Thursday, December 24, 2015

Spin Review of The Known World

The Known World by Edward P. Jones

The Pulitzer Prize winning novel of 2004, set in the years prior to the Civil War in fictional Manchester County, Virginia, describes the rich tapestry of characters and events that take place after the death of black slave owner, Henry Townsend.  Purchased out of slavery during his youth by his parents, Townsend goes on to later purchase land near his former master, with whom he retains ties of esteem throughout his entire brief life.  Educated by a local freed-woman teacher so light-skinned she could go north to “pass,” Townsend does not follow the path of his free father, but rather purchases slaves to become a master himself.


Throughout the novel, Jones unflinchingly reveals the little known history of black on black slave ownership, as well as the subtle racism of lighter skinned versus darker skinned blacks.  Townsend’s widow, Caldonia, is beset by the pressures of running a plantation in the antebellum south, without the full backing of the law, which only supports freed blacks when it is convenient to do so.  Jones’ depiction of the lives of the Townsend slaves, as well as those of the local sheriff and slave catchers, creates a compelling tale that masterfully weaves in and out of time and place with touches of the surreal.  Things do not always develop as one might expect in Manchester County, some people are better than you would think, and others behave very badly indeed, and sometimes the crazy are proved to understand it best of all.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Spin #19 - The Known World

Oh no, I tried reading that one before and gave up!  I'll have to try much harder this time.

The Known World is by Edward P. Jones, and won the 2004 Pulitzer Prize winner.  It is my lucky #19, which I will endeavor to read before February 1, 2016.  Wish me luck.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Spin List for December 2015

Here is my spin list for December 2015.  All titles are taken from my list of 50 in 5 years.  I eliminated most of the books I did not think I could complete in a single month, though some of these would be really challenging as well.

  1. "Prometheus Bound" by Aeschylus, 14 pp., c. 480 BC
  2. "Medea", "Electra", "The Orestes", "Andromache" 
    • & "Iphigenia Among the Tauri"
  3. "The Clouds", "The Birds", "The Frogs" & "The Lysistrata" 
    • by Aristophanes
  4. The History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides, 244 pp.
  5. The Annals by Tacitus, 188 pp., c. 109 AD
  6. The Confessions by St. Augustine, 128 pp., 398 AD
  7. King Henry the Fourth by Shakespeare, 69 pp., 1596
  8. King Lear by Shakespeare, 1608
  9. Pensees by Pascal, 184 pp., 1670
  10. The Social Contract by Rousseau, 52 pp., 1762
  11. Faust by Goethe, 294 pp., 1808
  12. The Essays of Emerson, 262 pp., 1841
  13. Barchester Towers by Trollope, 476 pp., 1857
  14. Middlemarch by Elliot, 831 pp., 1871
  15. Anna Karenina by Tolstoy, 935 pp., 1875
  16. Sons and Lovers by Lawrence, 366 pp., 1913
  17. Brave New World by Huxley, 237 pp., 1932
  18. The Reivers by Faulkner, 305 pp, 1962
  19. The Known World by Jones, 388 pp., 2003
  20. The Sea by Banville, 195 pp., 2005