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The Salt Eaters

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  450 ratings  ·  39 reviews
Velma Henry has always been a fighter, but she has fallen on hard times. Exhausted by her political struggles, she is undergoing healing in the Southwest Community Infirmary. Confronting her there is Minnie Ransom, spinster and fabled vehicle of the spirit world.
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Published March 1st 2000 by Women's Press (UK) (first published 1980)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,599)
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Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Rating: 3.75* of five

Wonderful prose, not so much on the storytelling.

I haven't changed my mind on that one, either.

The Book Report: Velma is a healer's worst nightmare: a failed suicide depressed by life and Life. Minnie and Old Wife, who is Minnie's spirit guide, work to heal Velma's wounds both inner and outer, in the course of this novel.

And that, mes amis, is it.

My Review: Which is kinda the problem. It makes this gorgeous incantation of a tale into a pretty tough swallow. Interiority can b
...more
Medina
Aug 01, 2008 Medina rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: women and/or folk of color
Recommended to Medina by: a spelmanite
Shelves: must-re-read
i learned what it really means to be whole, spiritually and emotionally. it helped me transition to a place beyond survival, the choice to live as a (r)evolutionary in full command of my path and purpose.
if your interested, be forewarned, it reads like a poem in that the story is multi-dimensional, metaphysical and symbolically complex.
i intend to re-read.
Samantha
This book was one of the first that extended its hand to me and said, see, you can map the real story on the page and - that mix of experience and ideas? It's true. One of the pivotal writers for me who acknowledges and applies her talent to the complexity of consciousness, being a woman and telling a good story.
Rita
Awfully good book and quite troubling. 1980.
In intro to Those Bones, she mentions finishing up The Salt Eaters while she was researching for Those Bones.

The two books are similar in one sense at least, that I find I can't quite follow. Happenings follow each other without clear boundaries so I am often not sure whether it is supposed to have happened the same day or weeks or years later. It's OK, real life isn't clear either.

In both books I struggle to understand what people are saying, or at le
...more
Kiini Salaam
When I was younger, my mother’s bookshelf was my library. It was home to many novels that are central to Black woman’s literature. I could grasp plots that featured grown-up experiences, but much of the subtext and external references escaped me. This didn’t stop me from voraciously consuming everything I could get my hands on for I was too young to know the limits of my comprehension. There was one novel, though, that even the obtuseness of youth failed to carry me through.

There was not much of
...more
Raquel
I struggled through this book. The duration of this book is about a healing. Velma has been running from a gift her whole life and the suicide attempt is her effort to avoid the inevitable. What I do not get is the entire book as a whole. It is disjointed. Some authors are good at writing books that are fractured but some how come together perfectly by the last line. When this novel ended I was dumbfounded and unreleived. Was Bambara tired of writing because she could not pull it together? or Pe ...more
Ryan Mishap
I had to come back to this one because my first attempt to read it stalled in confusion over the opening scene of a healer attending to a patient while thinking about other things--made it confusing when you didn't know all these people she was talking about. Persevere, though, for the rest of the novel.
Set in a small southern town, this is about a community of black folks and their search for faith healing through salt. Seemingly, but I think the whole story, culminating in a parade/celebrati
...more
Margaret Carmel
When I was assigned this book for one of my classes, the professor informed us that it was one of the most challenging books in contemporary Literature. She herself had to read it nine times to truly understand it.

With that said, this is the first book I ever read that as soon as I finished I immediately wanted to start over and experience it all over again. While the plot takes place over the course of 20 minutes, it takes the reader from this world to the next one through the eyes of many cha
...more
Leah
Apr 10, 2011 Leah rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: trippy
This disorienting but vivid novel deserves another read before I write this review. The book's non-linear, poetic style is a deliberate (and clever) way to reflect the protagonist's own healing, which itself involves a meandering backtracking in time before she can deal with the present (and future).
Meen
Jul 08, 2012 Meen marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Meen by: All my studies in intersectionality feminism
7/8/12: OK, I'ma have to put this one back on the shelf for a while. It's too complex for my bar prepping brain to handle right now. *sigh*

6/27/12: "...wholeness is no trifling matter."

(Ten pages in and I'm happy I started reading this book just for that line.)
Nyx Nelson
This book is very tough, and I'm not sure I even fully got it, but at the same time it moved me to tears on my first read-through.

Many people don't finish it on the first go, and if I didn't have to read this for a class, I would not have finished it. But I am so glad I did. I began to see so much of myself in Velma (who is being healed after a suicide attempt) that I got scared for my own spiritual and emotional health! It really sparked me to begin making changes in my life.

