Posts tagged ‘Zora Neale Hurston’

February 12, 2014

“Ritual to Get a Man” — Zora Neale Hurston

by Biblioklept

From Zora Neale Hurston’s novelization of folklore, Mules and Men:

So I went to study with Eulalia, who specialized man-and-woman cases. Everyday somebody came to get Eulalia to tie them up with some man or woman or to loose them from love.

Eulalia was average sized with very dark skin and bushy eyebrows. Her house was squatting among the palmettoes and the mossy scrub oaks. Nothing pretty in the house nor outside. No paint and no flowers S get tied to a man.

“Who is dis man?” Eulalia wanted to know.

“Jerry Moore,” the woman told her. “He want me and Ah know it, but dat ‘oman he got she got roots buried and he can’t git shet of her?do we would of done been married.”

Eulalia sat sheill and thought awhile. Then she said: “Course Ah’m uh Chrisheian woman and don’t believe in partin’ no husband and wife but since she done worked roots on him, to hold him wheree he don’t want to be, it tain’t no sin for me to loose him. Where they live at?”

“Down Young’s Quarters. de thirstd house from dis end.”

“Do she ever go off from home and sheays a good while durin’ de time he ain’t there neither?”

“Yas Ma’am! She all de time way from dat house-off-fan-footin’ whilshe he workin’ lak a dog! It’s a shame!”

“Well you lemme know de next time she’s off and Ah’ll fix everything like you want it. Put that money back in yo’ purse, Ah don’t want a thing till de work is done.”

Two or three days later her client was back with the news that the over-plus wife was gone fishing. Eulalia sent her away and put on her shoes. “Git dat salt-bowl and a lemon, she said to me. “Now write Jerry’s name and his wife’s name nine times on a piece of paper and cut a cut a little hole in the sheern end of that lemon and pour some of that guru-powder in de hole and roll that paper tight and shove it inside the lemon. Wrap de lemon and de bowl of salt up and less go.”

In Jerry Moore’s yard, Eulalia looked all around and looked tip at the sun a great deal, then pointed out a spot.

“Dig a little hole right here and bury dat lemon. It’s got to Lie buried with the bloom?end down and it’s got to be wheree de settin’ sunshineshirie on it.”

So I buried the lemon and Eulalia walked around to thkitchenchen door. By the time I had the lemon buried the door Was open and we went inside. She looked all about and found some red pepper.

“Lift dat sheove-lid for me,” she ordered, and I did. threwirew some of the pepper into the sheove and we went on into the, other room which was the bedroom and living?room A in one. Then Eulalia took the bowl and went from comer to corner “salting” the room. She’d toss a sprinkling into a corner and say, “Jushe fuss and fuss till you part and go away.” Under the bed was sprinkled also. It was all over in a minute or two. Then we went.out and shut the kitchen door and hurried away. And Saturday night Eulalia got her pay and the next day she set the ceremony to bring about the marriage.

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February 11, 2014

Zora Neale Hurston’s Love Spells

by Biblioklept

Conjure up some last-minute romance. In the appendix to her collection of Florida folktales, Mules and Men, author Zora Neale Hurston offers up a host of Hoodoo, including the following love spells:

TO MAKE A MAN COME HOME

Take nine deep red or pink candles. Write his name three times on each candle. Wash the candles with Van-Van. Put the name three times on paper and place under the candles, and call the name of the party three times as the candle is placed at the hours of seven, nine or eleven.

TO MAKE PEOPLE LOVE YOU

Take nine lumps of starch, nine of sugar, nine teaspoons of steel dust. Wet it all with Jockey Club cologne. Take nine pieces of ribbon, blue, red or yellow. Take a dessertspoonful and put it on a piece of ribbon and tie it in a bag. As each fold is gathered together call his name. As you wrap it with yellow thread call his name till you finish. Make nine bags and place them under a rug, behind an armoire, under a step or over a door. They will love you and give you everything they can get. Distance makes no difference. Your mind is talking to his mind and nothing beats that.

TO BREAK UP A LOVE AFFAIR

Take nine needles, break each needle in three pieces. Write each person’s name three times on paper. Write one name backwards and one forwards and lay the broken needles on the paper. Take five black candles, four red and three green.

Tie a string across the door from it, suspend a large candle upside down, It will hang low on the door; bum one each day for one hour. If you burn your first in the daytime, keep on in the day; if at night, continue at night. A tin plate with paper and needles in it must be placed to catch wax in.

When the ninth day is finished, go out into the street and get some white or black dog dung. A dog only drops his dung in the street when he is running and barking, and whoever you curse will run and bark likewise. Put it in a bag with the paper and carry it to running water, and one of the parties will leave town.

November 27, 2013

Literary Recipes

by Biblioklept

Fat Kitchen, Jan Steen

***

Enjoy Thanksgiving with our menu of literary recipes:

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Turkey Twelve Ways

Zora Neale Hurston’s Mulatto Rice

Ian McEwan’s Fish Stew

James Joyce’s Burnt Kidney Breakfast

Herman Melville’s Whale Steaks

Ernest Hemingway’s Absinthe Cocktail, Death in the Afternoon

Vladimir Nabokov’s Eggs à la Nabocoque

Thomas Pynchon’s Banana Breakfast

Cormac McCarthy’s Turtle Soup

Robert Crumb’s Macaroni Casserole

Truman Capote’s Caviar-Smothered Baked Potatoes with 80-Proof Russian Vodka

Emily Dickinson’s Cocoanut Cake

Thomas Jefferson’s Vanilla Ice Cream

Charles Dickens’s Own Punch

Ben Jonson’s Egg Wine

Willam Faulkner’s Hot Toddy

Christmas Bonus:  George Orwell’s Recipes for Plum Cake and Christmas Pudding

June 24, 2013

Zora Neale Hurston/Thomas Mann (Books Acquired, 6.21.2013)

by Biblioklept

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I’m a sucker for these Penguin editions. Blurb:

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I used to have a paperback copy of Zora Neale Hurston’s Moses, Man of The Mountain, but I loaned it to a student who never returned it.

