Reading Challenge: #2

It was a pleasure to knock out #2 on my Reading Challenge:  Read a collection of short stories.

Quite a while back, I decided to write short stories. I have loved the genre since reading “The Night the Bed Fell” (James Thurber)(yes, I am that old) and it seems to suit my particular strain of laziness.   To educate myself, I bought up several “Best American Non-Required Reading” collections, edited by Dave Eggers, and dove in.  Intimidated by the brilliance of writers, I was inspired to just read…

So I have quite a nice collection of short stories by the likes of Eudora Welty, Alice Munro, Kurt Vonnegut, George Saunders, Flannery O’Connor, Frank O’Hara, Alice Walker, and others.   I do not necessarily read all of them completely (the beauty of short stories), and I wanted to choose one that I hadn’t started yet.  It was between Frank and Alice, and Ms. Walker’s was shorter.

Can I assume that you are familiar with Alice Walker’s books?  At least, The Color Purple?  She is one of my favorite authors, as well as one of my most admired people.  Go here  to find out all about the woman.

When it was originally published in 1973, the  subtitle for this book was “Stories of Black Women”.  (I wonder why this edition decided to truncate it?  These are stories of black women.) The reader is immediately dropped into tense, sad stories of everyday people frequently having horrifying things happen to them. Some have a sense of hopelessness. Most have the context of reluctant, but inevitable acceptance of the long centuries of abuse and mistreatment of blacks by whites.  Like Lemonade, these stories speak from a perspective that is nothing like my own, but Walker’s poetic prose blends tragedy and comedy, recognizing the absurdity of the situation while staying in touch with the emotions that her protagonist can’t quite articulate. Even the villains have depth.  This book was incredible.

Every story is a gem.  Some of them tear your heart out, and I had to close my eyes as I read the particularly troubling, “The Child Who Favored Daughter”.   “The Welcome Table,” is a parable worthy of JC.

Fans of Flannery O’Connor should definitely check out this most perfect collection of short stories. While firmly placed in a Southern Gothic tradition, Walker applies her  Womanist values to create a unique artistic space in which to look at Southern Black women in all sorts of crises, without flinching at the racism, sexism, and ugliness.

Next up on the reading challenge:   Read a Young Adult Novel…


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