former speaker of the California State Assembly and San Francisco mayor offers readers nuggets of political acumen served with the kind of behind-the-scenes stories that other political memoirists wish they could relate. When Brown's cell phone rings it might be Hillary Clinton calling for some campaign advice — or Barack Obama requesting the same thing. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi frequently seeks Brown's counsel. He's been the go-to source of wisdom for top-ranking Democrats since the late 1960s, when he helped organize and operate Robert F. Kennedy's quest for presidency.
Who could guess that California's most influential politician was the child of a maid and a long-gone father? Born in 1934 in the tiny Texas hamlet of Mineola, renowned for pinto beans and overt racism, Willie was raised by his maternal grandmother, who ran a speakeasy featuring blues bands and bootleg hooch. That's because his mother spent most of each week working for rich White families in Dallas. Willie made his first money running a shoeshine stand, fishing tips out of a nearby spittoon where his customers like to pitch their coins.
"Basic Brown" offers common sense advice to any young person considering a career in politics. It also has a lot to offer armchair historians and anyone who enjoys colorful political stories. There will never be another memoir like it — just as there can never be another Willie Brown.
"Basic Brown: My Life and Our Times" by Willie Brown. Simon & Schuster; February 5, 2008; $26.00; ISBN: 978-0-7432-9081-4.
True Love Changes Everything
"Two Thin Dimes" by Caleb Alexander is a modern day love story about sisterhood, faith, and overcoming obstacles from the "Strebor in the Streetz" featured author.
R & B superstar, Jamaica and the passionate but impoverished, Tameer are two unlikely suitors who are linked together in a merry mix of plotting and gossip. When the two are brought together in what is meant to be a temporary relationship — arranged by Jamaica's best friend and personal assistant LaChina — both are surprised when true feelings develop and disrupt everyone's plans.
Caleb Alexander brings his popular style to a whole new level by going beyond the simple rich girl/poor girl tale, drawing his audience along with him as the story takes on social class, unexpected romance, friendship loyalties, and the cost of true love.
"Two Thin Dimes" by Caleb Alexander Strebor/Atria Books January, 2008 $13.00; ISBN: 1-59309-127-9