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Friday, May 20, 2016

A speaking novel unspoken

A Speaking Novel Unspoken

"If you don't like the novel," LBJ told me, "you oughtn't write about it."

LBJ has a generous heart and a Harlem Renaissance mindset.  We have to protect writers who get published in the right places.  Cast no shadow on their achievements.  Would you allow a single negative comment to throw an entire ethnic group into a ditch?

LBJ said I should not write about the novel that I happen not to like.  He didn't say I should not write around the novel.

I do not especially like novels where each paragraph is a cinderblock, related only to other cinderblocks by virtue of proximity.  The novel doesn't lack intelligence and design.  It lacks the fire I expect to find in an upper middle class confessional.  It gives me as much pleasure as an annotated telephone book.

I did find one thing to like in the novel.  The reverse revenant of a narrator mentions Sissiretta Jones.  Like Paul Laurence Dunbar's Malindy, Miss Jones could sing.  The late Ja Jahannes knew that when he wrote a play about Sissiretta Jones.  As far as divas go, she was a diva's diva.  It pleased me that the narrator rescued a jewel from the barnyard.

"O.K., LBJ.  I did not write about the novel."

Jerry W. Ward, Jr.                            May 20, 2016

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