Excerpt from Some Sing, Some Cry by Ntozake Shange, Ifa Bayeza, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Some Sing, Some Cry

A Novel

by Ntozake Shange, Ifa Bayeza

Some Sing, Some Cry
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2010, 576 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2011, 576 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Karen Rigby

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I'm just gonna sift through these here pictures a bit longer to see if anything jumps out at me. Jesus knows my body's a vehicle for the Holy Ghost or any other kind of somethin' we cain't actually see but can get right up on ya and change your whole life. I never know what or when some creature from the other side gonna need me to get somewhere or tell somebody somethin'.

That's why I keep those bottles hangin' round my porch, sometimes I want just a little warnin' if a body fr om the other side or a African borned soul needs to speak through me. Hard on a body to be in this world and the next world, goin' back n for that a stone's throw, like I ain't got enough to do. Oh, I found me somethin' to be right proud of. Wish time didn't make sucha brittleness in my bones and these here pictures. Life ain't like that, not really. Well, got fits and starts, but memories don't break off at the edges, crack up the middle leavin' scars where they weren't none. Pictures sure nough do damage to a body's recollections, even though I could see how sometimes they help me go back quicker to what's no more, yet close as breath. So, I guess I'ma do my best to handle em more gentle. Cause this one right here got a big markin' comin down Blanche's face, like a knife been took to her. My chirren may have lived some full and dangerous lives, but that you cain't tell by lookin'. Real seein' is a art, but like everythin' else you got to have a gift . This is Blanche with her beloved Roswell Sr. A woman dressed in lace that fine and coiffed just like somethin' from a New Orleans magazine don't have no knife scar down her face. Look at my Blanche! Did so well for herself! Though Roswell was a mite older than what I woulda picked, they's benefits to taking up with a man what's settled. Got everybody in Charleston respectin' the ground he walks on. There is somethin' could be said for that.

Oh my, cain't hide fr om the gaze of a sorrow-filled child. It shouldn't be but it is, my sweet Juliet with that Willie, Willie Chisolm to be exact. He didn't mean her no harm in the beginning, but the Lord's got a way of undoin' deceit. I tried to tell my chile that, but she trusted in guile, not the truth. I know I couldn'ta laid up next to a man so all the time angry with me, hurt and wild with suspicions, while my lil one, Eudora, was there in the next room, never imagining her presence was like a venom nobody took the time to stop fr om poisoning... Oh, Juliet, however could you believe gainst the truth so much, or want the lie to be the truth so much, you'd write "Eudora is Happiness" neath that child's face. A Ma can set her eyes on only so much pain in her chirren, then comes time to do somethin' else. Leave em in the Lord's hands. Ask the ancestors for guidance. Tend to what I got cookin' in the kitchen. That works most of the time for me. Fussin' with my pots, turnin' down the fires.

Betty cupped her hand and swept a fistful of soil from Julius's grave into her purple satin pouch, tied it closed, and tucked it into her bosom. Then she slowly gathered up the pictures, inspecting them carefully to make sure nothing that didn't belong in there was there and wrapping the album back up in the cloth. With head held high she gazed at the headstone of Julius Mayfield, for whom she still held both an indignant passion and mightily felt connection. Then off she sauntered toward the shouts of her granddaughter, whom she had left shouting in the first place. Betty shook her head, chuckling about how a body could shout about the same thing with the same words for so long when it didn't bring an answer. Finally, Betty yelled back, "Heah I'ma comin'. Put your bonnet on. I'ma comin' to ya now."

* * *

"Good Gracious, Nana! Where on the earth have you been? Don't you know we've got to get a move on or the ferry'll go right on without us? All this packing I've done, all this planning up to this very minute, and off you go without so much as a how-de-do." Eudora was vexed.

Excerpted from Some Sing, Some Cry by Ntozake Shange and Ifa Bayeza. Copyright © 2010 by Ntozake Shange and Ifa Bayeza. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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