Reading Richard Wright

Recently I made two good scores at used book stores. In Ann Arbor, I found a vintage Black Boy by Richard Wright and better yet, near home, I bought a first edition first printing of his Native Son. I spent a total of $25 for both.

I am a happy book buyer. Better yet, I am a happy book reader. 

I read both books long ago, then stored them away in my brain with others I treasure. I read Black Boy on the plane and felt Wright’s justifiable anger of growing up poor, black and held back.

Now I am rereading Native Son. Bigger’s chance for a chauffeur’s job with a wealthy, liberal family in Chicago goes awry within hours. He’s supposed to drive Mary, the daughter, to a lecture at the university but it is a ruse to meet up with her Commie boyfriend, Jan. They want to eat where Bigger eats. They want him to call them by their first names. Bigger is out of his element and confused.

Mary asks Bigger, “I scare you?” She sure does. 

I read helplessly as Bigger carries a drunken Mary to the house. I know nothing good is going to come of it when he kisses her. I am right. Bigger accidentally suffocates Mary when her blind mother comes into the room and he doesn’t want to be discovered. Then, there is the horrific way he gets rid of the body. And worse, Bigger thinking he can get away with it. 

I finished the first part, appropriately called Fear, and had to put it down for a day or two. I needed a breather. The second part is called Flight. I know what’s going to happen but I can’t stop reading anyway.