Nick Black's Reviews > Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
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Jul 20, 09

bookshelves: read-as-child, unlikely-to-acquire
Read in January, 1990

Hrmm, probably the first seriously-themed book, aside from the Bible, I ever read (possibly beaten out by A Wrinkle in Time or Number the Stars; no records of this era exist, entrepreneurial verve not having yet leaped from the pages of Horatio Alger and settled in Otis Chandler's head as GoodReads) -- we hunkered down over this one in the fourth grade. I remember only two things, really:

(a) the textbook's ownership record, with its "White-White-White-White-White-White-black". Our teacher pointed out the negative lack of capitalization, but I was meanwhile learning the value of a minimal user interface. I distinctly recall thinking something along the lines of, "if these buttheads had just printed two columns and had people X their color, they wouldn't need to worry about this scheme at all, which people are just going to screw up along the way in any case, and besides if the whole objective has to be pointed out to the readers I don't think this was terribly effective oppression in the first place. I mean, more than anything, you just don't mix up grammatical agendas with hate agendas; didn't we learn from "God?" and having to worry about capitalizing pronouns of Holy Antecedent, did these rednecks seriously want to fuck their syntax up what with planting season coming etc."

(b) struggling to take the book seriously as a novel of the South. I'd not yet learned that beyond our amniotic (if inaccurately-named) Great Circle aka Interstate 285 lay lands where men fear to tread, valleys of death with names like Macon, Jackson, Oxford in Mississippi, Mobile-Birmingham-Auburn -- hell, everything from about Kennesaw to Arkansas, really -- Valdosta and five hellish weeks of annual August football camp, an inviting tourist destination called Locust Grove (and no, they didn't lose a war or anything. This is why you ensure your Council of Commerce is properly remunerated, people), Douglasville (where I was once invited to shoot steroids and, an hour or so later, an assault rifle -- "just wherever you want man, that way over there"), hellish roadkill incineration facilities that involve multiton cranes, powerful oxidizing agents, and in all likelyhood several million free-floating ppm of neuromaculating prions -- my dad would inspect their hoists four times a year. miphitis would advertise the day's handiwork, a dark shroud moving in oleaginous ascent, and to this day i hate myself for being unable to run over and hug the man in all his pungency, hug him for waking up at 0400 to leave the Circumscribed City, climb 200 feet in the air over chemically-stoked fires packed with various states of the whole shitty Southeast's mangy roadkill, inspect hoists of 1960's American vintage (companies and manufacturing floors and grim furnaces of steel smelting and NASA -- poor NASA -- raised up like Appalachians and left barren as the moon's face), hoists for which manuals never existed and he's rebuilt twice anyway, all the while huffing fat tokes of prions and musk du felinefuego so that I could go to an Atlanta catholic school instead of a cherokee county shithole. "Somebody's gotta burn the possums and puppies, young Nicky, somebody's gotta burn the cats and rats, and they all need cranes" he'd recount in a jovial singsong (after a few showers), and we'd laugh about all those possums and puppies we'd smelled together.

...kinda went on a tangent there, sorry. Anyway, visit Atlanta. We're not like the rest of this place. FLY DELTA JETS.
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