The Power of the Porch: The Storyteller’s Craft in Zora Neale Hurston, Gloria Naylor, and Randall Kenan by Trudier Harris (Review)

The Power of the Porch: The Storyteller's Craft in Zora Neale Hurston, Gloria Naylor, and Randall Kenan by Trudier Harris (University of Georgia Press, 1996)

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The Power of the Porch: The Storyteller’s Craft in Zora Neale Hurston, Gloria Naylor, and Randall Kenan by Trudier Harris (Review)

by Margaret D. Bauer
Southern Cultures, Vol. 4, No. 2: Summer 1998

University of Georgia Press, 1996

In her preface to this collection of her 1995 Lamar Memorial Lectures, Harris explains that, upon first being invited to give the lectures, she knew immediately that she wanted to speak on the “orality” of Zora Neale Hurston’s work. Her selection of Hurston’s Mules and Men points to the value of Harris’s volume of essays: The Power of the Porch provides detailed explorations of previously neglected works. Though there is a body of criticism on Mules and Men, it is dwarfed by the available commentary on Their Eyes Were Watching God. Harris’s other chapters examine more recent works that have not yet received much critical analysis (Naylor’s Mama Day) or any critical analysis at all (Kenan’s “Clarence and the Dead”). Readers of Naylor and Kenan will therefore be pleased to see these works receiving Harris’s scrutiny.