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Review: Novel Shows Complexities of Black Relationships at HBCUs

The Game of Black Relationships

By C.J. Clemmons

There have always been stories – real and exaggerated – concerning the active sex lives of students that attend historically Black colleges and universities. The new novel by Terry DeRon, Game Recognize Game, brings this lore to literary life as he focuses on Black love and relationships among a quartet of young Black professionals: HBCU senior Tracy who enters into a relationship with her boss Troy, a radio promotions director where she is an intern; Simone, Troy’s vengeful ex-lover who is hell bent on getting even for being put aside for another women and Mark, a star Black college football player with his eye on every lady on campus and a career in the National Football League.

 DeRon said he spent five years working on this tale of love, lust, lies and revenge among vividly portrayed characters that eventually fall prey to their own warped sense of intimate Black relationships and sexual morality. As in any situation where characters find themselves involved in any activity to excess, especially sexual activity, most of the main characters come to an inevitable bad end.

“I didn’t want to write anything boring,” DeRon said during a telephone interview. The Houston resident said that when he set out to write a novel, he strived to craft a group of characters who attended a historically Black college or university as he did. The Southern University graduate said he wanted readers to get personally invested in his book emotionally and remember it long after they turned the last page.

However, while DeRon’s main story, that of the lives and loves of young professional African Americans at historically Black colleges striving for upward mobility, he may have undermined his good intentions by negating a story that could have been about striving for a better life into a fairly pornographic, 257-page sex romp. Profanity, while a useful literary tool when used properly, loses its effectiveness when every page is peppered with it and women are mainly referred to by their body parts. In all fairness, the book is billed as a “must read for adults” who are interested in reading about Black relationships. However, this edgy, promiscuity-laden novel perpetuates misogynistic attitudes toward women, who use men only for sex and as a means to an end. There is little exploration of solid, Black relationships. Men in the book fare no better as they jump from one bed partner to another without any thought to the emotional and situational consequences of their actions.

On the other hand, the inside cover of the book is filled with praise for DeRon’s racy prose. He writes attention grabbing stories “for people who hate to read,” he said.  “People don’t read as much as they used to. I think they will read this book. It is very entertaining.”

Eventually, Game Recognize Game evolves into a mildly entertaining read for the airport, beauty or barber shop or maybe a lazy afternoon. Fans will be pleased to know that the author is now working on a big screen adaptation of his novel. But for those seeking a deeper exploration of Black relationships, I would keep looking or wait for Terry McMillan’s next novel.

To receive the first five chapters of this novel for free visit www.terryderonbooks.com.

Clemmons is a contributing writer for Regal Black Men's Magazine.

This article was published on Thursday 05 November, 2009.
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