Sitzbook: "Quicksand" by Nella Larsen

Author Nella Larsen. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.
I won’t write a big review about this book, but I did say that I wanted to at least mention each book on my Sitzbook list this year. If you remember, that’s a book a week, i.e. 52 books, and if I do 52 big book reviews, this blog may become a bit dull. But we’ll see…
Anyhow, let’s look quickly at Quicksand. I found this in one of the Norton anthologies of American Literature that I had around the house. I left it in Fort Collins when I was visiting my family over Christmas, though –it was getting mold here in Costa Rica– so I’m not sure if I made any notes or dog-eared any pages so I wouldn’t forget any important piece of information.
But I don’t think so. I was a short book, as was the other book I’ve read by Larsen, Crossing Over. Both deal with a half-black, half-white protagonist trying to cope with the pressures of society in the early 20th century. Larsen herself had a Danish mother and an African-American-West Indian father, and apparently both of her books have somewhat autobiographical overtones. If you want to know more, you’ve gotta roll up your sleeves just read the Wikipedia article about her, like I did. Lazy readers…
The book was good, although other than Crossing Over, I’m not sure I’ve read too many other pieces of literature to compare it to. The main thing that I noticed was that no matter where the protagonist Helga Crane found herself, whether teaching in the south, living in poverty in Chicago, living with a friend in Harlem, or living with relatives in Copenhagen, she seemed to suffer from discontent, restlessness, and anxiousness. But I suppose that may have been the point of the book; that a person in her circumstances, with her background, at that point in time, couldn’t truly feel at home and in peace anywhere in the world.
I was glad I read this book, although I couldn’t really say I “enjoyed” it, since it was a bit of a downer when all was said and done. I did like the Copenhagen part, if only because I hadn’t expected that at all, and I also have found myself staying with Danish relatives outside of Copenhagen for a while (that sounds strange, but it’s true).
So, that’s all for the moment. Thanks for reading, and have a great day!
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