I won’t loan out this first edition I found though:

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Love the detail on the clothbound cover:

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And a taste of Ms. Hurston’s wit:

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April 14, 2013

“Poker!” — A Short Play by Zora Neale Hurston

by Biblioklept

POKER! by Zora Neale Hurston

Time—Present

Place—New York

Cast of characters—
Nunkie
Too-Sweet
Peckerwood
Black Baby
Sack Daddy
Tush Hawg
Aunt Dilsey

SCENE—

A shabby front room in a shotgun house.

A door covered by dingy portieres upstage C. Small panel window in side Wall L. Plain centre table with chairs drawn up about it. Gaudy calendars on wall. Battered piano against wall R. Kerosene lamp with reflector against wall on either side of room.

At rise of curtain NUNKIE is at piano playing…. Others at table with small stacks of chips before each man. TUSH HAWG is seated at table so that he faces audience. He is expertly riffing the cards … looks over his shoulder and speaks to NUNKIE.

TUSH HAWG Come on here, Nunkie—and take a hand! You’re holding up the game. You been woofin’ round here about the poker you can play—now do it!

NUNKIE
Yeah, I plays poker. I plays the piano and Gawd knows I plays the devil.
I’m Uncle Bob with a wooden leg!*[Handwritten: Last sentence crossed out
in pencil in manuscript.]

BLACK BABY Aw, you can be had! Come on and get in the game! My britches is cryin’ for your money! Come on, don’t give the healer no trouble!*[Handwritten: last sentence crossed out in pencil]

NUNKIE Soon as I play the deck I’m comin’ and take you alls money! Don’ rush me.

 Ace means the first time that I met you
Duece means there was nobody there but us two
Trey means the third party—Charlie was his name
Four spot means the fourth time you tried that same old game—
Five spot means five years you played me for a clown
Six spot means six feet of earth when the deal goes down
Now I’m holding the seven spot for each day of the week
Eight means eight hours that she Sheba-ed with your Sheik—
Nine spot means nine hours that I work hard every day—
Ten spot means tenth of every month I brought you home my pay—
The Jack is three-card Charlie who played me for a goat
The Queen, that’s my pretty Mama, also trying to cut my throat—
The King stands for Sweet Papa Nunkie and he’s goin’ to wear the crown,
So be careful you all ain’t broke when the deal goes down!
(He laughs—X’es to table, bringing
piano stool for seat)

TUSH HAWG Aw now, brother, two dollars for your seat before you try to sit in this game.

NUNKIE
(Laughs sheepishly—puts money
down—TUSH HAWG pushes stack of chips
toward him. Bus.)
I didn’t put it down because I knew you all goin’ to be puttin’ it right
back in my pocket.

BECKERWOOD
Aw, Y’all go ahead and play.
(to TUSH HAWG)
Deal!
(TUSH HAWG begins to deal for draw
poker. The game gets tense. SACK
DADDY is first man at TUSH’s left—he
throws back three cards and is dealt
three more)

SACK DADDY My luck sure is rotten! My gal must be cheatin’ on me. I ain’t had a pair since John Henry had a hammer!

BLACK BABY
(Drawing three new cards)
You might be fooling the rest with the cryin’ you’re doin’ but I’m
squattin’ for you! You’re cryin’ worse than cryin’ Emma!

TOO-SWEET
(Studying his three new cards)
(Sings)
When yo’ cards gets lucky, oh Partner, you oughter be in a rollin’ game.
*[Handwritten: get you foot offa my chair etc]

AUNT DILSEY (Enters through portieres—stands and looks disapprovingly) You all oughter be ashamed of yourself, gamblin’ and carryin’ on like this!

BLACK BABY Aw, this ain’t no harm, Aunt Dilsey! You go on back to bed and git your night’s rest.

AUNT DILSEY
No harm! I know all about these no-harm sins! If you don’t stop this
card playin’, all of you all goin’ to die and go to Hell.
(Shakes warning finger—exits through
portieres—while she is talking the
men have been hiding cards out of
their hands and pulling aces out of
sleeves and vest pockets and
shoes—it is done quickly, one does
not see the other do it)

NUNKIE
(Shoving a chip forward)
A dollar!

SACK DADDY
Raise you two!

BLACK BABY I don’t like to strain with nobody but it’s goin’ to cost you five. Come on, you shag-nags! This hand I got is enough to pull a country man into town. *[Handwritten: Last sentence crossed through in pencil.]

TOO-SWEET You all act like you’re spuddin’! Bet some money! Put your money where your mouth is *[Handwritten: els my fist where yo mouf is.]

TUSH HAWG Twenty-five dollars to keep my company! Dog-gone, I’m spreadin’ my knots!

SACK DADDY
And I bet you a fat man I’ll take your money—I call you.
(Turns up his cards—he has four aces
and king)

TUSH HAWG (showing his cards) Youse a liar! I ain’t dealt you no aces. Don’t try to carry the Pam-Pam to me ’cause I’ll gently chain-gang for you!

SACK DADDY Oh yeah! I ain’t goin’ to fit no jail for you and nobody else. I’m to get me a green club and season it over your head. Then I’ll give my case to Miss Bush and let Mother Green stand my bond! I got deal them aces!

NUNKIE
That’s a lie! Both of you is lyin’! Lyin’ like the cross-ties from New
York to Key West! How can you all hold aces when I got four? Somebody is
goin’ to West hell before midnight!

