previously in this blog, my friend Carole and I have decided to read Weighty Books. After eight months of such reading, I have to wonder if I can read them with as fresh an eye as I would have in my undergraduate days.
I ask this question after finishing Tobacco Road,
a relentless story of loss and more loss. Jeeter is beaten down by life
and The Man. The last time he tried to farm his land, the rich folk of
Augusta stole from him more than his entire profit: it took his desire
for success. He would never win, no matter how hard he worked, so it
made entire sense that he did not get up off the porch for much.
However, the characters of Tobacco Road
were relentless sinners. Holy cow, by God and by Jesus, they were a
wicked lot. I don't use those words lightly, but they fit in this case.
Even characters who were supposed to be the most spiritually uplifted
were fantastically immoral, even by Tobacco Road standards. The ending
was as relentless and beaten-down as the rest of the story, and I felt
dejected and depressed myself.
However, the more I read, the more it seemed I had read that story before. I had: in many other stories since. However, Tobacco Road was where it all started.
of the decisions Carole and I made was to read related stories during
the six months we focused on a book. For six months we read The Decameron, American Decameron and as much of The Heptameron as we could. (I took a break from the "-Ron Books" and will go back to The Heptameron
soon enough.) I am glad, but I also may have to back off on that
decision a little: I don't want to lose the magic of the seminal work
because it's been hammered to death by other related books.
Along with Tobacco Road, Carole and I will read How Green is Our Valley and The Grapes of Wrath.
Will stories be revealed with interesting perspective by three
different authors, or will "The Man Gets You Down" theme be driven home
with a level of relentlessness only Jeeter could appreciate? I'll keep