From Publishers Weekly
This photo- and facsimile-filled volume offers a marvelous multi-media introduction to one of the most celebrated American writers of the 20th century. Readers can follow Zora Neale Hurstons life journey, from Eatonville, Fla., (map of the town included) where she was born in 1891, to her years as a student at Howard University (read her first published story, "John Redding Goes to Sea," reproduced from the campus literary magazine), and then to New York City and Barnard College, where she was the only black student at the time. Copies of typescripts of poems (some never before published) are included, and her success as part of the Harlem Renaissance is touched upon, as well (read her notes for various works and see the cover of the Saturday Review featuring Hurston). But perhaps the item that most brings Hurston to life is the books CD of her speaking and singing.
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*Starred Review* In the simplest terms, this book is a brief biography of Zora Neale Hurston, one of the outstanding figures in the Harlem Renaissance who has come to be recognized as a major voice in twentieth-century literature. It was written by Hurston's niece and is "the first collaborative family-sanctioned project on the life and legend." The text is a cogent and spirited conjuring of Hurston's vibrant personality and estimation of her work's place and importance, but the incredible illustrative matter is the real draw and what makes the book so amazing. The pages are full of arresting photographs as well as many pieces of removable memorabilia and writings in Hurston's own hand; these "artifacts" have been reproduced so exactly that readers will feel as if they were holding the actual items. Glued into the gutter of one page, for instance, is a beautiful envelope with the stains and smears the original one obviously bears, inside of which are folded a short story reproduced from the pages of Opportunity
magazine and a scrap of wrapping paper on which Hurston typed a poem. Further on is an immaculate reproduction of a holiday card Hurston made for her friends: again, looking and feeling exactly like the original. On another page is a pull-out cover of a Saturday Review
featuring Hurston on the cover. And then there is a facsimile of an entire sketchbook in which she kept notes for her novel Herod the Great
. And more and more. Will librarians view this biography-scrapbook as a nightmare, though? Obviously, its handling will have to be carefully supervised to prevent the removable items from disappearing, but the responsible, literary-minded patron should not be deprived of the intimate pleasure this book affords. Brad HooperCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved