Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Women of Gloria Naylor

Yesterday, I was saddened to hear that Gloria Naylor died in late September.  I first read Mama Day back in grad school, and I was hooked.  That book has always seemed her most masterful, although I'm fond of her linked short stories too.  I know that many scholars might cite Linden Hills as her best work, but it's my least favorite.

At times, I heard criticism of Naylor for her male characters, but I never saw this aspect of her work.  Perhaps people objected to the fact that her books revolved around black women, and men were at the margins.  Or maybe it's because Mama Day, with its solid male as a main character, was the first book of Naylor's that I read.

It's Mama Day that has the most fully realized characters, and a diverse collection too.  The island setting is evocative and wondrous.  I loved the difference between the wisdom of the older black women, contrasted with the city folks who come to visit.

I've been thinking of Mama Day as we've been working through our hurricane preparations.  I remember the scene where the main character suddenly interprets what she's been seeing in her island world:  the animals are making their way to safety, which means a big storm is coming.

As I drove home last night, I saw birds making their way leisurely through the evening, including a gorgeous, huge blue heron standing by North Lake.  I'm hopeful that means we will be spared the worst of hurricane Matthew, even though we're under a hurricane warning now.

We are likely to get some effects--perhaps I'll have time to read--and I know just the books I'll take off my shelves!

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