The Conjure Woman and Other Conjure Tales

Charles W. Chesnutt - 1993
    Chesnutt's first great literary success, and since their initial publication in 1899 they have come to be seen as some of the most remarkable works of African American literature from the Emancipation through the Harlem Renaissance. Lesser known, though, is that the The Conjure Woman, as first published by Houghton Mifflin, was not wholly Chesnutt's creation but a work shaped and selected by his editors. This edition reassembles for the first time all of Chesnutt's work in the conjure tale genre, the entire imaginative feat of which the published Conjure Woman forms a part. It allows the reader to see how the original volume was created, how an African American author negotiated with the tastes of the dominant literary culture of the late nineteenth century, and how that culture both promoted and delimited his work. In the tradition of Uncle Remus, the conjure tale listens in on a poor black southerner, speaking strong dialect, as he recounts a local incident to a transplanted northerner for the northerner's enlightenment and edification. But in Chesnutt's hands the tradition is transformed. No longer a reactionary flight of nostalgia for the antebellum South, the stories in this book celebrate and at the same time question the folk culture they so pungently portray, and ultimately convey the pleasures and anxieties of a world in transition. Written in the late nineteenth century, a time of enormous growth and change for a country only recently reunited in peace, these stories act as the uneasy meeting ground for the culture of northern capitalism, professionalism, and Christianity and the underdeveloped southern economy, a kind of colonial Third World whose power is manifest in life charms, magic spells, and ha'nts, all embodied by the ruling figure of the conjure woman. Humorous, heart-breaking, lyrical, and wise, these stories make clear why the fiction of Charles W. Chesnutt has continued to captivate audiences for a century.

Eight Men: Short Stories

Richard Wright - 1958
    "Eight Men" presents eight stories of black men living at violent odds with the white world around them. As they do in his classic novels, the themes here reflect Wright's views on racism and his fascination with what he called "the struggle of the individual in America."

Old Creole Days

George Washington Cable - 1991
    Stories reflect Creole way of life during the transitory post-Civil War period.

Early Novels & Stories: Go Tell It on the Mountain / Giovanni’s Room / Another Country / Going to Meet the Man

James Baldwin - 1998
    His historical importance is indisputable.” Here, in a Library of America volume edited by Nobel laureate Toni Morrison, is the fiction that established James Baldwin’s reputation as a writer who fused unblinking realism and rare verbal eloquence.His first novel, Go Tell It on the Mountain (1953), tells the story, rooted in Baldwin’s own experience, of a preacher’s son coming of age in 1930’s Harlem. Ten years in the writing, its exploration of religious, sexual, and generational conflicts was described by Baldwin as “an attempt to exorcise something, to find out what happened to my father, what happened to all of us.”Giovanni’s Room (1956) is a searching, and in its day controversial, treatment of the tragic self-delusions of a young American expatriate at war with his own homosexuality. Another Country (1962), a wide-ranging exploration of America’s racial and sexual boundaries, depicts the suicide of a gifted jazz musician and its ripple effect on those who knew him. Complex in structure and turbulent in mood, it is in many ways Baldwin’s most ambitious novel.Going to Meet the Man (1965) collects Baldwin’s short fiction, including the masterful “Sonny’s Blues,” the unforgettable portrait of a jazz musician struggling with drug addiction in which Baldwin came closest to defining his goal as a writer: “For, while the tale of how we suffer, and how we are delighted, and how we may triumph is never new, it must be heard. There isn’t any other tale to tell, it’s the only light we’ve got in all this darkness.”

Georgia Boy

Erskine Caldwell - 1943
    Playing on the tension between Martha, his hardworking, sensible mother, and Morris, his disarmingly likable but shiftless and philandering father, William tells of Pa's flirtation with a widow, his swapping match with a band of gypsies, his battle of wits with a traveling silk-tie saleswoman, and his get-rich-quick schemes based on selling Ma's old love letters and collecting scrap iron.Often caught in the middle of the Stroups' bungles is Handsome Brown, their yard hand, as well as a number of animals with all-too-human qualities: Ida, the mule; Pretty Sooky, the runaway calf; College Boy, the fighting cock; a small flock of woodpeckers that favor Handsome's head over a tree; and goats who commandeer the roof of the Stroups' house.Georgia Boy was a special book to Caldwell, and its humor is less in the service of social criticism than in other works in which he dealt with poor white southerners. Beneath Georgia Boy's folksy lightheartedness, however, lie the problems of indigence, racism, and apathy that Caldwell confronted again and again in his fiction.

Sent for You Yesterday

John Edgar Wideman - 1998
    From the wild and uninhibited 1920s to the narcotized 1970s, "he establishes a mythological and symbolic link between character and landscape, language and plot, that in the hands of a less visionary writer might be little more than stale sociology" (New York Times Book Review).

The Salt Eaters

Toni Cade Bambara - 1980
    Exhausted by her political struggles, she is undergoing healing in the Southwest Community Infirmary. Confronting her there is Minnie Ransom, spinster and fabled vehicle of the spirit world.

