Book Review April 2008
What Moves at the Margin: Selected Nonfiction
By Toni Morrison, edited with an Introduction
by Carolyn C. Denard
University Press of Mississippi, April 2008
$30, 176 pages
Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison has captivated readers with her fantastically rich and complex fictional stories of Black life since her first book was published in 1970. Morrison’s sensitive observations, deep concentration and eloquent style are presented in this collection of her nonfiction narratives.
What Moves at the Margin offers glimpses into Morrison’s life, and it begins with “A Slow Walk of Tress,” an intimate portrait of family history. The collection spans 30 years, and Morrison’s insights and commentary on literature, politics and society make this slim volume a treasure.
Daufuskie Island: Photographs by Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe
New Preface by Deborah Willis, Ph.D.
University of South Carolina Press, Dec. 2007
$49.95, 176 pages
Years ago, Daufuskie Island, a secluded island between Hilton Head Island, S.C., and Savannah, Ga., possessed a solemn charm. Photographer Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe first visited Daufuskie in 1971 and published meditative images of the community in 1982. With her book, Moutoussamy-Ashe proves exactly what a photographer should do — capture the spirit of a culture. Today, much of the simple existence once there has vanished. In this 25th anniversary edition of Daufuskie Island, the photographer reminisces and says, “The hybrid nature of the Daufuskie culture coupled with its seclusion as a Black community makes it rather extraordinary.”
—Clarence V. Reynolds
Winning Government Contracts: How Your Small Business Can Find and Secure Federal Government Contracts Up to $100,000
Authors: Malcolm Parvey and Deborah Alston
Publisher: Career Press, 2008
ISBN-13: 978-1-56414-975-6; ISBN-10: 1-56414-975-7
Reviewed by Soroya Brantley
One of the main reasons why Winning Government Contracts: How Your Small Business Can Find and Secure Federal Government Contracts Up to $100,000 stands out on this subject stems from the huge disparity between its co-authors in their knowledge of the subject. Malcolm Parvey is an independent sales and marketing professional who helps small businesses sell their products and services to the federal government. Co-author Deborah Alston admittedly does not have much knowledge of this market, but argues that if she cannot understand it, no one else will. That’s especially important when the subject is as formidable as federal government contracts.
To make the subject less intimidating, Parvey and Alston address the “25 biggest misconceptions small businesses have regarding federal contracting,” including: “The government takes too long to pay” and “I am too small to do business with the federal government.”
The federal government, the authors contend, offers “job security” in that it will never go out of business and will always need specific services and products. (See page 30, in the “Entrepreneurship” section of this issue for information on doing business with the federal government’s General Services Administration.) They cite regulations that stipulate that any federal agency planning to make a purchase of $100,000 or less must make that purchase through a small business. This means that a small-business owner can carve out a supply niche in which it does not have to compete with big corporations. As long as small businesses are willing to bid on these contracts, they will have limitless opportunities to supply the vast array of products and services the government constantly requires.
That’s pretty close to sure money, Parvey and Alston say. If a small-business contractor to the federal contract stays competitive in pricing and quality, chances are the government will renew its contract over and over again.
While being small in the federal market may be an advantage, that alone does not make you qualify for contracts. Small businesses must first comply with the government’s size standards, which usually are stated in terms of the number of employees in a company, or the company’s average annual receipts. Different size requirements exist for the various service and industry groups, so careful research is important. The small-business entity also must be a for-profit enterprise, must operate in the United States and must pay taxes.
The authors examine how the government buys what it needs. They explain terms like “invitation to bid,” “request for proposal” and “request for quotation,” and how these fit into the specific procedure that the federal government follows when looking to purchase services and products. The bidding procedure is also explained at great length, including what is required to bid, how long the process takes and various ways in which bids may be made. The book is invaluable for any small-business owner considering bidding on federal contracts.