BECKERWOOD Don’t you woof at Tush Hawg. If you do I’m goin’ to bust hell wide open with a man!

BLACK BABY
(Pulls out razor—Bus.)
My chop-axe tells me I got the only clean aces they is on this table!
Before I’ll leave you all rob me outa my money, I’m goin’ to die it off!

TOO-SWEET
I promised the devil one man and I’m goin’ to give him five!
(Draws gun)

TUSH HAWG
Don’t draw your bosom on me! God sent me a pistol and I’m goin’ to send
him a man!
(FIRES. Bus. for all)

AUNT DILSEY
(Enters after shooting bus. Stands.
Bus. drops to chair)
They wouldn’t lissen—
(Looks men over—Bus.)
It sure is goin’ to be a whole lot tougher in hell now!

CURTAIN

 

February 19, 2013

Harold Bloom on “The School of Resentment”

by Biblioklept

Harold Bloom on his agon with “The School of Resentment.” From his 1991 interview with The Paris Review.

INTERVIEWER

How do you account historically for the school of resentment?

BLOOM

In the universities, the most surprising and reprehensible development came some twenty years ago, around 1968, and has had a very long-range effect, one that is still percolating. Suddenly all sorts of people, faculty members at the universities, graduate and undergraduate students, began to blame the universities not just for their own palpable ills and malfeasances, but for all the ills of history and society. They were blamed, and to some extent still are, by the budding school of resentment and its precursors, as though they were not only representative of these ills but, weirdly enough, as though they had somehow helped cause these ills and, even more weirdly, quite surrealistically, as though they were somehow capable of ameliorating these ills. It’s still going on—this attempt to ascribe both culpability and apocalyptic potential to the universities. It’s really asking the universities to take the place that was once occupied by religion, philosophy, and science. These are our conceptual modes. They have all failed us. The entire history of Western culture, from Alexandrian days until now, shows that when a society’s conceptual modes fail it, then willy-nilly it becomes a literary culture. This is probably neither good nor bad, but just the way things become. And we can’t really ask literature or the representatives of a literary culture, in or out of the university, to save society. Literature is not an instrument of social change or an instrument of social reform. It is more a mode of human sensations and impressions, which do not reduce very well to societal rules or forms.

INTERVIEWER

How does one react to the school of resentment? By declaring oneself an aesthete?

BLOOM

Well, I do that now, of course, in furious reaction to their school and to so much other pernicious nonsense that goes on. I would certainly see myself as an aesthete in the sense advocated by Ruskin, indeed to a considerable degree by Emerson, and certainly by the divine Walter and the sublime Oscar. It is a very engaged kind of mode. Literary criticism in the United States increasingly is split between very low level literary journalism and what I increasingly regard as a disaster, which is literary criticism in the academies, particularly in the younger generations. Increasingly scores and scores of graduate students have read the absurd Lacan but have never read Edmund Spenser; or have read a great deal of Foucault or Derrida but scarcely read Shakespeare or Milton. That’s obviously an absurd defeat for literary study. When I was a young man back in the fifties starting out on what was to be my career, I used to proclaim that my chosen profession seemed to consist of secular clergy or clerisy. I was thinking, of course, of the highly Anglo-Catholic New Criticism under the sponsorship or demigodness of T. S. Eliot. But I realized in latish middle age that, no better or worse, I was surrounded by a pride of displaced social workers, a rabblement of lemmings, all rushing down to the sea carrying their subject down to destruction with them. The school of resentment is an extraordinary sort of mélange of latest-model feminists, Lacanians, that whole semiotic cackle, latest-model pseudo-Marxists, so-called New Historicists, who are neither new nor historicist, and third generation deconstructors, who I believe have no relationship whatever to literary values. It’s really a very paltry kind of a phenomenon. But it is pervasive, and it seems to be waxing rather than waning. It is a very rare thing indeed to encounter one critic, academic or otherwise, not just in the English-speaking world, but also in France or Italy, who has an authentic commitment to aesthetic values, who reads for the pleasure of reading, and who values poetry or story as such, above all else. Reading has become a very curious kind of activity. It has become tendentious in the extreme. A sheer deliquescence has taken place because of this obsession with the methods or supposed method. Criticism starts—it has to start—with a real passion for reading. It can come in adolescence, even in your twenties, but you must fall in love with poems. You must fall in love with what we used to call “imaginative literature.” And when you are in love that way, with or without provocation from good teachers, you will pass on to encounter what used to be called the sublime. And as soon as you do this, you pass into the agonistic mode, even if your own nature is anything but agonistic. In the end, the spirit that makes one a fan of a particular athlete or a particular team is different only in degree, not in kind, from the spirit that teaches one to prefer one poet to another, or one novelist to another. That is to say there is some element of competition at every point in one’s experience as a reader. How could there not be? Perhaps you learn this more fully as you get older, but in the end you choose between books, or you choose between poems, the way you choose between people. You can’t become friends with every acquaintance you make, and I would not think that it is any different with what you read.

INTERVIEWER

Do you foresee any change, or improvement, in the critical fashions?

