Escaping the Heat with Sula
Updated: Oct 1
Can 2020 be over yet? It’s 102 degrees outside. My entire state is on fire. And the presidential debate last night was possibly the worst thing I’ve ever seen or heard, which the media repeatedly compared to a dumpster fire.
I can’t take the heat, but this kitchen has no exit.
That’s not to say there’s no escape. *Insert cliche about books transporting you to new worlds.* But really, if I didn’t have books to read I would probably be… drawing and playing piano… exercising compulsively… cleaning my apartment. In other words, using every tool I have to cope.
Though reading is just one of a handful of my coping resources, it’s one I’m especially thankful for. Reading doesn’t just make my life better, it also challenges me to grow.
This week I read Sula by Toni Morrison for the Reading Women Challenge. I have been putting off this category all year because Morrison’s writing is heavy and literary, making it neither fun nor easy. Sula is about two Black women, Nel and Sula, who grow up together and lead divergent adult lives. It was confusing and sad, and as soon as I finished it I realized I need to give this book more effort and reflection to make it worth my while.
This is what reading challenges are all about: they coax you to read books you wouldn’t normally choose for yourself that push you and change you. When I’ve read a difficult book, I check for author interviews on podcasts. If it’s a classic, I’m not above using Sparknotes. So what if it feels a little like school? I’m stuck in this stupid hot 2020 kitchen and I’d love to feel as if I’m anywhere else—even the pages of a tough strange book.
It’s Wednesday, so you know the drill: I list the word, its sentence/context, definition, and a sentence written by me with the word in it. Challenge yourself to use the words in conversation this week!
If this tall, proud woman, this woman who was very particular about her friends, who slipped into church with unequal elegance, who could quell a roustabout with a look, if she were really custard, then there was a chance that Nel was too” (22).
Noun: an unskilled or casual laborer
- a laborer on an oil rig
- a dock laborer or deckhand
- a circus laborer
The roustabout stopped the Ferris wheel when we reached the top.
“‘Even when you buyin’ his fish he’s cussin’. If you ain’t got the right change he cussin’ you. If you act like a fish ain’t too fresh he snatch it out of your hand like he doin’ you the favor.’
‘Well, everybody know he a reprobate’” (117).
Noun: an unprincipled person (often used humorously or affectionately).
“The Little Reprobates” just doesn’t have the same ring as The Little Rascals, though they have similar meanings.
“He did not speak down to her or at her, nor content himself with puerile questions about her life or monologues of his own activities” (127-8).
Adjective: childishly silly and trivial.
Yes, I have a toy cat, and yes, I make clothes for her, but no, I’m not puerile.