The Way Forward Is with a Broken Heart

The Way Forward Is with a Broken Heart

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by Alice Walker
     
 

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Pulitzer Prize -- winning author Alice Walker gives us superb stories based on rich truths from her own experience. Imbued with Walker's wise philosophy and understanding of people, the spirit, sex and love, The Way Forward Is with a Broken Heart begins with a lyrical, autobiographical story of a marriage set in the violent and volatile Deep South during the early… See more details below

Overview

Pulitzer Prize -- winning author Alice Walker gives us superb stories based on rich truths from her own experience. Imbued with Walker's wise philosophy and understanding of people, the spirit, sex and love, The Way Forward Is with a Broken Heart begins with a lyrical, autobiographical story of a marriage set in the violent and volatile Deep South during the early years of the civil rights movement. Walker goes on to imagine stories that grew out of the life following that marriage -- a life, she writes, that was "marked by deep sea-changes and transitions." These provocative stories showcase Walker's hard-won knowledge of love of many kinds and of the relationships that shape our lives, as well as her infectious sense of humor and joy. Filled with wonder at the power of the life force and of the capacity of human beings to move through love and loss and healing to love again.

Editorial Reviews

New York Newsday
A writer of staggering talent.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
HIn 13 affectionate stories, Walker (The Color Purple; By the Light of My Father's Smile) reflects on the nature of passion and friendship, pondering the emotional trajectories of lives and loves. Some of the pieces are directly autobiographical, as Walker explains in her preface. "To My Young Husband" is about her marriage as a young woman to a Jewish civil rights lawyer and their difficult but mostly happy decade in Mississippi and Brooklyn. Many years later, telling her daughter the story of the marriage, Walker wonders how she and her ex-husband, once so close, could have become such strangers. Other stories are "mostly fiction, but with a definite thread of having come out of a singular life." Old hurts are soothed in "Olive Oil," in which Orelia learns to trust her husband, John, and not visit the sins of the past upon him. In "The Brotherhood of the Saved," Hannah, the lesbian narrator, confronts the bigotry of religion and attempts to save her relationship with her mother, whose fundamentalist church is urging her to ostracize her daughter. A trip to a screening of Deep Throat gets the older woman and two of her friends talking about sex, but true acceptance proves more elusive. Infusing her intimate tales with grace and humor, Walker probes hidden corners of the human experience, at once questioning and acknowledging sexual, racial and cultural rifts. Though a few stories tip into self-indulgence and read less like fiction than personal testimony, this is nonetheless a strong, moving collection. A common theme runs throughoutDwe are all obliged to love and be loved, no matter how blind, inexpert or troublesome we may be. 100,000 first printing; 8-city author tour. (Oct.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Love may be a mighty balm, but Walker (The Color Purple) knows that it can also be unsettling, causing both lover and beloved to question their values, politics, and commitments. In seven beautifully written and astoundingly perceptive short stories--admittedly based in fact, then fictionalized--she homes in on the problems endemic to interracial romance and offers a near stream-of-consciousness reflection on her own ten-year marriage to a white civil rights attorney. It is powerful, jarring reading. But Walker treads lightly, conscious that the inevitable disagreements and betrayals that accompany relationships are what make us human. While several of the book's entries examine the problems inherent in black/white coupling, other pieces assess the ways we communicate woman to woman, sister to sister, husband to wife. Throughout, the book remains remarkably upbeat, urging us to chance heartache in order to connect. Brave and passionate, audacious and wise, this is Walker at her best. Highly recommended for all collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/00.]--Eleanor J. Bader, Brooklyn, NY Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
Linda Barrett Osborne
Alice Walker's touching and provocative collection of autobiographical stories is filled with truisms...yet Walker is capable of surprisingly complex insights into the tenuity of desire and marriage, the saving grace of friendship and the ambivalent experiences of African-Americans since the civil rights movement.
Denise Gess
Throughout, Walker posits her conviction that our only true journey on earth-to grow and to love-is deceptively simple.
Book Magazine
V.R. Peterson
[A] Moving tale of hope and healing.
People
Samira A. Bashir
It is a beautiful treatment of love in its many forms—romantic, platonic, familiar—and its everlasting effect on one's life...In finally coming to terms with and laying to rest the woman she was, while honoring that spirit still living in the woman she has become, Walker offers a challenge of self-growth and acceptance, not just to herself or her ex, but to all of us who walk down the long and dusty roads of Alice Walker country, knowing that we cannot emerge unchanged.
Ms. Magazine
Kirkus Reviews
Using the accretion method that has become her trademark, Walker (By the Light of My Father's Smile, 1998, etc.) here offers a manyvoiced, often lyrical story—but in discrete, oddly shaped lumps—of her first marriage and subsequent awakenings over the course of a lifetime of relationships.

