Literary Fiction by People of Color discussion

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Buddy Reads > Buddy Read: The Street 1/19

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message 1: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 565 comments This is the thread where several of us will discuss Ann Petry’s The Street, starting January 10. Put it on your gift wish list, reserve it from your library, find your copy on your shelves before holiday busy-ness overtakes you.

All are welcome. Kathleen, Columbus, Lata, and Rosalie are in. Let us know if you intend to join.


message 2: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 565 comments In the meantime, do you want to have a reading schedule? It might keep us better aligned given the page count, but I don’t have a preference either way. You?


message 3: by Lata (new)

Lata | 294 comments No. I’ll be listening to it.


message 4: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 103 comments Yikes. I just noticed the holds are piling up at my library too--I'd better get on the list. I'll be reading hard copy and am fine with or without a reading schedule. Thanks for leading us, Carol.


message 5: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3700 comments Mod
I’m fine with however you like to do it, Carol.


message 6: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3700 comments Mod
I was searching through some books earlier this week and noticed I have a copy of both The Street and The Narrows by Petry. Geez... I just ordered another copy of The Street recently.


message 7: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 565 comments Columbus wrote: "I was searching through some books earlier this week and noticed I have a copy of both The Street and The Narrows by Petry. Geez... I just ordered another copy of The Street recently."

Okay. That’s funny.


message 8: by Rosalie (new)

Rosalie | 69 comments I've given up on waiting for the library copies to be available. I bought the Kindle version last night and started reading it. I'm just a few pages in and already completely intrigued.


message 9: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 565 comments Rosalie wrote: "I've given up on waiting for the library copies to be available. I bought the Kindle version last night and started reading it. I'm just a few pages in and already completely intrigued."

Yay! It’s burning a hole in my bedside table.


message 10: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 103 comments My copy is coming soon! I'll start in about a week.


message 11: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 565 comments One week until we start spending some time on West 116th Street, Harlem, in the 1940s.

"The Street" is the story of single mom, Lutie Johnson, and her 8-year-old son, Bub, during the last years of WWII. First published in 1946, it became a bestseller and Petry became the first African-American female author to sell more than a million copies.

Below is linked a review by Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina and originally presented on All Things Considered in 2002. I don't think there are spoilers, but I'm notoriously unaware of them, so be warned if you are.

https://www.npr.org/2008/06/16/915566...

A photo I loved, and high-level bio info:

https://amysmartgirls.com/happy-birth...


message 12: by PS (new)

PS Thanks for the links, Carol. I really liked the NPR article. I recently started reading The Street – I’ve signed up to read so many group reads this month so I thought I’d get a head start on this one. I’ll reserve my comments until the 10th but just thought I’d say I’m really enjoying it. It feels so contemporary!


message 13: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3700 comments Mod
I must say. I can’t wait to discuss this with you all. Can’t wait!


message 14: by ColumbusReads (last edited Jan 05, 2019 05:52PM) (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3700 comments Mod
Thanks too for that NPR article. Very good. The idea that she felt compelled to check in on her sons due to events in the book was really powerful. I’ll have boxes of puffs Ultra extra strong near me while reading (just in case).


message 15: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3700 comments Mod
One final thing. Haha yeh, right.

Carol, will there be a reading schedule for this one? I know you alluded to page count so I’m assuming it’s a chunkster? I just started a novel and book of essays today so I want to try and have these finished before the 10th or thereabouts.


message 16: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 565 comments Priyanka Sofia wrote: "Thanks for the links, Carol. I really liked the NPR article. I recently started reading The Street – I’ve signed up to read so many group reads this month so I thought I’d get a head start on this ..."

You’re very welcome, and I’m glad to hear that you’re enjoying it!


message 17: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 565 comments Columbus wrote: "Thanks too for that NPR article. Very good. The idea that she felt compelled to check in on her sons due to events in the book was really powerful. I’ll have boxes of puffs Ultra extra strong near ..."

