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"Simply the most exciting book on black folklore and culture I have ever read." --Roger D. AbrahamsMules and Men is the first great collection of black America's folk world. In the 1930's, Zora Neale Hurston returned to her "native village" of Eatonville, Florida to record the oral histories, sermons and songs, dating back to the time of slavery, which she remembered heari "Simply the most exciting book on black folklore and culture I have ever read." --Roger D. AbrahamsMules and Men is the first great collection of black America's folk world. In the 1930's, Zora Neale Hurston returned to her "native village" of Eatonville, Florida to record the oral histories, sermons and songs, dating back to the time of slavery, which she remembered hearing as a child. In her quest, she found herself and her history throughout these highly metaphorical folk-tales, "big old lies," and the lyrical language of song. With this collection, Zora Neale Hurston has come to reveal'and preserve'a beautiful and important part of American culture. Zora Neale Hurston (1901-1960) was a novelist, folklorist, anthropologist and playwright whose fictional and factual accounts of black heritage are unparalleled. She is also the author of Tell My Horse, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Dust Tracks on a Road, and Mule Bone. Ruby Dee, a member of the Theatre Hall of Fame, starred on Broadway in the original productions of A Raisin in the Sun and Purlie Victorious, and was featured in Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing. She is also an award-winning author and the producer of numerous television dramas.


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"Simply the most exciting book on black folklore and culture I have ever read." --Roger D. AbrahamsMules and Men is the first great collection of black America's folk world. In the 1930's, Zora Neale Hurston returned to her "native village" of Eatonville, Florida to record the oral histories, sermons and songs, dating back to the time of slavery, which she remembered heari "Simply the most exciting book on black folklore and culture I have ever read." --Roger D. AbrahamsMules and Men is the first great collection of black America's folk world. In the 1930's, Zora Neale Hurston returned to her "native village" of Eatonville, Florida to record the oral histories, sermons and songs, dating back to the time of slavery, which she remembered hearing as a child. In her quest, she found herself and her history throughout these highly metaphorical folk-tales, "big old lies," and the lyrical language of song. With this collection, Zora Neale Hurston has come to reveal'and preserve'a beautiful and important part of American culture. Zora Neale Hurston (1901-1960) was a novelist, folklorist, anthropologist and playwright whose fictional and factual accounts of black heritage are unparalleled. She is also the author of Tell My Horse, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Dust Tracks on a Road, and Mule Bone. Ruby Dee, a member of the Theatre Hall of Fame, starred on Broadway in the original productions of A Raisin in the Sun and Purlie Victorious, and was featured in Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing. She is also an award-winning author and the producer of numerous television dramas.

30 review for Mules and Men

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    "Yeah, man. Love is a funny thing; love is a blossom. If you want yo' finger bit poke it at a possum.” A 1935 ethnographic collection, it sounds dreadful. I liked it. I think this woman is great. This is this the result of Zora Neale Hurston’s second field effort to collect African-American folklore. The first was a failure. She must have learned a lot. She captured not just stories, but voices that tell them. Cultural anthropologist of her day didn’t like her participation within the storytelling, "Yeah, man. Love is a funny thing; love is a blossom. If you want yo' finger bit poke it at a possum.” A 1935 ethnographic collection, it sounds dreadful. I liked it. I think this woman is great. This is this the result of Zora Neale Hurston’s second field effort to collect African-American folklore. The first was a failure. She must have learned a lot. She captured not just stories, but voices that tell them. Cultural anthropologist of her day didn’t like her participation within the storytelling, or maybe they resented how effective she was at collecting folklore. Her male peers in the Harlem Renaissance didn’t think she was bitter enough, disliked the laughter, and perpetuated white stereotypes. Well, she calls them “the Niggerati,” so there’s probably a lot of backstory that we don’t know. By the mid-1950’s her writing was out of print, and she died impoverished. Praise from Alice Walker in the mid-1970s sparked a renewed interest. All of Hurston’s major works have been republished. I’ll add the start of her introduction. You decide if want more. I was glad when somebody told me, "You may go and collect Negro folklore." In a way it would not be a new experience for me. When I pitched headforemost into the world I landed in in the crib of negroism. From the earliest rocking of my cradle, I had known about the capers Brer Rabbit is apt to cut and what Squinch Owl says from the house top. But it was fitting like a tight chemise. I couldn't see it for wearing it. It was only when I was off in college, away from my native surroundings that I could see myself like somebody else and stand off and look at my garment. Then I had to have the spyglass of Anthropology to look through at that. Dr. Boas asked me where I wanted to work and I said, "Florida," and gave, as my big reason, that "Florida is a place that draws people, white people from all the world, and Negroes from every Southern state surely and some from the North and West." So I knew that it was possible for me to get cross section of the Negro South in the one state. And then I realized that I was new myself, so it looked sensible for me, choose familiar ground. First place I aimed to stop to collect material was Eatonville, Florida. And now, I'm going to tell you why I decided to go to my native village first. I didn't go back there so that the home could make admiration over me because I had been up North to college and come back with a diploma and a Chevrolet. I knew they were not going to pay either one of these I items too much mind. I was just Lucy Hurston's daughter, Zora and even if I had, to use one of our down home expressions, had a Kaiser baby, and that's something that hasn't been done in this Country yet, I'd still be just Zora to the neighbors. If I had exalted myself to impress the town, somebody would have sent me word in a matchbox that I had been up North there and had rubbed the hair off of my head against some college wall, and then come back there with a lot of form and fashion and outside show to the world. But they'd stand flatfooted and tell me that they didn't have me, neither my sham-polish, to study 'bout. And that would have been that. I hurried back to Eatonville because I knew that the town was full of material and that I could get it without hurt, harm or danger. As early as I could remember it was the habit of the men folks particularly to gather on the store porch of evenings and swap stories. Even the women folks would stop and break a breath with them at times. As a child when I was sent down to Joe Clarke's store, I'd drag out my leaving as long as possible in order to hear more. Folklore is not as easy to collect as it sounds. The best source is where there are the least outside influences and these people, being usually underprivileged, are the shyest. They are most reluctant at times to reveal that which the soul lives by. And the Negro, in spite of his open faced laughter, his seeming acquiescence, is particularly evasive. You see we are a polite people and we do not say to our questioner, "Get out of here!" We smile and tell him or her something that satisfies the white person because, knowing so little about us, he doesn't know what he is missing. The Indian resists curiosity by a stony silence. The Negro offers a feather bed resistance, that is, we let the probe enter, but it never comes out. It gets smothered under a lot of laughter and pleasantries. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/19... https://scholarblogs.emory.edu/eng210...

  2. 4 out of 5

    Michael Finocchiaro

    This is a short story collection from the ingenious author Zora Neale Hurston. I would suggest reading Their Eyes Were Watching God and if you enjoy the style, dive deeply and fearlessly into her universe with Mules and Men.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Tracy

    Mules and Men should be read right along side Joseph Campbell's work. I was drawn more to the anthropological aspect of the book, more so than the literary merits (which it has lots of). Most people forget that Zora Neale Hurston was an Anthropologist who completed extensive fieldwork. In all of her works, anthropology plays an essential role. The use and importance of language is a reoccurring theme of hers, and in Mules and Men it is given equal examination along side African-American mytholog Mules and Men should be read right along side Joseph Campbell's work. I was drawn more to the anthropological aspect of the book, more so than the literary merits (which it has lots of). Most people forget that Zora Neale Hurston was an Anthropologist who completed extensive fieldwork. In all of her works, anthropology plays an essential role. The use and importance of language is a reoccurring theme of hers, and in Mules and Men it is given equal examination along side African-American mythology. The brilliance of this work is Ms. Hurston’s own mythology as she inserts herself into her anthropological findings. To study a culture or peoples from afar, or as an outsider, has always brought into question the validity, or “truths”, of the outcomes/findings. What is most interesting about Hurston’s insertion is that she makes no “bones” about the lies and mythology she puts forth. There is a thin line between truth and lies - we call it mythology. By placing herself into the work, she literally personifies it. Her approach also dips its toes into philosophy. The stories she collects, as well as the hoodoo section, are recognizable for its influence in African-American film, literature and music. However, a lot the myths are not contained to African-American culture. The trickster is found in a number of well-known characters, Bugs Bunny, the famous of all. After reading Mules and Men, I’d love to do some extensive research on the origins of Bugs Bunny. For those of you drawn to anthropology, mythology, folklore and the works of Joseph Campbell, Zora Neale Husrton’s Mules and Men is a must read.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Deb

