It was my second fan letter.
Lying on a mountainside, where my sister and I were at summer camp, I had my hands in the air pretending to weave the clouds, as I had that morning begun weaving a basket. Hettie Cohen grew up in a middle class home in the largely Jewish neighborhood of Laurelton in Queens, New York.
Her parents were distant and formal, but they unconditionally loved their youngest daughter. As she approached adulthood they encouraged her to pursue her desire to be her own person, free of the stifling restraints that trapped most women in early s America: Men had little use for an outspoken woman, I'd been warned.
What I wanted, I was told, was security and upward mobility, which might be mine if I learned to shut my mouth. Myself I simply expected, by force of will, to assume a new shape in the future.
Unlike any woman in my family or anyone I'd ever actually known, I was going to become—something, anything, whatever that meant.
After attending Mary Washington College in conservative segregated Virginia and graduate school at Columbia, she settled down in New York. She made friends, had several lovers of various backgrounds, and reveled in the life of a single woman in a city that allowed its youth a degree of space to shed cultural expectations and live freely.
She found work as a subscription manager for an magazine about jazz records, and one day at work she was asked to interview a candidate for the job of shipping manager: The applicant, arrived on a gust of sweet afternoon, turned out to be a young black man, no surprise.
It was he who was surprised. I sat him down and we started to talk. He was smart, and very direct, and for emphasis stabbed the air with his third—not index—finger, an affectation to notice, of course. But his movements were easy, those of a man at home not only in skin but in muscle and bone.
And he led with his head. What had started with Kafka just kept on going.
The man was LeRoi Jones, a former college student and aspiring writer, who had recently received a dishonorable discharge from the US Air Force on suspicion of harboring Communist beliefs.
Roi was hired, and he and Hattie began a friendship that grew ever closer, until they became lovers and inseparable companions several months later. The two moved in together, living a bohemian lifestyle initially in the East Village.
As Jones began to gain recognition for his writing, with Hettie's support, the couple was exposed to Beat writers such as Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg.How I Became Hettie Jones has ratings and 49 reviews. Raymond said: I really enjoyed reading this book. An old friend recommended it to me many month 4/4.
How I Became Hettie Jones. by Hettie Jones.
Be the first to review this item. Hettie Jones presents an intimate memoir of her life--from her middle-class Jewish family in Queens to her marriage to the controversial black poet.
The front cover of How I Became Hettie Jones () is crowded, virtually overflowing with representations of its subject (fig.
13). 1 It presents three images of Hettie Jones—in the first, she appears at the rear of a group. How I Became Hettie Jones illustrates her aesthetics in a mix of the beautiful and the terrible, in that her memoir is really a work of art about her life, a discussion of the ebb and flow.
Jones received acclaim for her memoir, How I Became Hettie Jones (published in by Grove Press), that describes her marriage to LeRoi Jones (currently known as Amiri Baraka) and her personal struggles in an effort to find her own identity, as she was labeled as both an outcast of her Jewish family and wife of a black artist during the Civil.
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