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Book Title: Soul Clap Hands and Sing|
The author of the book: Paule Marshall
Date of issue: January 1st 1986
ISBN 13: 9780882581552
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 576 KB
Edition: Howard University Press
Read full description of the books Soul Clap Hands and Sing:Published in 1961, this book includes four short stories that, at least at first glance, appear to share a common theme: an older man is forced by the presence of a younger woman to confront his belief that he has failed to measure up. Except that, on reflection, the stories are more varied and therefore more complicated than that. In the first, a (relatively) wealthy black coconut plantation owner in Barbados cannot deal with the out-of-reach sexuality of the young woman working as his housekeeper. In the second, a Jewish college professor previously driven from teaching by a red scare makes an inexcusable pass at a black summer student. After rejecting his sexual interest, she spends a Saturday visiting his upstate farm, leaving him feeling defeated while she awakens to her power to shape her own life. In the third story, an alcoholic manager of a minor radio station is confronted by the lover he drove away years before and forced to admit that he is a closeted gay man. In the last, a dwarf reaching the end of a successful vaudeville career in Brazil worries that he will lose his sense of self after he leaves the stage, and becomes abusive to his young pregnant wife and also to his mistress and stage partner.
What unites the men in these stories is not just their gender and age, but also that they have all suffered forms of oppression and rejection - for race, for religious and political belief, for sexual orientation, for size. Most of them are far out of bounds in their treatment of women - the gay man is perhaps an exception - but the stories imply a complex relationship between the harm they've experienced and the harm they do. In tone, these stories remind me of James Tiptree's 'Houston, Houston, Do You Read?', which also examines male identity stripped of privilege; there, the characters collapse in similar ways, becoming morally judgmental, sexually aggressive, or simply violent. Both authors present and dissect their characters (in these particular stories) without much compassion for them.
Read information about the authorPaule Marshall was born Valenza Pauline Burke in Brooklyn to Barbadian parents and educated at Brooklyn College (1953) and Hunter College (1955).
Marshall has taught at Virginia Commonwealth University, the University of California, Berkeley, the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and Yale University before holding the Helen Gould Sheppard Chair of Literature and Culture at New York University. In 1993 she received an honorary L.H.D. from Bates College. She lives in Richmond, VA.
She is a MacArthur Fellow and is a past winner of the Dos Passos Prize for Literature. In 2009, She received the Anisfield-Wolf Lifetime Achievement Award.
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