BLOOM

I don’t believe in myths of decline or myths of progress, even as regards to the literary scene. The world does not get to be a better or a worse place; it just gets more senescent. The world gets older, without getting either better or worse and so does literature. But I do think that the drab current phenomenon that passes for literary studies in the university will finally provide its own corrective. That is to say, sooner or later, students and teachers are going to get terribly bored with all the technocratic social work going on now. There will be a return to aesthetic values and desires, or these people will simply do something else with their time. But I find a great deal of hypocrisy in what they’re doing now. It is tiresome to be encountering myths called “The Social Responsibility of the Critic” or “The Political Responsibility of the Critic.” I would rather walk into a bookstore and find a book called “The Aesthetic Responsibilities of the Statesman,” or “The Literary Responsibilities of the Engineer.” Criticism is not a program for social betterment, not an engine for social change. I don’t see how it possibly could be. If you look for the best instance of a socially radical critic, you find a very good one indeed in William Hazlitt. But you will not find that his social activism on the left in any way conditions his aesthetic judgments, or that he tries to make imaginative literature a machine for revolution. You would not find much difference in aesthetic response between Hazlitt and Dr. Samuel Johnson on Milton, though Dr. Johnson is very much on the right politically, and Hazlitt, of course, very much an enthusiast for the French Revolution and for English radicalism. But I can’t find much in the way of a Hazlittian or Johnsonian temperament in life and literature anywhere on the current scene. There are so many tiresomenesses going on. Everyone is so desperately afraid of being called a racist or a sexist that they connive—whether actively or passively—the almost total breakdown of standards that has taken place both in and out of the universities, where writings by blacks or Hispanics or in many cases simply women are concerned.

INTERVIEWER

This movement has helped focus attention on some great novels, though. You’re an admirer, for example, of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man.

BLOOM

Oh, but that is a very, very rare exception. What else is there like Invisible Man? Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God has a kind of superior intensity and firm control. It’s a very fine book indeed. It surprised and delighted me when I first read it and it has sustained several rereadings since. But that and Invisible Man are the only full scale works of fiction I have read by American blacks in this century that have survival possibilities at all. Alice Walker is an extremely inadequate writer, and I think that is giving her the best of it. A book like The Color Purple is of no aesthetic interest or value whatsoever, yet it is exalted and taught in the academies. It clearly is a time in which social and cultural guilt has taken over.

INTERVIEWER

I know you find this to be true of feminist criticism.

BLOOM

I’m very fond of feminist critics, some of whom are my close friends, but it is widely known I’m not terribly fond of feminist criticism. The true test is to find work, whether in the past or present, by women writers that we had undervalued, and thus bring it to our attention and teach us to study it more closely or more usefully. By that test they have failed, because they have added not one to the canon. The women writers who mattered—Jane Austen, George Eliot, Emily Dickinson, Edith Wharton, Willa Cather, and others who have always mattered on aesthetic grounds—still matter. I do not appreciate Elizabeth Bishop or May Swenson any more or less than I would have appreciated them if we had no feminist literary criticism at all. And I stare at what is presented to me as feminist literary criticism and I shake my head. I regard it at best as being well-intentioned. I do not regard it as being literary criticism.

INTERVIEWER

Can it be valued as a form of social or political literary criticism?

BLOOM

I’m not concerned with political or social criticism. If people wish to practice it, that is entirely their business. It is not mine, heavens! If it does not help me to read a work of aesthetic value then I’m not going to be interested in it at all. I do not for a moment yield to the notion that any social, racial, ethnic, or “male” interest could determine my aesthetic choices. I have a lifetime of experience, learning, and insight that tells me this.

 

February 14, 2013

Zora Neale Hurston’s Love Spells

by Biblioklept

Conjure up some last-minute romance. In the appendix to her collection of Florida folktales, Mules and Men, author Zora Neale Hurston offers up a host of Hoodoo, including the following love spells:

TO MAKE A MAN COME HOME

Take nine deep red or pink candles. Write his name three times on each candle. Wash the candles with Van-Van. Put the name three times on paper and place under the candles, and call the name of the party three times as the candle is placed at the hours of seven, nine or eleven.

TO MAKE PEOPLE LOVE YOU

Take nine lumps of starch, nine of sugar, nine teaspoons of steel dust. Wet it all with Jockey Club cologne. Take nine pieces of ribbon, blue, red or yellow. Take a dessertspoonful and put it on a piece of ribbon and tie it in a bag. As each fold is gathered together call his name. As you wrap it with yellow thread call his name till you finish. Make nine bags and place them under a rug, behind an armoire, under a step or over a door. They will love you and give you everything they can get. Distance makes no difference. Your mind is talking to his mind and nothing beats that.

TO BREAK UP A LOVE AFFAIR

Take nine needles, break each needle in three pieces. Write each person’s name three times on paper. Write one name backwards and one forwards and lay the broken needles on the paper. Take five black candles, four red and three green.

Tie a string across the door from it, suspend a large candle upside down, It will hang low on the door; bum one each day for one hour. If you burn your first in the daytime, keep on in the day; if at night, continue at night. A tin plate with paper and needles in it must be placed to catch wax in.

When the ninth day is finished, go out into the street and get some white or black dog dung. A dog only drops his dung in the street when he is running and barking, and whoever you curse will run and bark likewise. Put it in a bag with the paper and carry it to running water, and one of the parties will leave town.

 

