Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick is a collection of stories about love and migration, gender and class, racism and sexism that proudly reflect African American folk culture. Brought together for the first time in one volume, they include eight of Hurston’s “lost” Harlem stories, which were found in forgotten periodicals and archives. These stories challenge conceptions of Hurston as an author of rural fiction, and reflect the cultural currents of Hurston’s world.
...a revelation not just in its celebration of Hurston’s lesser-known efforts as a writer of short stories but also in the subjects and settings that it takes on ... Hurston’s stories do not merely document black experience in the early 20th century; they testify to larger truths about black life ... tender and wry ... Fans and scholars of Hurston’s work and the uninitiated alike will find many delights in these complex, thoughtful and wickedly funny portraits of black lives and communities ... this book is a significant testament to the enduring resonance of black women’s writing.
...helps illuminate Hurston’s path to iconic status. Its 21 stories are presented in the order in which she composed them. As a result, readers can note the progression from earnest 'apprentice' works and experiments with form to the polished brilliance of her best-known stories ... In many of the stories in this collection, Hurston’s men and women confront...challenges while also trying and failing at love, then trying again ... Hurston is equally insistent on displaying the bruised, bloody underside of romantic misadventure ... Hurston’s willingness to show warts and wounds ran counter to black bourgeois sensitivities about revealing dirty laundry in public. Against the backdrop of Harlem Renaissance bigwigs calling for positive depictions of high-achieving Negroes, Hurston unpacked the lives of everyday black people doing everyday things ... Add her matchless powers of observation, exemplary fidelity to idiomatic speech and irresistible engagement with folklore, and the outcome is a collection of value to more than Hurston completists. Any addition to her awe-inspiring oeuvre should be met with open arms.
The splendid stories that editor Genevieve West has gathered, written between 1921 and 1937...demonstrate the author’s double vision. They combine the warmth and affection of an insider with the documentary rigor—and ironic amusement—of a neutral observer. In form, the stories are hardly groundbreaking: slices-of-life in Eatonville and Harlem or dramas involving low-down men who either are reformed by good-hearted women or meet a fitting comeuppance. But each is a showcase for a remarkably vital dialect ... This whole collection is, in one character’s words, 'big as life an’ brassy as tacks.'