    First off, I didn't read this book but listened to it on an audiobook version. This is a collection of black American folk lore. It is a a group of oral stories that were passed on to and written down by author Zora Neale Hurston (known for Their Eyes Were Watching God). Some of these stories were told back in the days of slavery and ones that Zora heard as a child. This was a project that Ms Hurston started back in the 1930s when she had returned to her hometown of Eatonville, Florida. What a wo First off, I didn't read this book but listened to it on an audiobook version. This is a collection of black American folk lore. It is a a group of oral stories that were passed on to and written down by author Zora Neale Hurston (known for Their Eyes Were Watching God). Some of these stories were told back in the days of slavery and ones that Zora heard as a child. This was a project that Ms Hurston started back in the 1930s when she had returned to her hometown of Eatonville, Florida. What a wonderful time I had listening to these imaginative stories told by the talented Ruby Dee. I felt like I was a little kid again, sitting on the floor, listening to a storyteller weaving some fantastical tales laced with humor, wisdom and culture. This is definitely one "book" that should be listened to and not just read. I can't say enough about Ruby Dee's reading of these stories. A true treasure that hasn't gotten enough attention.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

    “Belief in magic is older than writing. So nobody knows how it started.” I love the idea of this book. And many of the things I read in here will stay with me. But that in-between part--the actual reading of it--was not very fun. Zora Neale Hurston has such a gift for storytelling. In the beginning I was all excited about reading this because she told of driving around Florida in her car, sort of gathering up folks with stories to tell. The problem was, she handed the storytelling over to them, an “Belief in magic is older than writing. So nobody knows how it started.” I love the idea of this book. And many of the things I read in here will stay with me. But that in-between part--the actual reading of it--was not very fun. Zora Neale Hurston has such a gift for storytelling. In the beginning I was all excited about reading this because she told of driving around Florida in her car, sort of gathering up folks with stories to tell. The problem was, she handed the storytelling over to them, and their stories kind of fell flat for me. Page after page, I was missing Zora’s voice. This is full of fascinating folklore though, especially the part that details her experiences studying under a number of hoodoo doctors, complete with rituals and spells. Some of them were nasty—death and animal parts and “goofer dust” (dust from graves). Here’s a tame one: A woman went to Zora wanting to get her mother-in-law out of her house. Zora’s remedy was to core out an onion, write the lady’s name on five little pieces of paper and stuff them in the middle of the onion. Then wait for the lady to leave the house, and when she does, roll the onion behind her after she crossed the doorway. That was supposed to get her out of there within a few weeks. I figured there might be someone out there who could maybe use that information :-)

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lois

    This book is an invaluable gift to the Black Diaspora, most especially those from North America. Bless her, what a treasure and gift was Zora Neale Hurston

  7. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    I can't imagine that the printed book can beat the audio. This was a perfect listening experience. Highly recommend. If you are a fan of Jack's Tales being read to you then this would be a perfect fit. I can't imagine that the printed book can beat the audio. This was a perfect listening experience. Highly recommend. If you are a fan of Jack's Tales being read to you then this would be a perfect fit.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Bloodorange

    I wanted to read it for a fix of Zora Neale Hurston, and it wasn't the best choice I could make. Zora's voice is largely absent from the book. After two chapters, the tales became just meh. Sorry. And the first part of the book (58%, to be precise) is that: a minimalistic narrative frame of some documentary value, but not going _too_ much into details of peoples' day-to-day lives, serving as a background for folk tales. There were some stunning moments, though: Negro women _are_ punished in thes I wanted to read it for a fix of Zora Neale Hurston, and it wasn't the best choice I could make. Zora's voice is largely absent from the book. After two chapters, the tales became just meh. Sorry. And the first part of the book (58%, to be precise) is that: a minimalistic narrative frame of some documentary value, but not going _too_ much into details of peoples' day-to-day lives, serving as a background for folk tales. There were some stunning moments, though: Negro women _are_ punished in these parts for killing men, but only if they exceed the quota. I don't remember what the quota is. Perhaps I did hear but I forgot. One woman had killed five when I left that turpentine still where she lived. The sheriff was thinking of calling on her and scolding her severely.I can only say that my ability to read Southern African-American vernacular Hurston uses for the tales solidified. The second part (21%) concerns her initiations as a hoodoo priestess with different 'doctors' and hoodoo rituals, and even these chapters were - I don't believe I'm saying this - just that. Pretty dry material. Work material. This is a rare moment where you can see Zora immortalizing her vision of herself: "I see her conquering and accomplishing with the lightning and making her road with thunder. She shall be called the Rain-Bringer." ... With ceremony Turner painted the lightning symbol down my back ... This was to be my sign forever. The Great One was to speak to me in storms."The last part (21%) consists of glossary, songs, a list of "paraphernalia of conjure" and descriptions of rituals. I'd say this book may be of interest to people who either study black folklore or hoodoo/ voodoo. If you want to cure gonorrhea or rent a house; kill someone or simply give him 'running feet', this is the book for you. If you're a Hurston fan, but not strongly interested in folklore or early 20th century black culture, choose another one.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jeanne

