BOOK REVIEW: THE KEKA COLLECTION by CYNTHIA DAGNAL-MYRON

The Keka Collection

Cynthia Dagnal-Myron

  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (February 4, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1453845763
  • ISBN-13: 978-1453845769

 About the book . . . 

Cynthia Dagnal-Myron is an award-winning former reporter for both the “Chicago Sun Times” and “Arizona Daily Star.” She is also the first black woman to become a rock critic for a “major metropolitan daily,” and her articles have appeared in “Rolling Stone” and “Creem”–the latter under the tutelage of legendary rock critic Lester Bangs. For five wild years she traveled with, interviewed and reviewed 70′s and 80′s legends like Kiss, Queen, the Who, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, Traffic Rod Stewart, Cheap Trick, Peter Frampton, Todd Rundgren and Brian Eno. She also interviewed stars like John Travolta, Kirk Douglas, Richard Pryor and the then unknown cast of “Star Wars–and dated Arnold Schwarzenegger. Once. And then one day…she walked away from all of it. And never looked back. After moving to the Southwest in the early 80’s, she became a public relations liaison for The Hopi Tribe, and moved to their reservation where she eventually returned to her first career, teaching. Three years later, she married a Hopi artist and became part of his proud—and very large—family. She continued to publish regularly in Working Mother and elsewhere, but only when spirit moved. With a daughter to raise, children to teach and the wide turquoise skies of the Hopi reservation to gaze upon, her spirit was otherwise occupied most of the time. Over 20 years later, left free to “just be,” having retired early to do precisely that, she started a blog on Open Salon to take stock of what had gone before and ponder what might come next. She wrote of the triumphs and challenges of midlife, celebrating family, friends and the Southwestern way of life she’d grown to love. But she gradually began to chronicle and comment upon the times she lived in–sometimes with deep affection, sometimes with righteous indignation. Salon editors took note, placing her blog posts on the covers of Open Salon and Salon itself. A British magazine reprinted one of her most popular posts about her “rock and roll summers” in London. A controversial post about the Trayvon Martin shooting prompted the producers of the TV and radio show Democracy Now, to invite her discuss her own experiences “walking while black” and to celebrate her 5th grade teacher and beloved role model, Mamie Till Mobley, the mother of Emmett Till, the 16-year-old boy whose lynching was one of the watershed events leading to the Civil Rights Movement. Soon an old Sun Times colleague, Roger Ebert, discovered that the young woman with the infectious laugh with whom he’d sat “desk-to-desk” for five years was doing some of the best writing of her life. Supportive as ever, he began to Tweet and Facebook her articles regularly. And the “hits” catapulted her to the top of the Open Salon popularity charts each time. Week after week, readers urged her to “…make a book out of all this!” This…is their book. And the story of her life.
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About the author . . .          
Cynthia Dagnal-Myron is an award-winning former reporter for both the Chicago Sun Times and Arizona Daily Star. She is also the first black woman to become a rock critic for a “major metropolitan daily,” and her articles have appeared in Rolling Stone and Creem, under the tutelage of legendary rock critic Lester Bangs. For five wild years she traveled with, interviewed and reviewed 70′s and 80′s legends like Kiss, Queen, the Who, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, Traffic Rod Stewart, Cheap Trick, Peter Frampton, Todd Rundgren and Brian Eno. She also interviewed stars like John Travolta, Kirk Douglas, Richard Pryor and the then unknown cast of Star Wars–and dated Arnold Schwarzenegger. Once. And then one day…she walked away from all of it. And never looked back. This book is “the rest of the story,” as told via Keka’s Blog, at Open Salon.  
Reader review . . . 
After an exciting career in journalism as a reporter for the Chicago Sun Times, Cynthia Dagnal-Myron began a blog on Open Salon writing about her experiences and anything else she thought worthy of discussion.  Her work did not go unnoticed, and her readers encouraged her to write a book. The Keka Collection is the answer to that request.
Each chapter is a post from her blog.  The subjects vary from her career as a rock critic to racism to the joys of motherhood.  In “For Trayvon and Emmett”, she addresses the murder of young Trayvon Martin in Florida and the controversy surrounding it.  She draws the insightful parallel between this case and the case of Emmett Till, reminding the reader that racism is alive and well.
In “Fishin‘ Lessons” she writes movingly of her late father, and the time she spent fishing with him.  “For our brave girl, Bijou, who died last night” is her  heartfelt tribute to her Pomeranian who passed away after almost seventeen years.  Having lost my beloved Koko in January, this one moved me to tears.  Ms. Dagnal-Myron is correct when she states “It’s like losing a child.  It IS losing a child.”  Anyone who has a four-legged baby, or who was blessed with one in the past, will relate to this chapter.
The author’s conversational tone draws the reader in, giving the feeling that we are somehow engaged in a dialogue.  Her thought-provoking essays will cause some readers to nod their heads in agreement, and some will (hopefully) gain a new perspective.  At the risk of sounding all “fan-girly”, by the end of the book, I felt as though I had met a new friend.  I hated to see this one end.  I’m hoping for a sequel.
5 stars
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Pump Up Your Book book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”