cover image Living by the Word: Selected Writings, 1973-1987

Living by the Word: Selected Writings, 1973-1987

Alice Walker. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P, $15.95 (196pp) ISBN 978-0-15-152900-1

An uneasy mix of journal entries, short essays, travel notes, speeches and dream fragments, this miscellany by the author of The Color Purple is most satisfying when Walker relates small personal victories. She explains why she refuses to cut her hair short, draws closer in spirit to her dead father, condemns cigarette smoking as ""self-battering'' and praises vegetarianism as a means to nurture the planet. Part Cherokee, she upholds Native Americans as guardians of the earth who have much to teach us. Elsewhere, when she attacks ``racist and sexist oppression, puritanism and greed,'' rhetorical gesture tends to stand in for sustained analysis, and the writing becomes predictable. Pointed pieces deal with the modern dilution of black folklore, controversy surrounding the film version of The Color Purple, nuclear escalation, homophobia and the massacre of the radical MOVE group in Philadelphia. (May)