Sunday, June 11, 2006
55. "Their Eyes Were Watching God" ~ Zora Neale Hurston
Janie's life revolves around her men; in fact, each major change in the plot is due to the coming or going of a man. But it isn't until Janie, who lives in an all African-American town, hooks up with Tea Cake, a man twenty years her junior, that the tongues begin wagging.
Without the backstory of the author, this book does not hold as much allure. She wrote this seventy years ago, but if released in today's market, it would barely make a ripple, sadly.
This is the first time I have been uncomfortable in criticizing a book. Is it because this is a historically important novel for black women, even prompting Alice Walker to write about it in Ms. magazine, and I am just a mixed English-Norwegian with no sense of culture? Perhaps. Or maybe I didn't "get it." But it did not touch me. I could not stand the young Janie. I could not imagine her tolerating such foolishness from Tea Cake. I did not feel like I could understand her, and that, ultimately, brings me back to my central belief of literature -- it does not matter if you are a man, woman, alien, yellow, purple, gay, straight; if the author cannot convey meaning via the character and narrative, then the author has missed the bullseye.
2.0 out of 5.0 Third Degree Martinis.
Posted by Kristin at 8:38 PM