Here, in these powerful stories, Richard Wright takes readers into this landscape once again.
Each of the eight stories in Eight Men focuses on a black man at violent odds with a white world, reflecting Wright's views about racism in our society and his fascination with what he called "the struggle of the individual in America." These poignant, gripping stories will captivate all those who loved Black Boy and Native Son.
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Richard Wright won international renown for his powerful and visceral depiction of the black experience. He stands today alongside such African-American luminaries as Zora Neale Hurston, James Baldwin, and Toni Morrison, and two of his novels, Native Son and Black Boy, are required reading in high schools and colleges across the nation. He died in 1960.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
THE MAN WHO WAS ALMOST A MAN
Dave struck out across the fields, looking homeward through paling light. Whut's the use talkin wid em niggers in the field? Anyhow, his mother was putting supper on the table. Them niggers can't understan nothing. One of these days he was going to get a gun and practice shooting, then they couldn't talk to him as though he were a little boy. He slowed, looking at the ground. Shucks, Ah ain scareda them even ef they are biggern me! Aw, Ah know whut Ahma do. Ahm going by of Joe's sto n git that Sears Roebuck catlog n look at them guns. Mebbe Ma will femme buy one when she Bits mah pay from of man Hawkins. Ahma beg her t gimme some money. Ahm of ernough to hava gun. Ahm seventeen. Almost a man. He strode, feeling his long loose-jointed limbs. Shucks, a man oughta hava little gun aftah he done worked hard all day.
He came in sight of Joe's store. A yellow lantern glowed on the front porch. He mounted steps and went through the screen door, hearing it bang behind him. There was a strong smell of coal oil and mackerel fish. He felt very confident until he saw fat Joe walk in through the rear door, then his courage began to ooze.
"Howdy, Dave! Whutcha want?"
"How yuh, Mistah Joe? Aw, Ah don wanna buy nothing. Ah jus wanted t see ef yuhd lemme look at tha catlog erwhile."
"Sure! You wanna see it here?"
"Nawsuh. Ah wans t take it home wid me. Ah'll bring it back termorrow when Ah come in from the fiefs."
"You plannin on buying something?"
"Your ma lettin you have your own money now?"
"Shucks. Mistah Joe, Ahm gittin t be a man like anybody alga!"
Joe laughed and wiped his greasy white face with a red bandanna.
"Whut you plannin on buyin?"
Dave looked at the floor, scratched his head, scratched his thigh, and smiled. Then he looked up shyly.
"Ah'll tell yuh, Mistah Joe, ef yuh promise yuh won't tell."
"Waal, Ahma buy a gun:"
"A gun? Whut you want with a gun?"
"Ah wanna keep it."
"You ain't nothing but a boy. You don't need a gun."
"Aw, femme have the catlog, Mistah Joe. Ah'll bring it back."
Joe walked through the rear door. Dave was elated. He looked around at barrels of sugar and flour. He heard Joe coming back. He craned his neck to see if he were bringing the book. Yeah, he's got it. Gawddog, he's got it!
"Here, but be sure you bring it back. It's the only one I got.
"Sho, Mistah Joe:"
"Say, if you wanna buy a gun, why don't you buy one from me? I gotta gun to sell:"
"Will it shoot?"
"Sure it'll shoot."
"Whut kind is it?"
"Oh, it's kinda old . . . a left-hand Wheeler. A pistol. A big one.
"Is it got bullets in it?"
"Kin Ah see it?"
"Where's your money?"
"Whut yuh wan fer it?"
"I'll let you have it for two dollars:"
"Just two dollahs? Shucks, Ah could buy tha when Ah git mah pay."
"I'll have it here when you want it."
"Awright, suh. Ah be in fer it."
He went through the door, hearing it slam again behind him. Ahma git some money from Ma n buy me a gun! Only two dollahs! He tucked the thick catalogue under his arm and hurried.
"Where yuh been, boy?" His mother held a steaming dish of black-eyed peas.
"Aw, Ma, Ah jus stopped down the road t talk wid theboys. "
"Yuh know bettah t keep suppah waitin."
He sat down, resting the catalogue on the edge of the table.
"Yuh git up from there and git to the well n wash yosef! Ah ain feedin no hogs in mah house!"
She grabbed his shoulder and pushed him. He stumbled out of the room, then came back to get the catalogue.
"Aw, Ma, it's jusa catlog."
"Who yuh git it from?"
"From Joe, down at the sto."
"Waal, thas good. We kin use it in the outhouse."
"Naw, Ma." He grabbed for it. "Gimme ma catlog, Ma:"
She held onto it and glared at him.
"Quit hollerin at me! Whut's wrong wid yuh? Yuh crazy?"
"But Ma, please. It ain mine! It's Joe's! He tol me t bring it back t im termorrow."
She gave up the book. He stumbled down the back steps, hugging the thick book under his arm. When he had splashed water on his face and hands, he groped back to the kitchen and fumbled in a corner for the towel. He bumped into a chair; it clattered to the floor. The catalogue sprawled at his feet. When he had dried his eyes he snatched up the book and held it again under his arm. His mother stood watching him.
"Now, ef yuh gonna act a fool over that of book, Ah'll take it n burn it up."
"Naw, Ma, please:"
"Waal, set down n be still!"
He sat down and drew the oil lamp close. He thumbed page after page, unaware of the food his mother set on the table. His father came in. Then his small brother.
"Whutcha got there, Dave?" his father asked.
"Jusa catlog," he answered, not looking up.
"Yeah, here they is!" His eyes glowed at blue-and-black revolvers. He glanced up, feeling sudden guilt. His father was watching him. He eased the book under the table and rested it on his knees. After the blessing was asked, he ate. He scooped up peas and swallowed fat meat without chewing. Buttermilk helped to wash it down. He did not want to mention money before his father. He would do much better by cornering his mother when she was alone. He looked at his father uneasily out of the edge of his eye.
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Book Description Jove Pubns, 1974. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0515020346