Friday, June 04, 2010

A glimpse of Eleanor Taylor Bland.

Libby Fischer Hellman revealed the sad news of the passing at age 65 of Eleanor Taylor Bland, creator of the Marti MacAlister series and a thoroughly delightful person. I remember her well in the early days of Malice Domestic, usually with a grandson in tow and up to some sort of mischief.

In the course of my editing numerous scholarly journals, there was an interview with Eleanor in Storytelling: A Critical Journal of Popular Narrative 5.3 (2006) by Norlisha F. Crawford (University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh). Here are two excerpts:
NFC: Let's talk a little about your work as it fits into the traditions of African American literature.  . . . Is there a conscious nod on your part of the cultural ancestry of the South and values passed on from the South to the North?

ETB:  I think it is just ingrained in what we are and what we do. I really do, as an African American woman, because I am also German, Scot[tish], and Irish. But as an African American woman, those are just my connections. I have never been to Europe; I have been to the South. Those are the people I know.  . . .  I just think it [Southern cultural ways] is just, for me, the norm. This is my environment; this is where I live. If I didn't write it like this, then I couldn't do it; I'd be writing about a white person. That is where we come from; that's our heritage; that is who we are, as black people. I couldn't not do that. (190–91; emphasis in original)
ETB: . . .  I thought about [Rosa Parks] a lot as she was honored with a place in the Rotunda. Can you imagine? She was on the verge of being evicted from the home she rented [in Detroit], at one point [in 1994]. . . . [N]ow, in death, people are honoring her and bringing flowers. Give me my flowers while I am alive.  . . . Honors are nice, but honor your heroes when they are alive and can smell the flowers. When you can see their faces smiling as they enjoy them. (195–96)

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