Review

Speak, So You Can Speak Again: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston

by Lucy Anne Hurston



In 2003, fans and scholars of Zora Neale Hurston's work were given
the invaluable opportunity to rediscover this writer's life and
authorial genius through a much-awaited collection of her letters.
This year, that same audience is treated to another book of
admittedly different purpose and scope. Comprising only 39 pages of
text, Lucy Anne Hurston's SPEAK, SO YOU CAN SPEAK AGAIN offers a
concise and compassionate portrait of Zora Neale Hurston as a
gifted writer, a dedicated anthropologist, an impetuous lover, a
reticent maid and, perhaps most of all, a fierce and uncompromising
individual. Therefore, this book provides the novice with a clear
and accessible digest of Hurston that will then, ideally, enable
one to conduct further, more in-depth investigation.

But what really distinguishes SPEAK, SO YOU CAN SPEAK AGAIN from a
run-of-the-mill digest are its many valuable reproductions of
photographs, contemporary reviews, and handwritten manuscripts. All
of these cherished documents are either laid out clearly on every
over-sized page, or are folded carefully into a sewn envelope
attached to the page. Whether one examines a duplication of the
author's handwritten chapter "Love" from DUST TRACKS ON A ROAD, or
studies the hand-penned poem of the same title, or thrills to see
"John Redding Goes to Sea" as it looked in the May 1921 issue of
The Stylus magazine, SPEAK, SO YOU CAN SPEAK AGAIN provides all
readers of all levels with a fascinating glimpse of the material
evidence of a by-gone era.

If, as an armchair historian of Hurston's life and work, I
discovered little in the text that I didn't already know and
occasionally (as in the case of Zora's artist-patron relationship
with Charlotte Osgood Mason), noted a need for development, I was
nonetheless graced with so many precious artifacts from the Hurston
estate. There is even a CD attached to the inside cover where one
can hear the author being interviewed, reading from various
excerpts of her work and performing her legendary "crow
dance."

In its dimensions and design, then, Lucy Hurston's literary
biography of her Aunt Zora is as much a scrapbook/photo album as it
is a sympathetic summary of one of America's most cherished
writers.

Reviewed by Tony Leuzzi, Monroe Community College on January 23, 2011

Speak, So You Can Speak Again: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston
by Lucy Anne Hurston

  • Publication Date: October 19, 2004
  • Genres: Literary Criticism, Nonfiction
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday
  • ISBN-10: 0385493754
  • ISBN-13: 9780385493758