Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Summer Reading Lists

Until last week, I hadn't been on an airplane in almost two years. It felt good to fly. The time in the air also gave me a chance to catch up on some oft-neglected books.

Reading Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek while traipsing around the Sonoran Desert was a bit of an environmental antithesis for my brain. While I spent my evenings learning about the transcendental nature of Eskimos and the poetic cruelty of water-dwelling insects, my days were filled with Saguaro cacti, dry desert heat, dusty mountains, and rock squirrels. Most of the water I encountered in Arizona was in plastic bottles.

I finished Pilgrim the last night of our stay, so on the plane ride back (and in our long airport layover) I read Their Eyes Were Watching God. I'd never read this high school "classic" before. I'm thankful I borrowed it last year from Gaines' parents' house, since we have to discuss it in one of my graduate education courses on the second day of class. It is also one less book I've had to buy. (Checking the mail has been fun lately-- I'm getting at least a package a day since I ordered all of my school books used, and they're coming from different booksellers.)

Somewhere over Texas I became the third Redd to finish reading this particular copy of Their Eyes-- first Gaines, then his sister Amy, then me. (And since it has our last name written in nice big letters on the side, I'll never get it mixed up with anyone else's!) I don't think I've swallowed a book whole like that in a long while. (At least I know my voraciousness is still around, even if only in spurts.) I greatly enjoyed the colloquial dialogue-- once I got Gaines to stop reading it over my shoulder in his "funny voice." The story, with a strong female protagonist, was very different from other black narratives I've read in the past, even Morrison, and I particularly enjoyed Hurston's writing style. Certain paragrpahs stuck out at me, like this one:

When God made The Man, he made him out of stuff that sung all the time and glittered all over. Then after that some angels got jealous and chopped him into millions of pieces, but he still glittered and hummed. So they beat him down to nothing but sparks but each little spark had a shine and a song. So they covered each one over with mud. And the lonesomeness in the sparks made them hunt for one another, but the mud is deaf and dumb. Like all the other tumbling mud-balls, Janie had tried to show her shine.

Now I'm reading Harry Potter and the Prizoner of Azkaban in between more bursts of Wright, since the film version debuts Friday. (I've given up on Return of the Native-- the decrepit, yellowed paperback copy I had was in such bad shape it fell apart before I got to chapter three.) I took a few moments this morning to read HP while doing laundry, and I'm already on the fourth chapter. It does fly by, but it's a fantastic read, especially since I know I'll be inundated with much more time-consuming books very soon. I begin classes at Georgia State on June 14th, so I'm taking advantage of any spare moments NOW, since I know I won't have them much longer...

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