Sula – Toni Morrison (1973)

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The purpose of evil is to survive it and they determined (without ever knowing that they had made up their minds to do it) to survive floods, white people, tuberculosis, famine and ignorance. They knew anger well but not despair, and they didn’t stone sinners for the same reason they didn’t commit suicide – it was beneath them.

Read for a bunch of different reasons (including Black History Month and to fill in a year in my on-going Century of Books project), Sula was a great read once you got into it. It’s not the easiest book to read as it flips back and forth between an experimental style and a more straightforward narrative arc, but once I let go of any notions of expecting the traditional format, it became a really good read. It features two women, both very different from each other and the others in their small community. They meet when they are twelve, and from then on, they float in and out of each other’s lives as they get older and their lives change.

It’s a rather uncomfortable friendship with both friends choosing to be rather direct with each other (and crossing over into mean at times). The dichotomy between the two is around what the book revolves: Sula and Nel are frenemies for most of their years on earth, and it’s not a gentle read at times.

Having both grown up in a small community called The Bottom (although it’s up in the hills), their childhood overlaps and they are inseparable for their adolescent years. It’s not until both are young women that Sula leaves their home town and then disappears for years. Not until much later in their lives, does Sula return to her childhood home changed herself and bringing a tornado of memories and unpleasant truths with her to disrupt the Bottom’s own balanced little world.

It’s a good read with a lyrical tone to the writing – almost sultry and dream-like in places – and the structure of each paragraph reflects what’s happening in the characters (similar in some ways to Zora Neale Hurston and as things get complicated, the sentences become longer and longer and run on — similar to how dreams don’t really start or stop or have a logical arc to them. At first, I was wondering what was going on, but as with other experimental writing I’ve read, I found that the best approach was to just go with the flow and see where you end up. (It’s not even that experimental, really, when you compare this writing to others, but it’s not a straight-up A-Z narrative arc for sure.)

Morrison has written a lot of books, including The Bluest Eye (pre-blog) which I read years ago about a small girl who gets bullied by her school friends due to the color of her eyes. Similar to this read, it’s an uncomfortable and slightly edgy read but it’s really good all the same.

I recently read Morrison’s Beloved, and am looking forward to reading that whole trilogy. I’ve already ordered Jazz from the library. Squee.

Loved it. Highly recommend Morrison’s work.

Great Speeches by African-Americans – edited by James Daley (2006)

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It’s African-American History Month here in the U.S., and although the month is almost half over now and I’ve been tardy, I have been making an effort to read some work by POC (specifically people of African descent). As part of that, I happened to drop by one of the library branches (I know, shocking, right?), and they had a display of interesting looking titles that were themed with this. As I am a sucker for library displays, I picked a couple of titles, one of which happened to be a slim Dover Thrift edition of a collection of speeches by African-Americans over the years.

Obviously, being an edited collection means that someone will choose and miss pieces, but I thought that this book had such a good selection – at least to a neophyte such as me. There were a variety of speeches, long and short, from both male and female speechmakers (more men since historically men were more likely to be in such a position), and this was so interesting for me.

I have a smattering of African-American history having immersed myself in it on and off over the past few years, and it was so interesting to read some of the words that reflected (and in some cases changed) the course of history in the U.S. for people of color.

As historical background, here are the large markers that illustrate the hideous history of slavery in the U.S. and the U.K.:

Brief run-down on the early history of U.S. history:

  • 1542 – Spain enacts first European law abolishing slavery
  • 1807 – UK Slave Trade Act makes slave trade illegal throughout the British Empire/colonies. (You could still own slaves – just not sell them.)
  • 1833 – UK Slavery Abolition Act – abolition of all slavery within the British Empire/colonies
  • 1863 – US Emancipation Proclamation (which meant slaves were now free in the Southern/Confederate States)
  • 1865 – US 13th Amendment ended slavery in all the states of the US

There was quite a list of speeches in this title, and so thought I’d spotlight a few of my favorites for you:

  • Ain’t I a Woman? by Sojourner Truth (1851).  A short but powerful speech delivered at the 1851 Women’s Convention in Akron, Ohio, its brevity adds to its power and this is a fire-cracker speech not to be missed. Seriously.
  • What, to the Slave, is the Fourth of July? – Frederick Douglass (1852)  Given on July 05, 1852, this is an inspiring speech given by freedman Frederick Douglass to show the hypocrisy evident when Americans were celebrating Independence Day from England, and yet a large percentage of their population were still not free. It’s powerful, it’s long, and I would have loved to have heard this speech in real life. I’m not sure how many people would have stuck it out to the end – brevity is not in this work – but it’s a powerful indictment of the hypocrisy of the time. Frederick Douglass has an amazing story and I reviewed his diary earlier a few years back. See here for the link.
  • Black Woman in Contemporary America – Shirley Chisholm (1974). Chisholm was the first AfAm woman elected to the U.S. Congress and in 1972, she was the first black woman to seek a major party nomination for the U.S. Presidency. (How brave is that??) She served in Congress until 1982, and gave this speech in 1974 at the University of Missouri in Kansas City.
  • The Ballot or the Bullet – Malcolm X (1964). Like Malcolm X or not, he was a pivotal influencer on the civil rights movement in the U.S., and in this speech, he argues that if America can send black men overseas to fight in the Korean War, surely that gives AfAm people the right to stand up for themselves and each other. It’s a fiery speech, no doubt about it, and his passion shines through. Interestingly (and frustratingly), many of the same issues that Malcolm raises are still social justice issues of today. Have a looksee.

This was not an easy read – quite a few of the speeches are really dense and last for more than a few pages – but they are worth reading to see their speech-writing skills and the passion that each presenter demonstrates. A really good read about an important battle that continues, I’m sad to say, to this day in some parts of the country.

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Shirley Chisholm in 1972.

Dr. Cornel West rocks.

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Wow.

Dr. Cornel West visited our campus last week as part of the African-American History Month, and wow. He was a fantastic orator. You can tell that he has experience as a spoken word performer and you can tell that he is probably one of the smartest people you’ll ever hear from. (Huge vocabulary!) It was great.

cornelDr. West’s talk was along the lines of how African-American lives have been changed (or not) during the Obama administration and I had been expecting to hear how great President Obama has been and all that jazz. Instead, we heard a fairly diluted message of support for him, and a lot about how it’s much more important to be the best person you can be, regardless of color. Great message. However, Dr. West was also very astute in his biting commentary about how racism still exists for African-Americans in the U.S. and he particularly focused on the “Black Lives Matter” campaign. It really got me to thinking and linked nicely back to Ta Ne-Hisi Coates’ book, Between The World and Me. (See my review here.)

(I had expected the lecture hall to be as packed as it was with Black Violin , but instead (and rather disappointedly), it was only two-thirds full and mostly with older white people. I was saddened because Dr. West was rather a coup for our university to secure. He’s an important intellectual activist and his messages crosses boundaries of all kinds. They missed out is all I can say.)

So – to the talk. Instead of focusing on President Obama’s eight years in office, Dr. West revolved his talk on the problem of systemic racism in the U.S. and linked that with four questions from the African-American writer, W. E. B. Du Bois:

  • How shall Integrity face Oppression?
  • What shall Honesty do in the face of Deception?
  • What shall Decency do in the face of Insult?
  • What Virtue do to meet Brute Force?

(Du Bois had some other questions as well, but these were the four that Dr. West chose to focus on for his talk.)

It was a powerful talk. Dr. West is a fiery and passionate speaker and covered a wide swath of issues. He addressed some uncomfortable realities (at least for me, as a privileged white person) and the advice that he gave to address these four questions in an honorable and powerful way was dead on.

It was really a good lecture, and if you should ever get a chance to hear Dr. West, then please go. It was a thought-provoking and energizing talk from one of the leading activists and philosophers in the U.S. Highly recommended.

(I’m also going to look for some of Du Bois’ writing at a later date. It looks v interesting to me.)

Going Home to Nicodemus – Daniel Chu and Bill Shaw (1994)

 

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Subtitle: The Story of an African-American Frontier Town and the Pioneers who Settled It.

“All colored people that want [sic] to go to Kansas on September 5th, 1877, can do so for $5.” (Taken from handbill issued by the Nicodemus Town Company.)

This was a fascinating read about a part of the Wild West which I’ve not seen receive much mention before: how the pioneer world also included African-Americans in its spread westward during the nineteenth century. What was so interesting for me was learning that Kansas was a hub for these African-American pioneers. Kansas, I hear you say? Really? Well, yes.

