The Chicken Chronicles: Sitting with the Angels Who Have Returned with My Memories: Glorious, Rufus, Gertrude Stein, Splendor, Hortensia, Agnes of God, the Gladyses & Babe: A Memoir

Alice Walker. New Press (Perseus, dist.), $21.95 (208 p) ISBN 978-1-59558-645-2
Writers must imagine their audience. This seems a fundamental enough concept, particularly for a Pulitzer Prize winner like Walker (The Color Purple). The intended reader of these 37 chronicles, however, feels rather murky. At least that is, until it becomes clear that Walker is addressing her chickens. Beyond referring to herself in the third person as "mommy"—that would be the chickens' mommy—Walker describes a trip to India, confesses her "impatience" with and "withdrawal" from the original hens after new chickens arrive, and writes a poem in honor of Michael Jackson for her chickens, all with the tone and depth with which we typically address our pets or infants, which is to say the insipid baby-talk that no other human should have to hear, nor read. The title promises something intriguing—Walker's memories perhaps. Instead, the banal day-to-day is made even more simplistic for the sake of the "girls." Most readers would have been interested in Walker's thoughts on Gandhi or the Dalai Lama, but unfortunately these passages, like the others, remain insufferable. This time Walker's talking to her chickens and her chickens alone. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/21/2011
Release date: 05/01/2011
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