Here’s a list of additional questions for teachers to initiate discussion among their students after reading the coming-of-age novel ’29 Dimes: A Love Story’ (You should also reference the previous article on ’29 Dimes’ discussion topics dated October 23, 2013):
1. Do you think that Kalib would’ve done what he did at the end of the story if his father was still present in his life?
2. In Pepe’s ‘in your face’ anthem ‘Hear My Echo!’ what do you think he meant by “…courthouse gun…”?
3. Do you think that Pepe was in love with Miss Kelley, or was he simply infatuated with her?
4. Why was it important for the author to let the reader “hear” the characters’ own voices in the story?
5. What did the programming staff at the TV station learn from Brittany during her summer internship?
Learn more at https://www.amazon.com/author/randolphcamp
THE FOLLOWING IS THE AUTHOR’S (Randolph Randy Camp) RESPONSE TO A FEW READERS’ OF ’29 DIMES’:
December 2, 2013
“My aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the best and simplest way.” Ernest Hemingway wrote those words years ago, and as a writer, I can’t think of a better way to defend myself than with Hemingway’s words. I’ll try to explain.
I understand that some folks around the country have called my latest book ’29 Dimes’ inciteful because I have a hot-mouth character named ‘Pepe’ speaking his mind about Florida’s schizophrenic ‘stand your ground’ law in certain parts of the novel. From my understanding, what’s getting some folks especially riled up is when Pepe performs his provocative, ‘in your face’ spoken-word anthem ‘Hear My Echo’ towards the end of the story. The specific line from that anthem that has got some people bent out of shape goes like this, “…I don’t like standing in Florida – facing a courthouse gun…” Depending on where you stand on the different sides of the ‘stand your ground’ debate, you may possibly see those lyrics as “inciteful”, but I specifically wrote those words for the voice and the mentality of a specific fictional character. It would be an injustice to myself as a writer, and certainly a literary injustice to the fire-tongued character I’d created if I had him voice his opinion and thoughts on other safe and soft topics currently headlining America’s newspapers and not a hot topic such as Florida’s ‘stand your ground’ law. I wouldn’t be true to myself as a writer, nor to my story if I did that.
The ‘stand your ground’ law in Florida and several other states is very schizophrenic because lawmakers and law enforcement officials are picking and choosing when and when not to use and invoke the law, seemingly using it when it’s convenient for them at that particular time and place. For example, take the case of the Florida woman Marissa Alexander who initially was sentenced to 20 years for firing a warning shot at her intruding husband, and when she tried to use Florida’s ‘stand your ground’ law as her defense the judge simply threw it out, saying that she could’ve ran out of the house. But, on the other hand, look at what happened in the other high-profile Florida trial where a vigilante got away with murder, thanks to the convenience of the wishy-washy ‘stand your ground’ defense. The reason I wrote and used the words “…courthouse gun…” in the ‘Hear My Echo’ lyrics was to express mostly my character’s belief, and to be quite honest, some of my own as well, that Florida’s ‘stand your ground’ law is seemingly sanctioned by the state, giving everyday Jane and Joe permission to kill without consequences. When the ‘not guilty’ verdict went viral in the George Zimmerman trial it instantly triggered my memory bank to a time in America when old cranky men draped in white sheets with cone-shape heads would hang a man of a darker shade up in a tree for all of the local town people to see, knowing that there would be no repercussions whatsoever, and everyone nonchalantly walks away as if this was accepted as normal everyday life.
I never intended my novel to be “inciteful”, but I do want it to open discussions in classrooms, at the kitchen table, and around the water cooler. I truly believe that if America is ever going to have better race relations among our very diverse and ever-growing population then we simply must start with a peaceful conversation first.
Randolph Randy Camp
If you would like further details on ’29 Dimes’ or Author Randolph Randy Camp go to https://www.amazon.com/author/randolphcamp