• Great Beginnings: Harlem is Nowhere

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Great Beginnings     Comments 2 comments

    Harlem Is NowhereWritten by Houston transplant Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts, Harlem Is Nowhere: A Journey to the Mecca of Black America made a lot of noise when it came out in early 2011. I read plenty about the book, but until now never cracked its spine.

    Being somewhat near to Harlem as we are I’ve taken a couple of walks/subway rides to check out a few of the buildings and establishments Rhodes-Pitts writes about, which has been pretty cool. The version of the book I have also contains some black & white photos (perhaps they all do), so it’s been kind of like a scavenger hunt.

    (Yes, OK, it’s a simple scavenger hunt; Rhodes-Pitts tells us directly where most of these buildings are.) (Point is, it’s been a cool experience.)

    And since it’s been awhile since we’ve done a Great Beginnings, and since this is the book I’m presently reading, and it’s very good so far, and it’s within arm’s reach, here is the opening of Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts’ Harlem Is Nowhere:

    I had already put the key into the door of my building on Lenox Avenue when the question came at my back. In one movement I withdrew the key and turned to face my inquisitor. He stood waiting for my reply and then asked again: Do you think you’ll ever go home?

    Discuss! What kind of tone does Rhodes-Pitts set here? What noteworthy words jump out of this passage? What do we learn about the narrator? (Hint: It’s more than you might think upon a first reading.)

    Leave your comments and questions below, fellow nerds! And tick “notify” to keep up with the discussion.


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    Carrie Winters

    She’s nervous and suspicious? “Inquisitor.” Taking her key out the door when she hears a voice. It also tells us she’s not from Lenox Avenue, probably. If she were home, nobody would ask her when she’s going home.

    This book looks cool. Thanks for the tip, I’m gonna pick it up.

    Would love your thoughts, please comment.x