I have wanted to read a book by J. California Cooper for the longest. This particular book has been sitting in my wish list, then TBR pile since forever and a day. A couple of my bookhearts (Vern and Cassandra) have encouraged my reading this author. What better time to try a new African American author than during Black History Month? So I finally picked up and started reading Life is Short but Wide.
The story is told from different perspectives. Overall, it is about love. That "hard-to-find, hard-to-get, hard-to-keep" type of love. Ninety-one-year-old Mrs. Hattie B. Brown is the narrator. To use Hattie's accurate description of the story, it is in the shape of the letter "Y." Two lives move down into one life. A Native American falls in love with a woman. They marry and have two daughters. One daughter gets a degree and moves to Paris. The other daughter stays in their hometown and teaches children. Another family story is parallel and eventually comes together.
OMGosh, author J. California Cooper drops jewels! She writes tidbits of knowledge within fiction narrative. Well crafted! The story itself was just okay, but I really looked forward to the statements about life that would cleverly appear within a paragraph. The kind that makes you take a sip of your sweet tea, lean over and whisper to a friend, "Did you catch that?" I have so many highlighted passages! (Check back here tomorrow for a separate blog post of JCC quotes.)
The characters were believable, especially if you or your family are from the South. And we all know people who would argue with God if you let them. I quickly picked up the characters' dialogue and even found myself speaking southern in real life conversations, using phrases like "Hush, chile" and "My my my" and "Yes'm."
In Hattie's words, "It's a good story, but you have to pay attention." If you are already a J. California Cooper fan, you understand what I'm talking about. If not, YOU BETTER GET INTO HER QUOTES! It is evident why Cooper was honored as Black Playwright of the Year and rightfully received the James Baldwin Writing Award and Literary Lion Award.