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Third Girl from the Left Paperback – Bargain Price, September 5, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books (September 5, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 061877338X
  • ASIN: B003YCQE38
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,438,945 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In her second novel, Southgate (The Fall of Rome) explores how one generation's liberation becomes another's idea of constraint. Nested narratives follow three black women—Mildred, daughter Angela, and granddaughter Tamara—briefly breaking tradition to define themselves. Tamara, an aspiring Spike Lee, frames the tale of Angela, who escapes a prosaic life playing the obligatory naked black woman in the blaxploitation films of the 1970s. Hollywood's limitations turn Angela's dreams to frustration, and her outsized sexual displays incur her mother's wrath. Bold decisions and compromises leave Angela, a single mother working in a doctor's office by day, watching videos of her glory days at night with her female lover, while insisting that she is not a "dyke." The narrative spirals back to Mildred, showing how movies—a conduit through which Mildred and teenage Angela connect—are a window to a better world. The narrative culminates in Tamara's documentary about Angela, Mildred and herself, black women in America, "making their lives mean something where they can." While what should invigorate—Tamara taking the creative reins of a form her elders limitedly participated in—lacks conviction because of a too-neat conclusion, the book's emotional intensity and its characters' complex motivation overcome occasional simplification. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Spanning three generations and the continental U.S.--Tulsa, L.A., and New York--this novel tells of the struggles of three black women entranced by the power of movies to represent the longings of ordinary people and to fulfill the desire for self--expression. Mildred, who lost her mother in the race riots of Tulsa in 1921, escapes into the fantasies of movies, unaware of her daughter Angela's powerful desire for a similar escape. When Angela comes of age, she leaves stifling Tulsa for the excitement of L.A., just in time for the rise of blaxploitation movies. Angela becomes immersed in the culture of the glitzy town, working as a Playboy bunny, hoping for her big break. Her friendship with Sheila, a fellow actress and bunny, sustains her even after the out-of-wedlock birth of her daughter, Tamara. Eventually, Tamara's dreams take her cross-country to New York for a stab at a filmmaking career. Lost in their own dreams and desires, alienated from one another for long stretches, these women are ultimately united by a love of movies and their power to transcend and transform. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Martha Southgate is the author of four novels. Her newest, The Taste of Salt, published by Algonquin Books, is in stores and available for pre-order now. Her previous novel, Third Girl from the Left, won the Best Novel of the Year award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association and was shortlisted for the PEN/Beyond Margins Award and the Hurston/Wright Legacy award. Her novel The Fall of Rome received the 2003 Alex Award from the American Library Association and was named one of the best novels of 2002 by Jonathan Yardley of the Washington Post. She is also the author of Another Way to Dance, which won the Coretta Scott King Genesis Award for Best First Novel. She received a 2002 New York Foundation for the Arts grant and has received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and the Bread Loaf Writers Conference. Her July 2007 essay from the New York Times Book Review, "Writers Like Me" received considerable notice and appears in the anthology Best African-American Essays 2009. Previous non-fiction articles have appeared in The New York Times Magazine,O, Premiere, and Essence.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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It grabbed me from the first page until the very last word.
Karen A.
This general sense of sadness and even guilt pervaded the book for me, but this is also what made it so powerful and so real to me.
Kelly P. Vincent
Her daughter Tamara also has a love for film and attends film school.
Mahogany Book Club

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kimberly Wagner on January 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This novel follows the stories of three different generations of African-American women: Angie, headstrong and beautiful, flees from Tulsa to LA in the early 70s; her mother Mildred, who was always so strict with Angie but who holds onto her own surprising secrets; and Angie's daughter Tamara, who struggles financially through film school. None of them had good relationships with their own mothers. They each in their own way escape through the medium of film.

