Meanwhile, here's another one of the advance stories: "9 Tall Tales From Barack Obama's Memoir." That's from BuzzFeed. It's easy to read and has pictures. Example of BuzzFeed's idea of a "tall tale":
5. Obama wrote that he broke up with his New York girlfriend in part because she was white. But his next girlfriend, an anthropologist in Chicago, was also white.Is that a tall tale? You break up with someone who has a characteristic that troubles you, and then you find yourself drawn to someone else with the same characteristic. Isn't that a perfectly banal pattern for sexual relationships — e.g., the woman who leaves an abusive relationship and then gets into another abusive relationship?
6. Obama cuts out two white college roommates entirely.A memoir was selective. Told the interesting parts/the parts that fit the template. That's not a tall tale. Obama's book isn't called "Everything About Me, So Far." It's called "Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance." It openly advertises its limited theme.
7. Obama wrote about his high school friends as an alienated, ne'er-do-well "club of disaffection." In fact, most members of the "Choom Gang" were "decent students and athletes" who went on to successful careers.Hello? Back in those days, being smart + alienated was the norm. Check out some books and movies from that era.
9. In his memoir, Obama mentions he missed out on playing time in high school basketball because he coach preferred players who "play like white boys do." In fact, Obama had to work hard just to make the team, and race had nothing to do with it.The willful misunderstanding there is obvious to me, and I don't even know much about basketball and the styles of playing it. But here's the relevant passage from Obama's book. Obama's high school friend "Ray" is talking first:
“Well what? Listen, why don’t you get more playing time on the basketball team, huh? At least two guys ahead of you ain’t nothing, and you know it, and they know it. I seen you tear ’em up on the playground, no contest. Why wasn’t I starting on the football squad this season, no matter how many passes the other guy dropped? Tell me we wouldn’t be treated different if we was white. Or Japanese. Or Hawaiian. Or fucking Eskimo.”In context, you can see that Obama is doing the opposite of racial grievance.
“That’s not what I’m saying.”
“So what are you saying?”
“All right, here’s what I’m saying. I’m saying, yeah, it’s harder to get dates because there aren’t any black girls around here. But that don’t make the girls that are here all racist. Maybe they just want somebody that looks like their daddy, or their brother, or whatever, and we ain’t it. I’m saying yeah, I might not get the breaks on the team that some guys get, but they play like white boys do, and that’s the style the coach likes to play, and they’re winning the way they play. I don’t play that way.
“As for your greasy-mouthed self,” I added, reaching for the last of his fries, “I’m saying the coaches may not like you ’cause you’re a smart-assed black man, but it might help if you stopped eating all them fries you eat, making you look six months pregnant. That’s what I’m saying.” “Man, I don’t know why you making excuses for these folks.” Ray got up and crumpled his trash into a tight ball. “Let’s get out of here. Your shit’s getting way too complicated for me.”
Okay, so I'm officially sick of the bullshit cherry-picking from the David Maraniss bio. I'm glad I finally have the original source to look at on my own. (And I know I'm also part of the problem because I rewarded BuzzFeed with a link. One can try to play the game of blogging in an abstemious, overly pure way, but I don't play that way.)