    The brother in black puts a laugh in every vacant place in his mind. His laugh has a hundred meanings. It may mean amusement, anger, grief, bewilderment, chagrin, curiosity, simple pleasure or any other of the known or undefined emotions. (p. 62) Mules and Men is a collection of black stories and hoodoo (voodoo), published by Zora Neale Hurston in 1935. To collect such stories, you don't just Google your question; you need to listen carefully. You need to become an accepted member of the group.[B The brother in black puts a laugh in every vacant place in his mind. His laugh has a hundred meanings. It may mean amusement, anger, grief, bewilderment, chagrin, curiosity, simple pleasure or any other of the known or undefined emotions. (p. 62) Mules and Men is a collection of black stories and hoodoo (voodoo), published by Zora Neale Hurston in 1935. To collect such stories, you don't just Google your question; you need to listen carefully. You need to become an accepted member of the group.[But,] folklore is not as easy to collect as it sounds. The best source is where there are the least outside influences and these people, being usually under-privileged, are the shyest. They are most reluctant at times to reveal that which the soul lives by. And the Negro, in spite of his open-faced laughter, his seeming acquiescence, is particularly evasive. You see we are a polite people and we do not say to our questioner, “Get out of here!” We smile and tell him or her something that satisfies the white person because, knowing so little about us, he doesn’t know what he is missing. (p. 2) But just because she was black doesn't that gathering these stories was a piece of cake. Hurston initially betrayed herself as an outsider because she had worn a $12.74 dress from Macy's rather than the $1.98 mail-order dresses, bungalow aprons, and paper bags that the other women wore. Changing how she dressed, how she talked, how she presented herself helped people talk to her, but how does being a participant observer change what is observed? Are these the stories they would have told if she wasn't there? There is a playfulness to Hurston's stories, which belies their seriousness. One person tells a story and another ups the ante. I think of how a people gets around the oppression in their lives. They make and hang quilts to signal safety (or danger); they use language – vocabulary, word play, stories and story telling – to comfort, to reframe the current reality, to present alternate realities. While the Blacks in these stories are wise and canny and foolish, the Whites are mostly foolish. From one story:So John knelt down. “O Lord, here Ah am at de foot of de persimmon tree. If you’re gointer destroy Old Massa tonight, with his wife and chillun and everything he got, lemme see it lightnin’.” Jack up the tree, struck a match. Ole Massa caught hold of John and said: “John, don’t pray no more.” John said: “Oh yes, turn me loose so Ah can pray. O Lord, here Ah am tonight callin’ on Thee and Thee alone. If you are gointer destroy Ole Massa tonight, his wife and chillun and all he got, Ah want to see it lightnin’ again.” Jack struck another match and Ole Massa started to run. He give John his freedom and a heap of land and stock. He run so fast that it took a express train running at the rate of ninety miles an hour and six months to bring him back, and that’s how come niggers got they freedom today. (pp. 83-84). Hurston offers little analysis to these stories, as that would steal the life from them. Mules and Men is self-serve meaning-making. "They all got a hidden meanin’, jus’ like de Bible. Everybody can’t understand what they mean. Most people is thin-brained. They’s born wid they feet under de moon. Some folks is born wid they feet on de sun and they kin seek out de inside meanin’ of words.” (p. 125)

  10. 5 out of 5

    Nichole

    The following passage is taken from the blurb on the 2008 Harperperennial paperback edition. This blurb says it all: "...a treasury of black America's folklore as collected by a famous storyteller and anthropologist who grew up hearing the songs and sermons, sayings and tall tales that have formed an oral history of the South since the time of slavery. Returning to her hometown of Eatonville, Florida, to gather material, Zora Neale Hurston recalls "a hilarious night with a pinch of everything soc The following passage is taken from the blurb on the 2008 Harperperennial paperback edition. This blurb says it all: "...a treasury of black America's folklore as collected by a famous storyteller and anthropologist who grew up hearing the songs and sermons, sayings and tall tales that have formed an oral history of the South since the time of slavery. Returning to her hometown of Eatonville, Florida, to gather material, Zora Neale Hurston recalls "a hilarious night with a pinch of everything social mixed with the storytelling." Set intimately within the social context of black life, the stories, "big old lies," songs, Vodou customs, and superstitions recorded in these pages capture the imagination and bring back to life the humor and wisdom that is the unique heritage of African Americans." This has been the month for me to revisit all things Zora Neale Hurston, and it's been great. For years, I didn't realize how much I had missed her writing, so when I selected Mules and Men to sit down with a couple of days ago, I was pleasantly surprised. Reading Hurston feels like being born again. I loved those chapters of folklore. I was stunned to find out that a few of those "lies" Hurston recorded were actually stories I had loved listening to as a little girl. What an experience - then and now. Zora Neale Hurston was a jack of all literary trades: a prodigious folklorist and anthropologist, a highly-gifted novelist, a short-story writer, a reporter, even a playwright and poet. She was spunky; an adventurer who loved life; a woman who never let adversity block her path. Until the end of her life, she continued to write. Her kind of spirit is rare. It was a joy to revisit her.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Demetria

