Thursday, September 7, 2006

Juneteenth by Ralph Ellison

I had this book in my hand at the used book store. I almost bought it with the gift certificate I had been given. But I finally decided against it and went with The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt instead. So when I saw it in the audiobook section of the public library, I said, hey, great, I’ll give that a try. I am so sorry I did. Let me try to explain.

Ralph Ellison’s first novel was Invisible Man, which I remember reading, and don’t remember much else about except that I found it somewhat tedious and dull. Juneteenth is his second and only other novel, which he spent the last forty years of his life writing and never truly finished. He worked and reworked the text countless times, constantly striving to make it perfect, to make it the perfect reflection of his indescribable thoughts about the history of race in America. This beautiful, creative, intelligent man, spent forty years of his life writing this novel, and it now resides in the illustrious position in my library as the only book I ever started and could not finish. My god, I consider it an achievement just getting through Chapter 2. Hey, Ralph. Next time, try to limit yourself to two drafts. Jeesh.

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