Thommy Ford Reads

A blog by the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library

“Blood-Burning Moon” by Jean Toomer

saturday-shortsSaturday Shorts Week 37
Welcome to our weekend series for 2014. 
Every Saturday this year one of our staff will suggest a favorite short story from the library’s collection, all of them a great choice for quick weekend reading.

Yelps came from all over the countryside. Chickens cackled. Roosters crowed, heralding the bloodshot eyes of southern awakening. Singers in the town were silenced. They shut their windows down…


You’ll find “Blood-Burning Moon” in Jean Toomer’s collection of stories, poems, and drama: Cane.

It’s about a love triangle that crosses racial boundaries in the deep south of 1930. Louisa is caught between two men, Bob Stone and Tom Burwell. Neither has good intentions for her. One is mean, white, and rich. The other is mean, black, and poor. I doubt I’m ruining any surprises when I tell you it all ends in murder and a lynch mob.

But Jean Toomer works wonders with this well-worn tale. In his hands it becomes an elemental story of jealousy and violence that has the ageless feeling of folklore and fairytale. The threat of violence hovers over the whole tale like the maddening full moon that Toomer puts at the back of each scene.

If you’ve never read Toomer’s Cane, you’re missing one of the great, truly unique works of 20th Century American literature. A visionary mix of stories, song, drama, and poetry. “Blood-Burning Moon” is just one of it’s highlights.

Review by Matthew

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This entry was posted on September 13, 2014 by in Book Review, Fiction, Saturday Shorts, Short Stories.
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