From the Harlem Renaissance to the Overlook Hotel: Short book notes

Eve Tushnet | 7/17/2019 | Staff
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Dorothy West, The Living Is Easy: The reductive way to describe this soapy tale of a woman whose contradictory desires destroy her family is, “What if Scarlett O’Hara were a black woman living in Boston on the eve of the first World War?” West, who was one of the youngest figures of the Harlem Renaissance, makes Cleo Jericho Judson into a fabulous woman-monster out of legend. Cleo trains her daughter in Boston respectability while longing for “the amoral South,” the sultry deadly South of her childhood; she destroys her family by scheming to keep them nestled close around her.

Some better (and more representative) quotations: “The things that Cleo never had to be taught were how to hold her head high, how to scorn sin with men, and how to keep her left hand from knowing what her right hand was doing.”

Man - Earth - Man

“If he ever came hankering after her, she’d stab him dead with an ice-pick. And no man on earth, let alone a white man, was worth going to **** for.”

“Boston whites of the better classes were never upset nor dismayed by the sight of one or two Negroes exercising equal rights. …To them the minor phenomenon of a colored face was a reminder of the proud role their forebears played in the freeing of the human spirit for aspirations beyond the badge of house slave.”

Mr - Hartnett - Business - Brains - Man

“Mr. Hartnett failed in business, and blew his brains out just like a white man. Everybody was a little proud of his suicide.”

“Judy [Cleo’s daughter] was beginning to see that Cleo was the boss of nothing but the young, the weak, the frightened. She ruled a pygmy kingdom.”

Graham - Greene - Lawless - Roads - Travel

Graham Greene, The Lawless Roads: This is a travel book about Mexico during the anti-Catholic repression of the ’30s; it’s the precursor to The Power and the Glory. It’s...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Eve Tushnet
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