The Sweetness Of Water

This is a really good book.

It’s not the easiest book to read, it doesn’t cut like butter, but it’s far from difficult. And as good as it starts out, it gets better.

I’ve never read a book exactly about this era. I mean there must be some, but I don’t remember reading one. And as much as “The Underground Railroad” has gotten kudos, and it was good, you’ll enjoy “The Sweetness of Water” more. Because you can feel the setting, and it’s all about story, the underlying themes/messages, don’t eclipse the tale.

So what we’ve got here is the south just after the north has won the Civil War. The slaves have been freed and the Confederate troops are walking back home and the law is different, but the thinking remains the same. Ergo the conflict.

And it’s always outsiders who push the envelope. If you’re accepted, if you’re popular, your job is to stay that way, you don’t want to jeopardize your standing in society. But George never thought that way. His father made the money he’s living on, he’s a dilettante, and he’s not open with his feelings, but he rises to the occasion. That’s the measure of character, when something is on the line, when it means something, do you do the right thing?

So what we’ve got is freed slaves who are not really free. They may not be beholden to their masters anymore, living on their property, then again the masters believe they should be, they treat the freed people who’ve absconded as traitors who must come back to them or be ostracized.

So you’re free, you can finally pursue your dreams, but you have no means, no shelter, no money, no food.

And everybody’s got an agenda and everybody’s in everybody’s else’s pocket/business. No one is independent, they’re all tied up with those in power. Which means change can’t happen, but it has. Then again, you read “The Sweetness of Water” and even though it’s a hundred and fifty years later, you can still see the similarities, the prejudices.

I’m loath to tell you any of the plot because that’s the heart of the book, what makes it so good. There are surprises. Not illogical, but in some cases totally unforeseen. And there are many stories. There are main characters, but the peripheral ones are fleshed out too.

So can you beat the system?

Be sure, they don’t want you to. And that’s the case whether it’s human rights or just going against the grain in business. People are entrenched in their feelings, they make them feel better about themselves, and they’re often tied into their economic worth so…

And it’s all about appearances.

Will you be riveted instantly?

No, but you’ll have no desire to put “The Sweetness of Water” down. You’ll be interested, and then about twenty percent in you’ll be hooked and about halfway through you’ll be riveted, you’ll want to know what happens. But unlike lowbrow stuff it isn’t only about what happens, the feelings, the emotions, the questions are right there hitting you in the heart and groin. “The Sweetness of Water” is not just a screenplay, but it would make an excellent movie. Then again, they don’t make movies like this anymore, that are about regular people, not superheroes.

“The Sweetness of Water” could be the new “Color Purple,” but that was thirty five years ago. And shooting something like this…too often filmmakers get the images right, but ultimately lose the feel/the story. Spielberg did a great job with “The Color Purple,” but few can balance a wide canvas and gravitas. Then again, “The Sweetness of Water” would work on a small canvas, not only as a TV series, but one that is more about the characters than the images.

And I mention “The Color Purple” because it was Oprah’s breakthrough (no last name necessary, right?) And “The Sweetness of Water” is an Oprah’s Book Club pick. Oprah started the paradigm, of mass book clubs. They’ve been diluted, but Oprah never picks a loser. And “The Sweetness of Water” is a winner.

And I mention a visual version because so few people read. And when it comes to fiction, too many men don’t, read it that is, they need nonfiction, business books, biographies. But you’ll learn more about people reading “The Sweetness of Water.” It demonstrates how our country was broken back then and is still broken today. Not that it’s a polemic.

Get it. Start it late at night, or on a rainy day. When it’s quiet, with no distractions. “The Sweetness of Water” is not a beach read, it’s a tunnel into a different era, you want no distractions as you go inside. You’ll dig it.

P.S. If only we had an Oprah in the music world.

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