I think we’ll both need those tissues, although I hope otherwise. I’m anticipating a read similar to Daddy Was a Number Runner but far more polished. That one got to me.


message 18: by Carol (last edited Jan 15, 2019 06:32PM) (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 565 comments Columbus wrote: "One final thing. Haha yeh, right.

Carol, will there be a reading schedule for this one? I know you alluded to page count so I’m assuming it’s a chunkster? I just started a novel and book of essays..."


It is 436 pages, yes, but the font is generous and the pages may fly. No groundswell in favor of a schedule emerged, lol.

What do you think of this approach?
Jan 10-156 chapters 1- 6 (page 162 in my copy) (37%)
Jan 16-21 chapters 7-12 (page 301)(69%)
Jan 22- rest of book
Anything that occurs in or prior to the section we are in is fair game for discussion. Use spoiler tags for events in sections we haven’t gotten to yet. If everyone finishes quickly, we toss the schedule aside.


message 19: by Lata (new)

Lata | 294 comments Carol, I'll be listening to this, so I'm not sure I'll necessarily know what chapters I'll be at, so I'll chime in when I recognize something in the conversation.


message 20: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 565 comments Lata wrote: "Carol, I'll be listening to this, so I'm not sure I'll necessarily know what chapters I'll be at, so I'll chime in when I recognize something in the conversation."

Lata , I keep thinking about how to adapt a schedule to Kindle and audiobooks. Do audiobooks give you percentage completion indicators like ebooks do? Maybe this is not exact, but I took my calculator and added approximate percentages to the above dates. If it would help, I could provide last paragraphs of the operative chapters too.


message 21: by Lata (new)

Lata | 294 comments I’ve borrowed the audio from hoopla, whose audio s/w does not provide %complete, though I can calculate that based on hours listened. I can roughly correlate that to the sections you’ve listed above.


message 22: by Lata (new)

Lata | 294 comments I posted before reading your post where you said you’d added percentage complete beside the sections: thank you very much Carol! That’ll make it easier to follow along with the buddy read.


message 23: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 565 comments Lata wrote: "I posted before reading your post where you said you’d added percentage complete beside the sections: thank you very much Carol! That’ll make it easier to follow along with the buddy read."

Good deal!


message 24: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3700 comments Mod
Carol wrote: "Columbus wrote: "One final thing. Haha yeh, right.

Carol, will there be a reading schedule for this one? I know you alluded to page count so I’m assuming it’s a chunkster? I just started a novel a..."


Thank you so much, Carol. This helps a lot....I need to get reading!


message 25: by Aubrey (new)

Aubrey (korrick) I read 'The Street' too recently for a reread, but I'll be following the generated discussion. I'm sure it will be interesting and informative.


message 26: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 565 comments Aubrey wrote: "I read 'The Street' too recently for a reread, but I'll be following the generated discussion. I'm sure it will be interesting and informative."

Any time you want to jump in and add to the comments, Aubrey, I'm sure we'll benefit from your thoughts. I think there will be much here to discuss and many thoughtful rabbit holes to go down.


message 27: by BernieMck (new)

BernieMck | 95 comments I just saw this buddy read about an hour ago, and I am in. I acquired this book sometime ago, but I have not read it yet. I am looking forward to checking it out.


message 28: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 565 comments Bernie wrote: "I just saw this buddy read about an hour ago, and I am in. I acquired this book sometime ago, but I have not read it yet. I am looking forward to checking it out."

Glad you will be participating, Bernie!


message 29: by William (last edited Jan 08, 2019 02:07PM) (new)

William (be2lieve) | 1248 comments Mod
It’s before most of your time, but in the olden days I led a discussion of this book in this very group. Of course if you read the whole thing there’s spoilers but I’m going to compare this buddy read with the original for kicks.

https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...


message 30: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 565 comments Note to self: lift William’s discussion questions sans attribution.

