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Wash by Margaret Wrinkle
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Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
I enjoyed this book in many ways. Good evocation of the African versus home grown slaves. I wanted to like this book more than I did in the end. It tried to reach too far, be too spiritual and meaningful. Would have been better to start short of some of the flights, especially at the end. ( )
  idiotgirl | Dec 25, 2015 |
A stunning, remarkably crafted historical novel. Tragic and beautiful. ( )
  Sullywriter | May 22, 2015 |
Transformative. ( )
  bsullivan24 | Jun 6, 2014 |
You probably think you know about all the atrocities committed under slavery, right? You've heard about the appalling physical abuse, even murder, of a people kept subjugated as property. But what about the breeding of slaves, using a man, a fellow human being, as a stud for hire, charging for the use of his fertility and for the potential attributes he will pass along to offspring? Margaret Wrinkle's novel, Wash, details just such a practice from the perspective of both slaveholder and slave.

Richardson is a veteran of both the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. After his first war, he was hoping that slavery would be abolished but when that didn't come to pass and economic necessity pushed him, he reluctantly abandoned his principles and joined the ranks of slaveholders. He justifies owning slaves as necessary to fulfill his deep seated desire to make his father proud by building the Western Tennessee town of Memphis into a successful empire. Richardson buys Wash's mother, Mena, a so-called "saltwater" slave because she sees something in him that makes her capture his interest and this same spark of something draws Richardson to her son Wash.

Wash, having been badly beaten and scarred by another owner leasing him while Richardson was at war, is never temperamentally suited to working in the fields but he does have an affinity with horses, landing him in Richardson's stable. Perhaps it was his proximity to the stallions used for stud that first put the idea in Richardson's mind or perhaps it was an acknowledgement of Wash's bad boy appeal to so many of the slave women and girls but when Richardson needed a financial infusion to continue to fund his dreams for Memphis, he turned this prized slave of his into a stud no different from his horses, maintaining a stud book and carefully watching the offspring that result from Wash's forced couplings. But Wash is of value to Richardson for more than his stud fees, being Richardson's chosen listener as he talks through the experiences of his life and his beliefs many nights when he cannot sleep.

For his part, Wash holds tight to the teachings of his mother and his early mentor the blacksmith Rufus, as he endures the indignity of what he must do. He perfects the ability to escape inside his own soul to a place where he cannot be touched and to tap into his ancestors' strength in the ways so important to his own sense of self. Inside himself, in this place, he is free and unenslaved. In the only relationship he is allowed to choose for himself, his connection to and comfort with the healer, Pallas, another damaged soul, he finds a balm and offers her the same in return.

Wrinkle doesn't shy away from the brutality and inhumanity, physical and emotional, inherent in owning human beings and denying their personhoods. She details the philosophy and justification for slavery unflinchingly here, making them as multi-faceted as they must have been but without glorifying or accepting them as right or true. As Richardson talks to Wash, his views come across loud and clear but so does Wash's deeply hidden desire to destroy this man even as he is forced to listen without action, his complete negation as a human being. Flipping from point of view to point of view offers Wrinkle the chance to tell her tale from each character's perspective, sometimes blind to the other characters' deepest held feelings and sometimes in full recognition of them. As careful and beautifully well written as the novel is, though, it is a ponderous and slow read. The plot is simply Wash's life, and as such there's not much driving the story along. There is a muted feel to the events it details, slightly lessening the impact of even those so horrific they should inspire range and an outcry. While beautiful, this novel carried more promise than it delivered. ( )
  whitreidtan | Apr 19, 2014 |
By: Margaret Wrinkle
Published By Atlantic Monthly Press
Age Recommended: Adult
Reviewed By: Arlena Dean
Rating: 4
Book Blog For: GMTA
Review:

"Wash" by Margaret Wrinkle was a well written novel of 'personal stories of two people: Wash (slave) and Richardson's (Wash's owner).' Once I picked it up I wasn't able to put down because it was one was really very fascinating read about slavery from this point of view that kept me very interested. I found the characters very well developed and interesting. This was a interesting read that in the 1800's where the buying and selling of slaves in western territories were illegal and this is where we find that Wash has been hired out by his owner to 'breed.' I did find the 'breeding' practices somewhat very cruel. With me be a Afro American some of this was very hard for me especially some of the violence in this novel. However, this was well written and if you are looking for a book with some history, life of slaves then you have come to the right place for "Wash" will give it to you and yes I would recommend. ( )
1 vote arlenadean | Jun 13, 2013 |
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For all of us in Dead's Town,

and for us, the Living.
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In that land of beginnings spirits mingled with the unborn.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0802120660, Hardcover)

In this luminous debut, Margaret Wrinkle takes us on an unforgettable journey across continents and through time, from the burgeoning American South to West Africa and deep into the ancestral stories that reside in the soul. Wash introduces a remarkable new voice in American literature.

In early 1800s Tennessee, two men find themselves locked in an intimate power struggle. Richardson, a troubled Revolutionary War veteran, has spent his life fighting not only for his country but also for wealth and status. When the pressures of westward expansion and debt threaten to destroy everything he’s built, he sets Washington, a young man he owns, to work as his breeding sire. Wash, the first member of his family to be born into slavery, struggles to hold onto his only solace: the spirituality inherited from his shamanic mother. As he navigates the treacherous currents of his position, despair and disease lead him to a potent healer named Pallas. Their tender love unfolds against this turbulent backdrop while she inspires him to forge a new understanding of his heritage and his place in it. Once Richardson and Wash find themselves at a crossroads, all three lives are pushed to the brink.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:01:21 -0400)

When the pressures of early 1800s westward expansion and debt threaten to destroy everything he's built, a troubled Revolutionary War veteran embarks on an audacious plan involving setting one of his male slaves as his breeding sire.

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