"I'm an avid reader, and I just read one novel too many where the black man didn't get it together," says the 47-year-old Wilmington, North Carolina, native. So Brown went to the keyboard and typed The Shirt Off His Back, a short story for an on-line literary magazine about a black man who takes on the role of responsible single father after his twin daughters are born. The short story soon sprawled out into a 30-chapter Internet novel, and eventually Brown decided to independently distribute a print version of The Shirt Off His Back through her own company, ShanKrys Publishing.
Brown, who's also a motivational speaker and founder/chairperson of the nonprofit Los Angeles Ebony Online People, says the responses she has gotten from women have been more cynical than derogatory. "I've gotten not necessarily flak," she says, but "I've gotten sistas saying to me that this is a real work of fiction, there are no good black men -- I hear that a lot, especially in malls. They'll say, 'The only good black man I know is my brother.' And then, I, you know, check 'em on it, and I say, 'Well, that's a good black man, and don't you think someone needs to tell his story?' "
The "happily divorced" mother of two (and grandmother of two) is planning to spend the rest of the year touring the country, promoting her novel and assuring black women that there are still good black men out there. "That's my mission," she exclaims. "That's why I'm living out of a Mustang, sleeping in a different bed every night.... If we don't stand up for our brothas, then who will?"
-- Craig D. Lindsey
Parry Ann Brown will discuss and sign copies of The Shirt Off His Back on Friday, June 18, at 6:30 p.m. at The Shrine of the Black Madonna Bookstore, 5309 Martin Luther King Boulevard. Info: (713)645-1071 or www.parnelle.com/shirtoff.