Feeding the Dragon by Sharon Washington
Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir
Setting: New York City
Source: Audiobook, (Sep 2018 Free Audible Original Member Benefit)
Narrator: Sharon Washington (1 hour, 18 minutes)
Publishing Date: 2018
Synopsis: Sharon Washington’s autobiographical one-woman play, Feeding the Dragon, delighted audiences off-Broadway and is now available exclusively on Audible. The one-act play invites listeners into Sharon’s unorthodox childhood, growing up in an apartment on the top floor of the St. Agnes Branch of the New York Public Library, where her father served as the building’s custodian. A love of literature and boundless imagination helped the playwright as a young woman persevere over dragons of all forms.
Directed by Maria Mileaf, Feeding the Dragon premiered at City Theatre in Pittsburgh and was subsequently produced by Hartford Stage and Primary Stages.
This is a short “Only from Audible” book that I received free on Audible since I’m a member. (This is a fairly new membership perk—members get to choose two Audible exclusives free from six Audible books each month.)
Her family lived on top floor of a New York Public Library!
This book was only 1 hour, 18 minutes long, but it was originally a Broadway play done by the author and narrator Sharon Washington. She talks mostly about the years she and her family lived on the top floor of a New York Public library. When I read that synopsis I knew I had to listen! I loved hearing how she spent time in the library when it was closed looking at and reading books as well as using her imagination to act out scenes. Since she became an actress as an adult I’m sure her years living at the library contributed to that.
Feeding the Dragon
However, there are lots of other parts to her story, too. The reason her family was able to live at the library was that her father had to take care of and fix problems at the library. His main job was to never let the coal-burning furnace go out. That is where the name of the story comes from. When she was a child she imagined the furnace was a fire-breathing dragon! She and her family had other dragons to deal with, too.
More to the story than the library
Sharon was lucky to go to a private school and sounds like she got a great education, but her story isn’t all light and happy. She is African-American and her parents explained the facts of life to her early. Not only is she African-American, but she also doesn’t come from a wealthy family. They made sure very early that she understood that.
She also learns the hard way that her father was a recovering alcoholic. That was very devastating to her—especially since she idolized her father. One morning she and her mother wake up and realize the coal-burning furnace is out and that her father isn’t in the building. Sharon and her mother must do the back breaking work to get the furnace working again because they know that’s the only reason their family gets to live at the library.
When she and her dad take a road trip to visit his family in the South, she begins to understand him better. During the road trip he doesn’t want to stop very often even when she needs to use a restroom at a service station. She finally realizes he’s afraid to stop because he’s African-American and the service station owner is probably white. She meets her grandma and her dad’s aunts, uncles and cousins for the first time. After that visit she understands her dad better and is able to see him more realistically.
So glad I listened to this story
I really like this story and am so glad I listened to it. If I had seen this story for sale at Audible I might not have bought. I’m glad Audible is offering some stories for free each month. I try genres and stories I might not otherwise.
I’m glad Sharon Washington narrated this story. That made the story more real to me. Since I’m not African-American and don’t know too many people who are I gained a little more knowledge about how different my life in America is.
My Rating: B+
Narrator Rating: B+
Have you read (listened to) this book? It would have been fun to see the Off-Broadway play!