Alice Walker – The Color Purple

the-color-purpleI feel this intense physical propulsion to write as soon as I finish reading. Like a immense itch that needs to be scratched or serious chocolate craving. You have to do something, don’t just sit with the raggedy old book in your hands, its like a dead battery and you stare at it almost scornfully, like you have nothing left to offer me. I used you up and now I will put you down. Alice Walker told me I was coming with her with this book, she didn’t ask, not even did she give me a choice. I think in the novel I just finished, I give my readers a choice. You can come if you want to, or you can leave this story behind, but those who chose to finish it will thank me for it later, not Ms. Walker, she grabbed my hand and put my face to these people because their pain had something to say to me. I was so utterly dumbfounded that she could cut me off from the rest of the world. These two characters almost ‘forced’ to live in isolation with the most backward simplistic people you will ever meet. And each sister raised in the south somewhere between Memphis and Atlanta, which we know are two places Celie isn’t, the rest is vague. Also Nettie in Africa. Walker is amazing, and revelations start forming after reading than while, because you don’t want to judge it before its over, she makes you give her a chance. Sure there were places where it gets awkward, just by her format which was ambition as the whole thing is a letter to God, or from Nettie to Celie. I had no idea what she was talking about as referring to God or any sort of organized religion. The amazing thing though is that The three books I have finished so far, and the book I am currently reading are intensely spiritual books, granted many of them do not take the time to land anywhere which I understand as a leap into message art, which I appreciate somewhat less that art for art’s sake, but still I think you do your reader a little disservice if you don’t choose to land, questions are fine, but the beauty of a proven point is more powerful I think. At one point stiff-arming sure, but if you haven’t done your work in creating then I think you are to blame not the readers bias. Anyways, I was a little put-off by the at times one-dimensional male characters sprinkled throughout this book, though the women’s voices are authentic like they were separate writers helping Walker fill in the blankets. Sofia has to be a real person. Shug has to be a real person, or else Walker has multiple personality disorder or something, but they were hauntingly real, and I will remember them forever.

The religious tension in this book didn’t distract me, but it was a topic I often let my mind wander off to, where are these characters coming from, what do they know, what don’t they know, and how are these things informing them? Nettie and her people are black missionaries from the South to Africa, though they spend some time in England. Celie is a God-fearing southern with an intense if even misaligned private prayer life which she choose to write down instead of pray aloud. Both women’s ideas about God transform by the end of the work into something that is wholly unrecognizable to its original form. And although, the last parts are the parts I differ from intensely, I can see the maturity in their universal approach to God than some of the more trite versions of black and white legalism that I think cloud any true mature understanding of an ultimate, mysterious being that has revealed himself to us through a sometimes very confusing medium. This being said, Walker I think leads her way in this direction and sharpens instead of dulls here, which is fine, but I think she talks more than the characters talk here, with her glasses at the end of her nose, looking down on all of us people talked about Jesus as the Son of God, and her talking about God being bigger than just one man.

Feminism is deeply rooted in the stories of these women and their bumbling men, and a repressed main character discovers her aversion toward men and propensity toward lesbian love, which I think is mostly handled well and tastefully, and my own misgivings get in the way here, which is to my determent not the authors. She speaks so fluently so authentically that you let her talk, and just try to get out of the way. I loved this book.

Now onto Killer Angels by Michael Shaara. I started it a couple of days ago, so I can continue to read it as I just finished a book today, and will allow it time to sit with me, as I have already had these other characters talking to me for a couple of weeks.


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