A memoir about keeping chickens from the author of THE COLOR PURPLE
When Alice Walker grew up in the deep south of America, her family always kept chickens - for meat and for eggs - and her job was to chase down the Sunday dinner! In later life, when she settled in Mexico and was growing her own food, she realised how much she missed keeping them and decided to get a brood of her own. So into her life came Gertrude Stein, Babe, Babe 2, Hortensia, Splendor, Glorious, Rufus and Agnes of God, not to mention a few others.
She discovered a deep contentment in keeping chickens, looking after them and watching them develop. This also made her think about her own life and brought back severed memories of her childhood. This book isn't a 'how to' on keeping chickens, it is a warm memoir chronicling her journey and the way in which keeping chickens led her to a fuller understanding of herself.
Writers must imagine their audience. This seems a fundamental enough concept, particularly for a Pulitzer Prize winner like Walker (The Color Purple). The intended reader of these 37 chronicles, however, feels rather murky. At least that is, until it becomes clear that Walker is addressing her chickens. Beyond referring to herself in the third person as "mommy" that would be the chickens' mommy Walker describes a trip to India, confesses her "impatience" with and "withdrawal" from the original hens after new chickens arrive, and writes a poem in honor of Michael Jackson for her chickens, all with the tone and depth with which we typically address our pets or infants, which is to say the insipid baby-talk that no other human should have to hear, nor read. The title promises something intriguing Walker's memories perhaps. Instead, the banal day-to-day is made even more simplistic for the sake of the "girls." Most readers would have been interested in Walker's thoughts on Gandhi or the Dalai Lama, but unfortunately these passages, like the others, remain insufferable. This time Walker's talking to her chickens and her chickens alone.