Summer Snow: Reflections from a Black Daughter of the South

Overview

Trudier Harris will tell you that African Americans who consider themselves Southern are about as rare as summer snow. But Harris has always embraced the South, and in Summer Snow she explores her experience as a black Southerner and how it has shaped her into the writer and intellectual she has become.

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Overview

Trudier Harris will tell you that African Americans who consider themselves Southern are about as rare as summer snow. But Harris has always embraced the South, and in Summer Snow she explores her experience as a black Southerner and how it has shaped her into the writer and intellectual she has become.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Something between a nostalgic, inward-looking memoir and a collection of provocative, outward-looking essays on race, class, geography and gender.—Paul Schnieder, O Magazine

"Harris thoughtfully weaves patches of personal history with discourses on topics so fundamental to her growth . . . You will be constantly amused by Harris's descriptive language."—Herb Boyd, Black Issues Book Review

"Like Zora Neale Hurston, another great daughter of the South, Harris lets her vision be tempered by her love. And make no mistake, the South of Black Americans is a love story. Summer Snow reminds us of that . . . causes us to remember that . . . lets us celebrate that."—Nikki Giovanni

"Because of this author, we see, feel, understand and celebrate our people, who created—through sheer wit and will—a culture that defeated the dehumanization of slavery by keeping us, body and soul, alive. A wonderful book you have to read to believe." —Toi Derricotte, author of The Black Notebooks

Publishers Weekly
In her essay "Black Nerds," Harris laments the divide within black communities between those who engage in "practical" pursuits and those who seek higher education, and concludes that though Ph.D. holders such as herself are loved and needed by their neighbors, they are accepted only as "intimate strangers." Indeed, Harris herself seems to have taken on this role, using the book's 17 essays to lovingly critique the mores of black southern culture against a backdrop of her own experiences. A University of North Carolina professor of English and the author of numerous books (From Mammies to Militants; Saints, Sinners, Saviors), Harris offers plenty of anecdotes from her childhood in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Many, though, seem primarily to serve as pretexts for textual analysis of authors such as Toni Morrison or Harris's own socioeconomic and cultural theories. As Harris simultaneously tries to explain her background to a larger audience and claim ownership of her status as a true black Southerner, she sometimes compromises both efforts in the process. Still, Harris is a likable narrator, at her best when recounting vivid childhood memories. In "The Overweight Angel," she describes Aun Sis, a community elder (and "nobody's aunt in particular") who passed judgment on and offered advice to the entire town from the vantage point of her front porch. At six feet and 250 pounds, Aun Sis "towered over everybody, including her diminutive husband, whom the neighbors fell into the habit of calling 'Mr.' Sis." While one wishes for more gems like these, Harris offers a warmly intelligent portrait of home and sharp critiques of racist attitudes, including her sense that non-black Americans-say, kids who listen happily to rap music but have no black friends-"simply can't tolerate too much 'visible blackness.'" (Apr.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
In this collection of 17 essays, Harris (Saints, Sinners, Saviors: Strong Black Women in African American Literature) meditates on her upbringing in Tuscaloosa, AL, using her specific life experiences as a springboard for generalizations about race, racism, and Southern black folklore. Born in 1948, Harris lived through the heyday of the Civil Rights Movement and has been on both receiving lines: As a young black girl, she had her teeth pulled by "charitable" white dentists who visited her elementary school to rid poor Negro children of cavities; as a smart black female in a post-civil rights era, she has risen to the ranks of accomplished teacher, author, and expert in African American literary criticism. (Harris is J. Carlyle Sitterson Professor of English at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and a widely published author and editor of anthologies.) These essays are written from a deeply personal, critical perspective that includes much gentle humor, creative cultural insight, and an occasional pious polemic. Alternating between memoir and cultural critique, the book tackles existing stereotypes and gives birth to a few of its own. Highly recommended for academic and large public libraries.-Janet Faller Sassi, New York Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807072554
  • Publisher: Beacon
  • Publication date: 4/15/2007
  • Edition description: None
  • Pages: 200
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Trudier Harris grew up in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. She is the author of numerous books, including From Mammies to Militants: Domestics in Black American Literature; Saints, Sinners, Saviors: Strong Black Women in African American Literature; and Fiction and Folklore: The Novels of Toni Morrison. She is also coeditor of a number of anthologies, including The Oxford Companion to African American Literature. She is currently the J. Carlyle Sitterson Professor of English at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

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