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The Business End

I think for me it is really tempting to criticize and try to break down the inadequacies of Galland’s book. How I wish she would’ve written, how I feel like it would’ve been a better story, but I while I’m sitting here and typing this and thinking about everything I would do or change or suggest, I feel a little pretentious. Which is my main complaint about Galland. So therefore, I’ve decided to think about why she wrote it the way that she did. Because it appears to me that everyone in the class is intelligent and well spoken, so I don’t think its too far of a leap to conclude that other well spoken and intelligent people (outside our class) have had similar reactions to ours.

Like I mentioned in class, when an author writes a book they want it to sell. Some authors I think probably write just for the money, hence the large and ever expanding selection of trashy romance novels. But many (most that we read in English classes) are trying to convey something about humanity (which we’ve all been told) or making a statement or so on and so forth. And this idea, the idea of selling, really got me thinking about Love Cemetery. It was really sparked when we started talking about property and issues of business in class; because essentially every issue, including that of this author and the book Love Cemetery itself has a big ole’ business end. Most people have an issue with the narrative of the book and dislike that Galland will drop in anecdotes of her life within the history of the cemetery. I did find it frustrating while reading, but now that I’m looking back I can appreciate it a little more. It would be really difficult to sell, and sell well, a book solely about the history of Love Cemetery. Especially if the goal that R.D and the black community around Love wanted to reach was to get the story out there. I mean, I never even heard of this book before I started taking this class, and honestly probably never would’ve thought to pick it up. A novel that was just Galland’s memoir would’ve failed to tell the story of Love in the way the the community wanted; and I think that was probably very important to the author.

There is also a racial factor. I would really like to believe that there is a large group of White Americans who would be willing to read a story about black history and a cemetery and their struggles, but I’m not that optimistic. White people, the people who need to read the story because they are the ones who own most of the big corporations and businesses, the people who have been causing a deep sort of pain for a long time to these African american communities, would most likely not pick up a book like this if it was just a historical novel. It’s just not on our radar. Most white american’s, as we discuss in class, give nearly no thought to the history or legacy of slavery. By turning the book into a story of a woman reaching some sort of deeper, Christian, personal self-understanding, you can bet that the novel would be more accessible to a wider range of people. I mean, read the reviews on the back of the book. Most of them refer to the great “healing power” and the spiritual journey Galland took. At least with the choice she made, she could get the story out into a wider viewing audience, who would walk away with more knowledge about the “secret history of slaves” than before they picked it up. Even if they didn’t mean to. Even the scene where the women form the kumbaya- racial reconciliation circle would have to move a regular-slave ignorant person to reconsider some things, as strange as the scene seems to be.

Another thing I wanted to talk about that ties in with “the business end” is that of the ongoing struggle for the opening of Love Cemetery. To me it seems like the efforts of the black community are almost fruitless against big corporations. We’ve all heard the cliché, and I think it is true that in this country ‘money talks.’ Corporations, businesses, the game farmer, all of these wealthy people have a lot of cash at stake in that land surrounding Love Cemetery. And these land owners, unfortunately, generally only speak in and listen to money. It is just so frustrating for me to think about how incredibly unfair this is. Because I bet money has a lot to do with many of these cemetery situations, money has a lot to do with why African Americans are silenced over the outcries of fat-cat corporations; and a lot of these small communities do not have enough money to fight with.  And frankly, White corporations probably don’t want the ‘less-wealthy’ country folk meddling in their white business. At the end of the novel I really felt overwhelmed by the amount of legislation and documents and various other ridiculous hoops these people were still going to have to jump through, and to know that today it still isn’t resolved…its really disappointing.

Why can’t basic human compassion and business seem to mix? Why can’t the law be as simple as ‘the land belongs to the dead’? Why does money speak for so much?

This doesn’t really seem like the America that I grew up learning about.

Megan Vestal

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. katelongoria
    January 26, 2011 at 2:45 am

    I think you make a really valid point, Megan. The book is really accessible, and that’s what sells- more importantly, it’s what gets published. I’ve enjoyed all of the history that’s included in the book. I think I’ve learned more about my own state in this one book than I have in history class. It’s so unfortunate that America has taken on this habit of white-washing history. I feel like in public school we were only given the squeaky-clean version of our history, never revealing the rotting wood underneath. I can’t count how many shocking new historical facts I’ve learned outside of public school. It makes me think how unprepared school has left me for the real world. The place where business and “the system” can chew me up and spit me out. Scary.

  2. rh567
    January 26, 2011 at 5:06 am

    Megan, I felt very moved just reading your blog post. You are very eloquent and you reach a very good point. We live in a very deep sea of privilege and wealth and hundreds of thousands of people are not even able to tread water. I agree, it is books like this (books that slip historical facts among the personal narratives or horrible truths along with the “Christian” realizations) that will hopefully allow a greater degree of peoples to learn about their history and/or the history of those less privileged. Thank you for that insightful post, I appreciated you bringing those ideas in front of me.

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