I remember reading the announcement of this book but dwelling on “ghost story” and how I do not like those. Well, happily, I was once again between audios and this one was available. I’m so glad it was. Some times I enjoy things when I find them at moments like this that I would otherwise skip. A spontaneous “Oh, sure, why not” to a book can enliven my reading. Are you like that, too? Or do you plan all of your reading? I do both. Here is a good discussion (about 10-12 minutes in) on planned vs spontaneous reading on the podcast. Tea or Books? #97: Spontaneous or Planned Reading, and Tension vs Thank Heaven Fasting.
Now back to this incredible novella….
Image credit: Copyright Pearson Education Inc. Found here (click)
Minister Peters has had enough of the hard life in South Carolina where he is a teacher, but lives surrounded by ghosts. The ghost of his wife, of his little daughter, of family members, friends, lynching victims and more. When a mass grave of infants born to enslaved people is uncovered he is “done” and joins the Great Migration to the North that took thousands of southern Blacks to the great cities of the North.
His journey must start somewhere and his starts on a segregated train, leaving a segregated railroad station. He is thrown together randomly by the availability of seats with a couple–the wife so fair-skinned she could “pass” as white, the husband, a bit of a braggart and player. The other man is a returned soldier, navigating post World War II life back in the world of Jim Crow. Along the way, thanks to the slow-moving, long-stopping local train, they all have new experiences, share confidences and jokes, and reveal themselves carefully to each other.
An “inner dialogue” gives us Preacher’s thoughts and opinions of his fellow migrants and gives us much of his background.
This is one of the finest “inner dialogue” stories I’ve ever read. The audio is superbly performed by Sean Crisden who should be considered for an Audie Award. If Novellas in November happens again this year, keep this book in mind. It is not to be missed.
Salt Fields: A Novella by Stacy D. Flood