The novel was easy to read and fast-paced. Southgate has obviously done her homework, particularly about the Tulsa riot in 1921 and the 1970s blaxploitation films, but the information is weaved effortlessly into the narrative. The story is believable, the characters memorable, and the writing superb. Unlike other reviewers, I do not think she is trying to cover too much in one book and I certainly cannot understand how anyone would find this book boring or too slow. Perhaps my opinion will change after reading her first novel. If you haven't read Southgate before, start with this one.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mahogany Book Club on December 21, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I was deeply moved by this story centered around three generations of women, all connected by blood and their love of movies. Angela leaves home at a young age to pursue a movie career that never really happens. Her daughter Tamara also has a love for film and attends film school. Tamara films everything around her. Tamara doesn't know her family or her father. She is left confused as to why Angela never answers her questions about where she comes from or just who her father is. The only family Tamara has ever known is her mother and her lover Sheila. When Angela's mother Mildred becomes ill, she returns home with Tamara. Tamara meets her mother's family for the first time. When Mildred recalls the stories from the past Tamara catches it on film. Through her Grandmother, family secrets and tragedy are exposed.
This was a very engaging and satisfying read. The characters were well defined and I was easily able to connect with them. I highly recommend this novel. A wonderful story of family.

Reviewed by
Dawnny
Mahogany Media Review
Albany, N.Y.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Yasmin Coleman on August 22, 2005
Format: Hardcover
After much anticipation and a long wait, Martha Southgate, author of the highly acclaimed debut novel, Fall of Rome, is back with her sophomore novel, Third Girl From the Left (TGFL).

TGFL is set against the backdrop of Black Hollywood and the rich, but often forgotten, legacy of the 1921 Tulsa race riots. Southgate takes us into the realm of the mother/daughter world as we experience life from the point of view of three generations of women: Mildred-mother/grandmother; Angela, daughter; and granddaughter, Tamara.

Mildred and Angela shared a tumultuous history, however, their love of movies and their weekly movie outings was the event that bonded them during Angela's teen years. So enamored with being in the movies, Angela runs away to Los Angeles in the 70s and finds herself at the height of the blaxplotation era. Angela-along with thousands of other girls from small town, usa-- auditions constantly for the role that will maker her a star. As the years move forward, stardom eludes her, and her greatest claim to fame is a movie starring Pam Grier-where Angela has a small speaking part in a fight scene and she is the `third girl from the left.' Tiring of the daily drudgery of auditions, limited income, dreams deferred and wanting to experience a little happiness -if just for a moment, even if that happiness includes consequences, she throws caution to the wind as she engages in unprotected sex and becomes pregnant.

Tamara is the by-product of that act, and the child who appears to be able to accomplish what her grandmother and mother could not. Estranged from her family, Angela's daughter knows very little about the life she left behind in Tulsa.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Pinklady on November 17, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I have not read The Fall of Rome yet, but I did read Third Girl From The Left, and I really enjoyed it. I loved reading about the three generations of women. I especially enjoyed reading about Angela's struggle for stardom and her relationship with Sheila and Rafe. I also enjoyed reading about Mildred's afternoon rendezvous with William. I think Martha Southgate is a gifted writer and I look forward to reading other books by this author.
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Format: Hardcover
Tam works as the second AC on a network show, a job most people in the industry would literally kill for. All her life she's been drawn to the moving image, and on her wall at home she's hung a still from the Alexander Mackendrick masterpiece THE SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS. And yet as Tam comes to realize, real life can be even complicated than the movies. She's the product of many geberations of strong black female presences, most notably her mother, Angela, and Angela's mother, Mildred from Tulsa Oklahoma, where once upon a time, in the darkness of a miserable past, race riots turned upside down the whole city and to some degree have shaped our understanding of racial justice and harmony ever since then.

Martha Southgate is an author new to me, but I was drawn to reading her novel after reading Donald Bogle's book on black presence in Hollywood. This summer I had the great pleasure of speaking with the scholar Valerie Boyd about her current project, researching the experience of black women in Hollywood, and Southgate's novel seemed like the next step on my journey of exploration. Angela Edwards never became a big star, and Southgate cleverly avoids the pitfalls of setting a novel inside a real scene (basically, the "blaxploitation" craze of the 1970s) by characterizing her heroine as the "third girl from the left," a bit player in a world where Fred Williamson and Pam Grier became international stars for a brief while--till white interest and financing moved on.

Angela drifts into an affair with Sheila, a woman she meets at an employment agency, but doesn't seem able to commit fully, and never considers herself a lesbian, especially after she finds herself pregnant with Tamara.
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