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Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick: Stories from the Harlem Renaissance

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  1,321 ratings  ·  243 reviews
From “one of the greatest writers of our time” (Toni Morrison)—the author of Barracoon and Their Eyes Were Watching God—a collection of remarkable stories, including eight “lost” Harlem Renaissance tales now available to a wide audience for the first time.

Newsweek’s Most Anticipated Books of 2020’s Most Anticipated Books of 2020
Publishers Weekly’s Notable Titles
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published January 14th 2020 by Amistad
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Average rating 3.93  · 
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Angela M
Jan 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
3.75 rounded up.
A number of years ago I saw the movie adaption of Their Eyes Were Watching God starring Halle Berry. I remember feeling so gutted, so moved . I read the book and felt the same way. I should have read more by Zora Neale Hurston, but I never did. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to read this collection of her stories and I’m inspired to get to her other books. There’s quite a bit of explanation and literary criticism in the introduction, and while it seemed interesting and
This is my first taste of Zora Neale Hurston's writings, an anthology of short stories, eight of which are included for the first time, early works written when the author was the sole black student of Barnard College in New York, destined to become a influential and major figure in the Harlem Renaissance. As is often my experience of short stories, they are a mixed bag, some so very slight and others of more substance. There is an introduction by Genevieve West and foreward by Tayari Jones, bot ...more
Mar 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: overdrive, audio
“ Thou can not snore in my ear no more.” I needed a laugh today and that sentence supplied it. This book was also what I needed. A new collection of short works by this author is a wonderful gift for everyone. The stories are poignant and funny. A husband uses a snake to threaten his wife, but things don’t turn out as he hopes. Flaunting a mistress doesn’t end well. A young man achieves his desire to roam. There is a painful love triangle. A couple deals with the wife’s infidelity. I didn’t love ...more
Elyse  Walters
Apr 03, 2020 rated it liked it
This is a hard book for me to rate. The introduction was great and helpful for me personally because this is the first book I’ve read by Zora —-but it was also long— I was getting anxious to get to the stories themselves.

From my understanding some of the stories are new but some of them have been published other places before?

I actually feel inadequate —-in comprehending the magnitude of what this book is.

...At times I was very interested— and much of the themes around being black, race, pover
Feb 03, 2020 added it
Shelves: short-stories
Hitting a straight lick with a crooked stick: making a way out of noway (West, Asim)

This collection of Zora Neale Hurston’s Harlem Renaissance short fiction, includes eight ‘lost’ stories, an important addition to her oeuvre and to American literature. Presented in the order written, the reader can see the growth, change and experimentation in Hurston’s writing. This does not, however, imply that the early stories are without merit. They are as rich in story, folklore, and skillful use of idiom
Never Without a Book
Dec 26, 2019 rated it really liked it

I had the pleasure of reading Zora Neale Hurston’s book, Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick, earlier this week and it was so good. Tayari Jones’s Forward is fire! Her introduction to who Hurston was and why her works are so popular, really hyped up my interest. I’m going to recommend when you read this book, to take your time. Hurston is known for using the dialect of that time and it can throw you off if you’re not paying attention. Overall this
The Artisan Geek

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Dec 06, 2019 rated it it was ok
Zora Neale Hurston made a name for herself in the 1920s. She was the only black student at Barnard College. During this time, she wrote short stories to capture African American culture. Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick is a collection of eight (8) stories found in the archives. Themes include love, independence, migration, racism and social class.

Bookhearts, this review is difficult. How do you rate a new release by a deceased legendary author? A writer of remarkable classics. One o
Feb 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Hitting A Straight Lick ....
The first thing about this collection you notice is the introduction! Which is absolutely fantastic. It should be studied for proper “introduction writing” for it beautifully sets the foundation of this story collection. And the foreword by Tayari Jones is just as great as the introduction.

In fact Tayari Jones suggestion, “I recommend reading this work aloud, enjoying the feel of the words in your mouth, and the sound of English tightened and strummed like the string
Mar 23, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020-aty-52
The audiobook performance was excellent. I could really differentiate the characters and their accents and speaking style. There were some memorable stories, especially the first one. I didn't like so much the stories that were written like Bible verses.
Jan 16, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: african-american
Zora Neale Hurston was not a writer I was familiar with. I believe a movie was made based on one of her more popular books, Their Eyes Were Watching God, about fifteen years ago.

This collection of stories is truthfully like nothing I have ever read before. I am glad to have had the chance to read this distinctly African American work, so thoroughly researched and brought together in this volume.

Library Loan
Jan 22, 2020 rated it liked it
I have loved Their Eyes Were Watching God ever since being introduced to it in high school. The emotional descriptions, atmosphere, and cultural language in Hurston's writing take me to a different time and place. It's good for me to read things like this periodically to open windows beyond my regular reading. I love reading the vernacular black language of the time that she tries to put into print. I saw some reviews complaining about it, but it is a large part of what makes Hurston's writing i ...more
Jun 11, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ever since belatedly reading Their Eyes Were Watching God I have been wanting to read more of Zora Neale Hurston. As with her novel, I struggled a bit catching the rhythm of the dialect in which she wrote about blacks in the 1920s & 30s. I took the advice of Tayari Jones, who provides a passionate forward to this collection and read sections aloud until I could feel the language - that helped a lot.