    Ms. Zora Neale Hurston is my literary hero. That is all.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Morgan

    This book read differently than I though. I thought this was going to be a collection of short stories, instead it's a non-fiction book with interviews. I still liked the book a lot, but I don't recommended to first time Zora readers. Part one is a little hard to read at times too because Zora tries to write the dialect of her people. The first part of this book is a collection of folklore from her home town Eatonville, Florida. At times I found this a little hard to read, but I still enjoyed hea This book read differently than I though. I thought this was going to be a collection of short stories, instead it's a non-fiction book with interviews. I still liked the book a lot, but I don't recommended to first time Zora readers. Part one is a little hard to read at times too because Zora tries to write the dialect of her people. The first part of this book is a collection of folklore from her home town Eatonville, Florida. At times I found this a little hard to read, but I still enjoyed hearing the tales. Nice to finally read something about Br'er Rabbit and his friends. I'm not sure why, but the original books are hard to find. I also enjoyed the John Henry stories as well. The second part of this book is a collection of hoodoo tales for New Orleans. I liked this part better. It was easier to read and I liked reading about Marie Laveau. This part made more sense after reading Tell My Horse too. Make sure you read the appendix parts of this too. It's filled with a glossary, songs (with lyrics and sheets), and some voodoo remedies. Those parts make the book a fun read. I really like how Zora wasn't just an author, but an anthropologist too.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    An interesting mix of travelogue, folklore, and ethnography. The book reads as two yoked under one title; in the first part Hurston embeds African-American folktales within a fast-moving narrative frame, while in the second she switches to more deliberately recounting her research of different practices of hoodoo in the South.

  14. 5 out of 5

    robin friedman

    Hurston's Mules And Men I read Zora Neale Hurston's novel "Their Eyes are Watching God" and wanted to read more. Hurston (1891 -- 1960) had studied anthropology at Barnard with one of the founders of modern anthropology, Franz Boas. With Boas' encouragement and funding from a private source, Hurston travelled South to collect African-American folklore. Her first stop was Eatonville, Florida, an all-black community where Hurston had spent much of her childhood. She then went South to Polk County, Hurston's Mules And Men I read Zora Neale Hurston's novel "Their Eyes are Watching God" and wanted to read more. Hurston (1891 -- 1960) had studied anthropology at Barnard with one of the founders of modern anthropology, Franz Boas. With Boas' encouragement and funding from a private source, Hurston travelled South to collect African-American folklore. Her first stop was Eatonville, Florida, an all-black community where Hurston had spent much of her childhood. She then went South to Polk County, Florida and its sawmills and the Everglades. She went further South to Pierce and Lakeland gathering folk materials before heading to New Orleans to study Hoodoo. In 1927, she rented a small house in Eau Gallie, near Melbourne, Florida where she organized her extensive notes. Her book, "Mules and Men" was published in 1935. "Mules and Men" is an outstanding source of information about the folk-tales, called "lies", of rural Southern African-Americans. (Florida was a gathering place for African-Americans throughout the South because of the economic opportunities it offered.) She visited old friends in Eatonville, and won the confidence of people in the other communities she visited. The tales include animal stories ("why dogs and cats are enemies", "how the snake got poison," for example) stories of pre-civil war days involving a slave named "Jack" and his master, stories of the battle between the sexes, contests between "Jack" and the devil, bragging contests, and much else. Hurston also collected songs and lyrics, including "John Henry", sermons, and hoodoo formulas while in New Orleans. But this book is much more than a compilation of folk materials. Hurston brings her material to life by bringing the story-tellers and the communities she visited to life. She writes with deep and obvious affection for the rural African-American communities of the South in the mid-1920s. Hurston's folk-tales are embedded in a fascinating story of their own as she introduces the reader to the small towns, the parties, the sawmills, the jooks, and the life of her story tellers. One of the characters that Hurston befriends is a woman named Big Sweet who lives with a man named Joe. Joe cheats on Big Sweet, and Big Sweet puts Joe right in no uncertain terms. Big Sweet and her enemy, a woman named Lucy, draw knives with potentially fatal consequences in a fight in a jook that involves Zora. Big Sweet is a strong and convincingly drawn character in her own right. The characters and communities in the book were for me even more convincing that the stories. The first part of Mules and Men describes Hurston's collecting of folk tales, while the second, shorter part discusses her experiences with Hoodoo doctors in New Orleans. Hoodoo played a large role in the lives of some African-Americans. I was reminded of Memphis Minnie's blues song "Hoodoo Lady" and of Muddy Waters' "I got my mojo working". The founder of Hoodoo was a woman named Marie Leveau. Hurston describes how she gained the confidence of several Hoodoo doctors in New Orleans, received initiation from them, and was in one case asked to stay on as a successor practitioner. Hurston relays Hoodoo spells used to kill an enemy, to make an unwanted person leave town, to get a lover or to get rid of an unwanted lover, and to bring help to those in jail. She recounts the stories of these conjures, of the Hoodoo doctors, and their clients with a great deal of seriousness. I found this section of the book fascinating but troubling and different from the folk-tales and people discussed in the first part of the book. The book is written almost entirely in dialect, but I found it easy to follow as the book progressed. Hurston wrote this book to preserve an important part of African-American culture in the United States and to express her commitment to and love for this culture. She believed this culture had its own strengths and could develop its own course and destiny internally. This is a fascinating, moving book and a thought-provoking picture of one form of the African-American experience in the United States. Robin Friedman

