KARLA F. C. HOLLOWAY
I thought of Shirley after I read this novel. Shirley was a childhood playmate. Something brought her memory back to me ... Shirley, with her linty braids, in her snotty, self-assured play, eating a piece of sugar bread, and me watching enviously as the crumbs from the sandwich mixed with the mucus above her upper lip.
Somehow, The Bluest Eye is a journey into Black memory, and as I remember Shirley I do not know whether she is the sisters Frieda and Claudia or Pecola—whether or not she is a child of hope or despair. Somehow though, it does not matter, because this is a novel in which I remember the scope and feel of my childhood. Yet this is a novel that is desolate. I do not think of my childhood in that way so where does this bitter stab of memory originate?
This, I believe, is a book in which the memories belong to Black readers. the funerals, the love, the helplessness and hopefulness—almost all of this book, except the rape of the ugly child Pecola, are identifiable Black events. Suddenly, the memories stop here, arrested by the horror of this incest-rape, and the impact of desolation hits in a cold, foreign way. As strongly as we Black women have participated with the story, the participation stops here. As strongly as we have felt our girlhood, our parenting, as strongly as we have remembered the slick nauseating feel of____________________