These stories are sharp and witty - filled with interesting characters and relationships. I didn't
Jul 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Those who know me know I feel Zora Neale Hurston is the OG of storytelling and one of the very best to ever do it.
This collection of short stories only strengthens my argument.

Ms. Hurston was a writer of the people! These stories were written over 60 years ago, but still resonate so loudly today. I love it!!
Carly Friedman
Jun 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I greatly enjoyed this outstanding collection of short stories. They were lush and unique and everything I expect from my favorite author. I also really appreciated the introduction at the beginning with all of the information about the stories.
tortoise dreams
Feb 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
A new collection of 21 Zora Neale Hurston stories, including eight previously uncollected.

Book Review: Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick is an unnecessarily long title (and it's not about golf), but may bring some attention to the eight recently recovered stories within, and the possibility that more undiscovered stories are out there. Zora Neale Hurston seems to be having a second revival (the first began with her rediscovery by Alice Walker in 1975) with the publication of Barracoon
Sharonda Isadora
Its good thing I didn’t go into Hitting A Straight Lick With A Crooked Stick with high expectations.

These short stories all have some life meaning you’re suppose to figure out by the time you finished them. Some of the stories I enjoyed while others I didn’t. I think what kills short stories for me is when there is no cohesiveness between them, this rang loud and true with HASLWACS. Also, the author tends to voice her characters in the dialect of the times they’re written in so some people may
Dec 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
I love anything and everything Zora Neale Hurston and this collection with 8 not previously (recently) seen stories is a gem to add to my collection.
The CurvyJones
I requested an ARC of this book because I knew I'd never get to it if I didn't commit to doing a review and I felt like I should read it, since it's from one of Black Literature's revered authors.
I enjoyed most of the stories in this book (particularly Sweat, feat. Sykes & Delia), though short stories are difficult for me, because just as I start to get into the characters and the rhythm, the story ends. I feel odd not glowing about this book because it's Hurston's work. Short story collections
James F
Jan 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
A new collection of Hurston's stories, which includes nine newly discovered stories which have not been republished in book form since they first appeared in Black magazines of the twenties and thirties. Eight of the nine new stories were set in Harlem, which changes somewhat the perception of Hurston as a writer who was only concerned with the rural Southern experience. There were a few other stories which were not in the anthologies I read last year. Most were humorous, especially the ones wri ...more
Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick is a collection of Zora Neale Hurston’s short fiction, including eight recently-rediscovered stories. Crooked Stick presents her stories in the order she wrote them, which allows us to see her growth and change as a writer.

Hurston’s stories are in rural black idiom. Other reviewers found this made her stories difficult to read. I found her first stories most difficult to understand, but I either easily slipped into idiom or her writing became more ac
Feb 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Zora Neale Hurston is one of my favorite authors. So this collection of previously unpublished short stories (some were even unknown) was a treat. It was a delight to revisit Eatonville and visit Harlem and get to know some new characters and some we've met before, through her artistic vision. It takes me longer to read her work because I have to sound out much of the dialogue, but it's worth it.
Apr 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Don't play yourself and skip this book... it's worth your time!
Lekeisha The Booknerd
Feb 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Reading this collection of short stories was a treat. Hurston's imagination knows no bounds. I have laughed my butt off at a few, and slowly reflected on the meaning of others. The Country in the Woman may be my favorite of this whole collection. Caroline Potts needs her own novel because I'm still thinking about her and that axe. I love that the dialogue is straight and true throughout, and the characters all seem very alive for it. Even the river tells a great story. In mostly all of these sto ...more
Emily Strand
Jan 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I love this writing. Hurston made me laugh and cry with her cautionary tales and folk stories and punctuation phrases like: stepped on a tin, mah story ends! I also love how she writes about southern summer heat. I just love it all.
Kathryn Bashaar
Feb 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book is a complete collection of Hurston’s short stories, written in the 1920s and 30s, including some that have only recently been discovered.

Hurston wrote the earliest of the stories when she was still a student, so the quality is uneven, and some of them are a little amateurish, especially to a modern reader. But her talent shines through even the roughest of the stories, and most of them are gems.

I enjoyed reading the forward and introduction, which provided information about Hurston’s
Jun 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved every one of these short stories. They are beautifully written and so absorbing telling the lives of African Americans in thee early 20th century who saw it and lived it not how it is supposed to be but was. Some stories were written in Harlem. Others in Florida and the South where segregated communities lived. It’s not hard to see hunger and in the people and in the animals and pets they kept. Marriage can be fleeting and changeable or long and painful. Zora Neale Hurston is an extraord ...more
Bobby Keniston
Jan 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"Their Eyes Were Watching God" was my favorite book I was assigned to read in high school (which is saying something, because I love so many of the books and plays I was assigned in high school). I remember reading the book and finding so much pleasure in Zora Neale Hurston's prose and how she related the tale. Naturally, I was eager to pick up this collection, and I am very glad that I did.

I must give credit to the people who worked to get this collection together, and the toil involved in fin
Mar 31, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Zora Neale's Hurston's are best listened to, not merely read. I think it must be the anthropologist in her and her interest in oral traditions.
Jul 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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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

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