Todd Hoke's Reviews > The Ways of White Folks

The Ways of White Folks by Langston Hughes
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Nov 01, 08

Recommended for: folks who yammer on about the good old days
Read in November, 2008

A return to Langston Hughes, but a darker tone this time around than the "Simple" stories I read earlier. Here Hughes writes of the toxic racism in America, and does so with uncluttered lyricism. Words that cut and soothe at once.

What were "the roaring 20s" to a Black man in America? Limited access. Averted eyes. Lynchings. Whites only. And on and on. This is the canvas Hughes paints upon.

And this excerpt doesn't have a thing to do with the stuff above, but I marked it in my book because the phrasing made me stop and reread it:

"Sing a song of Dixie, cotton bursting in the sun, shade of chinaberry trees, persimmons after frost has fallen. Hounds treeing possums October nights. O, sweet potatoes, hot, with butter in their yellow hearts." (from "Home")

And because I haven't said it anywhere else, I'll clarify that this is a collection of short stories, if you care. I'll be reading more of Mr. Hughes, and would advise you to do the same.

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