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Honoring the Difficult

by Alice Walker

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-684-81419-6
Publisher: Scribner

Like the quilt her character Celie makes in the bestselling novel The Color Purple, Walker has created a patchwork verbal memento of the filming of her novel that will delight fans and movie buffs but is too self-absorbed to be of general interest. Hesitating both to record a personally painful time in her life and to try to answer those critics--especially blacks--who accused her of hating black men, Walker explains that she was finally able to write this book by freeing herself of the past, by "growing a new skin." And as she began assembling journal entries, letters from fans and critics, media commentary, and her own script--published here for the first time--she noticed how the experience of those years had changed her own understanding: "You really cannot step into the same river twice." She now understood why Steven Spielberg, the director, as a creative person, had not always been true to the book: For instance, in the movie, Celie was no longer a writer. Involved in the actual making of the movie, Walker fervently praises the stars, the script writer, and Spielberg, but what hurt her was black reaction to the film. She includes both positive and negative critiques as well as letters from admirers and opponents to indicate the range of emotions it provoked. Though the movie was nominated for but won no awards, Walker feels that the strengths The Color Purple celebrates will endure. Walker details here not only how the movie came to be made, but her own sufferings in that period: a debilitating bout of Lyme disease; the prolonged death of her mother; and the end of a long relationship. These travails she now sees as a series of "spiritual tests" that she needed to overcome before moving forward. More scrapbook than a solid volume, as the usual Walker themes appear only intermittently between clippings and movie memorabilia.