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Fire!!: The Zora Neale Hurston Story Hardcover – March 21, 2017
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Nominated as a Great Graphic Novel for Teens!
"Peter Bagge's "Fire!!" is thoroughly researched and eminently readable. Weaving together the complex tapestry of Zora Neale Hurston's life (and featuring accurate-and-entertaining cameos by Langston Hughes and Alice Walker, among others), this graphic novel is both insightful and fun to read―a rare combination."―Tami Navarro, Ph.D. Barnard Center for Research on Women, Columbia University
"A bright, highly moving introduction to a figure who is no longer obscure, but the full range of whose accomplishments we have yet to take into account."―John W.W. Zeiser, Los Angeles Review of Books
"Zora Neale Hurston was always larger than life, colorful―the ideal subject for graphic work. Here comes Peter Bagge’s well-researched interpretation of her talent, persistence, contrariness, and just Zora-ness in Fire!!. Here’s Zora laughing, also looking mean and impressive."―Missy Dehn Kubitschek, Professor of English and Africana Studies, IUPUI
"Cartoonist Peter Bagge sweeps through Zora Neale Hurston's life at a breakneck pace, sacrificing poignancy to sustain a sense of electricity. Like his subject, Bagge's full of contradictions, making him a surprisingly apt chronicler of this larger-than-life figure... It's irresistible to try and imagine what Hurston would make of this book, and inevitable to conclude that she'd approve."―Etelka Lehoczky, NPR Best Books of 2017
"From its cover image on, Bagge’s Fire!! presents Zora Neale Hurston’s story in a format worthy of its subject. Vibrant and humorous, this comic book is as an homage―“warts and all”―to a heroine who lived her life as an adventure fueled by intellectual curiosity, and creative desire."―Glenda R. Carpio, Professor of English & African and African American Studies, Harvard
"Seattle author and artist Peter Bagge has outdone himself with [Fire!! The Zora Neale Hurston Story]. Hurston led an exuberant life, and her story is a great match for Bagge’s comic style and contrarian point of view."―Mary Ann Gwinn, Seattle Times
About the Author
Peter Bagge is the 2014 USA Rockefeller Fellow in Literature. He is the Harvey Award-winning author of the acclaimed 1990s alternative comic series Hate starring slacker hero Buddy Bradley and a contributing editor to Reason magazine. A graduate of the School of Visual Arts in New York City, he got his start in comics in the R. Crumb-edited magazine Weirdo. Bagge lives in Seattle with his wife Joanne, daughter, and three cats.
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Bagge did a wonderful job in writing about and illustrating her life! SIMPLY AMAZING!
As much as I enjoy Bagge's always lively art, I found myself much more impressed with his copious notes and photos at the back of the book. Honest analysis and entertaining commentary.
This book is highly recommended for both the diehard Zora Neale Hurston fan and the reader who is a blank slate on the subject.
Reading the graphic-novel biography took only a few days. I spent far more time reading through the 26 pages of Bagge's *tiny* notes that flesh out the comic episodes with archival photographs, stories, and even some gossip. The notes are permeated with a joyful, breezy style with lots of exclamation points, italics, and caps, calling Langston Hughes a "doofus" and including tidbits that did not make it into the body of the book, such as Hurston's creation (with a white friend) of a black "Sara Lee" baby doll that was supported by Eleanor Roosevelt and ultimately manufactured by Ideal Toy Company. Bagge's commentary made me want to read the Hurston works that I have missed (of which there are too many) and talk with Bagge about them over a beer.
There has been some criticism of Bagge because he is a white man taking a biography of a black woman and/or that he is employing some kind of revisionism to make Hurston seem less of a feminist or her politics more ambiguous. I didn't know Hurston and have not done any kind of extensive research on her, but it seems to me that Bagge was inspired by her complex ambiguities rather than selecting a black, feminist icon and saying, "let's see if I can make a Libertarian out of her!" Nah. I don't think he would do that. I think he loves Hurston too much to mess with her story.