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Bambara, author of the critically acclaimed short-story collection Gorilla, My Love (not reviewed) and the novel The Salteaters (1980), died last year from cancer at the age of 56. This collection includes six short stories and several essays, as well as an interview with Bambara, conducted by her friend Louis Massiah. The latter, titled "How She Came By Her Name," is a wonderful exploration of Bambara's personal history, identity, and values, as well as her thoughts about her four most profound commitments: community activism, writing, motherhood, and film. Several essays discuss the history of black independent film and its importance to black cultural autonomy and expression; in the 1980s she came to prefer film over fiction and spent much of her time writing scripts, as well as editing, analyzing, and teaching film. She is also profoundly moving on the subject of her Harlem girlhood; she refers repeatedly to her memories of the neighborhood's legendary Speaker's Corner in the 1930s as a model for community discourse—and celebrates as well Harlem's bookstores, movie houses, and libraries. Sometimes these pieces tend toward the pedantic or polemical, becoming labored in a way that her fiction never is. Indeed, the fiction here is masterful—alive with powerful women, animated by rage at racial injustice, narrated in a compressed, powerful prose that is rich, varied, but always precise.
In the preface to this collection, Toni Morrison, Bambara's longtime editor and friend, writes that "I don't know if she knew the heart cling of her fiction." Whether she did or not, with the release of Deep Sightings, many readers will.
|Madame Bai and the Taking of Stone Mountain||27|
|The War of the Wall||57|
|Luther on Sweet Auburn||78|
|Essays and Conversations||87|
|Reading the Signs, Empowering the Eye||89|
|Language and the Writer||139|
|Deep Sight and Rescue Missions||146|
|How She Came by Her Name||201|
|The Education of a Storyteller||246|
Posted September 20, 2009
No text was provided for this review.