Glorious by Bernice L. McFadden
I have waited a while for a book like this one. Quite a while. Sometimes when you read texts for a living, the pure joy of reading, the ecstasy of wallowing fully and wholly in the language of the text is crushed by a cinderblock of deadlines and expectations.
However, this text broke the tedium of uneventful text after uneventful text; it managed to capture my imagination, to excite and incite me. From the time I picked the text up, I could not put it down, and read on and on throughout the night until the morning when I finally achieved the last word and gingerly searched for a place of rest, exhausted and spent, but nonetheless satisfied as in the aftermath of an episode with a rapacious, talented lover.
In a style and voice reminiscent of famed writer and Pulitzer Prize winner Toni Morrison, author Bernice L. McFadden composes a narrative journey set against and bracketed by the historical coordinates of the infamous 1910 Jack Johnson victory over “great white hope” James J. Jeffries and the onset of the Civil Rights Movement.
Paralleling the life of renowned writer Zora Neale Hurston, the narrative chronicles one woman’s search for self, for a place, in a world that seems to despise her because she is black, broke, and a woman; it is every bit a narrative about the creation of a narrative.
After a moment of good fortune by her father begets a heart-breaking atrocity which, in turn, leads to the gradual destruction of her family and threatens her psyche, the protagonist Easter symbolically buries the word “hate” in a tin in the ground and sets out on a journey which takes her throughout the South and finally to a Harlem, New York, caught up in the cultural transformations wrought by the Harlem Renaissance.
Along the way Easter documents the highs and the lows, the pleasure and the pain, the great triumphs and the crushing defeats, in a narrative which she revisits and revises often. It is this text, this narrative that eventually defines her, imprisons then releases her, that eventually forces her to step back and reclaim and reassess those pages from her narrative that she mentally and symbolically discards to include that long buried and forgotten “hate” so that her journey might reach completeness.
Ms. McFadden creates a work that masterfully weaves fact and fiction into a beautiful tapestry of passionate language that leaves the reader impatient for her next offering. Let us take the time to applaud her for yet another riveting, passionate narrative. Glorious will be released on May 1, 2010.