Intimate Relationships

Review of Garfield Hylton’s The Soundtrack to My Life

Garfield Hylton

The Soundtrack to My Life penned by Garfield Hylton, the author of Real Goes Right, is a memoir tracing his significant life experiences, especially those experiences related to intimate relationships, friendships, college, and blog writing.  This memoir, which is an e-book, is approximately 55 pages with 11 chapters.  Hylton is an African American male lawyer and freelance writer.

As a reader who likes to experience a book before someone tells me about it, I avoid reading book reviews until I’ve read the book.  Many book reviews in their attempt to provide the reader with an insightful summary of the works they cover can spoil your reading experience: they give away too much.  In my appraisal of this book, I make a solemn attempt not to spoil it for you by doing a great detail of summarization.  I will not offer a chapter-by-chapter analysis of the book.

From the Prologue of the work, the reader has an opportunity to learn it’s an outgrowth of Hylton’s longing to give the readers of his blog more of an understanding about the man behind the blog.  The writer never wastes the reader’s time.  Each paragraph and chapter is meaningful.  Throughout the book, one will appreciate the brilliant Hip-Hop artworks that serve as excellent backdrops that are not only beautiful but also offer substantive contextualization of the book’s content.  Hylton is heavily influenced by Hip-Hop and he does a masterful job of incorporating it.

The first chapter of the book presents the author’s first experience falling in love.  He shares the excitement and pain resulting from his first love, which occurs during his first year of college.  This chapter is essential reading, considering America is rarely exposed to hearing and reading Black men speak and write in nuanced ways about their intimate relationships.  Black men’s narratives about their relationships are often told through a white voice—usually a white voice misrepresenting black men’s stories.  During his freshmen year, his evaluation of women focused predominantly on their physical composition.  He fell almost instantly in love with his first love without even knowing who she really was.  Chapter 1 reveals the impact this relationship would have on future relationships: sometimes no impact and sometimes a “catastrophic” impact.

One of the typical limitations of reading a memoir or any autobiographical work of someone who is not famous or well-known is the reader is left with an unsatisfying feeling about the value of having read the work; that is, the reader is often left thinking “so what?”  This is not the case with The Soundtrack to My Life.  Hylton does enough critical evaluation of his experiences that readers are able to see how his experiences can help to shed light on their own experiences, and his serious assessments of his experiences permit readers to avoid his pitfalls.

The author explains the potent influence the absence of his father in his life has had on him.  Unfortunately, too many black males have had to grow up without their fathers being in the home and active in their lives.  One thing I value most about Hylton’s statements about the absence of his father in his life is he does not lie and say his absence has been inconsequential; it has been quite consequential.

My greatest disappointment with the book is it’s too short.  I wanted to read more of each chapter but each chapter would end too soon.  Many postmodern readers, however, love to read shorter works because they have distinctively shorter attention spans than readers in any other historical epoch.  The author probably recognizes this reality and constructed the book accordingly.

The Soundtrack to My Life is truly engaging, insightful and authentic.  I highly recommend this book and it’s worth every minute you consume reading it.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Spring Clean Some Human Beings Right Out of Your Life

As I approach 30 years of life, it really just hit me: I’m responsible for how I continue to allow people to treat me. There comes a point when you have to get fed up with the things that people do to you. It’s only when you acknowledge that enough is enough that you will truly reclaim full dominion over your life. At the very minimum, you must demand people to treat you with basic respect. If people are not willing to treat you with respect, then take a stand against them. Cast those who are not willing to respect you out of your life. Do it right now! I had to come to the realization that if people are not going to do anything else they are going to respect me. I have recognized that I have the power to not allow disrespectful people to occupy space in my life. As long as you accept disrespectful people in your life, you need to own full responsibility for their treatment of you. It’s not their fault—it’s your fault. You keep allowing it so go ahead and own what you are doing to yourself.

Many of the people in our lives are disposable, but we keep them around like they are necessities. In essence, many people are optional but we let them stay around us like we don’t have a choice. When they keep mistreating and disrespecting you, look right in the mirror at the person who should be held completely responsible for this mistreatment and disrespect. You begin to press yourself smaller and smaller when you give people the constant authority to devalue you. Your mother and father did not conceive you to sit up there and let people persist to push you around and do you any way they want. You have the power right now to stop this from happening.

What’s really sad is many of us are not able to even understand when people are constantly disrespecting and mistreating us. We have allowed disrespect and mistreatment to become such the norm in our lives that we don’t see them as needing to be eradicated from our lives. Open your eyes and see what’s really going on around you. You deserve to be valued. The things that are important to you deserve to be respected.

I want you to think critically about the people in your life and give them a comprehensive evaluation. Are there any people who really do not value you as a person? Are there people who do not value your education, business, responsibilities, time, and/or etc.? Are there people who don’t show you appreciation for the things you do for them? Are there people who don’t evince their gratitude to you? If you have people like this in your life, then you need to dismiss them right now. It really is that simple when you truly love yourself.

Are you in a “serious” relationship with a person who only values you for the sexual intercourse? If so, eliminate this person from your life. Do you have “friends” who only come around you when they want something? Cast these people out of your life! Are there people in your life who only want to talk to you about themselves all the time and everything is always about them? Get rid of them right now.

We need to start appreciating and valuing ourselves more. Love yourself enough to get rid of the people in your life who are not good for you. The right time for some Spring cleaning is right now. Get busy!

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison