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Dust Tracks on a Road

4.09  ·  Rating Details ·  4,059 Ratings  ·  160 Reviews
I have been in Sorrow's kitchen and licked out all the pots. Then I have stood on the peaky mountain wrapped in rainbows with a harp and a sword in my hands." First published in 1942 at the crest of her popularity, this is Zora Neale Hurston's unrestrained account of her rise from childhood poverty in the rural South to prominence among the leading artists and intellectual ...more
Hardcover, Large Print, 440 pages
Published December 31st 1997 by Thorndike Press (first published 1942)
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"There is something wonderful to behold just ahead. Let's go see what it is." - Zora Neale Hurston, Dust Tracks on a Road

I was a bit apprehensive about reading this book as I’ve read about the tragedies Zora Neale Hurston experienced in her life. This, however, turned out to be one of the most marvelous autobiographies I have ever read and more inspirational than discouraging.

I loved reading about Hurston’s childhood; she was such a precocious and inquisitive child who could easily have been s
Dec 11, 2014 Cheryl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Cheryl by: Rowena
Oh the magic and mystery that was Zora Neale Hurston. An indescribable childhood, deplorable kindred, a love life that was itself a puzzle. (In fact she does admit that her true love story with her second husband was somehow interwoven into her novel: "I tried to embalm all the tenderness of my passion for him in Their Eyes Were Watching God).

The first sentence of this memoir is a lyrical ambush:

Like the dead-seeming, cold rocks, I have memories within that came out of the material that went t
Jun 16, 2015 Shannon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
Dust Tracks On a Road, Zora Neale Hurston’s autobiography, was published in 1942. This verbose but colorful book reads like a collection of short stories. Hurston often poses questions that she proceeds to answer but not without excluding the reader from her thought process. Sometimes by the end of the chapter the questions are still unanswered. But for Hurston it seems just thinking through it was enough. And so goes her autobiography.

Hurston always had a fanciful way about herself. We find out
Feb 21, 2015 Jaylia3 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Zora Neale Hurston approaches this moving memoir like a master storyteller, with wonderfully lyrical prose that reminded me a lot of her novel Their Eyes Were Watching God. Loved it.
(I read this book as part of a reading project I have undertaken with some other nerdy friends in which we read The Novel: A Biography and some of the other texts referenced by Schmidt.)

I recently re-read Their Eyes Were Watching God and didn't love it as much as most other readers. I read this soon thereafter, and I have to say I found it to be a much more interesting read. I understand that it was not received well critically; even her number-one-fan, Alice Walker, apparently didn't care much
May 14, 2012 Dusty rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: graduate-school
I read somewhere a quote from Alice Walker that Zora Neale Hurston has a tendency to be exasperating. I think applied to Dust Tracks on a Road that may be putting the matter lightly.

Allegedly, the book is a memoir. Hurston is coy about this at its start; she says that after the success of her previous books her publisher asked her -- nearly had to force her -- to put onto paper the narrative of her own life. I would say what we ended up with is rather more the narrative of the life Hurston would
Aug 25, 2007 Morgan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is very much situated in Hurston’s internal life which is vivid and magical. It is definitely a writer’s story. We get a distinct picture of the genesis of Hurston as a writer from a young child playing mostly by herself and inventing stories to an introverted youth who spent as much time as possible with her face in a book to an anthropologist who traveled to the American South and to the West Indies collecting the stories of others. Hurston is first and foremost a story teller but one drive ...more
Batgrl (Book Data Kept Elsewhere)
Will add more quotes when I reread. For now, here are quotes from Written By Herself.

I think this book is the best of all Hurston's works that I've read, and shows her strengths as a writer and storyteller.

p. 36
"In the classroom I got along splendidly. The only difficulty was that I was rated as sassy. I just had to talk back at established authority and that established authority hated backtalk worse than barbed-wire pie. My immediate teachers were enthusiastic about me. It was the guardians of
Aug 02, 2013 Andrew rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: some people
Alice Walker said Zora Neale Hurston's memoir was the most unfortunate thing she had ever wrote and I agree. Zora's memoir is a pack of lies, she said she was born in Eatonville when she was really born in Alabama. Zora also lied about her birth saying a kind white man helped her mother during child birth.

This book is not an autobiography it is more a collection of essays which Hurston wrote to appease her book publisher Lippincott. There is a lot of silence when I read this book, spaces that ne
Sep 29, 2007 Erin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Zora fans, women, memoir fans
Four years after writing Janie Mae’s journey in Their Eyes, Zora Neale Hurston was persuaded by her editor, J. B. Lippincott, to write her autobiography. The result was Dust Tracks on A Road, the partly fictionalized tale of a persona named Zora and her geographical, spiritual, and intellectual journey from Eatonville to New York and beyond. Their Eyes and Dust Tracks contain pronounced similarities in themes and in plot, and a comparison illuminates Hurston’s use of the journey motif. A restles ...more
Feb 16, 2015 Craig rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Full of voice, but lacking in momentum.
Nov 07, 2015 Morgan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful, lyrical autobiography of one of my favorite authors, Zora Neale Hurston. Her way with words--"I have been in Sorrow's kitchen and licked out all the pots" (227), for example, shows her unparalleled ability to convey emotion without soliciting sympathy. Her achievements, which many are unaware of, are many, and she was an amazing anthropologist as well as novelist; one can easily see her training in both in everything she writes. Her chapter "My People! My People!" is an observant tr ...more
J Aurelius
Nov 02, 2008 J Aurelius rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Shelves: books-i-own
I don't feel like I just read a book. I feel like I read a few stories and a couple of essays.
Very good. very insightful. It was difficult going into this book after being immersed in JK Rowling's world! But I have so much to say about this book. I wish I hadn't read the appendix though...I enjoyed her language and her many anecdotes and things. Some if it takes a minute to understand or digest. I assume somethings are well hidden sarcasm or double talk but alas it's a good read anyway. She gav
Jun 28, 2011 Chana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I like this book best out of all the Hurston books I've read, although I don't think it's the most popular one. It tells the story of her very unusual and kind of tragic life; what's most appealing to me about it are her memories of childhood. My favorite part is where she describes a game she used to play with a doorknob, a cornhusk, her mom's company soap, a bucket, and various empty spools of thread. (the cornhusk was in love with the soap, but he kept refusing to commit, in part, she says, b ...more
Laura A. Warman
Jun 16, 2011 Laura A. Warman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Best autobiography ever!!!!!!! Hurston in no way pretends to be recollecting facts but instead reworks her story in a confusing jumble of who she thinks she would have liked to be. Unlike many autobiographies that do similar things, Hurston is pretty open with the fact that some things she made up. Her age continually changes and it is never easy to figure out at what stage in her life things happened or if they even happened. She remains true to the title- her life made tracks then slowly dust ...more
Courtney H.
I really wanted to like this memoir, but it fell far short of the (admittedly high) bar that has been set, in my mind, by other memoirs I've read recently. I loved the beginning of the book. Her stories of childhood had a beautifully rendered quality about them--you got the sense that they tipped just into tall tale territory at times, while still staying grounded in a childhood you believed. It was a romp that made you think, and made you take a moment in the quiet moments of warning--that the ...more
Curtis Hunter
Jan 10, 2016 Curtis Hunter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Description of the life of an intelligent, independent spirit, who happened to be black , born in 1891. Her views on religion (chapter toward the end of the book) mirror mine. Surprised not to have heard of her until "The Writer's Almanac" featured her in 2015.

“It seems to me to be true that heavens are placed in the sky because it is the unreachable. The unreachable and therefore the unknowable always seems divine--hence, religion. People need religion because the great masses fear life and it
Feb 18, 2009 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It doesn't feel like I'm reading this autobiography of an acclaimed author, but rather like I'm sitting down with a funny, warm, smart friend and listening to her tell a fabulous story. Her wonderful sense of humor and ebullient spirit shine through, and it's fascinating to get more information about her hometown, Eatonville, the all-black Florida town that is also the setting of much of her wonderful novel Their Eyes Were Watching God.
Jun 30, 2010 Melissa is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
My friend, and another great English teacher, Dorrian gave this to me. I read almost the whole thing today on the bus. Her writing is so beautiful it makes me cry.

She is brilliant, humble and wise. The chapter where she reflects on her life is worth a read.

Jeni Pearson
Jun 28, 2014 Jeni Pearson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was beyond my expectations. The visualization of the characters influences, were exceptional! Overall, I loved how she found herself...LOVING ME!!
Katherine Reaume-jackson
This book was enigmatic to me...I kept flicking back and forth...back and forth...trying to consider the author's perceptions and evolving points of view regarding family, race, love. It seemed that she was devoted to presenting an idea, but then contradicted herself elsewhere in the book.
Zora Neale Hurston has long been on my "to read" list. Perhaps this book will merit another reading with some time for thought separation.
The descriptions of her imagination with her dolls as a young girl are s
Sep 04, 2016 Diana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I so wish I could go back in time and know this woman personally. After reading her story, I admire her so much.

