No Telling Where a Book Can Lead You
About a year ago I began reading a book called, Dancing In The Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression. The author is Morris Dickstein. For those of you who are talking book readers, the book number is DB71956
This book started me down an amazing journey with a surprise ending. Well, the journey is probably far from over.
I have been enjoying books from the first half of the 20th centurey for years. This book gave me a path to follow. I was introduced to new authors such as Richard Wright and James Agee and learned more about old favorites like Steinbeck and Upton Sinclair. By the way, did you know Sinclair wrote a wonderful book about the Civil War? Manassas: A Novel of the War book number DB63949
This, by the way, is also a great book.
I spent over six months taking detours through books that I had never read and authors I had never tried or I had only read the obvious books they had written. I learned who inspired who. William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dyeing inspired Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath. They were both considered great road books. I learned both sides of black literature of the period. Richard Wright’s proletarian view in Native son and Hurston’s more upbeat outlook in Their Eyes Were Watching god. I traveled into the tenements of New York in Call It Sleep by Henry Roth.
I needed both the NLS talking book program and Book Share to provide the books I was searching for. I never did find some of the things I was looking for but I found enough to keep me happy for months and to give me authors to read for years to come.
In May, my husband and I took a short trip to New York City. I had heard about the Tenement Museum and I thought that would be a great place to visit to give me an up close and personal look at how people often lived in the 30s.
I contacted Sarah Litvin and we arranged for me to get a special peak into an apartment from exactly the period I was learning about. We arrived on a spring afternoon and watched the video that explains how the building was designed to house many families in a small space. Then we toured two apartments, one was the home of a Jewish family. After the regular tour was over, I got my own special tour. I was able to touch clothing and kitchen utensils from the time the rooms had been used by the immigrant family. Although the three room apartment was larger than I thought it would be, sharing it with 8 or 9 people would have been a bit too friendly for me.
This is a wonderful place to visit for someone who is visually impaired because you get such a sense of how things really were. The floors and wall coverings and stoves and dishes are all really from the first half of last century. The guides are friendly and know what they are talking about. Think of this as a place to visit the next time you are in the big apple.
Here are some helpful links