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Thursday, June 01, 2017

The Temple of My Familiar (1989) by Alice Walker

Book Review
The Temple of My Familiar (1989)
by Alice Walker

    There is a fairly typical, pan-artistic discipline career path followed by artists who achieve a significant combination of critical and popular success in the mid to late 20th century:  The breakthrough work is typically conventional, but something that brings new life to the form.  After that, the artist rebels against the early success.  Musicians start side projects, or change their sound.  Authors create pseudonyms or publish works that radically push against what is "acceptable" within the form at the time.  Studio artists switch art forms or abandon successful themes.  Continuing to mine the veins that brought you initial success is frowned upon among communities of successful artists.

  The Temple of My Familiar is a good example of an author taking flight after publishing a career defining hit.  The Temple of My Familiar contains a multitude of plots and characters, and delves deeply into past life and recovered memory theory, while containing characters of (almost) all races and genders.  I wouldn't call it a masterpiece, but it is a very interesting book for those interested in the mind of Alice Walker.  Walker was never "just" a novelist- her career spanned journalism and academia.  Before she struck gold with The Color Purple, she almost single-handedly revived the memory of early African-American writer Zora Neale Hurston (she literally uncovered her unmarked grave in Florida.)

   Walker also directly addresses the irrational hatred of whites by African Americans, though she attempts to explain it away by using recovered memory instead of copping to what is essentially a rational attitude for any African American (I don't agree with it, I just understand the why.)

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