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