Monday, March 12, 2012

It Wont Let Me Go

I've been quilting most of the morning, and as usual my mind had been churning through thoughts completely unrelated to quilting.  I've tried to press on but, as the title suggests, the thoughts wont let me go.  As a result, here I am writing without having much idea about what to say.

The problem is with a novel I began reading last evening after 11:00 PM, a very late time for me.  I was only able to complete two chapters before I gave up and went to bed.  Even then though, the book wouldn't let me go.  I know I was awake thinking about the second chapter for at least an hour.  I should have got up and read until I finished it.

The book is "March", by Geraldine Brooks [2005, Penguin Books, New York, NY].  Usually I wouldn't write about anything after only two chapters, but this one grabbed me.  It must have done the same for quite a few folk; it's a Pulitzer Prize winner.  The premise, interesting in itself, is that the story is told by Mr. March, husband and father of the women in Louisa May Alcott's "Little Women."  In that book, he is away during the Civil War, and this one tells us where and why.

I'll not try to retell the story.  I've come upon it late and since it is a 2005 Pulitzer winner, I suppose many, if not most, have already read it for themselves.  I want to tell of the sense of shock, merged with some shame, of the cruelty of the slave owner, Augustus Clement.  I am born and, mostly, raised in the South, and as such am the recipient of many wheelbarrow loads of embellishments about slavery and how they were treated in those times.  In the stories of my youth, slaves loved their masters, and masters cared for slaves' health and welfare.  I've known that wasn't a complete story, but until recently did not try to inform myself of actual conditions.  I credit Ta-Nehesi Coates blog on The Atlantic for beginning the process of informing me that all those rosy tales of the South were mostly BS.  Ms Brooks is also teaching me in the early chapters of her novel.

In my last post, Quilting Thoughts, I wrote mush that seemed to be asking why folk in the 1600-1920 didn't rise up against the injustices of their time.  In comments, published and private, Felix wisely reminded me that in many cases they had no choice.  It's obvious that I am hopelessly ignorant of why people act as they do.  It takes shock to show me how awry my conceptions are.  I'm very grateful to Mr. Coates, Ms Brooks, and friends that have helped me to begin to see.  I'm anxious to contrinue reading March and to learn more that Ms Brooks has to teach me.

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