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W. W. Norton & Company, 1975 - Fiction - 116 pages
4 Reviews
A literary masterpiece of the Harlem Renaissance, Cane is a powerful work of innovative fiction evoking black life in the South. The sketches, poems, and stories of black rural and urban life that make up Cane are rich in imagery. Visions of smoke, sugarcane, dusk, and flame permeate the Southern landscape: the Northern world is pictured as a harsher reality of asphalt streets. Impressionistic, sometimes surrealistic, the pieces are redolent of nature and Africa, with sensuous appeals to eye and ear.

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While I can appreciate what Mr. Toomer was trying to accomplish, yet I was left disappointed. The complexity of the piece just seems as though he was trying to be different. Everyone wants to be different. The mix of prose, poetry and drama made the overall appearance of the book convoluted. You can never really be drawn in by anything in this work because you are never reading about the same setting or character long enough to become involved with them. The constant shifting of focus only distracts the reader. Those who like it are just on the bandwagon. While I understand that literature is a form of art, I believe the author was too "artsy" for his time. The short stories by themselves would have been great, as that is how I had to read this book to get through it. Mixing them altogether was confusing and irritating. However, many of the stories were well written and Toomer even does a wonderful job at creating a black southern dialect. The poetry is very obscure as I am sure most poetry is. While not being my cup of tea, the poetry did seem to relate to the stories it was near. Not for a casual reader. 

Review: Cane

User Review  - Derrick - Goodreads

I don't know why no one has't recommended this to you yet. So satisfying and beautiful and bloody and poetic and, I don't know. If this book had been written by the right person last year, it could ... Read full review


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About the author (1975)

Jean Toomer (1894–1967)†was born in Washington, D.C., the son of educated blacks of Creole stock. Literature was his first love and he regularly contributed avant garde poetry and short stories to such magazines as Dial, Broom, Secession, Double Dealer, and Little Review. After a literary apprenticeship in New York, Toomer taught school in rural Georgia. His experiences there led to the writing of Cane.

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