  15. 4 out of 5

    Arlene

    4.0 Stars. Since this was an abridge version of the book, which I didn't know that I had, I wasn't sure if i would have liked it. There was one tale, or "lie" as it is said to be in the book that I felt was cut off, maybe it was just bad editing. But other than that, this was a pleasure to listen to. It is told from Zora's POV and recalls tales, or lies as they are called, that she has heard from her childhood told by the people of her hometown. I think some of them are ridiculous, like the one 4.0 Stars. Since this was an abridge version of the book, which I didn't know that I had, I wasn't sure if i would have liked it. There was one tale, or "lie" as it is said to be in the book that I felt was cut off, maybe it was just bad editing. But other than that, this was a pleasure to listen to. It is told from Zora's POV and recalls tales, or lies as they are called, that she has heard from her childhood told by the people of her hometown. I think some of them are ridiculous, like the one about how black folks became black, SPOILER >> it was all a misunderstanding lol. I enjoyed this. It was a quick listen, about 3 hours.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Lupita Reads

    I completely loved the book. There is something really beautiful about knowing that she went out and collected these book of lies that have out lived her and will hopefully outlive us. This is what makes life beautiful. Reading stories from all walks of life and different perspectives. I truly enjoyed this book. So true and very refreshing. I totally can't wait to re-read "Their eyes were watching God". I completely loved the book. There is something really beautiful about knowing that she went out and collected these book of lies that have out lived her and will hopefully outlive us. This is what makes life beautiful. Reading stories from all walks of life and different perspectives. I truly enjoyed this book. So true and very refreshing. I totally can't wait to re-read "Their eyes were watching God".

  17. 5 out of 5

    Melanie Page

    Mules and Men by Zora Neale Hurston can be a hilarious read at times, all while giving insight into 1930s Floridian black communities in the swamps. Yet, this collection can struggle because it ultimately doesn’t know how to be what it wants to be. Check out my full review at Grab the Lapels. Mules and Men by Zora Neale Hurston can be a hilarious read at times, all while giving insight into 1930s Floridian black communities in the swamps. Yet, this collection can struggle because it ultimately doesn’t know how to be what it wants to be. Check out my full review at Grab the Lapels.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ka’leneReads

    This is a GoodRead! Unaware I was reading an abridged version of this read it still was a GoodRead, I just wonder what was taking out, the reason I normally do not read abridged books.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Patrice Jones

    3.5 stars

  20. 5 out of 5

    Illiterate

    Pioneering folklore and ethnography. Little analysis.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Alejandra

    The writing itself was great, but the most amazing bit was how her style conveyed both love and respect for tradition, black history and floklore.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Rowan

    I forgot that Hurston was an anthropologist! This book (which I listened to as an audio book, highly recommended) contained stories and commentary from her fieldwork collecting African-American folklore in Florida and Louisiana.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ka’leneReads

    This is a GreatRead!!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kirstie