I'm not going to
...more
Tara
Wish I could say I fully understand this one. I can say I respect it. Poetic writing style.
Tia
Really difficult to follow at times, but some beautiful prose.
❁ Yve ❁
I think Toni Cade Bambara is a wonderfully evocative writer, but her rich, elaborate, and highly visual free-flowing passages are most easily digested as short stories. The length makes it a significantly more involved read. Over the course of a novel like the epic "Those Bones Are Not My Child" (which the opinions of this review essentially apply to as well) or this significantly shorter one, there are moments of intense pathos and beauty, but it's often hard to follow the connections between t ...more
Craig Werner
I hadn't read this book for something like twenty years and it still holds up. Among the novelists associated with the emergence of black women's fiction in the 1970s and 1980s, Bambara hasn't received the same attention as Toni Morrison, Alice Walker or Gloria Naylor, but The Salt Eaters is just flat a better book than all but the best of Morrison. Bambara engages the tension between the political and spiritual currents of resistance during the 1970s, taking a serious look at the legacy (for be ...more
Whitney
"And she wanted to answer Ruby, wanted to say something intelligible and calm and hip and funny so the work could take precedence again. But the words got caught in her back teeth as she shred silk and canvas and paper and hair. The rip and shriek of silk prying her teeth apart. And it all came out a growling."
"Growl all you want, sweetheart. I haven't heard a growl like that since Venus moved between the sun and the earth, mmm, not since the coming of the Lord of the Flames. Yes, sweetheart, I
...more
Jesse Bullington
A curvy path of steam of consciousness narrative, metaphor, and the supernatural result in a complicated, dense, and satisfying story revolving around several faith healers in a small southern community. these are the literal and literary descendants of conjure practitioners, although I believe I caught some references that were closer to Gullah and Geechee folklore, as well as representations of Loas and even some hints at some West African beliefs. Regardless of one's knowledge of the various ...more
Raquel
Jan 05, 2015 Raquel added it
"Soon's they old enough to start smelling theyselves, they commence to looking for blood amongst the blood. Cutting and stabbing and facing off and daring and dividing up and suiciding. You know as well as I, Old Wife, tha we have bot been scuffling in this waste-howling wilderness for the right to be stupid. All this waste. Everybody all up in each other's face with a whole lotta who struk John-you ain't correct, well you ain't cute, and he ain't right and they ain't scientific and yo mama don' ...more
Melisa Mitchell
This book was good, but very challenging and tough to get through. However, I enjoyed how complex it is because of its nonlinear treatment of time and its weaving together of modern and traditional elements, like nuclear physics, hoodoo, traditional healing, chaos theory, and other scientific principals that are quite unexpected to find in a novel like this. (I'm writing a paper on it for a class and am learning a lot about things I never thought I'd have to learn in an English class.)
LoisBL
A difficult read. Toni C.B. used every opportunity in her writing to have what was said, what happened, and character descriptions to mean something profound. Unfortunately, it often went over my head. I wish I had read this book in an African American Literature class so I could discuss and analyze its meanings with a literature scholar and other students. Despite me missing the point, I found her writing beautiful; almost lyrical.
Bob
Not as good as I remembered from ages ago but I may get back to it. Follows a set of African-American female characters in the South in the mid-70s, just as the bright flame of late 60s revolutionary fervor has died down enough for everyone to notice that life goes on - the world is better but not transformed and the Movement is mired in committees and decision-marking bureaucracy.

Joolie
Damn, i wish i was smart enough to keep up with Toni Cade Bambarra! I have a really hard time finishing her books because i can't follow them well. They are beautiful, but my often linear mind gets lost and then i get tired and then i put the book down - which is what i did with Salt Eaters. BUT i think you should read it because you are smarter than i am:)
Arby

Between reading student papers, I'm Bambara's
*The Salt Eaters.*

Salt--a very, very important part of the narratives,
poetry, folklore,and etc. of black people of African descent living in the U.S.

Right now, there's a healing taking place, Velma, and
someone very important in her life has just upped and
walked out.

More later--maybe.
Camille
women are complex. relationships are complex. reading is complex. probably have to read this one again.
Michael Burnam-fink
Well, this is certainly a book. I can't say much more, due to the elliptical multi-narrators stream of consciousness style, but it's about Black faith healers somewhere in the South, and um, something happens, I don't know what. Guess my Patriarchy Pants are just on too tight.
Belle
Somehow I was lost the entire time but still found a way to enjoy low heartbeat at the center of the book.
Lauren
So far, The Salt Eaters is a very difficult read, sort of like reading a poem and sort of like reading a stream-of-consciousness, only multiple streams for multiple characters. Maybe the payoff will be worth the effort. Has anyone read this book?
sylas
I suppose this book isn't for me right now, though I can see why this is such an important book. My brain isn't so good with the stream of consciousness stuff these days. Read about 100 pages before getting stuck.
Lee
there were some really great moments that hit me in the gut where i was like, 'oh, this is what this is about. that's really timely and important.' but a lot of the time i found it hard to follow and grasp on to.
Ezra
tragedy! I lost this book - a library book - on the chinatown bus. I was really into it, though, it's so up my alley with sassy ghostworld stuff, and otherwise brilliant, too. if you have it, I want to borrow it!
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African-American ...: The Salt Eaters: January 15 - February 15 44 19 Feb 15, 2015 01:43PM  
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Toni Cade Bambara, born Miltona Mirkin Cade (March 25, 1939 – December 9, 1995) was an African-American author, documentary film-maker, social activist and college professor.

Toni Cade Bambara was born in New York City to parents Walter and Helen (Henderson) Cade. She grew up in Harlem, Bedford Stuyvesant (Brooklyn), Queens and New Jersey. In 1970 she changed her name to include the name of a West
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“Are you sure, sweetheart, that you want to be well?… Just so’s you’re sure, sweetheart, and ready to be healed, cause wholeness is no trifling matter. A lot of weight when you’re well.” 12 likes
“I am one beautiful and powerful son of a bitch,' he told himself. 'Smart as a whip, respected, prosperous, beloved and valuable. I have the right to be healthy, happy and rich, for I am the baddest player in this arena or any other. I love myself more than I love money and pretty women and fine clothes. I love myself more than I love neat gardens and healthy babies and a good gospel choir. I love myself as I love The Law. I love myself in error and in correctness, waking or sleeping, sneezing, tipsy, or fabulously brilliant I love myself doing the books or sitting down to a good game of poker. I love myself making love expertly, or tenderly and shyly, or clumsily and inept. I love myself as I love The Master's Mind,' he continued his litany, having long ago stumbled upon the prime principle as a player--that self-love produces the gods and the gods are genius. It took genius to run the Southwest Community Infirmary. So he made the rounds of his hospital the way he used to make the rounds of his houses to keep the tops spinning, reciting declarations of self-love.” 8 likes
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