Thanks for sharing that link, William! I wasn’t around for that and the comments are insightful.


message 31: by Lata (new)

Lata | 294 comments I’ve been listening to this today, Carol, and I’m impressed by this author.


message 32: by William (new)

William (be2lieve) | 1248 comments Mod
Carol wrote: "Note to self: lift William’s discussion questions sans attribution.

Thanks for sharing that link, William! I wasn’t around for that and the comments are insightful."


Well Otay! No problem, Carol.


message 33: by PS (new)

PS Just finished it. I need a couple of days to recover. Can’t wait for the discussion.


message 34: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 565 comments It’s almost January 10 somewhere.

Given that several have started and another several have finished, let the discussion commence. For now, I recommend that we use spoiler tags, as you think appropriate, for discussion of events after Chapter 6. But there’s plenty to discuss that doesn’t involve late-stage spoilers.

What are your initial impressions? Any surprises? Questions?


message 35: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 565 comments William wrote: "Carol wrote: "Note to self: lift William’s discussion questions sans attribution.

Thanks for sharing that link, William! I wasn’t around for that and the comments are insightful."

Well Otay! No ..."


Just kidding, William. :)


message 36: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 103 comments I just started, so will be back when I finish Chapter 6. Lutie is so compelling!


message 37: by Lata (new)

Lata | 294 comments She is! I feel her frustration and desperation so strongly! Ann Petry’s characterization of Lutie is great!


message 38: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3700 comments Mod
I just started the book myself and find it really compelling. I find these mean Harlem streets of the late 40’s really fascinating. They are certainly not the gentrified Harlem walks of Starbucks, Clinton HQ offices and Whole Foods Mkt. we see now. This is Harlem, Harlem.

I’m only on chapter 4 and wonder where the author is going with the men characters here. So far all of them appear to be good for nothing, hanging on the street corner watching the women, bums. Even the Super have questionable or shifty tendencies.


message 39: by PS (last edited Jan 09, 2019 02:37PM) (new)

PS I agree it is so compelling. I thought I’d read a chapter or two and then get back to it after the 10th but couldn’t stop reading. I loved the beginning – it was so dark (literally and figuratively) with the Super and the dark winding hallways. I had chills when Lutie was in the kitchen and bedroom and the Super was standing in the living room (or hall?) with the flashlight pointing down towards his shoes.

I really liked Lutie’s character and how Petry delved into her backstory. The whole Henry Chandler bit was really depressing – in the sense how the white (and black to be fair) community can’t really look beyond the fact that she’s an attractive young woman. Mrs Chandler’s comments were so nasty – poor Lutie

She’s so so strong though – I admire the way she decided to get out of her father’s house and raise Bub by herself even if she hates the street and the flat and the creepy Super. I really liked how Petry fleshed out Jim’s story as well: his fragile masculinity, the complete lack of opportunity to turn things around. And I think it was particularly poignant when Lutie sort of understood why Jim acted the way he did (when he took up with another woman) – because the street and flat made her feel that way: trapped with no hope in sight.

My heart goes out to Bub. He’s so alone and Lutie means well – but she does sort of forget how young he is and how much he needs her.

Columbus – Yes! I’m reminded of the descriptions of Harlem in Malcolm X’s autobiography.


message 40: by Carol (last edited Jan 09, 2019 02:59PM) (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 565 comments Columbus wrote: "I just started the book myself and find it really compelling. I find these mean Harlem streets of the late 40’s really fascinating. They are certainly not the gentrified Harlem walks of Starbucks, ..."

The super was entirely creepy and every woman I know has had that experience of the creepy man that makes us walk ahead of him. Ugh.

I need to review the dates, but this is reminding me, as I mentioned up-thread, of the Harlem of Daddy Was a Number Runner by Louise Meriwether, which was a very difficult read for me. It's also, I think, maybe 15 - 20 years earlier than the Harlem Chester Himes's described in A Rage in Harlem, et al. It's a hopeless, dirty, demoralizing Harlem.

