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The Wind Done Gone: A Novel Hardcover – June, 2001
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From Library Journal
Think of Margaret Mitchell's epic Gone with the Wind condensed and told from the perspectives of Mammy and the Tara slaves, and you have Randall's debut novel. This sometimes cryptic but always fascinating story is narrated by Cynara (also Cinnamon or Cindi), the daughter of a slave and a white plantation owner. As the story unfolds, we learn of Cynara's hatred of the white half-sister she calls Other and the privileges bestowed upon Other yet denied Cynara even though they are raised side by side. Both sisters vie for the attentions of Mammy (Cynara's mother and Other's nanny) as children, and for the love of the same man as adults. Through the eyes of Cynara and the other now freed slaves, we get unique perspectives of life on a Southern plantation and of the Reconstruction era. Randall, an established country songwriter, uses language and idiom to haunting and poetic effect. Fans of Toni Morrison's Beloved will enjoy this well-written historical fiction. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/15/01; a trust for Margaret Mitchell's heirs has filed an injunction to stop this book's publication as a violation of copyright. Ed.] Karen Traynor, Sullivan Free Lib., Chittenango, N.
- Karen Traynor, Sullivan Free Lib., Chittenango, NY
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Randall's brilliant first novel tells some of what Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind left untold about the racial underbelly of southern gentility. Cynara is Scarlett O'Hara's half-sister, the child of Captain O'Hara and Mammy, before she made herself sexually unavailable under her enormous weight. Cynara's diary of life as a mulatto at Tara and during Reconstruction reveals jealousy, resentment, hypocrisy, well-guarded family secrets, and personal redemption. She writes of her transformation from resentful slave to independent-minded woman, recalling especially her father's treachery as, unable to bear freeing her, he sells her away from her home to avoid her inevitable fate as bedmate to Scarlett's husband. Yet, through a twist of fate, Cynara ends up in a brothel frequented by Rhett Butler. In Randall's South, slaves aren't childish simpletons but clever manipulators with much more depth and texture of character than Mitchell allowed them in her portrayal of a South without racial brutality and miscegenation. Through Cynara, Randall speaks poignantly for those habitually forgotten or silenced in the history of the Old South. She risks being silenced herself, however, for the trust that owns the copyright for Gone with the Wind is suing to block publication of The Wind Done Gone, and a trust attorney has accused Randall of "wholesale theft of major characters."
Editor's note: As Booklist goes to press, it has been announced that a federal district court in Atlanta has granted an injunction blocking publication of Randall's novel. Houghton Mifflin will appeal the injunction. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Well, I have finished Randall's book and, sad to say, this is not the book that "repaired" Mitchell's fantasy. Slow in pacing, confusingly organized, and hurt by the first person narrative style, the novel, like others have stated, is not a true parody. It is, however, one to be read and discussed for it does present another perspective, albeit, like the original, the "view" is slightly flawed.
A better "parody" is the classic skit from the "Carol Burnett Show" entitled "Went with the Wind." Vicki Lawrence's turn as "Cissy," the slave who "knows nothing about birthin' no babies" had more bite than Randall's novel.
I was hoping for more from this one.
Unfortunately, this great idea is wasted because Randall is utterly lacking in talent. The thing that immediately bothered me about TWDG is the extraordinarily poor use of dialect. One sentence has the main character narrating in perfect grammar with strong vocabulary and then in the next sentence she's all "he do dat" and "me go sleep." Randall should have picked one voice for her main character and stuck with it. This alone represents terrible hack writing, but I must go on and say something about the (snicker) "plot."
The plot, which should be subversive and controversial, fails to rise above the trashy romance novel level, and the (I think they're supposed to be shocking) sex scenes wouldn't shock anyone except my Amish Aunt Minnie. I actually laughed out loud several times as I read them because I pictured Clark Gable/Rhett Butler saying some of this ridiculous dialogue.
The plot here is so flaccid that Randall inadvertently undermines her own book. The white characters remain more interesting than any of the black characters. This despite the fact Randall gives them tons of dirty linen to air in an obvious (and pathetic) attempt to make them interesting. Her black characters are non-entities, which I believe was her beef with Mitchell in the first place....right?!
As a result, by writing TWDG, Randall is only spray painting a nasty word on the castle walls of GWTW when what she needed to do was bulldoze the original, dance gleefully on its grave, and create something very powerful in its place. But that would take a skilled writer, and Randall just doesn't have the goods.
"Taking on" GWTW is a great idea, especially to stir up discussion around issues of racism and slavery in our country and our history. However, to do an idea like that justice requires a talented author (i.e., not Alice Randall). Maybe Toni Morrison should take this on? I'd read that!