Friday, November 5, 2010

Tobacco Road, pt. 1- It's Precious for southern people!

So if Precious was written about southern hillbillies in Georgia during the 1920's instead of black inner city families in the present, it would be Tobacco Road.

So far, over the course of three days, we have seen domestic abuse, the systematic starvation of family members, incestuous rape (female on male, btw), a character with a cleft pallet, a 39 year old woman marrying a 15 year old boy then sleeping with a hotel full of people the very next night, a 12 year old married a 30 year old, said 30 year old asking permission of the father of the 12 year old to tie the 12 year old down and rape her, and a brand new car bought and then completely wrecked. How fun! Also, there hasn't been a single character show up that can read yet.

The whole thing comes off as extremely exploitative, disguised inside of the notion of societal change, creating this "everything and the kitchen sink" approach to problems that actually existed (and probably still exist). The concept is to write a book that sheds a light on all of these problems, but instead it ends up making a huge mockery of the whole issue and merely appropriating the problems to cerate an incredibly over the top caricature of a dire social situation.

On top of this, it doesn't actually offer a solution. Creating a laundry list of problems and then leaving them at that isn't a way to solve anything. It just points out the problems. The only solution the book actually hints at is that the characters just need a bunch of money and they would be fine, which, in my opinion, is utter bullshit. The book does make mention of the root cause- that the farming system in place for years and years all of a sudden dried up and left town. This problem actually adds a certain amount of needed tragedy to the huge explosion of "super sad stuff" that the book proudly puts on display, pulling the main character (Jeeter) in two very distinct directions- to remain on the land that is completely unfarmable but part of the legacy, or to leave as well and make money in a city. The pride with which Jeeter holds onto his space is engaging and actually worthwhile, but the rest is trash. Utter and complete trash.

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