I’d no idea John Podhoretz was going to play literary critic and re-post Esquire‘s list of eighty books every person should read chosen by three women, published in January 2015. Toni Morrison’s Sula made the list — a novel I checked out of the library yesterday morning, coincidence of coincidences. Amid writing that is at once trenchant and sharp in conjuring the years entre les guerres in a sun-baked Southern town is this small masterpiece of lyrical evocation:
The summer came. A summer limp with the weight of blossomed things. Heavy sunflowers weeping over fences; iris curling and browning at the edges far away from their purple hearts; ears of corns letting their auburn hair wind down to their stalks. And the boys. The beautiful, beautiful boys who dotted the landscape like jewels, split the air with their shouts in the field, and thickened the river with their shining wet backs. Even their footsteps left a smell of some behind.
A rebuke to the white supremacists in Charlottesville, Sula also rebukes insinuations like Podhoretz’s that “sheer PCness” got it on the list.