Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Color Purple by Alice Walker (18 of 166)

One Sentence Summary: Celie, an impoverished black woman living an agonizing cycle of abuse and oppression, comes to find her inner light enabled and bolstered through the course of her life by the people and events that come through it.

“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it. People think pleasing God is all God cares about. But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back.” 
I actually can't believe it took me this long to read this book. It's another major school reading list champion and I guess I always avoided those- I was going to be forced to read them eventually, so why go out of my way? That was probably the thinking. Foolish, of course. Most of the books on those reading lists are on there for a reason.

From a writing perspective, Alice Walker is unreal. Her ability to write dialect and ignorance and perspective is so inspiring, it makes me want to write my butt off. I love how, with this particular craft, simply reading is perhaps the best way to learn from the masters. I feel as if my life is overflowing with the power of the two incredible women I have only just now been exposed to- Toni Morrison and Ms. Walker. They are separate entities, with strong individual identities, but their joy for life is so completely unbridled and seeping through the cracks of their work, that I will think of them together always. I cannot relate to many things in their books, particularly the American black experience, not directly, anyway, but I am learning learning learning. Even struggling to comprehend that element, I feel as if I am leaning on their formidable shoulders. 

When it comes The Color Purple specifically, I am just in awe of Celie. The characters are so believable and vivid- but all come to being beneath Celie's forgiving and increasingly wise gaze. Growing with her is a privilege. You find yourself wanting to weep tears of joy as she comes into her own and grasps life and takes a hold of her future and discovers the unquenchable thirst of her spirit. At first I thought that I was meant to love Shug for bringing the wrecking ball into Celie's constructs of self-defense mechanisms, but then I realized it was Celie gently teaching everyone, even as she learned. There is so much pain in this book; the first few chapters are even a little exhausting in the scope of their abuse and hardship, but it sets the stage for a story about hope that must be among the greatest ever written.

 Life is hard, chickens, but the light is just a few steps further, always.  You can take that away, no matter what your race or history, because everyone has felt pain, been betrayed, and stood alone in the darkness sometime. Their tales remind me of how our lives do not run parallel to those of others- how instead, we wind and weave through the narratives of friends, families, and enemies alike. In that way, the tapestry becomes strong- wind and weave, wind and weave.

Shelf Status: Moving Along and someday buying a copy with the binding attached
If You Liked The Color Purple you may like: Beloved , The Invisible Man, All Over but the Shoutin', The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

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