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Anything We Love Can Be Saved.

Alice Walker. Anything We Love Can Be Saved. New York: Random, 1997. 225 pp. $23.00.

Anything We Love reveals several truths about Alice Walker. For example, she reveres the earth as God and regards nature as its spirit. Her mistrust of those proclaiming themselves leaders of masses of people, with the exception of Castro and Nelson Mandela, is passionate. She is expressively sensitive to all oppressed peoples in the world. She "barricades" herself against traditional rituals of Christmas, especially killing anything for its observance. She speaks her mind elegantly and directly, softly but loudly, too. Out of these truths and an obligatory need to resist indoctrination and to instigate change, Walker, an internationally recognized (and controversial) novelist, essayist, poet, and short fiction writer, becomes Walker an activist. Through mostly previously published statements, essays, speeches, letters, and poems, she communicates an activism that is easily compatible with being a writer.

Perhaps Walker's most publicly visible activism includes her participation in the 1960s Civil Rights campaign and her outcries against female genital mutilation, including her novel Possessing the Secret of Joy. Perhaps less well-known are her and filmmaker Pratibha Parmar's film Warrior Marks: Female Genital Mutilation and the Sexual Blinding of Women, and their taping of a conference in Northern Ghana to call attention to and end female mutilation. Also, the volume pictures Walker protesting the U.S. government's shipment of weapons to Central America at the Concord Naval Weapons Station in California in 1987, for which she was arrested. Two essays detail her support for Cubans and for Fidel Castro, and a letter to President Clinton rejects an invitation to the White House in 1996 because of the U.S. embargo against Cuba. These essays suggest the far boundaries of her activities.

What this volume communicates with equal success is that Walker's intellectual and personal activism exceeds public demonstrations. The first essay in the volume is a typical example. Called "The Only Reason You Want to Go to Heaven Is That You Have Been Driven Out of Your Mind: Clear Seeing Inherited Religion and Reclaiming the Pagan Self," Walker criticizes the pervasive force of religious indoctrination, a force that decolonized the spirit of spiritual people, including her child's self. As in other essays, she draws from her personal and communal history in Georgia, thereby positioning her cultural history as the dominant source for many seemingly illogical mores and beliefs. Walker crusades against unquestioning agreement with pervasive religious and social traditions. Her essays suggest, in fact, that the private self is duty bound to question, to resist, and to feel.

In Walker's experience it is necessary for the writer as public figure to resist exploitation of her name, image, and reputation ("Disinformation Advertising"), and to steel oneself against misogynist attacks ("Getting as Black as my Daddy"). Several essays, including "My Mother's Blue Bowl" and "Frida, the Perfect Familiar," are personal, self-revealing explorations.

In addition to unselfconscious glimpses of Walker the activist and the woman writer, readers of Anything We Love will be rewarded by Walker's gifts for reducing convoluted ideas to direct, easily accessible language; by the brief discussions of her novels and characters; and by reminiscences of interactions with fellow writers. Her interests and passions are seemingly boundless, and her mission to write compelling. Walker's devotees and those newly familiar with her work will appreciate her candor in this book.
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Title Annotation:Review
Author:Pettis, Joyce
Publication:African American Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Dec 22, 1999
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