July 18th, 2004

The Color Purple

I'm reading it because it's a set book and I wasn't looking forward to it. I was expecting driven, humourless social realism, but it's got me hooked. Walker is a great story-teller (an under-rated gift) and just when I think I've got the direction of the narrative sussed she'll whisk me off in some unexpected direction- to Africa for instance. Her people are fully rounded and even minor characters have the capacity to catch us on the wrong foot. It's an epic- huge cast list, a time span of twenty years or more, action on three continents- but it comes in at a fraction of the length of War and Peace. I love the economy of the writing, the wit. Spielberg's movie, brave as it was, was never brave enough.

Community Relations

Two very small boys are throwing things around at the back of the house. It sounds like a stone falls in our yard. This happens from time to time. Our next door neighbour has worked herself up into a state of paranoia about it and has been known to call the police. I try not to follow suit. I mean, these are very small boys, barely out of diapers. They are not the enemy.

I go out and look at them. "Hello," says the older one weakly.

I don't shout, I keep my tone level. "Are you throwing stones?" I ask.

"Only at this tree," he says- pointing away from our house. A lie (I've been watching from the upstairs window.)

"Well, that's all right then," I say. "Just so long as you're not throwing them at us." I go back inside.

What a nice, friendly man.

They are not the enemy, they are not the enemy, they are not the enemy!