Retro-Reads

Thursday, August 20, 2020

I’m running a bit late this morning, got caught up thinking and writing about some old days. I’ve been doing some retro-reading and renewing my acquaintance with great writers. I’m focused now on Tillie Olson and Zora Neale Hurston.

Recently, I ran across an article about Olson’s writing skills and remembered long ago reading a story in “The New Yorker”, by her and entitled “I Stand Here Ironing”. Her writing was deceptively simple, very powerful, and created a story that blew me away. Recently, remembering, I sent for a retrospective of Olson’s works, offered by her daughter and granddaughter, themselves fine writers. Olson was born in 1912, her stories are perspectives from America’s tough Depression years, and are breathtakingly fine art.

I already was re-reading Hurston’s, Their Eyes Were Watching God, one of several several retro books I selected from a used-seller. Hurston was an amazing writer, her prose is sparse and clean, and like Olson’s was formed much by the Great Depression.

There are many reasons to think 2020 may be a “woman’s year”. In following #metoo and current politics, it’s impressive that women are speaking out, moving up, being publicly acknowledged as intelligent, productive, and professional. In contrast, those women who matured during the 1930s, and survived the Great Depression, had fewer opportunities to stand away from cooking, cleaning, ironing, and trying to reassure husbands and children. I don’t dismiss the problems men faced during this period, as for them it was similar. Many individuals we remember today are those who learned how to write, and knew how to express themselves with clarity and meaning.

Reading Olson and Hurston has slowed my brain, made me recall my growing-up days with a mother who matured during the Great Depression. It offers my mom’s eye-view and helps me understand better her personal needs and family decisions.

Besides, these two fantastic women were highly-intelligent, wonderfully talented artists. They’ve given us their experiences and ideas in stories that mesh interestingly with today’s worldviews.

Dear Friends: Their writings keep my brain active in slow periods of my part-time job. Diana

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