I’ve been leisurely making my way through Colson Whitehead’s semi-autobiographical Sag Harbor, which came out this past spring. The novel, about how teen-aged Benji passes the summer of 1985, is as slow as summer itself. The story takes place in Sag Harbor’s black community where Benji’s family comes to summer. He and his brother, Reggie, hold down the fort while their parents work in Manhattan during the week. One would think this would afford the boys tons of room to get into trouble, but aside from a mishap with a BB gun, they mostly just spin their wheels, searching for ways to grow up. The beauty of the book comes from the equal weight Whitehead assigns both the mundane and the meaningful. For example, he spends as much time on the ins and outs of Benji and Reggie’s cleaning routine as he does Benji’s experience of race in his elite virtually all-white high school, effectively allowing the reader to make meaning for himself.
Bio: Katherine Dykstra is the nonfiction editor at Guernica. Her interview with Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Cracked, Not Shattered, appeared in Guernica’s August 2008 issue. Read her last recommendation “here”:http://www.guernicamag.com/blog/1201/staff_pick_katherine_dykstra_3/.