"Take no heed of her...She reads a lot of books."
~Jasper Fforde

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Oxherding Tale

I've just finished reading Oxherding Tale (Charles Johnson), for my African American Literature class....and I must say, it was quite an experience. We approached the book from a completely different angle than I normally would; namely, we tore the book apart, analyzing every little detail and countering every argument we proposed with another. Everything had two answers; it could be this, but it could also be that. I was fascinated.

Another big thing this professor stressed was to "destroy those virgin pages" (or, in my humble opinion, RAPE those virgin pages).....Basically, write all over them. That was really hard for me...I couldn't believe he expected me to write all over my books, to leave notes in the margins and smears of yellow highlighter over passages and quotes. But, after I got past the initial stress of the situation, I really started to enjoy it....A lot. That's not to say I'm going to write in all my books, but it makes it a lot easier to understand and focus on things in the class if I allow myself to write on the pages.

Oxherding Tale was a fascinating experience. I'm going to have to read it again, because there is so much that I have missed, but I feel like I've also picked up on a lot. I know that I would never have gotten this experience if it wasn't for my professor. He brought the book to life; which is what a good professor does, right? ;)

Oxherding Tale is the story of Andrew, a slave with a black father and a white mother. Because of his mixed blood, he is able to pass for white, so he escapes from slavery and tries to make a name for himself. The book carries a weird, almost ethereal quality to it, like a dream at parts. One character in particular seemed to fade in and out of reality; at times, it was hard to tell if he was even a real person or the incarnation of some dark force. This is the Horace Bannon the bounty hunter, also known as "The Soulcatcher".

There is not a lot I can say about Bannon without giving stuff away, but this is a book you should definitely, read. Just make sure to give yourself the time to read it before you do. It's a book that deserves your time and attention, and needs you to look it over bit by bit. If for nothing else, read it for Soulcatcher....he fascinated me throughout the novel.


  1. I too have a hangup about writing on pages or dog earing them either for that matter but I know in my heart that books are meant to be used to bring them to life. I am delighted when I find a used book with notes, names, dedications and opinions. That book has had a life and I am as much interested in that as I am in the story it has to tell.

  2. Cool. Thanks for taking me to class with you.

  3. O.F., I totally agree with you there. I have a copy of The Old Man and the Sea that I got at a used book sale, and its FULL of wonderful quotes, ideas, and notes. I haven't had the chance to really delve into it, so I'm saving it for the summer.

    Steven, its always a pleasure to share my class experiencs with you ^_^

  4. I LOVE writing in my books. It makes them so much more personal and then I can remember the thoughts and insights I had when I read them the first time. I'm glad you're enjoying your classes. It makes me miss having a great literary discussion every day!


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