10 Mar 2019

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"Sing, Unburied, Sing" is the selection for book club this week. I didn't expect to like it because it is set in the Jim Crow South, and I grew up with the remnants of that, and didn't feel like I wanted a reminder.

But I did end up liking the book -- many of the scenes are painted with descriptive waves of supernatural familial sentiment: "....Mama...looks at Leonie with so much understanding and forgiveness and love that I hear the song again; I know that singing. I've heard it from the golden place across the waters. A great mouth opens in me and wails; I am an empty stomach.

The scaly bird lands on the windowsill and caws.

I found myself re-reading sections just to hear the words again.

Later Addenda -- It wasn't until the book club meeting tonight that I realized that this book is actually set in modern day! One of the guys at the meeting mentioned a cell phone used by a character -- and he's right, so the book's setting is in modern times, but I didn't realize it! The reason is just that the setting in the book was so very descriptive of the 'Jim Crow South' that I had read the book that way, but the story of the book happens in recent times! I imagine that was part of the author's intent -- to show that the Jim Crow South hasn't really gone away.

Also, I learned a phrase: "magic realism" as a description for the type of book this is. Basically, the ghost characters, and the talking animals (as understood by some of the characters), etc. amounted to magic realism.


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"O seguro morreu de velho, mas o desconfiado ainda está vivo." -- "The safe one died of old age, but the suspicious one is still living."