Friday, April 11, 2008
You've Got to Read This
Cress Delahanty, by Jessamyn West. I have a friend who works at a magazine, and sometimes she gives me review copies of books that publishers send her. She handed me this book and said "we never review fiction, but it seems like something you might like." Most of the books she gives me are new, but this book was first published in 1945 and had been out of print for a while, until The Feminist Press at the City University of New York republished it in 2006. Most of the books she passes along to me are barely readable, but this one was enchanting. It takes place in rural California in the 1940s. The protaganist is a teenage girl named Cress. The book is written in 16 sections--you could call them chapters, if you want to think of the book as a novel, or you could call them short stories, if you want to read the sections as seperate pieces. When I started reading I kept wondering how something so good could be so unknown. I had never heard of Jessamyn West until the day I picked up the book, and I started to doubt myself. Maybe it wasn't really that good? Maybe I was missing some serious flaw in the writing? That sounds silly, but I couldn't understand why this book wasn't being taught in literature classes across the country. It should be at least a minor classic. Read it and let me know what you think! If you know me, you can borrow my copy.