Book review: The Keka Collection, by Cynthia M. Dagnal-Myron

The Keka Collection: The Best of Keka’s Blog on Open Salon (Volume 1)

I met Keka (aka Cynthia M. Dagnal-Myron) in an online writing course. We were a couple of weeks into the course when her mentor, the film critic, Roger Ebert died. Keka wrote a wonderful tribute, and I not only loved her piece: I discovered her writing. She had me in tears. When she published this collection, I rushed to read it.

However, I couldn’t rush through this book. I savored each very personal essay about growing up black in the Chicago area, starting out at the Chicago Sun Times, living with the Hopi, raising her daughter, going through early retirement, and all her other topics (I can’t possibly leave out the essay on her one date with Arnold, can I?). Although she sticks to her own experiences, she lightly touches on their larger significance, and relates them to contemporary culture. She’s interesting and thoughtful.

Keka was and is a wild woman (she claims that she’s calmed down, but who believes her?) who ‘went for the gusto’ without ever losing sight of who she was down inside. I think that’s one reason her essays are so much fun to read. She also knows how to wrangle words and sentences into beauty. Hers is one of Open Salon’s most popular blogs, and no wonder. I loved this collection.

Because these are blogs, they appear unedited, so there are some (not many) typos and grammatical errors, which she warns the reader about in advance. Towards the end, a couple of the essays rambled a little too much for my taste, but that didn’t spoil my overall enjoyment of her prose. I can’t wait for Volume 2.

I received a free copy of this book from StoryCartel in exchange for my honest review.

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