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Talking at Trena's: Everyday Conversations at an African American Tavern. (nonfiction reviews).

Talking at Trena's: Everyday Conversations at an African American Tavern by Reuben A. Buford May New York University Press, December 2001, $16.00 ISBN 0-814-75672-7

Sometimes, after a long day of taking orders from your supervisor, you need to seek relief from the daily grind to ease away the stress. There's something rather therapeutic about temporarily escaping the rigors of the real world and taking a break from the controls of work or family. That's what the book Talking at Trends is about: working class African Americans who come to Trends, a tavern located in the south side of Chicago, to socialize, hang out with friends and to simply unwind. The author, Reuben A. Buford May, brings the reader inside Trena's and examines how patrons interact with one another.

Talking at Trena's is not so much about the patrons, per se, but more about the beliefs and perspectives they share on various subjects. For example, while May gives us brief insights into their personalities and provides some background information about them, he lets the voices of the patrons dominate the book through their conversations.

This allows the reader to build a strong connection to the various topics such as racism, employment, man and woman relationships, sex and white people, and to discover the relevance of these topics in their own lives.

On several occasions, I found my growing attachment to the patrons and their conversations difficult to dismiss as I turned the pages and shared in their revelations and experiences. This explains why Talking at Trends is such a fast-paced book and why it's so hard to put down.

The book, however, is provocative and contains explicit language. At times, this makes for difficult reading as the reader is forced to navigate through the sociological jargon. Nonetheless, May should be applauded for his excellent work as he taps into and reveals the lifestyles and attitudes of the customers who patronize Trena's.

Charles Brooks is a freelance journalist and writer.
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Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Review
Author:Brooks, Charles
Publication:Black Issues Book Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Nov 1, 2001
Previous Article:Fiction round-up.
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