The Way Forward Is with a Broken Heart

Alice Walker, Author Random House (NY) $23.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-679-45587-5
HIn 13 affectionate stories, Walker (The Color Purple; By the Light of My Father's Smile) reflects on the nature of passion and friendship, pondering the emotional trajectories of lives and loves. Some of the pieces are directly autobiographical, as Walker explains in her preface. ""To My Young Husband"" is about her marriage as a young woman to a Jewish civil rights lawyer and their difficult but mostly happy decade in Mississippi and Brooklyn. Many years later, telling her daughter the story of the marriage, Walker wonders how she and her ex-husband, once so close, could have become such strangers. Other stories are ""mostly fiction, but with a definite thread of having come out of a singular life."" Old hurts are soothed in ""Olive Oil,"" in which Orelia learns to trust her husband, John, and not visit the sins of the past upon him. In ""The Brotherhood of the Saved,"" Hannah, the lesbian narrator, confronts the bigotry of religion and attempts to save her relationship with her mother, whose fundamentalist church is urging her to ostracize her daughter. A trip to a screening of Deep Throat gets the older woman and two of her friends talking about sex, but true acceptance proves more elusive. Infusing her intimate tales with grace and humor, Walker probes hidden corners of the human experience, at once questioning and acknowledging sexual, racial and cultural rifts. Though a few stories tip into self-indulgence and read less like fiction than personal testimony, this is nonetheless a strong, moving collection. A common theme runs throughoutDwe are all obliged to love and be loved, no matter how blind, inexpert or troublesome we may be. 100,000 first printing; 8-city author tour. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/02/2000
Release date: 10/01/2000
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