    I need to go back and re-read Their Eyes Were Watching God. It has been quite a few years since I read that and I remember the feelings I felt while reading better than actual details. In any case, this is a bit of a different novel-it's closer to nonfiction with a focal point being the lies or tall tales of the African communities from Florida to New Orleans in the 1930s. Zora was a bit of an outsider even though she was born in the South and was an African American woman because she was educat I need to go back and re-read Their Eyes Were Watching God. It has been quite a few years since I read that and I remember the feelings I felt while reading better than actual details. In any case, this is a bit of a different novel-it's closer to nonfiction with a focal point being the lies or tall tales of the African communities from Florida to New Orleans in the 1930s. Zora was a bit of an outsider even though she was born in the South and was an African American woman because she was educated more than many of those she spoke to, who had greater experiences in hard labor, and she was being funded for her research which afforded her better clothing and resources than perhaps many she met along the way. She actually becomes quite aware of this at one point, scolding herself for wearing a much nicer dress to a dance than anyone in attendance. At first, one can tell the communities are cautious of her and suspicious. They also think that because she's rich she won't fit in to their circle. But Zora seems to have a huge mission to capture the folk tales and tall tales that these men (mostly men) have to offer as they try their best to outdo one another in their lying contests. They explain everything Biblical to animal and tell stories of how the slave in past times outsmarted his master. They explain relationships between man and woman, man and the devil, man and God, and the way the world is to them. It's sometimes fascinating, and at other times quite amusing to hear how the woodpecker got his funny head, for instance. The men are creative and entertaining and Zora sucks it all in to try to document it. It's important to document the community at this time and how they pass down these stories amongst themselves. It's almost like just as an important past time as a dance or African gambling games to get them through their days and they relish in being able to tell the stories. There is also quite a bit about songs that were popularly sung. Though the men seem rather sexist, their personalities are depicted very vividly and, perhaps because Zora uses their dialect in print and writes out words as they would have said them, they are easy to picture with characters almost too big for the page. What really threw me off reading this book was actually the hoodoo accounts of ways in which Zora joined and became a part of this community to learn about the ways of black magic in killing someone, banishing someone from your house, making someone go through extreme pain, making someone love you more, and making a whole court case go your favor. Zora tells accounts of gathering materials and following through on the wishes of the community who want all of these things to take place and gather up the funds to help see their desires to fruition. Zora shares a sort of closure to most of these cases that the person really did die or that the hoodoo actually worked and, though this whole section seemed so dark and bizarre to me, I found myself wondering if perhaps there was some actual truth to Hoodoo's effectiveness, which surprised me in and of itself. And, the very thought that Zora made these specific concoctions published for everyone also gives me the heebie jeebies...just in case you were wondering about how to banish a loved one or something like that. Hopefully, you weren't. So this work is important as a historical document and it is an interesting one as well. I'm glad it exists and am sad poor Zora suffered in her later life and it didn't seem like she was nearly as appreciated for being both a great writer as well as a female writer and an African American female writer as she should have been while she was alive. Hopefully, her spirit is happy now.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Justin Sangster

    This book was interesting at times due to Hurston's description the socio/historic nature of Southern localities where she collected her stories. The section on voodoo was the most interesting to me. The "lies" or folktales she collected were interesting, but they just didn't have much of a payoff in my opinion. I'm glad a read it. This book was interesting at times due to Hurston's description the socio/historic nature of Southern localities where she collected her stories. The section on voodoo was the most interesting to me. The "lies" or folktales she collected were interesting, but they just didn't have much of a payoff in my opinion. I'm glad a read it.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ann

    Zora Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God is my favorite book, the descriptions are like deep-pile velvet. I expected the same style from Mules and Men. As I understand it, she collected these stories as part of a project at Barnard over a period of at least 7 years and did not initially write after she collected the information,but made another trip back to her birthplace, though I would have trouble calling it her "home" since she seemed to carry that sense of home with her, perhaps a nomad Zora Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God is my favorite book, the descriptions are like deep-pile velvet. I expected the same style from Mules and Men. As I understand it, she collected these stories as part of a project at Barnard over a period of at least 7 years and did not initially write after she collected the information,but made another trip back to her birthplace, though I would have trouble calling it her "home" since she seemed to carry that sense of home with her, perhaps a nomad at heart, she seemed to be able to set her tent anywhere and make a home of where she was. In this way it appears to me that Hurston, possessed of so great a gift of expression, found difficulty here. Some of the stories she tells seem truncated. My feeling is that she wanted to say more about them, but felt that she perhaps could not because it might have separated her from her heritage. What I wanted was to hear her own interpretation. In the second part of the book, HooDoo, I sense more of herself. It is interesting to me that nearly 10 years elapsed between this book and the gathering of information for it. I have a sense that this one was more "work" for her rather than the flow of her truest creativity.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Joy

