Saturday, 27 August 2016

NOW IN NOVEMBER by Josephine Johnson

This won the Pulitzer in 1934, when the author was 24. It was her first novel. Can you imagine? I haven’t read any of her other eleven novels, but I think we can rest assured that the rest of her writing life was basically one long case of that-difficult-second-album.

The book tells the story of a family who are impoverished during the Great Depression and have to move out of the city. They end up as small scale farmers, and the novel covers a long and terrible period of drought. It is a stark reminder of how brutal agriculture is, and what a miracle food can be.

It’s an extraordinarily lyrical novel of the natural world and I veered wildly between loving and hating it. Here’s an example: “In the thought and strangeness of self we could spend hours as traveling through a labyrinth, and it was a riddle sufficient in those day to keep the mind quick and seeking, hungry and never fed; and in the mystery of the turnip, you forgot the turnip leaf”

What? Anyway, an interesting reminder of what hard work actually is, and of the value of rain. Probably useful for me to think about as I head into the London winter.

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