cover image Gathering Blossoms Under Fire: The Journals of Alice Walker, 1965–2000

Gathering Blossoms Under Fire: The Journals of Alice Walker, 1965–2000

Edited by Valerie Boyd. Simon & Schuster, $37.50 (560p) ISBN 978-1-4767-7315-5

Over three decades of journal entries from Pulitzer Prize-winner Alice Walker come together in this impressive compendium. Things start off with Walker as a university student, having just moved to Sarah Lawrence University in the Bronx from Spelman College in Atlanta, before chronicling her courtship with and eventual marriage to civil rights lawyer Melvyn Rosenman Leventhal. The entries offer an intimate take on the breakdown of their marriage, which Walker describes as one of boredom (“I can’t think now of anything unexpected Mel has said to me in the last year”). Alongside personal struggles come illuminating encounters with other major literary figures: Langston Hughes was Walker’s “friend and mentor,” Ishmael Reed criticized her writing, and Toni Morrison made her “a little jealous? A little envious? Probably.” Walker meticulously documents her own questions and doubts about writing, as well: “Why is it we always feel embarrassed by what we write?” Taken together, the entries offer a moving look at Walker’s process and milieu; as editor Boyd poignantly writes in the introduction, the journals are “both a deeply personal journey and an intimate history of our time.” Walker’s fans are in for a treat. Agent: Joy Harris, Joy Harris Literary Agency. (Apr.)