EppsNet Archive: Slavery

EppsNet Book Reviews: The Known World by Edward P. Jones

23 Feb 2014 /

I bought this book and read it because it won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. See, it says so right there on the cover: “Winner of the Pulitzer Prize.”

Did you know there was a time in our country’s history when black people were bought and sold as property, sometimes by other black people? And did you also know that 15 minutes could save you 15 percent or more on car insurance?

Human slavery is deplorable, yes, but at this late date, can it be deplored any more than it has been already? If you have new depths of insight into the hearts and minds of the participants, by all means offer them, but Jones doesn’t have them. Reading The Known World is like reading a history book, albeit with a little more authorial contempt for some of the characters.

It’s customary in book reviews to mention authors whose work is called to mind by the volume at hand. The reviews included in my copy of The Known World cite

If you want to say something nice about a black author writing about the American South, you can’t go wrong with a Morrison or Faulkner comparison, although comparing an author writing his second book to Faulkner (or García Márquez) makes as much sense as comparing a young composer to Beethoven or Mozart. (I can’t comment on the Toni Morrison comparison as I have to admit I haven’t read her work.)

The author that Jones most reminded me of is Kurt Vonnegut, who once wrote

I would write about life. Every person would be exactly as important as any other. All facts would also be given equal weightiness. Nothing would be left out. Let others bring order to chaos. I would bring chaos to order, which I think I have done.

Jones follows the Vonnegut model of introducing a lot of characters of equal importance and weaving their lives together via seemingly insignificant details. Vonnegut has written better books than The Known World — most notably, in my opinion, Breakfast of Champions, although many people prefer Slaughterhouse-Five — but he did not win, nor was he ever a finalist for, a Pulitzer Prize.

So it goes.

Rating: 3 stars


Brown Vetoes SB 185

8 Oct 2011 /
Jerry Brown 2

Jerry Brown

Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a controversial, affirmative action-like bill Saturday that would have allowed public colleges and universities in California to consider demographic factors in admissions processes.

Like!

I hate to sound selfish but whatever “demographic factors” they were planning to consider, I’m 110 percent sure they’d serve to penalize my kid, nieces, nephews, grandkids — everyone in my family now and forever — and for what? Racial inequities of the past that they had nothing to do with?

Not interested in taking the hit for that, sorry.

We’re good people. We stopped inviting the slaveholders to the family reunions because they’ve all been dead for about 100 years . . .


Twitter: 2010-10-04

4 Oct 2010 /
Twitter
  • I hear my kid downstairs yelling about Kunta Kinte & the 13th Amendment. His mom must have asked him to bring the groceries in from the car. #
  • RT @eddiepepitone: Does it make me a bad person if to get to sleep I visualize boating accidents? #