Zora Neale Hurston: Stories – Book Review & Classics Circuit Tour

Cover Image - Stories, by Zora Neale Hurston

The Classics Circuit GraphicI was at the grocery store the other day and  as I was wandering up and down the aisles I started thinking about short stories and how much I used to like them when I was younger and why I have less patience for them now.  I think part of the reason is that I truly didn’t appreciate them as their own art form, and from my young perspective only thought of them as mini-books and stories.  I also think that I required less explanations at the time that I enjoyed them so much.

With novels you really get to revel in the character and what shaped their experiences; too often I find that short stories scratch the surface and leave me wanting to know more or they fail to give me enough to even understand what the point is in the first place.  And, I’m really saying all this to say that Zora Neale Hurston didn’t leave me feeling that way, and that she is a masterful short story-teller. The reason I was even able to piece together my thoughts about short stories in the grocery store was because after reading her stories I was able to pinpoint what I’m usually missing when I read shorts.

My first introduction to reading Hurston was Their Eyes Were Watching God.  My mom had it on her bookshelf when I was Cover Image - Stories, by Zora Neale Hurstongrowing up and being a voracious reader there was very little that escaped my attention.  Once I was able to immerse myself enough in the thick dialect to understand the characters, I was taken by her writing and how she was able to weave such complex and exciting characters who were trying to make the best lives for themselves in less than ideal circumstances.  Hurston’s mastery of language puts you in every scene that she writes, and this author is gifted enough to transfer the depths of their experience to her short stories which are brimming with vibrant characters whose situations will make you laugh, cry, and feel the pull of the tug at your heart-strings.

I really don’t have that much to say about this collection other than get it and read it, or even listen to it.  I listened to the collection on audio and I was enthralled from the minute I pressed play.  Renee Joshua-Porter does an excellent job bringing the rich southern dialects, Black English and the vibrancy of these characters to life.  A couple of stories that especially got me were Drenched in Light, where a grandmother tries to deal with her youthful granddaughter who has an exuberant spirit and zest for life;  The Conscience of the Court where a woman knows that she won’t get a fair shake from the court for the assault that she committed, but proceeds to bravely tell her story anyway; and The Six Gilded Bits, which tells the story of a much in love married couple who must find a way to continue loving each other in the aftermath of a break-in.  Trust me!  You really want  to read these stories.

Highly Recommended.

1DA652C2516038AE4D02F55645591F39 Blogger Unplugged! December 23,     2009   Jan 2, 2010

I think that WordPress should e-mail you when it doesn’t publish your scheduled post.  Since this post is showing up a day late, you can also visit Nymeth at Things Mean A Lot for a fabulous post about another Hurston work, Of Mules and Men.

Be sure to visit the Classics Circuits for more information on participation and blog tours for classic authors.

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  1. This talented author is a local down here, and I am ashamed to say I've never read her. So right in the middle of your review, I bopped over to the library's website and ordered Their Eyes Were Watching God and a biography about her on audio. I do much better getting through my audios lately, so I mgiht actually get through these! Thank you for the inspiration.

    1. Good for you. I have to say that I loved these stories on audio. The narrator was wonderful and I was so into them. I kept cleaning and organizing because I wanted to keep listening so it was really helpful.

  2. I have to say I don't know if I want to read Hurston because I've heard so much about the dialect! I am really bad at reading dialect and struggle through it. Maybe if I try audiobooks, I'll give Hurston a go!
    My recent post Review: Dead Souls

    1. You should try this one. It's three hours long, so you can ease you way in, and this narrator is really good. These stories are wonderful and poignant.
      My recent post The Amy Einhorn (Perpetual) Challenge

    1. This audio is a good place to start, and it's only three hours. I am thinking I might review a few of the stories separately because I liked them that much.
      My recent post The Amy Einhorn (Perpetual) Challenge

  3. I was also worried about the dialect the first time I read Hurston but it wasn't a problem. I thought Their Eyes Were Watching God was just wonderful, I'd love to read more of Hurston. I'm really into short stories lately (I think my attention span is shrinking!) so this sounds enticing.

  4. I think audio was a good way to experience Hurston the first time. That's how I read Their Eyes were Watching God and I really enjoyed. I really need to read that again — and now I'd love to read this too. I love the way to explain how Hurston just pulled you in to the stories!

  5. Hello,
    I am so glad to hear your suggestion of hearing Zora Neale Hurston’s stories on audio, because so many of us can work on our other projects at the same time. In the past two years, I done many hours of research on Zora and have much respect for the Zora scholars – some of whom I have searched for by reading about their knowledge of Zora.