    This is one of the most unique books I have ever read. The first part of it is Hurston's collections of folklore from southern, rural African Americans in Florida and other places. She wrote them so beautifully in the vernacular of the people telling the stories that it feels like the reader is sitting right next to Hurston on the front porch of someone's home or at the Juke Joint. There are stories of survival, triumph and failure as people come together to live their lives in communities. Hurs This is one of the most unique books I have ever read. The first part of it is Hurston's collections of folklore from southern, rural African Americans in Florida and other places. She wrote them so beautifully in the vernacular of the people telling the stories that it feels like the reader is sitting right next to Hurston on the front porch of someone's home or at the Juke Joint. There are stories of survival, triumph and failure as people come together to live their lives in communities. Hurston also thoughtfully provided a glossary of terms, foot notes and thorough appendices so that she did not have to interrupt the flow of the language as it was naturally spoken. The second part of the book was stories of Hurston's training as a "Hoodoo" (Voodoo) practitioner. It was absolutely fascinating as she detailed her initiations as well as the people coming in to request the doctor's assistance with problems s/he was experiencing. At the end, there is a catalogue of some of the ingredients that Hoodoo practitioners use to bring luck, love, end relationships, etc. It's pretty amazing.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ally

    Zora Neale Hurston had a great interest in the African American storytelling and folklore traditions which were a prominent part of her childhood in Eatonville, Florida as well as across the entire American South. At a time in history when the lives of African Americans weren't given much regard at all, Hurston (with assistance from a Charlotte Osgood Mason - a patron of many Harlem Renaissance authors) spent 1928-1932 visiting her hometown and the surrounding cities, as well as New Orleans in L Zora Neale Hurston had a great interest in the African American storytelling and folklore traditions which were a prominent part of her childhood in Eatonville, Florida as well as across the entire American South. At a time in history when the lives of African Americans weren't given much regard at all, Hurston (with assistance from a Charlotte Osgood Mason - a patron of many Harlem Renaissance authors) spent 1928-1932 visiting her hometown and the surrounding cities, as well as New Orleans in Louisiana. She spoke with all sorts of people, and recorded the stories they told. These stories were collected into the book MULES AND MEN. There are 70 stories from her travels in Florida, and 30 stories in New Orleans. The later section includes a variety of Voodoo rituals and her experiences within the Voodoo ("hoodoo") community there. If you have an interest in folklore and legend, especially in the African American/slavery traditions, then you should really spend time with MULES AND MEN.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sean A.

    this proved to be a lively and approachable vision of the 'big lies' (folktales) of southern black folk from an era that seems bygone or at least far away to a white midwesterner living in the 21st century such as myself. the content of these tales is biting yet down-to-earth, over-the-top yet earnest. the narrative is made up almost entirely of a travelogue of sorts, with our narrator going from town to town in florida documenting different variations of the oral tradition of these towns, story this proved to be a lively and approachable vision of the 'big lies' (folktales) of southern black folk from an era that seems bygone or at least far away to a white midwesterner living in the 21st century such as myself. the content of these tales is biting yet down-to-earth, over-the-top yet earnest. the narrative is made up almost entirely of a travelogue of sorts, with our narrator going from town to town in florida documenting different variations of the oral tradition of these towns, story piled atop story interspersed with zora's own personal adventures getting to know the folks. i kind of wished for more of an ending of sorts as the book kind of just stopped. still, the jaunt to get there was fun at times, spooky and harrowing at others, but altogether immensely meaningful and even really educational pertaining to a time, place, and tradition which would have been lost to me had i not opened this book.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Mckinney

    This is really probably a 3.5 for me, but you can't give half-stars here, so I'd rather overrate it than underrate it. Some of the stories in here are genuinely hilarious and very fun to read and overall this was a great introduction to some themes in African American folklore. I'd like to try to find a book that's a bit more recent and that maybe has a bit more analysis because a lot of Mules and Men is just ZNH driving around Florida and transcribing people's stories without much commentary on This is really probably a 3.5 for me, but you can't give half-stars here, so I'd rather overrate it than underrate it. Some of the stories in here are genuinely hilarious and very fun to read and overall this was a great introduction to some themes in African American folklore. I'd like to try to find a book that's a bit more recent and that maybe has a bit more analysis because a lot of Mules and Men is just ZNH driving around Florida and transcribing people's stories without much commentary on the content of the tales, so there were moments where it would've been fun to hear someone smarter than me try to help the reader interpret some of these tales. Of course, I think this is kind of the point of all the stories in the first place- they're very much tales from and about a specific people that help create internal solidarity and differentiate those who get it and those who don't.

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