You Can’t Keep a Good Woman Down is Alice Walker developing her skills. The first copyright in my copy of the book is 1971, the latest, 1981. The Color Purple won its Pulitzer in 1983. I don’t know if the fourteen stories are arranged in chronological order, but I suspect so. The first, “Nineteen Fifty-five”, is a sort of modified rehash of Elvis Presley’s theft of “You Ain’t Nuthin’ But a Hound Dog” from Big Mama Thornton. Except in this case, Big Mama does get some royalties out of the deal.
It’s interesting, but amateurish compared to later stories such as “Laurel” and “A Sudden Trip Home in the Spring,” both of which explore the dilemma of black women attempting crossover lives, living in both black and white worlds. Other works, such as “The Abortion” transcend race:
There was no way to explain abortion to a man. She though castration might be an apt analogy.
The best of these stories are deeply moving. Emotional experiences full of excellent prose.
But then he said: “Did I ever show you [he knew he hadn’t] my porn collection?
“What could it be?” she inevitably wondered. Hooked.
I feel as if I’ve discovered some lost wheat among old chaff.