Short Stories All the Time

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... a few of my thoughts about 900, mostly contemporary, short stories.
Showing posts with label Toomer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Toomer. Show all posts

31 August, 2016

Jean Toomer, "Bona and Paul"

Bona Hale and Paul Johnson are attracted to each other. They are both training to become teachers in South-side of Chicago in 1918. The story begins with drills in the gymnasium and then a basketball game of boys against girls. Bona is fascinated by the exotic-ness of Paul. Paul's roommate, Art, "knows" that Paul is "passing." There are rumors. The couples go on a double date, Art and Helen with Bona and Paul, to Crimson Gardens with jazz music. Paul says Bona will know something of him by the end of the evening. "You will--before the evening's over. I promise it." However, Bona disappears while Paul dashes back inside to tell the doorman that he is wrong.

Jean Toomer, "Blood-Burning Moon"

The story, "Blood-Burning Moon," is told in third-person POV and shifts between Louisa, Bob Stone, and Tom Burwell, then zooms out to the mob. Louisa walks home from the white family's house where she works and is perplexed which man, Bob Stone, white, or Tom Burwell, black, is causing her stir of emotions and sexual urgings. The men each learn of the possible relationship of the other and a fight ensues. Tom kills Bob. The white mob lynches Tom.

The story was selected for inclusion in The Best Short Stories of 1923, edited by Edward J. O'Brien. "Blood-Burning Moon" is part of Jean Toomer's hybrid story, Cane. It is a mixture of poetry, drama, and short story. Cane was first published in 1923, as well. My 2011 copy has a lengthy essay about Jean Toomer and his life as well as his thoughts on race as a social construct. "Toomer would soon come to realize the limitations of his own power to shape the manner in which he would be perceived and defined by others, notwithstanding the appeal of his person and personality, and his great confidence in his ability to explain and to rationalize himself." from the Afterword by Rudolph P. Byrd and Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Jean Toomer, Wikipedia page
I bought my copy of Cane in Lemuria Bookstore in Jackson, Mississippi, a wonderful bookstore.