From the Publisher
"Places Walker in the company of Faulkner."
—The Nation, about The Color Purple

"Superb...a work to stand beside literature of any time and place."
—San Francisco Chronicle, about The Color Purple

"Just when you think Alice Walker has empathized her way as far as any writer can go, she goes further....Each essay is a gift."
—Gloria Steinem, about Anything We Love Can Be Saved

"[Alice Walker] is exceptionally brave: She takes on subjects at which most writers would flinch and quail, and probably fail. She shrinks from no moral or emotional complexity, and she writes consummately skillful short stories....In Walker's work nothing is ordinary....She is a marvelous writer."
—San Francisco Chronicle, about You Can't Keep a Good Woman Down

"A writer of staggering talent."
—New York Newsday

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780742988989
Publisher:
Random House, Incorporated
Publication date:
10/03/2000
Edition description:
1 ED
Pages:
200
Product dimensions:
6.54(w) x 9.58(h) x 0.83(d)

Read an Excerpt

Excerpt from The Way Forward Is with a Broken Heart

To My Young Husband: Memoir of a Marriage

Beloved,

A few days ago I went to see the little house on R. Street where we were so happy. Before traveling back to Mississippi I had not thought much about it. It seemed so far away, almost in another dimension. Whenever I did remember the house it was vibrant, filled with warmth and light, even though, as you know, a lot of my time there was served in rage, in anger, in hopelessness and despair. Days when the white white walls, cool against the brutal summer heat, were more bars than walls.

You do not talk to me now, a fate I could not have imagined twenty years ago. It is true we say the usual greetings, when we have to, over the phone: How are you? Have you heard from Our Child? But beyond that, really nothing. Nothing of the secrets, memories, good and bad, that we shared. Nothing of the laughter that used to creep up on us as we ate together late at night at the kitchen table -- perhaps after one of your poker games -- and then wash over us in a cackling wave. You were always helpless before anything that struck you as funny, and I reveled in the ease with which, urging each other on, sometimes in our own voices, more often in a welter of black and white Southern and Brooklyn and Yiddish accents -- which always felt as if our grandparents were joking with each other -- we'd crumple over our plates laughing, as tears came to our eyes. After tallying up your winnings -- you usually did win -- and taking a shower -- as I chatted with you through the glass -- you'd crawl wearily into bed. We'd roll toward each other's outstretched arms, still chuckling, and sleep the sleep of the deeply amused.

I went back with the woman I love now. She had never been South, never been to Mississippi, though her grandparents are buried in one of the towns you used to sue racists in. We took the Natchez Trace from Memphis, stopping several times at points of interest along the way. Halfway to Jackson we stopped at what appeared to be a large vacant house, with a dogtrot that intrigued us from the road. But when we walked inside two women were quietly quilting. One of them was bent over a large wooden frame that covered most of the floor, like the one my mother used to have; the other sat in a rocking chair stitching together one of the most beautiful crazy quilts I've ever seen. It reminded me of the quilt I made while we were married, the one made of scraps from my African dresses. The huge dresses, kaftans really, that I sewed myself and wore when I was pregnant with Our Child.

The house on R. Street looked so small I did not recognize it at first. It was nearly dark by the time we found it, and sitting in a curve as it does it always seemed to be seeking anonymity. The tree we planted when Our Child was born and which I expected to tower over me, as Our Child now does, is not there; one reason I did not recognize the house. When I couldn't decide whether the house I was staring at was the one we used to laugh so much in, I went next door and asked for the Belts. Mrs. Belt (Did I ever know her name and call her by it? Was it perhaps Mildred?) opened the door. She recognized me immediately. I told her I was looking for our house. She said: That's it. She was surrounded by grandchildren. The little girl we knew, riding her tricycle about the yard, has made her a grandmother many times over. Her hair is pressed and waved, and is completely gray. She has aged. Though I know I have also, this shocks me. Mr. Belt soon comes to the door. He is graying as well, and has shaved his head. He is stocky and assertive. Self-satisfied. He insists on hugging me, which, because we've never hugged before, feels strange. He offers to walk me next door, and does.

Its gate is the only thing left of the wooden fence we put up. The sweet gum tree that dominated the backyard and turned to red and gold in autumn is dying. It is little more than a trunk. The yard itself, which I've thought of all these years as big, is tiny. I remember our dogs: Myshkin, the fickle beloved, stolen, leaving us to search and search and weep and weep; and Andrew, the German shepherd with the soulful eyes and tender heart, whose big teeth frightened me after Our Child was born.

continued . . .

Excerpted from The Way Forward Is with a Broken Heart by Alice Walker Copyright © 2000 by Alice Walker. Excerpted by permission of Random House, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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