Friday, January 20, 2012


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Maud Martha, Gwendolyn Brooks, Harper & Brothers, 1953, 180 pp

I learned about Maud Martha from Elaine Showalter's excellent overview of American women writers, A Jury of Her Peers. Gwendolyn Brooks was primarily a poet and this was her only novel.

The novel is short, composed of vignettes in Maud Martha's life from childhood through courting, marriage and motherhood. The tone is lighthearted but Brooks spares no aspect of what life was really like for a young black woman in 1950s Chicago.

The writing is indeed poetic; in fact consummately so. She tells it to us, without censure or preaching, but man, do we get it: black, female, mother and wife. So well done.

(Maud Martha is available in paperback by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore. To find it in your nearest indie bookstore, click on the cover image above.)

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