Books by Jill Nelson

LET’S GET IT ON by Jill Nelson
Released: June 2, 2009

"With its sex-positive message and unapologetic emphasis on female enjoyment, Nelson's latest makes for a zingy beach read, even if the political satire is a bit tone deaf."
The crew from Sexual Healing (2005) is back, and this time they're opening a sex spa for women off the coast of Martha's Vineyard. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 2, 1997

Nelson's memoir of growing up as a black female in a racist, sexist America is a poor entry in a desperately needed genre. ``I write because I'm angry,'' Nelson declares in her introduction, setting the tone for the rest of this ranting and scattered book. She shifts awkwardly between personal anecdotes (including her 1950s and '60s girlhood in Harlem and and on Manhattan's Upper West Side) and essays on the problems she sees manifested in them, never really revealing her own inner complexities. The birth of Nelson's child becomes an opportunity to discuss racism, her relationships with men become excuses for essays on sexism, and the book's closing chapter is devoted to her ideas on violence and negative role models. As an African-American woman, Nelson says she is forced to stand on the bottom rung of the social ladder, and she devotes much of her book to allocating blame—to white men, white women (including feminists), and black men. The African-American world as seen through Nelson's eyes is filled only with negatives: Supermodel Naomi Campbell is just ``white beauty in black face''; African-American male sexuality is really ``poontang proximity''; black leaders are ``by and large useless opportunists''; and African-American women are all too often prone to having a ``Niggerbitchfit.'' Even Coretta Scott King and Betty Shabazz are belittled as mere ``professional widows.'' By the end, the reader has gained little insight into either Nelson or black America; this is especially disappointing since her experiences as a journalist for the Washington Post—chronicled in Volunteer Slavery (1993)—provide the author with a unique perspective. Underdeveloped and unoriginal, this tirade fails to become the tool of empowerment for African-American women it claims to be. (First serial to Essence; author tour) Read full book review >
Released: June 1, 1993

Black journalist Nelson's no-holds-barred memoir is as outspoken about her four turbulent years at The Washington Post as it is about her troubled personal life. When, in 1986, Post editor Ben Bradlee offered Nelson a job on the new Sunday magazine his paper was launching, she asked for a few days to think it over because she had a feeling of ``foreboding.'' But as the single mother of a teenage daughter, she was aware that college tuition loomed ahead—a problem even though she made a good living as a freelance writer for publications like The Village Voice, Ms., and Essence. The Post job also offered a normal life for her daughter, who, ``tired of eccentric clothes, artists, vegetarian diets, deep in her little African-American heart yearned to be Vanessa Huxtable.'' So Nelson—a self-described radical and searcher after the authentic African-American experience—accepted the offer. But though she was a member of the black bourgeoisie who'd gone to prep school and summered on Martha's Vineyard, the author proved ill-suited to a paper shaped by Bradlee's ``creative tension'' and dominated by white males. Soon regarded as an angry black woman and troublemaker, Nelson walked a thin line between ``Uncle Tomming and Mau-Mauing'' and found herself in a gilded ghetto where the pay was good but her stories went nowhere. The first edition of the magazine was a racial fiasco, she says, and a transfer to the Metro section proved even more frustrating. Moreover, her social life was nonexistent. Taking to drink, Nelson had a nervous breakdown and finally quit her job, telling the managing editor that she was ``more like the average African-American on the street than most people in the newsroom.'' Told with passion and honesty: a story as much about the African-American experience as about the corporate conformity of most big-city papers. (First serial rights to Essence) Read full book review >