Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick
“Zora Neale Hurston’s (Their Eyes Were Watching God, Barracoon) body of work continues to grow and impress. In Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick, 21 short stories, including several “lost” pieces depicting the Great Migration to northern cities and Harlem’s educated New Negro middle class, offer an updated perspective of Hurston’s Harlem Renaissance-era cultural commentary. These stories, written in the 1920s and 30s, explore toxic masculinity and women’s agency, urban vs. rural class representations, colorism/shadeism, identity politics, and the intersectionality of race, class, age, and gender in a way that remains relevant today. And, by using humor, folklore, and her unique combination of delicate prose and vernacular speech, Hurston also has written thoroughly engaging slices-of-life, always centering Black characters, from a very specific time period. To fully appreciate Hurston’s stories, Tayari Jones (An American Marriage) recommends in her foreword, “reading this work aloud, enjoying the feel of the words in your mouth, and the sound of English tightened and strummed like the strings of a banjo.””BrocheAroe,
River Dog Book Co.