Monday, March 16, 2015

Dust Tracks On a Road: An Autobiography by Zora Neale Hurston


Dust Tracks On a Road, Zora Neale Hurston’s autobiography, was published in 1942. This verbose but colorful book reads like a collection of short stories. Hurston often poses questions that she proceeds to answer but not without excluding the reader from her thought process. Sometimes by the end of the chapter the questions are still unanswered. But for Hurston it seems just thinking through it was enough. And so goes her autobiography.

Hurston always had a fanciful way about herself. We find out early in the book that she was a storyteller from the beginning. A significant portion of the book is dedicated to stories that she recalls from her childhood. While Hurston’s mother was always supportive of her anecdotes, her grandmother found them troubling. I laughed when I read Hurston’s account of what happened when she was telling her mother a story within earshot of her grandmother, “Oh, she’s just playing,” Mama said indulgently. Her grandmother replied, “Playing! Why dat lil’ heifer is lying just as fast as a horse can trot. Stop her!”


Hurston’s mother died when Hurston was a teen and her father remarried. She found her stepmother impossible to get along with. They had physical altercations with Hurston admitting at one point that she wanted to kill the woman. After six years, Hurston had had enough. This discontentment is was caused her to venture out into the world. Things serendipitously fall into place for her time after time once she sets out on her own. She even writes, “From the depth of my inner heart I appreciated the fact that the world had not been altogether unkind to Mama’s child.”

Filled with quotable material, Dust Tracks On a Road is less about the chronology of Hurston’s life and more about how she makes sense of the cards life has dealt.

“But his looks only drew my eyes in the beginning. I did not fall in love with him just for that. He had a fine mind and that intrigued me. When a man keeps beating me to the draw mentally, he begins to get glamorous.”

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1 comment:

Didi said...

Love the way you wrote this post! Reading it has made me realize I need to reread Their Eyes Were Watching god and to finally put Dust Tracks on a Road on my TBR this year. So many books.....