What to Read-Go South
Donna Apidone Uses Books to Cross State Lines During the Coronavirus Pandemic
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Editor’s Note: As Californians continue to stay at home during the Coronavirus crisis, CapRadio Reads has had to postpone some of its live author interviews. Like the rest of the world, we're unsure when those events will return, but in the meantime, we know that books can provide an escape or comfort in trying times. Join Host Donna Apidone as she talks with authors and others about the books that keep us going.
I am taking another book-related trip through the U.S. – this time, through the Deep South.
Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston were friends and writers based in New York City during the Harlem Renaissance. For a few months, they traveled together through the South. Their notes indicate they had a lot of fun, but it was primarily a business trip.
They were hired in the late 1920s and early 1930s by a wealthy woman to collect stories and traditions to compile into an archive. Hughes and Hurston interviewed professors and business owners as well as some less reliable people. Eventually, they finished their joint adventure and continued their work separately.
Their friendship, including their trip, is documented in Yuval Taylor’s “Zora and Langston.”
Another book offers a history of Southern auto travel: Gretchen Sorin’s “Driving While Black” explains the history of car culture south of the Mason-Dixon Line. African-Americans counted on a guide called “The Green Book,” which included information about safe accommodations, food and gas stations.
As cars became a preferred method of travel over trains, the trend ran toward larger vehicles. For business travel, it was sometimes easier to stretch out overnight than to find a hotel. For families, a large car allowed everyone to make long trips, and the big trunk meant they could enjoy a safe, home-cooked meal along the way.
Let me know some of your favorite authors to take along on a road trip: [email protected]
- “Zora and Langston,” Yubal Taylor
- “Mules and Men,” Zora Neale Hurston
- “The Selected Poems of Langston Hughes,” Langston Hughes
- “Driving While Black,” Gretchen Sorin