The wind in the first several pages - blowing trash, receipts, debris into Lutie's face. Mesmerizingly awful.


message 41: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 565 comments So .. with a little research. .. Daddy was a Number Runner takes place in the early 1930's. It is Depression-era Harlem.

This novel takes place in 1944 - 45 - maybe 12 months after the Harlem "race riot" which occurred August 1 - 2, 1943. Details here at Wiki. Assuming the Wiki file is accurate, "The underlying causes of the riot stemmed from resentment among black residents of Harlem of the disparity between the vaunted values of American democracy and the social and economic conditions they were forced to live under, including brutality and discriminatory treatment by the mostly white city police force."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harlem_...

A Rage in Harlem takes place in 1955 - 56.


message 42: by PS (new)

PS Carol wrote: "So .. with a little research. .. Daddy was a Number Runner takes place in the early 1930's. It is Depression-era Harlem.

This novel takes place in 1944 - 45 - maybe 12 months after the Harlem "rac..."


Wow thanks for this Carol! It’s always useful to know the context and I hadn’t really looked into this.


message 43: by Lata (new)

Lata | 294 comments I felt so awful about Bub. And how he wanted to help out with the money situation. And his fear of the dark.

That Super—super creepy!


message 44: by Rosalie (new)

Rosalie | 69 comments I've stopped after chapter 6 so I don't read too far ahead and then forget my thoughts on the earlier parts. My note to myself after chapter 1 was that the opening evokes the story situation of "A stranger comes to town," and it's a hellish space that Lutie is entering, with the wind, the trash, the mysterious cold-eyed woman looking down at her. When we get back to this space (after the backstory about the Connecticut family), we get the full blast of the menacing super, and Lutie even uses the word "evil" to describe him.

But there's so much nuance in the description of 116th Street. Lutie recognizes how Black people can breathe easier, be themselves, be individuals, when they leave the hostile, white-dominated spaces of their jobs, but on the other hand, the impoverished conditions of the Street mean that the folks who live here are beaten down by it. It (or similar streets) has turned Pop into a drunkard, turned Mrs. Hedges into a brothel owner, turned Min into a "drab drudge," pushed the super into the basement (figuratively and literally).

Also, so interesting that we get access to the Super's point of view. HE doesn't see himself as monstrous even though his thoughts are really scary.


message 45: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3700 comments Mod
Did I jump the gun on the super or what. A monster!


message 46: by PS (new)

PS I wonder if he qualifies as a psychopath.

Rosalie, I know the fact that he doesn’t see himself as monstrous is what is really worrying and scary. I really like how each character is given at least a chapter and the narrative is not just from Lutie’s perspective. Makes it darker somehow.


message 47: by Joelle.P.S (new)

Joelle.P.S | 65 comments Rosalie wrote: "Also, so interesting that we get access to the Super's point of view."

I hope that doesn't happen too often! *shudder*


message 48: by Lata (new)

Lata | 294 comments The different perspectives were really well done, though I only found the super even more frightening after reading his section.


message 49: by Rosalie (new)

Rosalie | 69 comments Joelle and Lata, I know! So disturbing and uncomfortable to be inside his head. I wonder whether the same thing will happen with this Boots guy she met in (I think) chapter 6.


message 50: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 103 comments Like Rosalie, I stopped after Chapter 6, but I'll have to stay a little ahead of the schedule because everyone seems to want this library book--I have to return it before the end of the month!

Two things I like best about this are
1)I just have to keep reading. I need to know what is going to happen to Lutie. Petry made me care about her from the very beginning.
2)The writing is so evocative. Not just of the place (like the wind in the beginning--wow), but the way she tells us just a little bit about how the people feel is beautifully done. And not just the characters, but the bystanders. I especially like the way she did this in the bar scene. The oppression is palpable.

Totally agree about the Super. Ew, I don't like being in his head! And I want to rescue that poor dog.


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