KAYE TROUT'S BOOK REVIEWS 1

I specialize in reviewing Print-On-Demand (POD) published books for my website and Midwest Book Review. Please query for a review by email to hgunther234@hotmail.com.

Friday, August 18, 2006

THE COLOR PURPLE by Alice Walker

Simon & Schuster, Inc.
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY
Genre: Fiction/Literature
Rating: Excellent
ISBN: 0671526022, $8.93, 251 pp, 1982


Typically, I spend my free time reading POD published books to review; however, now and then I read something else. "The Color Purple" is not a new book and has won several awards: the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the American Book Award. Quoting from the back cover:

"Life wasn’t easy for Celie. But she knew how to survive, needing little to get by.

Then her husband’s lover, a flamboyant blues singer, barreled into her world and gave Celie the courage to ask for more–to laugh, to play, and finally–to love."

I had not planned to do a review but as many books contain some element or discussion about religion, I thought I’d add Shug Avery’s thoughts on the subject to the mix, quoting from page 177-178-179.

"Well, say Shug, if he came to any of these churches we talking bout he’d have to have it conked before anybody paid him any attention. The last thing niggers want to think about they God is that his hair kinky.

That’s the truth, I say.

Ain’t no way to read the bible and not think God white, she say. Then she sigh. When I found out I thought God was white, and a man, I lost interest. You mad cause he don’t seem to listen to your prayers. Humph! Do the mayor listen to anything colored say? Ask Sofia, she say.

But I don’t have to ast Sofia. I know white people never listen to colored, period. If they do, they only listen long enough to be able to tell you what to do.

Here’s the thing, say Shug. The thing I believe. God is inside you and inside everybody else. You come into the world with God. But only them that search for it inside find it. And sometimes it just manifest itself even if you not looking, or don’t know what you looking for. Trouble do it for most folks, I think. Sorrow, lord. Feeling like shit.

It? I ast.

Yeah, It. God ain’t a he or a she, but a It.

But what do it look like? I ast.

Don’t look like nothing, she say. It ain’t a picture show. It ain’t something you can look at apart from anything else, including yourself. I believe God is everything, say Shug. Everything that is or ever was or ever will be. And when you can feel that, and be happy to feel that, you’ve found It. . . .

She say, My first step from the old white man was trees. Then air. Then birds. Then other people. But one day when I was sitting quiet and feeling like a motherless child, which I was, it come to me: that feeling of being part of everything, not separate at all. I knew that if I cut a tree, my arm would bleed. And I laughed and cried and I run all around the house. I knew just what it was. In fact, when it happen, you can’t miss it. It sort of like you know what, she say, grinning and rubbing high up on my high.

Shug! I say.

Oh, she say. God love all them feelings. That’s some of the best stuff God did. And when you know God loves’em you enjoys’em a lot more. You can just relax, go with everything that’s going, and praise God by liking what you like.

God don’t think it dirty? I ask.

Naw, she say. God made it. Listen, God love everything you love–and a mess of stuff you don’t. But more than anything else, God love admiration.

You saying God vain? I ask.

Naw, she say. Not vain, just want to share a good thing. I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.

What it do when it pissed off? I ast.

Oh, it make something else. People think pleasing God is all God care about. But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back.

Yeah? I say.

Yeah, she say. It always making little surprises and springing them on us when us least expect.

You mean it want to be loved, just like the bible say.

Yes, Celie, she say, Everything want to be loved. Us sing and dance, make faces and flower bouquets, trying to be loved. You ever notice that trees do everything to get attention we do, except walk?

Well, us talk and talk bout God, but I’m still adrift. Trying to chase the old white man out of my head. I been so busy thinking bout him I never truly notice nothing God make. Not a blade of corn (how it do that?) Not the color purple (where it come from?). Not the little wildflowers. Nothing."

And here we find the heart of this story, to which I say, "Amen, Alice Walker."

Reviewed by Kaye Trout - August 18, 2006

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