A Day Late, at a Bookstore Close

If you really want to know how good Terry McMillan's new novel, A Day Late and a Dollar Short, is, don't pay attention to those stodgy book critics at the Houston Chronicle. If you really want the scoop on the superstar's latest magnum opus, talk to a black woman. The praise of one black woman is as good as any quote on a dust jacket.

"I've began reading it, and I'm excited to say Terry is back," exclaims Yoni Benson, founder of the Circle of Essence Book Club in Galveston. McMillan's 432-page story about a year in the life of a black family just happens to be the book club's March selection. "It is an excellent piece of work. I'm very proud of her."

"I laughed, I cried, I felt like I was a part of the Price family," raves Maya Jones, assistant manager of the Shrine of the Black Madonna Bookstore & Cultural Center. "I thought it was a wonderful work of art."

With all these accolades, you'd think these women would follow McMillan to the end of the world for a book signing. Well, think again.

Apparently some sistas didn't really appreciate that when McMillan's Houston visit was first announced, she was scheduled to appear only at Books-A-Million in Katy Mills Mall, rather than at a nearby Borders or even a black-owned establishment like the Shrine bookstore.

"I was very disappointed that she's not being -- I don't know if she's not being or she's not allowing herself to be captured and supported in the African-American community, whom I believe are her greatest supporters," says Benson.

Jones found the supposed snubbing befuddling, considering McMillan also didn't make any stops at the other Shrine bookstores in Atlanta and Detroit. "It left a bad taste in our mouths," says Jones. In the past, the Houston branch has hosted signings for such African-American literary favorites as E. Lynn Harris, Eric Jerome Dickey and McMillan's sister Rosalyn. "They make the Shrine their best stop, and even if they do another event, they always come here," says Jones. "They talk, they sign, they stay for two or three hours."

Luckily, at the 11th hour, the folks at the Shrine managed to secure McMillan for a late-morning book signing the day after her Katy Mills appearance. Houston author Jetola Anderson-Blair (In My Sister's Shoes), whose Good Book Club picked A Day Late for its February selection, thinks it's wise for McMillan to make an appearance at the Shrine. "My grandmother used to say you dance with the one who brung you," says Anderson-Blair, "and I think it's important that Terry remembers her black roots."

Looks like it's never too late to get your groove back.

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Craig D. Lindsey
Contact: Craig D. Lindsey