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Platitudes (Northeastern Library of Black Literature) Paperback – October 2, 2003


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Product Details

  • Series: Northeastern Library of Black Literature
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Northeastern (October 2, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1555535860
  • ISBN-13: 978-1555535865
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,016,987 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Earle Tyner, 16-year-old black bourgeois in contemporary New York City, falls in love with Dorothy LaMont, a young waitress at her mother's down-home Harlem diner. As Earle plots encounters with Dorothy, taking an after-school job near the restaurant, the teenagers' friendship weathers upsets but eventually deepens and strengthens. Earle and Dorothy are characters in a novel-within-a-novel here, ostensibly creations of newly divorced, depressed black writer Dewayne Wellington. Dewayne appears mainly in his letters to Isshee Ayam, successful black feminist author and critic of Dewayne's work-in-progress called "Platitudes." Isshee, whose own novels bear such titles as Chillun' o' de Lawd and My Big O' Feets Gonna Stomp Dat Evil Down , offers in letters to Dewayne her revisions of "Platitudes," with Earle and Dorothy cast as poor schoolchildren in 1930s rural Georgia. As the writers reconcile their differences over Dewayne's rapidly developing story, the two relationshipsthat of Dewayne and Isshee and that of the doubly fictional Earle and Dorothyparallel each other, both closing with pat endings. Ellis demonstrates an ear for adolescent lingo and a sharp grasp of teenage pursuits and pleasures; at its best, his book is entertaining and the young protagonists sweetly appealing. But too often, Platitudes degenerates into tedious attempts at wit and humor, as in Isshee's plodding literary contributions or Ellis's version of Earle's PSAT exam, an annoying joke. This aptly named first novel is, finally, predictable and self-indulgent. Illustrations not seen by PW.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"A stunning first novel. Blending the genres of the epistolary and satire, Ellis has produced a novel at once socially engaged and artistically fresh, hilariously funny and intellectually compelling. His is a major talent and this is a wonderful read." -- Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Elle Belle on October 20, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I first stumbled across this book when I was in the seventh grade and only 13 years old. It was around this time I started giving up my high school clique, junior high school girl books and decided to start reading black fiction. This was one of the first books I read and at the time it blew my mind. As a youngster, I was very much about "coloring within the lines." I only thought books were supposed to be written one way, but when I read Ellis's playful, inventive and mysterious prose it sent a shock through my system. Multiple points of view, words you have to read out loud to get the full affect of them, sexual humor ... all things foriegn to me at 13. Needless to say, after reading it I decided I was going to be an author. The book still has a powerful affect on my writing today as I truly enjoyed what I thought then was a unique and experimental style. I went on to read Ellis' "Home Repairs" but by then I'd grown disinterested in Ellis' style. While Platitudes was fresh, the same tricks used in "Home Repairs" seemed gimmicky and by then, I'd moved on to other forms of black fiction.
Now as an adult I see Platitudes is a good, but uneven book. But I give credit where credit is due. Ellis helped me develop my own style and that has to mean something.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 11, 1996
Format: Paperback
In Platitudes, Trey Ellis transcends the typical genres and
vernacular commonly associated with African-American literature.
The evolution(s) of Earle and Dorothy provide a touching look
at the "forgotten" black youth. The characters are not the
progeny of sharecroppers or transplanted islanders, they are
simply part of middle class Black America. The hilarious
contrast between the writers blocked Dewayne and militant
feminist Ishee Iyam provides a valuable look into the past and
future of African-American literature. A must read for anyone
who is tired of reading the same old slave autobiographies.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Erren Geraud Kelly on October 31, 2001
Format: Paperback
one of the most creative and inventive black novels i've ever read. deals with a black male growing up in middle class harlem, who is also smart. trey also takes on feminists, the traditional slave narratives, pop culture, dating, the bourgeoise and anything else he can think of. definately not your average black novel. and i'm glad for that....
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 10, 1999
Format: Paperback
Great read. Mr. Ellis weaves a wonderful story about two black youths overcoming the greatest obstacle of their lives -- growing up in middle-class America.
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