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The Voice of the Black Community

Arts and Entertainment

Booth's message: It's OK for men to cry
Author pens novel addressing how men deal with emotional pain
 
Published Thursday, April 25, 2013
by Michaela L. Duckett

When author Bradley Booth shows up at events to promote his debut novel “I Apologize,” fans are surprised to learn that he is African

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Author Bradley Booth

American.

 Unlike many other authors who have their photos on the inside sleeves or back covers of their books, Booth decided not to include a photo of himself.

“We wanted to create an air of mystery as to who the writer was,” said Booth. “That way if someone picks it up, it may intrigue them more to know who the writer is and sell more books.”

Besides, Booth doesn’t necessarily think of himself as an African-American writer.

“When you do that you pigeonhole yourself,” he said. “To me, I’m just a writer. Race never entered the equation.”

In addition to writing fiction, Booth also writes poetry and blogs about current events. He said writing is something he knew he wanted to do at an early age. To encourage his dreams, his mother bought his first typewriter when he was 9.

He spent countless hours playing around with it, but didn’t have enough life experience to write anything of substance. That all changed by the time he entered his late 20s.

Tragedy and inspiration

At 28, Booth thought he’d met the love of his life. He proposed marriage, and she accepted. As they were planning their summer nuptials and future life together, she fell ill.

She had blood work done and when she went in for a follow up, was admitted to the hospital. Two days later, she was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia.

“It was very devastating because it was something that just came out of the blue,” Booth said. “We didn’t expect it.”

His fiancée soon succumbed to the disease. She was just 22 years old.

“For about five years, I blamed myself,” said Booth. “I kept asking God what could I have done differently. Even though the doctor kept assuring me that it was a rare form of leukemia and that we did everything possible, it took me five years just to live through it. I decided to purge it out by writing.”

Tears of a man

Booth’s novel “I Apologize” addresses the issue of how men deal, or don’t deal, with emotional pain. It tells the story of an entrepreneur named Tony Richardson who finds himself unable to cope after the sudden death of his fiancée.

The only way he manages to get along is by cutting himself off from the outside world and throwing himself into his work, which gives him a false sense of control. So when he meets a beguiling woman named Christina Jaloqua and begins to catch feelings for her, he tries to push her away. He’s too afraid of opening himself up to love and becoming vulnerable. He worries it will only end again in pain and tragedy.

“I Apologize” closely mirrors Booth’s own experience. For several years, he too threw himself into his work as a way of running from the emotions he felt as he grieved for his loss. He was afraid to even cry because he was raised to believe it was something men just didn’t do.

“As a child, my grandfather taught me that as a man, you have to make sure that you never show any kind of emotions,” he said. “I wanted to shed tears because my fiancée died before my eyes, but still I was confronted with this code of ethics that men don’t cry. It was very tough.”

Like his book’s protagonist, Booth was eventually able to find love again. He is now married with children. He said his experience taught him two important lessons.

“The first thing I learned is that it’s not unmanly to show one’s emotions,” he said. “The second thing I learned was not to take the person that you love for granted.”

 Booth said he doesn’t let a day go by without showing the people in his life how much he cares for them. He said he published “I Apologize” in the hopes that it will help other men who have experienced loss and are having difficulty dealing with their feelings.

“Don’t be afraid to show your emotions because you gain strength even through your tears,” he said. “I found that people will rally around you and they will appreciate you showing your truer sense. Crying doesn’t mean that you are weak. It just means that you are able to feel.”

“I Apologize” can be purchased at www.barnesandnoble.com.

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