Stephen Karlson (shkarlson) wrote in 50bookchallenge,
Stephen Karlson

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Kathryn Stockett mentions in the postlude to The Help that she was brought up, in Mississippi, with the assistance of a maid with African ancestors, and she protests that her work is not autobiographical. (Is the provision of conversations with authors at the end of a work of fiction a response to consumer demand from book clubs for a basis for intelligent conversation, along the lines that junior high or high school analysis of symbolism and other hidden devices used to require, itself a recognition that the cultural infrastructure has been lost and requires repair?)  Book Review No. 30 will be short.

The story is compelling.  In places keeping track of the characters is difficult, but perhaps those blends of plantation-aristocrat and swampland-hardscrabble names unique to the south contribute.  A reader with a good sense of 1960s product introductions will recognize a few anachronisms, some that the author acknowledges in the postlude.  She also begs forbearance for the use of dialect by some of her characters.  It's not cartoonish to draw readers' attention to the effect of separate but equal education on language.  And ... for those who have seen the movie ... a few acts of civil disobedience didn't make that cut.  Excellent pacing and timing of those events.

(Cross-posted to Cold Spring Shops.)
Tags: historical fiction, race

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