In 1865, the U.S. cemented the 13th Amendment which abolished slavery. In 1868, the 14th Amendment secured citizenship for African-Americans, and the 15th Amendment in 1870 secured voting rights for African-Americans (at least on paper).

kansas mapSo in the later nineteenth century, former slaves were now free-ish (depending on lots of factors and not just the law), but although they had their freedom, it was not without its own set of problems. Former slaves were often just released without any resources to support them; many had no land, no money (and little chance of getting any), no home, no job, and limited access to employment due to a lack of skills and to rampant job discrimination. How was a former and newly released slave supposed to support him/herself and the family?

Thus the Freedman Bureau  was established to address this need, but it fell wanting in numerous areas. Most slaves were minimally agriculturally skilled which only allowed them to earn a living through share-cropping (where they don’t own the land, but work on it and then share a portion of what is produced on that land). With no means to buy land and thus no opportunity to own land, what was a former slave to do?

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Along around now also came the Homestead Act (1862) which opened up land ownership for many people in the newly established western states (including Kansas). So with the numerous land companies popping up and with their exaggerated exhortations with regard to the amount and quality of resources that were available in these states, newly freed men and women were targeted for populating these wide open states. Slaves with few other opportunities jumped at the chance for a better life and thus a door was opened for the African-American pioneers of the time.

Kansas was, at that time, a mix of pro-slavery and anti-slavery with the nickname of “Bleeding Kansas” due to its liberal values. With the abundance of flowery literature portraying it as a land of plenty and with the fact that famous abolitionist John Brown lived there, the state looked really attractive to the freed slaves and so thousands of African-Americas moved there. The influx of new settlers were called “Exodusters” and estimates go as high as 40,000 people who moved there.

Alongside this was an African-American Kansas resident called Pap Singleton who is credited with being one of the earlier visionaries with regard to establishing all-black communities for these new incomers. His ideas, along with the huge influx of settlers, led to the formation of the town Nicodemus and other communities run for and by black residents. It was quite a revolutionary idea for the times.

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However, with the now-free slaves with few resources and not many skills, many preferred to live close to the already established communities and so although the incomers were many, few had the skills to homestead. Such an increase in community population led to an increase in crime, of poverty and other social ills, and in 1880, the Kansas Governor finally had to say no more to the newcomers and to the town companies who were promoting this state.

Roughly two-thirds of the incomers left the state after that, either going home or on to different states, but even so, it still left a pretty large population of African-Americans struggling to make Kansas their home.

And so the story goes on. It’s an amazing tale and one that I had never heard of, despite having lived in the U.S. for more than 30 years. I knew that there were African-American cowboys – in fact, I happen to know two guys who do that now – but I had no idea of the sheer numbers of freed slaves who came west. Just imagine how brave these newly freed pioneers were – and what a risk they took to create new and better lives for themselves and for their families. Amazing.

I’m really interested in learning more about this more unknown side of pioneer life, so I’m looking out for other books now. This was fascinating.

Between the World and Me – Ta-Nehisi Coates (2015)

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When I happened to see this title at the library, I grabbed it as reviews of it have been all over the interwebs and I was curious to see how it read. Wow. It’s a provocative and challenging piece concerning race relations in the U.S. in the form of an impassioned letter from a black father to his son.

Written echoing the narrative structure of James Baldwin (who wrote The Fire Next Time, a similar narrative addressed to his nephew), Coates writes a missive to his teenaged son on how to live life in America as a black man. It’s interesting to read, but wow – Coates is so angry about twenty-first century life for African-American people and seems to hold so little hope for life to change from his son.

As a white person reading this short volume, his strong feelings against “people who believe they are white” took me a few steps back – “Wait a minute. I haven’t done anything to earn this invective”, and in fact, I felt so strongly that I actually put the book down to reconsider whether to continue reading it.

After sleeping on it, I decided to pick it up again to finish the read and see what Coates’ total message really was. He. Is. So. Angry. He also seems to have little belief in any individual agency that people can change their lives for the better, blaming all (almost all?) of America’s recent ongoing racial troubles on the troubling history of entrenched cultural racism stemming from the years of slavery.