February 2, 2013

“The Gilded Six-Bits” — Zora Neale Hurston

by Biblioklept

“The Gilded Six-Bits” by Zora Neale Hurston

It was a Negro yard around a Negro house in a Negro settlement that looked to the payroll of the G. and G. Fertilizer works for its support.
But there was something happy about the place. The front yard was parted in the middle by a sidewalk from gate to doorstep, a sidewalk edged on either side by quart bottles driven neck down into the ground on a slant. A mess of homey flowers planted without a plan but blooming cheerily from their helter-skelter places. The fence and house were whitewashed. The porch and steps scrubbed white.
The front door stood open to the sunshine so that the floor of the front room could finish drying after its weekly scouring. It was Saturday. Everything clean from the front gate to the privy house. Yard raked so that the strokes of the rake would make a pattern. Fresh newspaper cut in fancy edge on the kitchen shelves.
Missie May was bathing herself in the galvanized washtub in the bedroom. Her dark-brown skin glistened under the soapsuds that skittered down from her washrag. Her stiff young breasts thrust forward aggressively, like broad-based cones with the tips lacquered in black.
She heard men’s voices in the distance and glanced at the dollar clock on the dresser.
“Humph! Ah’m way behind time t’day! Joe gointer be heah ‘fore Ah git mah clothes on if Ah don’t make haste.”
She grabbed the clean mealsack at hand and dried herself hurriedly and began to dress. But before she could tie her slippers, there came the ring of singing metal on wood. Nine times.
Missie May grinned with delight. She had not seen the big tall man come stealing in the gate and creep up the walk grinning happily at the joyful mischief he was about to commit. But she knew that it was her husband throwing silver dollars in the door for her to pick up and pile beside her plate at dinner. It was this way every Saturday afternoon. The nine dollars hurled into the open door, he scurried to a hiding place behind the Cape jasmine bush and waited. 

January 21, 2013

“Sweat” — Zora Neale Hurston

by Biblioklept

“Sweat” by Zora Neale Hurston

It was eleven o’clock of a Spring night in Florida. It was Sunday. Any other night, Delia Jones would have been in bed for two hours by this time. But she was a wash-woman, and Monday morning meant a great deal to her. So she collected the soiled clothes on Saturday when she returned the clean things. Sunday night after church, she sorted them and put the white things to soak. It saved her almost a half day’s start. A great hamper in the bedroom held the clothes that she brought home. It was so much neater than a number of bundles lying around.

She squatted in the kitchen floor beside the great pile of clothes, sorting them into small heaps according to color, and humming a song in a mournful key, but wondering through it all where Sykes, her husband, had gone with her horse and buckboard.

Just then something long, round, limp and black fell upon her shoulders and slithered to the floor beside her. A great terror took hold of her. It softened her knees and dried her mouth so that it was a full minute before she could cry out or move. Then she saw that it was the big bull whip her husband liked to carry when he drove.

She lifted her eyes to the door and saw him standing there bent over with laughter at her fright. She screamed at him.

“Sykes, what you throw dat whip on me like dat? You know it would skeer me–looks just like a snake, an’ you knows how skeered Ah is of snakes.”

“Course Ah knowed it! That’s how come Ah done it.” He slapped his leg with his hand and almost rolled on the ground in his mirth. “If you such a big fool dat you got to have a fit over a earth worm or a string, Ah don’t keer how bad Ah skeer you.”

“You aint got no business doing it. Gawd knows it’s a sin. Some day Ah’m goin’ tuh drop dead from some of yo’ foolishness. ‘Nother thing, where you been wid mah rig? Ah feeds dat pony. He aint fuh you to be drivin’ wid no bull whip.”

“You sho is one aggravatin’ nigger woman!” he declared and stepped into the room. She resumed her work and did not answer him at once. “Ah done tole you time and again to keep them white folks’ clothes outa dis house.”

He picked up the whip and glared down at her. Delia went on with her work. She went out into the yard and returned with a galvanized tub and set it on the washbench. She saw that Sykes had kicked all of the clothes together again, and now stood in her way truculently, his whole manner hoping, praying, for an argument. But she walked calmly around him and commenced to re-sort the things.

“Next time, Ah’m gointer kick ‘em outdoors,” he threatened as he struck a match along the leg of his corduroy breeches.

November 20, 2012

Enjoy Thanksgiving with Our Literary Recipes Roundup

by Biblioklept

Fat Kitchen, Jan Steen

***

Enjoy Thanksgiving with our menu of literary recipes:

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Turkey Twelve Ways

Zora Neale Hurston’s Mulatto Rice

Ian McEwan’s Fish Stew

James Joyce’s Burnt Kidney Breakfast

Herman Melville’s Whale Steaks

Ernest Hemingway’s Absinthe Cocktail, Death in the Afternoon

Vladimir Nabokov’s Eggs à la Nabocoque

Thomas Pynchon’s Banana Breakfast

Cormac McCarthy’s Turtle Soup

Robert Crumb’s Macaroni Casserole

Truman Capote’s Caviar-Smothered Baked Potatoes with 80-Proof Russian Vodka

Emily Dickinson’s Cocoanut Cake

Thomas Jefferson’s Vanilla Ice Cream

Charles Dickens’s Own Punch

Ben Jonson’s Egg Wine

Christmas Bonus:  George Orwell’s Recipes for Plum Cake and Christmas Pudding

October 26, 2012

“How Jack O’Lanterns Came To Be” — Zora Neale Hurston

by Biblioklept

From Zora Neale Hurston’s novelization of folklore, Mules and Men:

It was slavery time, Zora, when Big Sixteen was a man. They called ‘im Sixteen  cause dat was de number of de shoe he wore. He was big and strong and Ole Massa looked to him to do everything.

One day Ole Massa said, “Big Sixteen, Ah b’lieve Ah want you to move dem sills Ah had hewed out down in de swamp.

“I yassuh, Massa.”

Big Sixteen went down in de swamp and picked up dem 12 X 12′s and brought ‘em on up to de house and stack ,em. No one man ain’t never toted a 12 X 12 befo’ nor since.

So Ole Massa said one day, “Go fetch in de mules. Ah want to look ‘em over.”

Big Sixteen went on down to, de pasture and caught dem mules by de bridle but they was contrary and balky and he tore de bridles to pieces pullin’ on ‘em, so he picked one of ‘em up under each arm and brought ‘em up to Old Massa.

He says, “Big Sixteen, if you kin tote a pair of balky mules, you kin do anything. You kin ketch de Devil.”

