Sunday, August 29, 2010

Book Review: Now In November

I am reading the book "Now in November", by Josephine W. Johnson.  This rich and poignant book was published in 1934 and won the Pulitzer Prize.  It tells the wrenching story of a family driven to poverty by the depression of the thirties and of the love, loyalties and hatreds that grew out of the extreme pressures, struggles and hopelessness of trying to not only stay alive, but to avoid losing the farm as well.  The season after season of hope that looks ahead to what might be, but then turns out not be be, yet again, drives the light from their eyes and stretches them, parents and children alike,thin and tight as new fence, ready to snap and wound each other at the slightest weight.  Here is a beautiful passage from the book:

" All that we saved above what it cost to live--and live by mouth and mind only, with nothing new but the seasons or thoughts we had--all went into the mortgage-debt.  It would have taken so little to make us happy. A little more rest, a little more money--it was the nearness that tormented.  The nearness to life the way we wanted it. And things that have cost more than they're worth leave a bitter taste. A taste of salt and sweat."

    2010 is the seventy fifth anniversary of the April in which an enormous black wall of dirt swept across the entire country, carrying the hopes, dreams and livelihoods of thousands of farm families with it to the sea.  There are many books available that speak to those years of drought, wind and loss that became known as the Dust Bowl. If you are interested in learning more about this time from the pens of people who lived through them, here are a few good selections to get you started.

Now in November..Josephine W. Johnson
The Worst Hard Time...Timothy Eagan
Letters from the Dust Bowl...Caroline Henderson

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