Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Same River Twice #AliceWalker

There are many ways to tell the same story.  That can be a hard lesson to learn if you're in the business of trying to tell stories.  Another chef, artist, teacher is going to go at a meal, painting, or lesson in a completely different way from the next.  How do you manage that?

I'm black.  I love Alice Walker.  I love The Color Purple.  I first read it when I was far too young, but my English professor Aunt had an autographed copy for me to sift through.  I remember my mother telling her over the phone "I'm not finishing this book.  I don't like the way he's treating her."  She did finish.  And I promptly picked it up, read, and reread, and reread every page.

Ms. Walker's 1996 book, The Same River Twice, is a must read for anyone who is a fan of The Color Purple.  It details, through journal entries, clippings, photos and essays her journey from being approached by Steven Spielberg and Quincy Jones to write the screenplay for the film adaptation of her best-selling novel, through her rejection of that screenplay by studio heads who told her she didn't really have a clear understanding of the book's characters, her mother's illness (and eventual death), her own battle with Lyme disease, the loss of her lover, and the pain she felt upon first seeing the film.  How the artist makes peace with the turmoil in her own life while watching another artist manipulate her work is captured in a way that only Alice Walker can describe.  Hearing the not so whispered decries from critics who refer to you as "arrogant" or "self-centered" for holding on to the integrity of your own work can take a toll on a person already managing such great loss.  One of the greatest parts of the book is the inclusion of the bulk of the screenplay she wrote for the film, which would later be rejected.  It is a beautifully written screenplay, the likes of which I've never read, and would love to have seen made into film.

Much like The Color Purple itself, I have read and reread The Same River Twice multiple times.  It's not your average "Making of..." story.  If you're a fan of Alice Walker, you have got to check out this book.

You can get it on Amazon.... right here

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