Samantha Welsh Welsh itibaren Ayn el Türk, Cezayir
What one usually hears about the last years of Zora Neale Hurston's life is that she worked as a maid and died penniless, with her books out of print. How do you spell reductionist? She briefly worked as a maid for a white judge who delighted in debating her because she was the only one in his world smart enough and bold enough to match wits with him. She died penniless partly because a publisher reneged on paying for her reporting of the Ruby McCollum case, so that she was unable to carry out a shrewd business plan to buy land in Florida that she wanted to develop into a commercial orange grove and white trailer park. Hurston worked until nearly the end of her days; when she lost her powers as a novelist and social scientist she held jobs as a crabby librarian and flamboyant English teacher as well as a journalist. Moylan, a literature teacher herself, is particularly good at critiquing the political writing that Hurston did in the 1950s; I now understand her famous opposition to Brown vs. Board of Education. Moylan also does a great job of covering Hurston's later collegial relationships and friendships, even her connection with the neighbor kids. The introductory chapter, which speeds over the first 60 years of Hurston's life, is dull and nearly put me off the book. Things pick up considerably when Moylan turns to the topics she researched with interviews and primary sources. Some of those we owe to a Florida deputy sheriff, who noticed a fire at Hurston's cottage soon after her death and stopped a cleaning crew from burning the correspondence and manuscripts from her storage trunk. So even before she was rediscovered by Alice Walker, Hurston's stature was understood by the local sheriff as well as by prominent universities here and abroad. I like knowing that, and I appreciate the more nuanced picture of the older Hurston that Moylan has given us.
read it a while ago- when it first came out. i remember being extremely underwhelmed.