Thoughts by Jesmyn Ward, Simon Schuster Audio 2017, 8 hours 22 minutes
Narrated by Kelvin Harrison Jr, Chris Chalk, Rutina Wesley – RECOMMENDED
Challenge: Tournament of Book 2018
Genre: Southern Lit, Magic Realism
Type/Source: Audiobook / Audible
Why I read this now: Hot book in the TOB that I had heard of more than some of the others.
MOTIVATION for READING: I hadn’t read a Jesmyn Ward book. Am eager still to read everything she produced/s, past and future.
WHAT’s it ABOUT: I will provide the official blurb from the ‘official’ reader’s guide on the publisher’s website:
In Jesmyn Ward’s first novel since her National Book Award-winning Salvage the Bones, she brings the archetypal road novel into rural twenty-first century America. Drawing on Morrison and Faulkner, The Odyssey and the Old Testament, Ward gives us an epochal story, a journey through Mississippi’s past and present that is both an intimate portrait of a family and an epic tale of hope and struggle.
Jojo and his toddler sister, Kayla, live with their grandparents, Mam and Pop, and the occasional presence of their drug-addicted mother, Leonie, on a farm on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. Leonie is simultaneously tormented and comforted by visions of her dead brother, which only come to her when she’s high; Mam is dying of cancer; and quiet, steady Pop tries to run the household and teach Jojo how to be a man. When the white father of Leonie’s children is released from prison, she packs her kids and a friend into her car and sets out across the state for Parchman, the Mississippi State Penitentiary, on a journey rife with danger and promise.
Sing, Unburied, Sing grapples with the ugly truths at the heart of the American story and the power, and limitations, of the bonds of family. Rich with Ward’s distinctive, musical language, Sing, Unburied Sing is a majestic work that belongs in the canon of American literature.
WHAT’s GOOD: A lot. The writing, the imagery, the connections. Masterful.
What’s NOT so good: Perhaps it was the audio, but it took me a long time to figure out a few things – that is ME, not the fault of the book. (Driving and listening in winter travel conditions might not be the best medium for enjoying a shocking story.) But upon reading other thoughts and reactions, I have come to appreciate what was happening. This is a book that gets better in your mind the more you think about it.
FINAL THOUGHTS: This would be a great book for wise discussion and I am certain that it could only increase in appreciation. It is a powerful, masterful piece of literature and possibly could be, will be the kind of book taught in high schools for years to come; a classic already.
Four FIVE slices of pie. No pie mentioned.
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