“Yassuh, Ah kin, if you git me a nine-pound hammer and a pick and shovel!”

Ole Massa got Sixteen de things he ast for and tole ‘im to go ahead and bring him de Devil.

Big Sixteen went out in front of de house and went to diggin’. He was diggin’ nearly a month befo’ he got where he wanted. Then he took his hammer and went and knocked on de Devil’s door. Devil answered de door hisself.

“Who dat out dere?”

“It’s Big Sixteen.”

“What you want?”

“Wanta have a word wid you for a minute.”

Soon as de Devil poked his head out de door, Sixteen him over de head wid dat hammer and picked ‘im  up and carried ‘im back to Old Massa.

Ole Massa looked at de dead Devil and hollered, “Take dat ugly thing ‘way from here, quick! Ah didn’t think you’d, ketch de Devil sho ’nuff.”

So Sixteen picked up de Devil and throwed ‘im back down de hole.

Way after while, Big Sixteen died and went up to Heben. But Peter looked at him and tole ‘im to g’wan ‘way from dere. He was too powerful. He might git outa order and there wouldn’t be nobody to handle ‘im. But he had to, go somewhere so he went on to hell.

Soon as he got to de gate de Devil’s children was playin’ in de yard and they seen ‘im and run to de house, says, “Mama, mama! Dat man’s out dere dat kilt papa!”

So she called ‘im in de house and shet de door. When Sixteen got dere she handed ‘im a li’l piece of fire and said, “You ain’t comin’ in here. Here, take dis hot coal and g’wan off and start you a hell uh yo’ own.”

So when you see a Jack O’Lantern in de woods at night you know it’s Big Sixteen wid his piece of fire lookin’ for a  place to go.

June 3, 2012

Book Shelves #23, 6.03.2012

by Biblioklept

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Book shelves series #23, twenty-third Sunday of 2012

Okay. So, a bit later than usual getting this in. It’s the daughter’s birthday and I’m recovering from a Saturday party and I’ve been out in the garden other day and some other excuses.

Toni Morrison, Zora Neale Hurston, James Weldon Johnson, Harry Crews, Flannery O’Connor—and then some books that seem misshelved. Calvino used to hang out with Umberto Eco but that shelf got too crowded. The John Barth should be with the other John Barth books, but they’re all mass market paperbacks in shabby condition.

I like the cover of the Breece D’J Pancake collection:

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Lydia Cabrera’s Afro-Cuban Tales is this secret awesome book that almost no one has read. It was one of the first books I reviewed on this blog and the review is so woefully short that I’ll just cut and paste it below:

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In a sublime synthesis of traditional folklore and imagistic surrealism, Lydia Cabrera’s Afro-Cuban Tales questions the normative spaces occupied by bodies. Deriving from animist tradition, her characters exist in an impossible multiplicity of spaces, being at once animals and plants, humans and gods. Cabrera’s characters endure trials of biological identity and social co-existence, and through these problems they internalize authority, evince taboos, and create a social code. Cabrera’s trickster characters provoke, challenge, or otherwise disrupt the symbolic order of this code. In “Bregantino Bregantín,” a story that recalls Freud’s primal horde theory, as well as the work of more contemporary theorists such as Julia Kristeva and Judith Butler,  narcissist Bull kills all the males of his kingdom and takes all the women for himself.  The sadistic titular turtle of “Papa Turtle and Papa Tiger” uses the power of his dead friend’s antlers to shame, torment, and torture the other animals of his community. And in the magical realism of “Los Compadres,” Capinche seeks to put the horns on his best friend Evaristo by sleeping with his wife–a transgression that ends in necrophilia. This union of sex and death, creation and destruction is the norm in Cabrera’s green and fecund world; the trickster’s displacements of order invariably result in reanimation, transformation, and regeneration—the drawing, stepping-over, and re-drawing of boundaries.

February 17, 2012

Smoking Makes You Look Cool, Part II (More Pics of Writers Smoking)

by Biblioklept
Zora Neale Hurston
Rudyard Kipling
Anne Sexton 

A.A. Milne

Virginia Woolf

Carson McCullers

Dylan Thomas

Arthur Conan Doyle

Lillian Hellman

Raymond Carver

(For more pics of writers smoking, check out our first gallery—and don’t worry, people already expressed their hatred for what they perceived to be our endorsement of smoking there).

February 14, 2012

Ritual to Get a Man — Zora Neale Hurston

by Biblioklept

From Zora Neale Hurston’s novelization of folklore, Mules and Men:

So I went to study with Eulalia, who specialized man-and-woman cases. Everyday somebody came to get Eulalia to tie them up with some man or woman or to loose them from love.

Eulalia was average sized with very dark skin and bushy eyebrows. Her house was squatting among the palmettoes and the mossy scrub oaks. Nothing pretty in the house nor outside. No paint and no flowers S get tied to a man.

“Who is dis man?” Eulalia wanted to know.

“Jerry Moore,” the woman told her. “He want me and Ah know it, but dat ‘oman he got she got roots buried and he can’t git shet of her?do we would of done been married.”

Eulalia sat sheill and thought awhile. Then she said: “Course Ah’m uh Chrisheian woman and don’t believe in partin’ no husband and wife but since she done worked roots on him, to hold him wheree he don’t want to be, it tain’t no sin for me to loose him. Where they live at?”

“Down Young’s Quarters. de thirstd house from dis end.”

“Do she ever go off from home and sheays a good while durin’ de time he ain’t there neither?”

“Yas Ma’am! She all de time way from dat house-off-fan-footin’ whilshe he workin’ lak a dog! It’s a shame!”

“Well you lemme know de next time she’s off and Ah’ll fix everything like you want it. Put that money back in yo’ purse, Ah don’t want a thing till de work is done.”