Novels & Stories 1950–1962: Player Piano / The Sirens of Titan / Mother Night / Stories

Kurt Vonnegut - 2012
    So too are his abiding themes: the madness of war, the vanity of human striving, and the social costs of technological innovation.Vonnegut’s first novel, Player Piano (1952), is the story of Dr. Paul Proteus, chief engineer at the Ilium Works, an electronics company in upstate New York. Ill at ease with himself and his changing times, Proteus must choose sides in a looming civil war that threatens the brave new world he has helped to create. A kind of postwar Metropolis, Player Piano is at once a witty satire on the culture of General Electric headquarters, where Vonnegut once worked as a publicist, and a profound meditation on the dignity and necessity of work.Set on Earth, Mars, Mercury, and the moons of Saturn, The Sirens of Titan (1959) is a vertiginous ride down a funnel in space-time with a trio of stuffed shirts spoiling for their pratfalls: Winston Niles Rumfoord, a patrician New Englander and paragon of style; his beautiful touch-me-not wife, Beatrice; and Malachi Constant, the world’s luckiest, wealthiest man. Are they really what they imagine themselves to be, the perfected products of a benevolent universe? Or does somebody up there despise them? Only Salo, the gentleman-robot from the planet Tralfamadore, knows for sure.In 1961 a German American named Howard W. Campbell, Jr.—the Tokyo Rose of the Third Reich—is discovered in Manhattan by a team of Nazi hunters and brought to Jerusalem to stand trial. Mother Night (1962) presents Campbell’s prison-cell confessions, revealing him to be a double agent who infiltrated the highest echelons of the Nazi propaganda ministry in order to broadcast intelligence to the Allies. But as he awaits his date with justice, Campbell faces an even more rigorous trial in the court of his own conscience.Rounding out the volume are six of Vonnegut’s best science fiction stories, including “Report on the Barnhouse Effect,” “EPICAC,” “Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow,” and “Harrison Bergeron,” the fantasy that skewered “political correctness” before there was a name for it.

At the Bottom of the River

Jamaica Kincaid - 1983
    Her voice is, by turns, naively whimsical and biblical in its assurance, and it speaks of what is partially remembered partly divined. The memories often concern a childhood in the Caribbean--family, manners, and landscape--as distilled and transformed by Kincaid's special style and vision.Kincaid leads her readers to consider, as if for the first time, the powerful ties between mother and child; the beauty and destructiveness of nature; the gulf between the masculine and the feminine; the significance of familiar things--a house, a cup, a pen. Transfiguring our human form and our surroundings--shedding skin, darkening an afternoon, painting a perfect place--these stories tell us something we didn't know, in a way we hadn't expected.

Nowhere Man

Aleksandar Hemon - 2002
    The mind- and language-bending adventures of Hemon's endearing protagonist Jozef Pronek.


Maya Angelou - 1996
    In  this moving volume of poetry, we hear the  multi-faceted voice of one of the most powerful and  vibrant writers of our time.

The Garies and Their Friends

Frank J. Webb - 2008
    Quality assurance was conducted on each of these books in an attempt to remove books with imperfections introduced by the digitization process. Though we have made best efforts - the books may have occasional errors that do not impede the reading experience. We believe this work is culturally important and have elected to bring the book back into print as part of our continuing commitment to the preservation of printed works worldwide.

Dessa Rose

Sherley Anne Williams - 1986
    “Having this treasure of a book available again for new and more readers is not only necessary, it is imperative.” —Toni MorrisonExpanding the canon of African American literature, alongside Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, and Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Sherley Anne Williams’ critically acclaimed and unforgettable Dessa Rose is a novel of two powerfully conceived female protagonists forging a vital friendship in the face of racial divides in the antebellum South.

The Collected Poems

Langston Hughes - 1994
    [Hughes] is sumptuous and sharp, playful and sparse, grounded in an earthy music--. This book is a glorious revelation."--Boston GlobeSpanning five decades and comprising 868 poems (nearly 300 of which have never before appeared in book form), this magnificent volume is the definitive sampling of a writer who has been called the poet laureate of African America--and perhaps our greatest popular poet since Walt Whitman.  Here, for the first time, are all the poems that Langston Hughes published during his lifetime, arranged in the general order in which he wrote them and annotated by Arnold Rampersad and David Roessel.Alongside such famous works as "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" and Montage of a Dream Deferred, The Collected Poems includes the author's lesser-known verse for children; topical poems distributed through the Associated Negro Press; and poems such as "Goodbye Christ" that were once suppressed.  Lyrical and pungent, passionate and polemical, the result is a treasure of a book, the essential collection of a poet whose words have entered our common language.

The Sorcerer's Apprentice: Tales and Conjurations

Charles R. Johnson - 1986
    A young boy growing to manhood as a country sorcerer's apprentice learns the difference between power and strength. From the first piece to the last, these stories capture very real human experiences in a new and startling light.