cover image The Same River Twice: Honoring the Difficult

The Same River Twice: Honoring the Difficult

Alice Walker. Scribner Book Company, $24 (304pp) ISBN 978-0-684-81419-3

Walker's latest book finds the Pulitzer Prize-winning author still grappling with criticism of the film version of her novel The Color Purple. She continues to defend her depiction of an abusive black man as well as her decision to use Steven Spielberg as director. But now she also recognizes the project as a creative watershed. Walker's memoir pieces together assorted journal entries, magazine clippings, occasional photographs and even her original screenplay to form an intimate scrapbook of the period. We witness one of the seminal gatherings in Hollywood history: the original meeting of Walker, Spielberg and producer/musician Quincy Jones, and we watch their collaboration unfold. Walker discusses the fortuitous casting of Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey, who have evolved into two of the few female Hollywood powers. Yet Walker's recollections include few other voices. This makes for a perspective uncomfortably lopsided in parts. Also Walker's preoccupation with her old critics seems unnecessary and somewhat dated. However, the book wonderfully illuminates Walker's ``born-again pagan'' spirit and her boundless passion for the characters she creates and the audience she serves. (Jan.)