The Underground Railroad

Just finished my latest Audible book last week – it was called The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead.

Before that, I had been reading a book about somebody’s life – and death – during the Holocaust, and like a bloody eejit I thought this might be a light-hearted foil. Why was I so dumb? Well, it isn’t a phrase that is commonly used in the UK, so it was only when I started that I learned that the book was about slavery.

It is an award-winning book – it won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2017. That was the reason I chose it. I thought a book which won something like that was bound to be a good read. It took a while to get into it, though – I put it down about halfway through and didn’t pick it up again for a few months, so it wasn’t massively engaging. Second-time, I started from scratch but got all the way through.

It is about a slave-girl on a Georgia plantation, who escapes, and the tale follows her run up north. Obviously there are twists, but…you’ll have to read the book.

The thing I found strange about the book was that the Underground Railroad was written as an actual railroad – choo, choo, and so on – where my understanding is that it is a figure of speech. I had to do a double-take when I heard that.

I guess overall it was a good story. There was one part I’d have done very differently. They send a slave-catcher after her, who duly catches her, but at one point the tables are turned and she has a gun on him. She rides off, leaving him tied up. And, of course, he later comes back to haunt her. Me? I’d have shot him between the eyes. It’s simple – him or me. But I suppose the book would only be half as long if she’d done things my way!

Anyway, the subject matter was nowhere near as lightweight as I’d hoped – I assume that despite the story being fiction, the author made it as true-to-life as possible, and some parts are horrific – but overall I’d say this was a good read.

Slippery Customer

for Fandango’s One Word Challenge (FOWC) of 17 November 2020, exuberant. With a nod to The Wizard of Oz.

Getting older and not quite so quick,
The poor Tin Man’s joints start to stick,
They were over-exuberant,
Applying the lubricant,
And he drowned in the subsequent slick!