. . . Faulkner . . . Talk about coincidences. This past weekend, totally unprompted and out of the blue, a friend sent me an email, in which she raved about her love of Faulkner's "As I Lay Dying." As my dear, smart-mouthed son might say, "Well, I'm happy for her (smile)." Sadly and truthfully, Faulker has never done a whole lot for me. I have yet to feel the magic when I immerse myself in his work.
Sometimes I wonder had I taken more English/Lit courses in college, if might feel different about Faulkner and some of the other dead authors, whose works fail to move me. I'm saying, isn't College Lit where they hammer out a portion of your brain and replace it with loads of academic jargon and a bunch of other ivory-tower creations designed to keep you walking the straight, narrow and predictable paths of political correctness? No? Okay, my bad . . .
Anyway, the next author on the list of folks I'm supposed to like and regard with high-esteem, but dont--is guaranteed to draw shrieks and much pulling of hair (whether real, store-bought, processed or au natural) from certain quarters of the African American literary establishment. But here goes anyway . . . Richard Wright.
Black Boy. Native Son. Ah, no thanks. Keep it. Not for me. Really, I don't see the beauty. The angst, yeah, but not the beauty. Never have. Probably never will. To be fair, it's been years since I've read Black Boy. I should (and at some point will) probably read it again, because age has a way of changing things--perspectives in particular.
But I don't think there's any chance of me ever liking Native Son. The movie version of the book, starring Richard Wright as "Bigger Thomas" pretty much killed that for me. It's hard for me to watch that movie without either winching in pain or laughing (when and where I'm not supposed to). Very seldom do I ever say something is horrible, but truly, for me, the movie version of Native Son is just that. Were I ever forced to choose, I'd rather waste an hour of my life watching Flav Flav's ig'nant behind.
And this last one? Heck, I may as well go ahead and turn in my Sister-Girl card now . . . because it's more than likely gonna come back stamped REVOKED! as soon as I fix my lips to say anything negative about this person.
But to be clear, I don't dislike all of this author's work--just the one she's most famous for. Okay brace yourselves now. You ready? The title is . . . is . . . Their Eyes Were Watching God . . . (ducking, shielding my eyes and hanging my head in shame).
I can hear it now. "Oh, but the hummingbird . . . the rich symbolism . . . the love story . . . " Yeah, I know. Sorry, none of it moved me. Not in the least.
Here's the deal--I've owned the book, Their Eyes Were Watching God, since the mid-to late '80s. Nope, I didn't buy it. It was given to me. A number of times over the years, I've pulled the text from the shelves, started reading it, found myself growing extremely irritated and within a couple of pages, found myself tossing the book back onto the shelves.
Part of the/my problem with the work is the dialect. I hate reading books written in dialect, especially that which is intended to represent the way rural, Black Southerners speak. I almost passed on The Color Purple for the same reason. Though, I must say, in keeping with the lonely, politically-incorrect course I've charted for myself, I enjoyed the movie much more than I did the book. Oh, what did I think about the movie version of Their Eyes? Plenty. But I'd best save it for another time (smile).
Let there be no mistaking though, Zora Neale Hurston, the tilted-hat-wearing, Black woman, writer, anthropologist and all-around character . . . Oh, I ADORE her! And the collection of African American folktales she packaged under the title Mules & Men is my kind of reading . . . even though, I'd dare say, like most "good" social scientists, Zora Neale made most of that mess up (LOL)!
On a more serious note, the sad thing for me, as it pertains to Zora Neale is that I didn't even learn of her existence until my final semester of grad school. Had I not been a student of anthropology, a Black female with Southern roots, who had an interest in writing fiction, this might not have mattered . . . But you know, it's been years and I still tear up every time I think about it.
In any case, what's your book? You know, the one everybody and his or her Grandmama praises till the cows come home, but you'd rather take a karate chop to the throat before you read it again? Come on, don't be scared! Fess up! I've already taken most of the hard blows for you . . .
Written while listening to Jaguar Wright's "Free" "Timing" "Told Ya" "So High" "Been Here Before" and "Cell Bock" from her cd entitled, Divorcing Neo 2 Marry Soul.