The Same River Twice: Honoring the Difficult: A Meditation on Life, Spirit, Art and the Making of the Film The Color Purple Ten Years Later

The Same River Twice: Honoring the Difficult: A Meditation on Life, Spirit, Art and the Making of the Film The Color Purple Ten Years Later

by Alice Walker
     
 

In the early eighties, the peaceful, reclusive life of poet and writer Alice Walker was interrupted by the appearance of three extraordinary gifts: a widely praised best-selling novel ("The Color Purple"), the Pulitzer Prize, and an offer from Steven Spielberg to make her novel into a film that would become a major international event. This last gift, which Walker…  See more details below

Overview

In the early eighties, the peaceful, reclusive life of poet and writer Alice Walker was interrupted by the appearance of three extraordinary gifts: a widely praised best-selling novel ("The Color Purple"), the Pulitzer Prize, and an offer from Steven Spielberg to make her novel into a film that would become a major international event. This last gift, which Walker identifies as 'the knock at the door,' led her into the labyrinth of a never-before-experienced creative collaboration, principally with Spielberg and Quincy Jones, and the 'magic' and perils of moviemaking. "The Same River Twice: Honoring the Difficult" chronicles that period of transition, from recluse to public figure, and invites us to contemplate, along with her, the true significance of extraordinary gifts—especially when they are coupled, as in Walker's case, with the most severe criticism, overt hostility, and public censure from one's community of choice. The book is composed of entries from Walker's journals, correspondence—including letters to Spielberg, Jones, and Danny Glover, who played the much reviled Mister in the movie—and essays and articles that document the controversy in the African-American community upon the film's release. It also contains Walker's original screenplay for the film "The Color Purple," a screenplay that ultimately was not used by Spielberg and has never been published. In three new essays, Walker looks back at what was taking place in her life at that time: the onset of a debilitating illness, the failing health of her adored mother, and the betrayal by her companion of thirteen years. How do the private and the public mesh, she asks, during periods ofintense creativity and stress? In what ways do they support or weaken each other?

Editorial Reviews

Patricia Holt
Tragic and fascinating....That it would take an entire book to sort out the promises and betrayals, the courage and cowardice...is testimony to the power of Walker's understated subtitle, Honoring the Difficult....The Same River Twice is about integrity and compromise, the unseen subtleties of racism and misogyny.... -- San Francisco Chronicle
Diana Postlethwaite
Walker's [The Color Purple] screenplay makes its own eloquent case....a gem worth the price of the book. -- Cleveland Plain Dealer
Diana Roberts
Hard-won insights into art and life....a brave book....inspirational. -- Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Robert Philpot
The rewards are many....all the hues of The Color Purple. -- Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Walker's latest book finds the Pulitzer Prize-winning author still grappling with criticism of the film version of her novel The Color Purple. She continues to defend her depiction of an abusive black man as well as her decision to use Steven Spielberg as director. But now she also recognizes the project as a creative watershed. Walker's memoir pieces together assorted journal entries, magazine clippings, occasional photographs and even her original screenplay to form an intimate scrapbook of the period. We witness one of the seminal gatherings in Hollywood history: the original meeting of Walker, Spielberg and producer/musician Quincy Jones, and we watch their collaboration unfold. Walker discusses the fortuitous casting of Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey, who have evolved into two of the few female Hollywood powers. Yet Walker's recollections include few other voices. This makes for a perspective uncomfortably lopsided in parts. Also Walker's preoccupation with her old critics seems unnecessary and somewhat dated. However, the book wonderfully illuminates Walker's ``born-again pagan'' spirit and her boundless passion for the characters she creates and the audience she serves. (Jan.)
Library Journal
It's been ten years since the movie version of Walker's controversial Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Color Purple, debuted in theaters across the country. At long last Walker (Possessing the Secret of Joy, LJ 5/15/92) reveals her innermost thoughts, liner notes, journal entries, and interviews with some of the people involved in the making of that blockbuster. In this insightful memoir, she tells what a painful period this was for her: she was ill with Lyme disease, her mother was sick, her partner unsupportive, and she was reeling from the criticism she received from the black community because of the movie's negative depiction of black men. She includes here letters, commentaries, and articles from supporters as well as detractors. This analysis is long overdue, but it's not likely to generate much interest because of its untimeliness. An optional purchase for public libraries.-Ann Burns, "Library Journal"
Susan Shapiro
You might think a book about a movie made twelve years ago would be dated and superfluous. Think again. Alice Walker's behind-the-scenes expose of the making of the movie "The Color Purple," from her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, is funny, perceptive and completely engaging. The author of fifteen books, including The Temple of My Familiar, hooks her readers in the first chapter, Fish and Bird Come to My House. Here she recalls her first meeting, in February of 1984, with Stephen Spielberg and Quincy Jones. Spielberg, who arrived dressed so casually he seemed to be in someone else's clothes, reminded her of a parrot. The well-dressed Jones, who showed up in a huge limousine and sent roses, was "born under the sign of Pisces, the fish. Deep, mysterious, cool. Intuitive. Shimmering through life."

Along with anecdotes about working with actors Danny Glover, Whoopie Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey, Walker throws in photos, journal entries, correspondence, her original film synopsis and the screenplay she wrote, which graphically depicted the love affair between her characters Shug and Celie, and was rejected. Walker chronicles her affliction with Lyme Disease, which went misdiagnosed for three years, her bisexuality, the end of her long-term relationship with Robert (who tells her, "I am alcoholic, you are bisexual, we cancel each other out"), as well as the controversies stirred up by "The Color Purple." Critics accused her of hating black men, degrading her characters by using black folk speech, and racism for letting a Jewish boy direct a movie about black people. She finds irony in the fact that the Academy Awards that year went to the "racist" "Out of Africa." She brings up the O.J. Simpson trial and its tragedy, that a man so graceful and beautiful could be so ugly and so wrong. It's the theme of her novel, and the comparison renders The Same River Twice even more timely and compelling. --Salon

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781568952987
Publisher:
Cengage Gale
Publication date:
03/28/1996
Pages:
370
Product dimensions:
6.24(w) x 9.23(h) x 1.05(d)

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