Before I even start to pen this blog, let me just warn you that I am bias towards Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Hughes; two of my favorite writers of all time. This blog is even named after Langston’s autobiography The Big Sea. So, on this blog, Zora and Langston can do no wrong.
I read Mule Bone again in preparation for the Food and Folklore series at Eatonville restaurant in Washington DC, and My People, I must admit that I laughed out loud while reading certain parts of this short but mighty play.
The writing of this play caused Langston and Zora, who were very close friends, to die without speaking to each other. The version of the play that I read tries to make some sense of the Mule Bone controversy by adding excerpts from the biographies of both Langston and Zora and the many letters that were passed around about the play. (Boy did I enjoy those letter!) You know how you may be friends with someone and many little things may transpire that may not sit right with you, and you never address those issues? Then, this one thing happens that's really not that big of a deal, but it allows a whole bunch of other stuff to come up? Well, this is what I think happened with Mule Bone. The Mule Bone controversy was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
If you have read Their Eyes Were Watching God, then you know about this character Joe Clarke who was the mayor of an all Black incorporated city in that novel. Well, that town and Joe Clarke are in Mule Bone as well the southern dialect that is in lots of Zora’s writings. A man has hurt another man by hitting him with a mule bone, and they take him to court to see if they can put a guy out of town for hitting another guy with a mule bone. And, My People, the silliness of it all is quite comical.
What I absolutely love about the writings of Langston and Zora is their commitment to telling the stories and feelings of ordinary people. So, I just love the idea that this play is simply called Mule Bone, and I love that it is about common, everyday people. This is a play that I wish that they could have continued to work on and even completed, but things work out the way they are suppose to.
At the discussion of this book at Eatonville restaurant, besides myself, there were five other women, which included the scholar who led the discussion, one man, and plenty of good food. We laughed and talked and ate and discussed Zora and Langston’s Mule Bone and so many other topics. It was so good for my soul to be with other people who love Zora and Langston and wanted to spend the evening talking about and appreciating them.
You know that I love to take care of my body, but I have learned that taking care of my soul is just as important, and the Food and Folklore series at Eatonville restaurant is all about the soul....
My People, when you need a good laugh, try Mule Bone; it might be the food that your soul is craving.