Here I am, once again, trying to write something of value. I have just begun Zora Neal Hurston's" Their Eyes Were watching God" and I realize how inadequate my own writing is. My ability to catch a phrase, to use a metaphor, is quiescent. It seldom breaks the surface of my consciousness. Metaphors that I love to read never occur to me. I suppose they wouldn't be so striking if I had already thought of them. Still, Hurston's ability to frame a mood is exquisite. Her words make me pause to dip into their thickness, into their warmth or coolness depending on the mood of each. It is a wonderment to me that any mind can produce such beauty, such exact truth about the condition of the human mind.
Let me offer you one of her metaphoric personifications from page 1. "The sun was gone, but he had left his footprints in the sky." How many times have you looked at the early evening sky and seen this precisely? Have you ever thought of describing it in such a way? And what does this description portend for the hero of this story? Immediately, Hurston catches our attention, makes us wonder.
Oh, I know, it's just my English teacher self - - pontificating. But I feel like I have discovered a pearl surrounded by the ugly, grey, slimy body of an oyster or dug an opal from the trackless wastes of western Queensland, buried in the red soil with the dead salt bush and spinifex grasses hiding it from sight.
I wanted to share with you all that not since Michael Ondaatje's "English Patient" have I found in the literature of the 20th century such jewels. If you haven't gone on safari into the wilds of Hurston, you may wish to take the time to accompany me on my journey.