Zora Neale Hurston has a new non-fiction release. Originally denied publication based on her refusal to change the narrative’s vernacular, the book has finally found a place on modern bookstore shelves. I own a copy of Wrapped in Rainbows by Valerie Boyd, so I’ve already seen a few excerpts from Cudjo Lewis’ story.
I’d love to pretend like Barracoon is on my reading list, but I don’t want to work that hard to read a book in my free time. Sure, I’ve read several Hurston books in college. I even re-read Their Eyes Were Watching God in my free time, but I don’t want to read this for fun:
My father he name O-lo-loo-ay. He not a rich man. He have three wives. My mama she name Ny-fond-lo-loo. She de second wife. My mama have one son befo’ me so I her second child. She have four mo’ chillun after me, but dat ain’ all de chillun my father got. He got nine by de first wife and three by de third wife.
In de compound I play games wid all de chillun. We wrassle wid one ’nother. We see which one kin run de fastest. We clam de palm tree wid coconut on it and we eatee dat, we go in de woods and hunt de pineapple and banana.
One day de chief send word to de compound. He want see all de boys dat done see fourteen rainy seasons. Dat makee me very happy because I think he goin’ send me to de army. But in de Affica soil dey teachee de boys long time befo’ dey go in de army. First de fathers (elders) takee de boys on journey to hunt. Dey got to learn de step on de ground (tracks). De fathers teachee us to know a place for de house (camp site). We shoot de arrows from de bow. We chunkee spear. We kill de beastes and fetchee dem home wid us.
My lack of interest in this work is no disrespect to Hurston. I’m sure it displays Hurston’s talent as an ethnographer and/or cultural anthropologist, but I’m good. I’m not above this type of writing, nor am I tired of slave narratives. I just think I’ll pass on this one. I do like reading all of the articles about it though. Makes me consider doing an audiobook version, if there is one. Maybe Samuel Jackson can narrate.
Happy reading, y’all.