The only work of hers that I had previously read was Their Eyes Were Watching God, which I loved, and this story of her life was equally enthralling. She uses such beautiful words. I stumbled at times over some of the black idioms she used, but when I stopped to figure them out they were so colorful and made perfect sense.

Interestingly, I was surprised to learn that Zora attended grade
I have read Their Eyes Were Watching God twice (first on my own, second for a book club) and saw that saccharine Oprah movie starring Halle Berry. Learning about Hurston's life illuminated quite a bit of it, starting with Eatonville, Florida, America's first all-black incorporated township and main setting for Watching God. Dust Tracks on a Road opens with the history of its founding in the 1880s by the black citizens of the Town of Maitland (itself founded only a decade previous by two former U ...more
A really great book shows us how everything is great and worth to die for
Mar 17, 2016 Erica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I started this without any background on the context in which it was written (in response to Hurston's publisher's request for an autobiography, and heavily edited to fit their purposes).'s complicated. I enjoyed most of it, for Hurston's dynamic, funny voice and mind. And fortunately, my copy included the originally edited-out chapter "Seeing the World as it Is," god. I wanted to copy and paste the whole thing into Twitter as a response to imperialism and race relations in 20 ...more
Dec 22, 2014 Adelaide rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This may have been my first foray into the recommended reading list from Howard Zinn. I picked it for my online book club with friends in California, because I thought a new genre would be interesting. I ended up being very glad for the introduction and the appendix, because I certainly needed some interpretation with the work. Hurston's language switches back and forth from Florida vernacular to what she might call Howard English, which created a feeling of two worlds colliding.

I was surprised
Francesca Forrest
This was wonderful. ZNH tells her own story very engagingly, with plenty of reflections on race, self-determination, American culture, religion, friendship, publishing, the works. She's acerbic in her observations; I kept on writing them down. At the time she wrote the autobiography, she was at the height of her success; a few years later she was out of the public eye, and she ended her life in poverty and obscurity, which is a terrible shame. Well, no one should die alone and impoverished, thou ...more
Dust Tracks on a Road ia an autobiography of Zora Neale Hurston who started life in povery, living mostly in rural Eatonville, Florida. She had exceptional intelligence, creativity, and drive, and went on to be educated at Howard University and Barnard College. She became a writer, anthropologist, collector of black folklore, and one of the voices of the Harlem Renaissance.

The book is full of colorful black vernacular and folklore. It chronicles the black experience as well as Zora Neale Hurston
Katy Stakebake
Characters - On a scale of one to five, I would rate the characters in Dust Tracks on A Road a three. Not all of the characters were well described and I believe that this was only because the main character was the narrator as well. I believe some things about each character were left out therefore leaving most characters underdeveloped. I did enjoy reading about these characters, they were fun and likable. The characters were definitely believable the author was writing about real people that ...more
Apr 08, 2012 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Fascinating autobiography. Looking forward to reading more of the direct, poetical Ms Hurston.

"There is something about poverty that smells like death. Dead dreams dropping off the heart like leaves in a dry season and rotting around the feet...
the five years following my leaving the school at Jacksonville were haunted. I was shifted from house to house of relatives and friends and found
comfort nowhere. I was without books to read most of the time, except where I could get hold of them by mere
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Zora Neale Hurston was an American folklorist and author. In 1925, shortly before entering Barnard College, Hurston became one of the leaders of the literary renaissance happening in Harlem, producing the short-lived literary magazine Fire!! along with Langston Hughes and Wallace Thurman. This literary movement became the center of the Harlem Renaissance.

Hurston applied her Barnard ethnographic tr
More about Zora Neale Hurston...

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“I made up my mind to keep my feelings to myself since they did not seem to matter to anyone else but me.” 115 likes
“I am not tragically colored. There is no great sorrow dammed up in my soul, nor lurking behind my eyes. I do not mind at all. I do not belong to the sobbing school of Negrohood who hold that nature somehow has given them a lowdown dirty deal and whose feelings are all hurt about it. Even in the helter-skelter skirmish that is my life, I have seen that the world is to the strong regardless of a little pigmentation more or less. No, I do not weep at the world—I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife.” 104 likes
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