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I’ve been wanting In Search of Our Mother’s Gardensbecause I teach the last essay in my first year writing class–“Beauty: When the Other Dancer is the Self.” That essay is about getting shot in the eye by accident as a child and how she turned inward after that. And that way later she learns to love it. I love that essay and teach it because of that. Sucks that when I finally got to it that I couldn’t enjoy it because of how many times I taught it lol.
Anyway the rest of the essays were new to me and great too. They are all about Alice Walker’s reading life in a way. Books she needs to critique and others that she has to teach in her classes because no one else is. She is championing black women’s writing really. She is noticing the lack and very physically going out to get the answers. Walker famously goes to visit Zora Neale Hurston’s grave sight to explore more about who she was.
I liked that traveling and moving best about the book. Walker wasn’t just reading and writing and teaching, she was also on the plane going here and there to get the answers. She visits Hurston’s hometown, interviews Loretta Scott King in person, moves to Mississippi, then moves all over when she’s trying to get The Color Purple written because the characters weren’t comfortable. That was nice–to see her out in the world making stuff happen.
Her writing on writing was great too. I could definitely relate to the last few chapters (including “Beauty”) where she talks about motherhood more and how hard it is to write with a kid (she recommends only having one). But before she gets there, she is very conscious of her mother’s (and others’ mothers) access to art. Her mother’s artistic outlet was her garden, but Walker wonders who else’s art-making has been stifled by American life.