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Dust Tracks on a Road

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  3,360 ratings  ·  136 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
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
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 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
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
Aug 02, 2013 Andrew rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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
Full of voice, but lacking in momentum.
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
Sep 29, 2007 Erin rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
J Aurelius
Nov 02, 2008 J Aurelius rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
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
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
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.

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
A really great book shows us how everything is great and worth to die for
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
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
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
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
I like Zora Neale Hurston and that carried me through this book a great deal. It's structurally problematic and thematically fractured. Yet Zora herself is so winning that you care about hearing what happened to her. This book was also put into contrast with Richard Wright's Black Boy both by the way a professor put them next to each other in the syllabus for a class on Ethnic American Autobiography which I took and by their feud. Wright's book may be more structurally sound (after all he's a no ...more
Bonnie Gleckler Clark
This is the first book I read as part of my neighborhood book club. After read this and joining in on the subsequent discussion, I was hooked (not only on Thorston but also on the book club). This is a pleasant read about a young girl and growing up in Central Florida, back in a time when everything moved a bit slower and injustice was handled locally (with expediency). Times were hard, money was short, but family was everything,
Reads much like the style of narrative in Their Eyes--very conversational and comfortable. However, some chapters struck me as being weaker than others. Indeed, the Afterword confirms that sections of the original publication were highly edited. Read the chapters in their unedited (except for grammar & spelling) entirety at the end of the book. Especially her original final chapter. Though the times (early WWII) supposedly seemed to demand it (1991 editor's comment), ZNH's editor really did ...more
First published in 1942 at the height of her popularity, Dust Tracks on a Road is Zora Neale Hurston's candid, funny, bold, and poignant autobiography, an imaginative and exuberant account of her rise from childhood poverty in the rural South to a prominent place among the leading artists and intellectuals of the Harlem Renaissance. As compelling as her acclaimed fiction, Hurston's very personal literary self-portrait offers a revealing, often audacious glimpse into the life -- public and privat ...more
Peter Hoffmeister
This is what I said 60 pages in: Just started Dust Tracks, and it feels more like autobiography than memoir. Not used to that. Maya Angelou said Hurston embellished and lied in this book, but I love the folklore so far. Love her style.
But now, having finished, I was shocked by Hurston's total disregard for plot and reader. This was one of the worst books I've ever read. The draft (was this book even edited?) disintegrated into fragments of Hurston's attempts at humor. And she's not funny. Plus,
Glen Coco
This is a well-written picture of what Hurston's life was like, and what life in general was like at the time. However, you get the feeling that Hurston isn't being entirely honest due to some of the things that she writes. She is also completely emotionless in her writing.
The intro to this book written by Dellita L Martin was kind of crabby and made me wonder why anyone should bother to read it. But I'm glad I ignored her tone. Hurston's writing shines, and her ideas (even the ones about race that disturbed Martin so much) are always insightful and thought-provoking in the best sense of the word. Hurston had an amazing life, and doesn't pretend that she is either typical or a role model, though in fact she would not be a bad one. She lived her life with a vengean ...more
Aug 17, 2008 Jessica rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who've read and enjoyed some of her other books
I probably should have read Their Eyes were Watching God, or one of her other books before diving into her autobiography. I think I would have appreciated it more had I already had an appreciation for her style. Her writing is beautiful and I'm looking forward to reading TEWWG and Tell My Horse (I think it's called) which goes more into the folklore/voodoo stuff, I've heard. I thought there would be more about that in Dust Tracks, but it was mostly about her childhood, her academic life, and her ...more
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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.” 97 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.” 80 likes
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