As an English (and American) white person, I felt personally attacked and blamed for something over which I had no control. Slavery happened way before I was born, and so one side of me thought that this was something that was old news. Yes, it happened. Yes, it was horrible. Yes, it should never happen again, but at some point, one should consider the tenet of “History is not Destiny”…

coatesBut then I realized that I come from a background and history of never-ending white privilege. I have never had to deal with racism directed towards me in a negative fashion, so how can I judge whether Coates is over-estimating his views? I can’t, and I have no right to do so even if I could. He is entitled to his opinions and how he views the world, and I, as a privileged white woman, should pay attention to that. His opinion of life in America for POC was shocking and sad for me to read. No one should have to live in fear every day.

The essay in this book is not focused at me, a white person who has not felt the daily fear of day-to-day life as an African-American person may well feel. As a white person, society usually reflects my race in the ads, the films, the books, the very life I lead. I can usually guarantee that someone who looks like me will be reflected back to me on the TV screen and similar, that I can (and am) living the manufactured Dream that Coates refers to: the Dream of green lawns, picket fences, and all the other fixtures of the American ideal. However, if I was a person of African descent, how often can one say that? How can I believe that Dream is achievable for me if I don’t see people who look like me in it? If I only read reports of people who look like me getting killed, incarcerated, addicted?

It’s true that Coates is very angry about life in the U.S., and fears for his son and his future. Just witness the endless numbers of police shootings, black-on-black crime, poverty, unemployment, and disproportionate numbers of black men in the U.S. prison system, and one can’t rationally deny that racism is not alive and well in the world of today. If I was an African-American person growing up here, how could I not be angry at the way that America has treated me? I’d be mad as hell as well.

So this was quite the provocative piece for me. By the time I had finished this fairly short read, I had definitely revised my views of U.S. race relations and of Coates. It’s an emotional piece of writing for me to read and I admire Coates in some ways. I wish that he did not feel so angry about the world in which he lives as there must be happy pieces in his world somewhere but there is no mention of that. He seems to have a very all-or-nothing view of the whole situation which seems to be rather extremist in some ways and to foster little hope for improvement on any level.

But then I consider what he says about how America in the twentieth-first century is based on public policies which have their roots in slavery and segregation, and for me to deny that would be foolish.

Of course life today is impacted by the life of yesterday. But how to change that? Should we take the perspective of recognizing what’s better and still continuing to strive for more improvements? Or should one take Coates’ perspective of “not enough, we deserve more and we won’t rest until we get it”?

As a privileged white woman, the argument could be that as I’m already in a comfortable position, it’s easy for me to have the former perspective. Is it me being too much of a Pollyanna to view the world in that manner? Should I get my (white and idealistic) blinders off and more fully realize that life is still hugely affected negatively by race in the U.S. and, according to Coates, always will be?

I think that that is the biggest strength of Coates’ narrative piece here: that his book invites everyone to take a closer look at how racism affects people (even if it’s not you), and how its insidious effects can chip away at a whole people one day at a time. It’s also a muscular “take no prisoners” letter to a son from a father who passionately wishes to protect and prepare him for his adult life.

This ended up being a fascinating read which really opened my eyes about modern life in America for people of color. I recommend this book to anyone (wherever you may fall on the spectrum) as it will be certain to shake up how you see the world. And isn’t that the point of any good book?

(And if you’re interested in another really thoughtful read by Coates, check out his article in The Atlantic about reparations…) It will make you think of the situation in a whole new light and that, I think, is the be-all of reading non-fiction – at least for me. Does it affect your world view in some way by opening new worlds of thought about something or someone? That’s the very definition of powerful writing, if you ask me.)

Coates, BTW, is the son of a former Black Panther and so understandably has strong views. Link this with Beyoncé’s SuperBowl half-time show, and it’s interesting to consider how this will all play out with a new generation. Food for thought, indeed.

There are, of course, tons of reviews et al. out there around the interwebs, but here are several that I really like about this huge important issue:

What are your thoughts?

Praisesong for the Widow – Paule Marshall (1983)

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As part of JOMP’s Black History Month recognition, this novel was a fine way to kick off the month-long project. It also happens to be one of the Viragos that I’ve had on my shelf for absolutely AGES and so it checked all my boxes, even more so when I had finished it because it was REALLY good. (Sorry. Got a bit shouty there for a second. It’s that good.)

This novel focuses on a few days in the life of a well-off African-American woman who impulsively decides to leave a Caribbean cruise, but is uncertain why. She has a strong feeling that she has to leave, but why does she give in the impulse? That’s the spotlight of this great feminist novel – what exactly is going on with protagonist Avey Johnson? “It’s completely out of character…” according to herself and her friends. But jump ship she does.

