Cover image for What looks like crazy on an ordinary day--
What looks like crazy on an ordinary day--
Cleage, Pearl.
Personal Author:
[Large print edition].
Publication Information:
Thorndike, Me. : Thorndike Press, 1999.

Physical Description:
416 pages (large print) ; 23 cm.
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X Adult Large Print - Floating collection Floating Collection - Large Print
X Adult Large Print Large Print

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This highly praised debut novel by a renowned African-American playwright/essayist is a gritty yet warm and inspiring story of hope, love, and homecoming. Copyright © Libri GmbH. All rights reserved.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Cleage opens her riveting novel with the heroine's confession that she has tested positive for HIV, a revelation guaranteed to render ordinary life extraordinary. Ava Johnson's journey home to a devastated small town in Michigan after a fast life and successful career in Atlanta is the journey of a woman who has to learn a new way to live for as long as she may. Ava comes home to a loving sister engaged in a battle for young women trapped in destructive relationships, and to discover what has evaded her in the superficially promising environs of a big city. Her plans to move on to San Francisco and whatever follows for the HIV-positive are derailed by her sister's campaign, a baby born to and abandoned by a crack-addicted mother, and a gentle man with a brutal past. Despite the early bad news, Cleage's funny, irreverent, and hopeful novel is stunningly real and evocative of the conditions behind the high unemployment, aimlessness, and drug culture that permeate the urban landscape and have invaded smaller towns as well. --Vanessa Bush

Publisher's Weekly Review

After so much contemporary African American fiction that strains to be hip and funny but refuses to look seriously at the problems faced by real black people, first-time novelist Cleage, without succumbing to didacticism, delivers a work of intelligence and integrity. Fiery Ava Johnson's fast life as the owner of an Atlanta beauty parlor comes to a sudden end when she discovers that she is HIV positive. Shunned by her peers in Atlanta, Ava decides to start a new life in more broad-minded San Francisco‘but first she visits her older sister, Joyce, at their childhood home in Idlewild, Mich. A former all-black resort, Idlewild is now just a small rural town crumbling fast under the weight of big city problems. Soon Ava's visit extends into something more permanent as she joins Joyce's efforts to teach teenage mothers. When one of the mothers abandons her baby, Joyce and Ava are granted temporary guardianship. Meanwhile, Ava meets Eddie, a tender-yet-tough introvert who has conquered his own demons and is willing to help Ava tackle hers. Cleage pays serious attention to problems that face young African Americans, including AIDS, teenage motherhood, joblessness, crack, low self-esteem and lack of sex education. What is even more impressive is her ability to work all this into an engaging plot with witty prose that's wonderfully free of clichés. Cleage may be accused of trying to squeeze too much into the novel's last few pages, but it's a tiny flaw, especially since it helps produce a fitting climax to a memorable tale. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

In her first novel, Cleage, a playwright and essayist, focuses on an HIV-positive woman who seeks solace and refuge for the summer in her hometown with her widowed sister. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



What Looks LIke Crazy On an Ordinary Day Chapter One I'm sitting at the bar in the airport, minding my own business, trying to get psyched up for my flight, and I made the mistake of listening to one of those TV talk shows. They were interviewing some women with what the host kept calling full-blown AIDS . As opposed to half-blown AIDS , I guess. There they were, weeping and wailing and wringing their hands, wearing their prissy little Laura Ashley dresses and telling their edited-for-TV life stories. The audience was eating it up, but it got on my last nerve. The thing is, half these bitches are lying. More than half. They get diagnosed and all of a sudden they're Mother Teresa. I can't be positive! It's impossible! I'm practically a virgin! Bullshit. They got it just like I got it: fucking men. That's not male bashing either. That's the truth. Most of us got it from the boys. Which is, when you think about it, a pretty good argument for cutting men loose, but if I could work up a strong physical reaction to women, I would already be having sex with them. I'm not knocking it. I'm just saying I can't be a witness. Too many titties in one place to suit me. I try to tune out the almost-a-virgins , but they're going on and on and now one is really sobbing and all of a sudden I get it . They're just going through the purification ritual. This is how it goes: First, you have to confess that you did nasty, disgusting sex stuff with multiple partners who may even have been of your same gender. Or you have to confess that you like to shoot illegal drugs into your veins and sometimes you use other people's works when you want to get high and you came unprepared. Then you have to describe the sin you have confessed in as much detail as you can remember. Names, dates, places, faces. Specific sexual acts. Quantity and quality of orgasms. What kind of dope you shot. What park you bought it in. All the down and dirty. Then, once your listeners have been totally freaked out by what you've told them, they get to decide how much sympathy, attention, help, money, and understanding you're entitled to based on how disgusted they are. I'm not buying into that shit. I don't think anything I did was bad enough for me to earn this as the payback, but it gets rough out here sometimes. If you're not a little kid, or a heterosexual movie star's doomed but devoted wife, or a hemophiliac who got it from a tainted transfusion, or a straight white woman who can prove she's a virgin with a dirty dentist, you're not eligible for any no-strings sympathy. The truth is, people are usually relieved. It always makes them feel better when they know the specifics of your story. You can see their faces brighten up when your path is one they haven't traveled. That's why people keep asking me if I know who I got it from. Like all they'd have to do to ensure their safety is cross this specific guy's name off their list of acceptable sexual partners the same way you do when somebody starts smoking crack: no future here . But I always tell them the truth: I have no idea . That's when they frown and give me one last chance to redeem myself. If I don't know who , do I at least know how many? By that time I can't decide if I'm supposed to be sorry about having had a lot of sex or sorry I got sick from it. And what difference does it make at this point anyway? It's like lying about how much you loved the rush of the nicotine just because now you have lung cancer. I'm babbling. I must be higher than I thought. Good . I hate to fly. I used to dread it so much I'd have to be falling-down drunk to get on a plane. For years I started every vacation with a hangover. That's actually how I started drinking vodka, trying to get up the nerve to go to Jamaica for a reggae festival. Worked like a charm, too, and worth a little headache the first day out and the first day back. I know I drink too much, but I'm trying to cut back. When I first got diagnosed, I stayed drunk for about three months until I realized it was going to be a lot harder to drink myself to death then it might be to wait it out and see what happens. Some people live a long time with HIV. Maybe I'll be one of those, grinning like a maniac on the front of Parade magazine, talking about how I did it. I never used to read those survivor testimonials, but now I do, for obvious reasons. The first thing they all say they had to do was learn how to calm the fuck down, which is exactly why I was drinking so much, trying to cool out. The problem was, after a while I couldn't tell if it was the vodka or the HIV making me sick, and I wanted to know the difference. But I figure a little lightweight backsliding at thirty thousand feet doesn't really count, so by the time we boarded, I had polished off two doubles and was waiting for the flight attendant to smile that first-class-only smile and bring me two more. That's why I pay all that extra money to sit up here, so they'll bring me what I want before I have to ring the bell and ask for it. The man sitting next to me is wearing a beautiful suit that cost him a couple of grand easy and he's spread out calculators, calendars, and legal pads across his tray table like the plane is now his personal office in the air. I think all that shit is for show. I don't believe anybody can really concentrate on business when they're hurtling through the air at six hundred miles an hour. Besides, ain't nobody that damn busy. What Looks LIke Crazy On an Ordinary Day . Copyright © by Pearl Cleage. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day by Pearl Cleage All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.