Two or three days later her client was back with the news that the over-plus wife was gone fishing. Eulalia sent her away and put on her shoes. “Git dat salt-bowl and a lemon, she said to me. “Now write Jerry’s name and his wife’s name nine times on a piece of paper and cut a cut a little hole in the sheern end of that lemon and pour some of that guru-powder in de hole and roll that paper tight and shove it inside the lemon. Wrap de lemon and de bowl of salt up and less go.”

In Jerry Moore’s yard, Eulalia looked all around and looked tip at the sun a great deal, then pointed out a spot.

“Dig a little hole right here and bury dat lemon. It’s got to Lie buried with the bloom?end down and it’s got to be wheree de settin’ sunshineshirie on it.”

So I buried the lemon and Eulalia walked around to thkitchenchen door. By the time I had the lemon buried the door Was open and we went inside. She looked all about and found some red pepper.

“Lift dat sheove-lid for me,” she ordered, and I did. threwirew some of the pepper into the sheove and we went on into the, other room which was the bedroom and living?room A in one. Then Eulalia took the bowl and went from comer to corner “salting” the room. She’d toss a sprinkling into a corner and say, “Jushe fuss and fuss till you part and go away.” Under the bed was sprinkled also. It was all over in a minute or two. Then we went.out and shut the kitchen door and hurried away. And Saturday night Eulalia got her pay and the next day she set the ceremony to bring about the marriage.

February 13, 2012

Zora Neale Hurston’s Love Spells

by Biblioklept

Valentine’s Day will be upon us in just a few hours, but it’s not too to late conjure up some last-minute romance. In the appendix to her collection of Florida folktales, Mules and Men, author Zora Neale Hurston offers up a host of Hoodoo, including the following love spells:

TO MAKE A MAN COME HOME

Take nine deep red or pink candles. Write his name three times on each candle. Wash the candles with Van-Van. Put the name three times on paper and place under the candles, and call thee name of the party three times as the candle is placed at the hours of seven, nine or eleven.

TO MAKE PEOPLE LOVE YOU

Take nine lumps of starch, nine of sugar, nine teaspoons of steel dust. Wet it all with Jockey Club cologne. Take nine pieces of ribbon, blue, red or yellow. Take a dessertspoonful and put it on a piece of ribbon and tie it in a bag. As each fold is gathered together call his name. As you wrap it with yellow thread call his name till you finish. Make nine bags and place them under a rug, behind an armoire, under a step or over a door. They will love you and give you everything they can get. Distance makes no difference. Your mind is talking to his mind and nothing beats that.

TO BREAK UP A LOVE AFFAIR

Take nine needles, break each needle in three pieces. Write each person’s name three times on paper. Write one name backwards and one forwards and lay the broken needles on the paper. Take five black candles, four red and three green.

Tie a string across the door from it, suspend a large candle upside down, It will hang low on the door; bum one each day for one hour. If you burn your first in the daytime, keep on in the day; if at night, continue at night. A tin plate with paper and needles in it must be Placed to catch wax in.

When the ninth day is finished, go out into the street and get some white or black dog dung. A dog only drops his dung in the street when he is running and barking, and whoever you curse will ran and bark likewise. Put it in a bag with the paper and carrv it to running water, and one of the parties will leave town.

November 24, 2011

Enjoy Thanksgiving with Our Literary Recipes Roundup

by Biblioklept

Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy Turkey Day with Biblioklept’s menu of literary recipes:

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Turkey Twelve Ways

Zora Neale Hurston’s Mulatto Rice

Ian McEwan’s Fish Stew

James Joyce’s Burnt Kidney Breakfast

Herman Melville’s Whale Steaks

Ernest Heminway’s Absinthe Cocktail, Death in the Afternoon

Vladimir Nabokov’s Eggs à la Nabocoque

Thomas Pynchon’s Banana Breakfast

Cormac McCarthy’s Turtle Soup

Robert Crumb’s Macaroni Casserole

Christmas Bonus:  George Orwell’s Recipes for Plum Cake and Christmas Pudding

November 22, 2011

Zora Neale Hurston’s Mulatto Rice

by Biblioklept

[Editorial note: We originally ran a version of this post in November of 2009. We're republishing it as part of a series celebrating Thanksgiving, featuring recipes and food from some of our favorite books].

At the beginning of Zora Neale Hurston’s novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, Janie returns from the Everglades to Eatonville in ragged overalls to a gossipy and unwelcoming town. The one exception is her best friend Phoeby, who brings Janie a “heaping plate of mulatto rice.” Janie gobbles up the simple, delicious meal, even as Phoeby notes that it “ain’t so good dis time. Not enough bacon grease.” She does however concede that “it’ll kill hongry.” No doubt.

We’ve always been intrigued by mulatto rice. What could it be? Is the dish still around today, but under a new name? Although the term “mulatto” has fallen into disuse, and perhaps distaste (just ask Larry David if you don’t believe us), organizations like mulatto.org have also taken a certain ownership of it. For Hurston, mulatto rice is a positive thing. Hurston could have had Phoeby bring any number of dishes to her friend Janie, so it’s telling that she chooses “mulatto rice” as a homecoming meal. The dish represents a communion, an admixture that reflects Janie’s multiracial identity as well as her resistance to gender-typing. “Mulatto” is also probably etymologically akin to the word “mule,” and if you’ve read Eyes, you know that mules are a major motif in the story. But enough literazin’.

