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Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick: Stories from the Harlem Renaissance Hardcover – January 14, 2020
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From “one of the greatest writers of our time” (Toni Morrison)—the author of Barracoon and Their Eyes Were Watching God—a collection of remarkable stories, including eight “lost” Harlem Renaissance tales now available to a wide audience for the first time.
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In 1925, Barnard student Zora Neale Hurston—the sole black student at the college—was living in New York, “desperately striving for a toe-hold on the world.” During this period, she began writing short works that captured the zeitgeist of African American life and transformed her into one of the central figures of the Harlem Renaissance. Nearly a century later, this singular talent is recognized as one of the most influential and revered American artists of the modern period.
Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick is an outstanding collection of stories about love and migration, gender and class, racism and sexism that proudly reflect African American folk culture. Brought together for the first time in one volume, they include eight of Hurston’s “lost” Harlem stories, which were found in forgotten periodicals and archives. These stories challenge conceptions of Hurston as an author of rural fiction and include gems that flash with her biting, satiric humor, as well as more serious tales reflective of the cultural currents of Hurston’s world. All are timeless classics that enrich our understanding and appreciation of this exceptional writer’s voice and her contributions to America’s literary traditions.
“Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick helps illuminate Hurston’s path to iconic status…Add [Hurston’s] matchless powers of observation, exemplary fidelity to idiomatic speech and irresistible engagement with folklore, and the outcome is a collection of value to more than Hurston completists. Any addition to her awe-inspiring oeuvre should be met with open arms.” — New York Times Book Review
“Fans and scholars of Hurston’s work and the uninitiated alike will find many delights in these complex, thoughtful and wickedly funny portraits of black lives and communities… [Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick] is a significant testament to the enduring resonance of black women’s writing.” — Washington Post
“With biting wit, Hurston gets to the heart of the human condition. . . her rediscovered stories will electrify.” — Booklist, starred review
“An illuminating and delightful study of a canonical writer finding her rhythm.” — Publishers Weekly
“These narratives comprise a rich tapestry of Hurston’s matchless vision and talent.” — BookPage
“A reminder of why literature is so important. . .These short stories capture the essence of the African American life at the time, and offer a glimpse into how she became one of the more influential writers of the Harlem Renaissance.” — Cultured Vultures
“Read, and you’ll almost wish you were slumped on a wooden chair on Jim’s porch on a hot summer day. Read, because authenticity oozes from every page here and you can’t help but like the men and women in the tales. Read, as author Zora Neale Hurston’s wit shines between biting narrations and comments. . .” — Miami Times
"Decades on, this new collection is a powerful reminder of her lasting resonance." — Time magazine
About the Author
Zora Neale Hurston was a novelist, folklorist, and anthropologist. An author of four novels (Jonah’s Gourd Vine, 1934; Their Eyes Were Watching God, 1937; Moses, Man of the Mountain, 1939; and Seraph on the Suwanee, 1948); two books of folklore (Mules and Men, 1935, and Tell My Horse, 1938); an autobiography (Dust Tracks on a Road, 1942); and over fifty short stories, essays, and plays. She attended Howard University, Barnard College and Columbia University, and was a graduate of Barnard College in 1927. She was born on January 7, 1891, in Notasulga, Alabama, and grew up in Eatonville, Florida. She died in Fort Pierce, in 1960. In 1973, Alice Walker had a headstone placed at her gravesite with this epitaph: “Zora Neale Hurston: A Genius of the South.”
- Publisher : Amistad (January 14, 2020)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 304 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0062915797
- ISBN-13 : 978-0062915795
- Item Weight : 1.42 pounds
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 1.01 x 8.25 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #265,823 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Written in the 1920s and most of the stories took place in Eatonville, Florida and Harlem with colorful characters like Muttsy, Bluefoot, Spunk and Pinkie. I didn't love all of the twenty one stories, but I favored a few. "John Redding Goes to Sea" was depicting men v women and the desire to venture other places was heartbreaking. "The Conversion of Sam" depicts class and race division that tugs at your emotions. "Sweat" entails domestic abuse and infidelity, it was gut wrenching. "Under The Bridge," a sad but tender tale of love between a father, wife and son. "The Country in the Woman" brings Cal'line and Mitchell Potts to revisit with a hilarious outcome to the story, which should have been part ll to the previous story in The Eatonville Anthology titled "Pants and Cal'line." The final favorite was "The Gilded Six-Bits” that addressed infidelity and greed, but love triumphed.
"The Eatonville Anthology" were snippets of various stories and felt incomplete, but interesting just the same. The re-mention of Sykes Jones, in "Tippy" and womanizing Joe Clarke in "Coon Taylor,"and "The Head of the Nail," Brazzle in "Village Fiction" are characters from previous stories, which brought me familiarity. "Possum or Pig?" was the shortest story in the book (2 pages), but was humorous. Cal'line with her axe once again makes an appearance in "She Rock." I was not fond of the stories that were written in bible verses.
Overall, I enjoyed the read with its southern drawl vernacular, skillful use of idioms, class, gender, sexism, folklore and identity. Hurston explored the African American culture in these stories, as well as adultery and infidelity in a marriage. I'm proud to include this book into my collection.
Some of the stories in this collection were lost over time and recovered.. which very much appeals to the literary nerd in me, and I loved reading Hurston's accounts of the time. Her wit and commentary are sharp and pervasive, and though very much about a narrow demographic and place in time, the writing is fresh and translates well.