It’s an ethereal novel, very dream-like in places with time and scenery floating by at odd times. I found this to be unnerving at first, but once I gave into the flow of the writing and went along with it, it seemed as though it could not be written in any other way. Most of the novel is written from the POV of Avey – her thoughts, her dreams, her ideas, her experiences – and as the story progresses and we get to know her, her actions start to make perfect sense as the pages fly by.

Avey is a widow, her former husband fairly rule-bound and straight-forward, upwardly mobile and with fairly successful grown-up kids, all of which makes it even more perplexing why she suddenly jumps ship on the small island of Granada, without tickets or a plan or her friends. She seems to have done everything “right” as a middle-class African-American woman of the time – married carefully, raised the children, kept the house… And yet, for the first time during this cruise, she has been unsettled with memories of her childhood holidays with her great-aunt in the south with whom she danced on the beach and reached towards Africa…

By decamping from the expected cruise trip, Avey finds herself with a day to spare before her plane can take her back to New York and as she wanders around Grenada’s port town, she’s bombarded with new experiences and new languages, with different people and with different experiences, none of which really fit into her life as it was previously lived.

Avey ends up meeting an older Granadian man who invites her to travel along with him and other islanders back to his native island of Carriacou where they return every year to reconnect with family and community. And it’s here in Carriacou where Avey finally pieces together the puzzle that she’s forming in her head, where the trance-like feelings that she’s been experiencing and which she experienced with her great-aunt as a child would be clarified…

It’s a novel rich in colors, sounds, music and dancing. It’s a novel about returning to your roots and understanding your past in order to live your future, and it’s a novel about respecting things that may be hard to understand when you first meet them. One could also argue it’s about expected gender roles and expectations as well, as this experience only occurs now that her husband has died and she is with other female characters (her friends).

I loved this book which should be no surprise as I’ve loved the other two Paule Marshall books I’ve read (Brown Girl, Brown Stones  and Merle and Other Stories ), and this novel was a super way to kick off Black History Month.

Next up is….

 

March: Part Two – John Lewis/Nate Powell (2015)

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After having read and really enjoyed March: Part One, I ILL’d Part Two which was only recently published this year. This book covered the civil rights battle just after it had started with the student restaurant counter sit-ins and other forms of non-violent protest. (The movement with which John Lewis is closely associated with aligns very strongly with Ghandian principles of non-violence to achieve change. I’m sorry to say that not everyone followed the same set of principles at times.)

The narrative is structured with a back-and-forth in time between the burgeoning civil rights protest movement and the ceremony where Barack Obama was sworn in to be U.S. President in 2009. This was a good way to contrast how far the movement had gone since its early days so as the reader jumped between 2009 and back to the 1960s, there was no denying just how hard the protestors had worked to get recognized.

The battle’s early years were marked mostly with points of action spread across a few states at fairly random intervals and only vaguely connected. The later years show a much more cohesive movement, with by-laws and official leadership and meeting with state and national officials.

They were also marked by a much more vicious response from the whites who were threatened by the uprising and who, in response, chose violence. The black and white graphics in this book are an ideal medium to show this – violence can be very black and white when you’re in the middle of a passionate and important battle – and when I was reading this, there were moments when I was holding my breath with a racing heart as I saw how horrible people were to each other.

It’s impossible for me to relate to how members of the Ku Klux Klan reacted during this time. What was possibly going to happen to them if the African-American population got the vote that justified this level of vitriolic hate? I know that there are a lot of history, cultural subtexts, and social constraints to consider, but it seems so far out of my view that anyone would hate someone else enough to do these heinous acts that it’s very difficult for me to understand.

And, curiously for me, it only happened a few years ago really. I was born in 1963 in England, and it was around this time (just a few months earlier) that the March on Washington, MLK Jr. , and the race riots were in full swing in the southern states. It was in my lifetime, and yet it seems so far away when people talk about it. Black and white photos, old model cars, and unforgivable behavior.

And then I remember the bravery of the Freedom Riders who rode buses to bring desegregation to the rural areas of Mississippi and Georgia, the courage of the young men and women of both races who stood up in the face of hate, and who, honestly, risked their lives to right this wrong. I remember the ordinary men and women who registered African-Americans for voting privileges, and both the Kennedys (Jack and John) for playing leadership roles in getting this fight sorted out in the most morally correct way. And how we now have an African-American President here. All most amazing really when you think about it.

