Dylan has the proper attitude.

Golden week.

Although last week was a rather long week for completely non-reading reasons, it was one of those charmed weeks where I rather enjoyed every book I picked up--even books I normally wouldn't have thought I would like.

Them A case in point is Nathan McCall's Them, which I read about somewhere, and although I didn't think I would read the whole thing, it sucked me in. The story is basic, and one that is happening in all sorts of cities in America: Forty-year-old Barlowe Reed, a single black man, is living in a primarily black section of Atlanta known as the Old Fourth Ward. He works hard as a printer, hates paying taxes, and mostly enjoys a good cold beer at the end of the day in the house he rents. When his new neighbors turn out to be a white couple, though, the reader can see what's happening: gentrification.

It's not a subtle book by any means, and reviewers and readers (at Amazon) have hammered it for McCall's reliance on stereotyping, particularly where the white characters are concerned. But I thought it was interesting all the way through, and for once I didn't really mind the stereotyping, which made the book's title all the more appropriate--after all, we're all a "them" to somebody else, regardless of who we are. (I find it interesting, moreover, that "stereotyping" is lambasted in this book, but nobody dares bring up the word where the collected works of Jodi Picoult are concerned, which are rife with stereotyping.)

And I liked the main character, Barlowe Reed. I would like any character who gets in a fight at the post office because he hates flags and he doesn't want stamps with flags on them, let's face it ("They tried to make me buy flags, Nell. What you expect from me?"--p. 10.) This was a different read for me; and I think it might pair well with a nonfiction book like Judith Matloff's Home Girl, in which the author herself was the agent of gentrification in a Harlem neighborhood. I'm also going to look into McCall's memoir Makes Me Wanna Holler.