CBR13Bingo – White Whale
From a combination of reading a lot of Southern literature in college and beyond, from various book lists like the MLA Top 100 and plenty of other sources, this is one of those books that’s been in my conscientiousness for a long time, and for whatever reason, I avoided reading it. It’s interesting too because I’ve A Member of the Wedding a few times, and all of McCullers’s short stories, but for whatever reason, I find myself only reading it now.
The book itself sort of defied my expectations. For one, while it has some bildungsroman qualities to it, it’s not all the much of a bildungsroman. It’s a lot more ambitious of a book than it being a first novel by a very young novelist would suggest. It might be more similar to a book like White Teeth, which while drawing from some family history, attempts to tell a much larger story. For another thing, this book attempts to imagine, with variable amount of success, to narrate the experiences of the Black community in this small Georgia town, but through the consciousness of a Marxist evangelical minister. So while some of the language is a little rough, the actual ideas and mind behind those ideas is really trying to make sense of a world wholly different from the author’s, and from the white characters in the novel. The novel is also a lot more socialist-heavy than I might have guessed. The book is really trying to look at the world through a new lens that might allow for change. The change is not super possible ultimately, but the yearning is there. So there’s a weird combination of books here. In part it’s Grapes of Wrath, in part it’s To Kill a Mockingbird (although I think more fully realized), in part it’s Go Tell it on the Mountain and Black Boy, and in part it’s Welty. It’s young, it’s ambitious, and it’s a bit of a mess, but it’s worth holding onto.