Learning more about the African-American experience in the U.S. has been eye-opening. If these violent events happened in your lifetime (or that of your parents and grandparents), I can understand how hard it must be trust white people a lot of the time (on a large scale). There have been years of evidence that reflect how slightly the White Establishment regarded a huge part of their own population, and so when viewed through that lens, Ferguson, the L.A. riots and others are not so surprising.

However, then you look back at the Ghandian principles that the original Freedom Riders followed, of non-violence, of peaceful protest, and then wonder how did it all go so wrong sometimes?

Oh well. One can dream.

(Part of JOMP’s Black History Month recognition.)

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March: Book One – John Lewis/Nate Powell (2013)

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Poking around on the interwebs, I came across this graphic novel title and seeing as I was in the mood for a little sequential art, I picked it up at the library. As this was also an autobiography of a leading Civil Rights activist and U.S. Congress person John Lewis, it also was right up my alley for the Black History Month project as well. Win-Win!

I was not familiar with John Lewis, but learned a lot about his life and the beginnings of the Civil Rights movement via this graphic novel and loved reading it. And it wasn’t all about Lewis – I learned about the fledgling  civil rights movement, how and where the activity started, and who was whom in the struggle.

This GN is number one in a projected trilogy, with Book Two just published this year, I think. (I have already asked for it via inter-library loan as I am so intrigued by Lewis’ later life and activism.) Lewis was born to a sharecropper in rural Alabama, he met Martin Luther King, Jr., and was involved with the Nashville Student Movement and the burgeoning sit-in movement that was just about to spread across the country. Non-violence was the name of the game, although obviously not everyone stuck to those rules. (Understatement of the year.)

This is a serious book about a serious subject, and yet it’s palatable for even a reluctant reader and the learning is camouflaged inside the graphic illustrations and the actual story. It’s about Lewis, for sure, but it’s also about activism, about the unsung heroes who sat at the lunch counters and who wouldn’t move, about Gandhi and his non-violence philosophy, and about getting some basic rights for people who were as American as anyone who is born on this soil.

So, this was a great read for me, and, clearly, it would be a super read for anyone looking to learn more about the Civil Rights movement, about the Jim Crow years, about the 1950’s and 1960’s in the U.S., and all from the perspective of someone who was there and who lived this.

If you can’t tell, I loved this graphic novel and can’t wait for Book Two to arrive. Lewis (and his collaborator Nate Powell) are great story-tellers of his own life.

(Part of JOMP’s Black History Month recognition.)

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Merle and other Stories – Paule Marshall (1983)

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Picking up another Virago (from this shelf), this was a collection of short stories and one novella by African-American author Paule Marshall. I have had this title on the shelf for decades, but this one made the cut when I was searching for books for Black History Month. I am so glad that I finally read this one, as I think I’ve discovered a new favorite author. I’m delighted about this.

There are several stories in this collection, all with the same entrancing writing in them. Marshall is an artist in her writing, in her turns of phrase, and how she crafts her sentences. Truly a joy to read for me.

The common theme between all the stories was one of a state of imbalance and of power. Who had it? How was it handled? What upset it and what was the impact of that? Several stories dealt with a narrative based on the dichotomy of older man/younger woman and the issue of who had the power over whom. Each story was focused on this set up, but each story was very different from the others so it wasn’t pure repetition.

As I read each story and met the characters, I watched the balance of power change from one to the other. At the start of the story, it was clear who was in charge, but then some catalyst would occur to offset the balance, and then your view shifted – who had the power really? All this is very subtly approached and it’s very shadowy so you, as the reader, aren’t really aware of these undercurrents until afterwards, when you’re thinking about the story. Marshall is a really good at this structural formula here without being obvious.

So what  does the power struggle between the two characters represent? Does it reflect the struggle between old and new? (There were significant age differences for several characters in the stories.) Was it male vs. female? This was a silent power struggle and so did it represent the changing power of feminism vs. the established world?

It’s an interesting debate and with no clear answer which makes this a really provocative read. Loved it, and will definitely pick up more Marshall. (I just happen to have a couple more on the Virago shelf…)

(Part of JOMP’s Black History Month recognition.)

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