Triangular Road: A Memoir

Paule Marshall, Author . Basic $23 (165p) ISBN 978-0-465-01359-3

This elegant, passionate, elliptical memoir of self-exploration and revelation transports the reader well beyond its origins as a series of Harvard lectures. The title is an allusion to novelist and MacArthur fellow Marshall's (The Fisher King ) geographic, intellectual and emotional triangulation among the peoples and locales that shaped her—Barbados and Grenada; the Bajan community of Brooklyn; and Africa. Marshall begins with a 1965 State Department–sponsored tour of Europe in the company of her idol, Langston Hughes, when she was a young author and civil rights activist. The book continues as a meditation on “Bodies of Water” (the theme of the original lecture series) as diverse as the James River, the principal port of entry for African slaves in the 18th century, and the Caribbean. Among other personal stories that give her book artistic flair are Marshall's early encounter with the redoubtable editor Hiram Haydn; her disturbing experience with another editor, who was giddy over her upcoming tour of a Virginia plantation (“Our association ended shortly thereafter,” Marshall writes drily); and her father's odd devotion to Father Divine. When the USIS again taps Marshall, this time for a mission to Nigeria, the reception she and other U.S. representatives elicit from some of their hosts—welcome combined with shame over their ancestors' complicity in the slave trade—is revelatory. 6 illus. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 12/22/2008
Release date: 03/01/2009
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 165 pages - 978-0-465-01922-9
Open Ebook - 177 pages - 978-0-7867-4421-3
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