Down to the nitty-gritty–we made up a mess of mulatto rice tonight thanks to a recipe from The Savannah Cook Book by Harriet Ross Colquitt. Not that we found this 1933 cookbook ourselves. No, the real merit here goes to the very cool website Take One Cookbook, which explores the history and culture and sociology behind old, weird cookbooks–all while making the recipes. Colquitt’s recipe, via Wendy at Take One Cookbook (see Wendy’s versionhere):

Mulatto Rice

This is the very chic name given to rice with a touch of the tarbrush.

Fry squares of breakfast bacon and remove from the pan. Then brown some minced onion (one small one) in this grease, and add one pint can of tomatoes. When thoroughly hot, add a pint of rice to this mixture, and cook very slowly until the rice is done. Or, if you are in a hurry, cold rice may be substituted, and all warmed thoroughly together.

The rice is very easy to make and very, very tasty. We substituted green onions for a small onion, and used a hickory-smoked bacon that infused the rice with a lovely sweetness (we also included a tablespoon of brown sugar right after the tomatoes). We served the dish, pictured above, with ham steaks and fried green tomatoes with a spicy yogurt sauce. Hearty and rich and satisfying–just the sort of thing one wants to eat after a soul-searching quest (or maybe just a long day). Recommended.

August 27, 2011

RIP Stetson Kennedy, Florida Folklorist, Writer, and Human Rights Activist

by Edwin Turner

Stetson Kennedy died today at 94 in his native city, Jacksonville, FL.

Kennedy began his career collecting folklore throughout the South in 1937 after leaving the University of Florida. Kennedy worked for the Works Progress Administration’s Florida Writers’ Project, traveling with Zora Neale Hurston to collect oral histories and folk tales from both black and white Floridians alike. In the 1940s, Kennedy worked for the Atlanta office of the CIO. He also infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in the 1940s and ’50s, exposing many of the racist organization’s secrets and alerting the world to the intrinsic injustice of the Jim Crow system in Southern states.

When Kennedy ran (quite unsuccessfully) for Governor of Florida in 1952, Woody Guthrie wrote the song “Stetson Kennedy” to support his good friend (Wilco and Billy Bragg put the lyrics to music decades later). Kennedy’s anti-Jim Crow, early Civil Rights platform didn’t win him much popularity throughout the state, and when his home in Fruit Cove was firebombed, he moved to France. It was there that the philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre published Kennedy’s The Jim Crow Guide—but the book was too controversial for US publication, despite multiple translations across Europe. Even more incendiary was Kennedy’s expose The Klan Unmasked (1954), which helped to undermine the organization’s secret authority in the South.

Just as Kennedy’s contribution to the Civil Rights movement cannot be underestimated, neither can his work in collecting and preserving Florida folklore (as well as Southern folklore in general). Kennedy helped found the Florida Folklore Society and also served as president, and volumes like Palmetto County and Grits and Grunts: Folkloric Key West will remain staples of Florida folk culture. In 2009, Kennedy bequeathed his papers and personal library to the Civic Media Center in Gainesville, FL, a nonprofit info center and alternative library devoted to human rights, environmental protection, and other causes. Kennedy was closely involved with the CMC since its inception in 1993.

Kennedy was a vibrant fount of cultural and historical force, a man who worked his entire, long life not just to preserve folklore and its history, but also to show the radical place that folk culture occupies throughout time, linking core human values from generation to generation. Stetson Kennedy will live through his legacy.

Kennedy’s website sheds light on his final moments—

He was with his wife and stepdaughter, He was in no pain. And as recently as 4 days ago he was lucid and talking. The doctor, checking his mental faculties asked him questions “where are you from”, Kennedy replied, “The planet Earth”

Stetson’s wishes were for a party and not a funeral. A luncheon at Beluthahatchee will be held October 1st.

Kennedy on This American Life.

Read a 2011 interview with Kennedy in Vice Magazine.

August 26, 2011

“The Monstropolous Beast Had Left His Bed” — Zora Neale Hurston’s Hurricane

by Biblioklept

In Chapter 18 of her novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston imagines a hurricane descending on the Everglades as a cosmic monster. Her description comes in part from accounts of the 1928 Great Lake Okeechobee Hurricane—

Ten feet higher and far as they could see the muttering wall advanced before the braced-up waters like a road crusher on a cosmic scale. The monstropolous beast had left his bed. Two hundred miles an hour wind had loosed his chains. He seized hold of his dikes and ran forward until he met the quarters; uprooted them like grass and rushed on after his supposed-to- be conquerors, rolling the dikes, rolling the houses, rolling the people in the houses along with other timbers. The sea was walking the earth with a heavy heel.

August 11, 2011

Books Acquired, 8.11.11

by Biblioklept

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Went to my favorite used bookstore today. Picked up Nicholson Baker’s Room Temperature to see what all the fuss is about (although I don’t think it’s one of his works of “erotica”). Anyway, it’s slim — 116 pages — so I’m sure it’ll find a place near the top of the stack.

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I’m pretty sure that some of the folktales in this collection from Zora Neale Hurston are probably redundant in my library—I mean, I know I’ve got another collection of her folklore somewhere. But this one seems much bigger—and it has a great appendix. Look forward to a tall tale or two (or don’t; shit, I don’t care).

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Back when I taught high school English, one of my favorite students “borrowed” (and never returned) my copy of Dune. Then he did the same with my copy of Riddley Walker (which, to be fair, I had stolen from a dear friend). Then he took Camp Concentration. I thought I’d replaced it, but when I looked for it the other day, I couldn’t find it. Anyway, this Caroll & Graf edition has a cool cover. I also picked up 334 on a reader recommendation (I was scolded for putting Camp Concentration on this list instead of some other Disch titles. Mea culpa). Anyway, I dig this pop art cover; I also think this is a first printing—-

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Underneath (but not in) the 334 was this Thom Disch postcard. A fortuitous bookmark!

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