no more “complicated.” It is mereh^ thenCinderella ston’ retooled to accommodatena radicall)- feminist—W’alker wouldnsay “womanisf—slant. Celie. its centr;ilnfigure, is a poor black housevvtfe li”ing innrtiral Georgia during the 1930’s who isnsurrounded not b}- ugly, invidiousnsisters, but by :issorted “no-count” mdesnwho are utterly devoid of intelligencenand sensitivity. Her stepson, for example,nlikes to say “tlie wife spose to mind,”nand frequenth- flaUs away at his recalcitrantnspouse. The heroine is herselfnregularly thrashed by her husbandnAlbert, who otherwise does little butnsuck on his pipe, stare into space, andndeliver lines like these: “Wives is likenchildren. You got to let ’em know whongot the upper hand. Nothing can do thatnbetter than a good sound beating.” Innsum, these misog>’nous louts are so flatlyndrawn that, next to them, Bluto andnPopeye look like Bouvard and Pecuchet.nVjeUe’s princess charming is one ShugnAvery, an itinerant blues singer whononce Uved with Albert, and who returnsnto his house to be nursed by Celie afternfalling ill during a performance at annearby club. Shug wears feathered hats,ntight dresses, and “sassy red shoes.” Shencarries a smikeskin bag. She also smokesncigarettes, swigs gin, and swears like anstevedore. With her caustic wit shenkeeps the menfolk in Une. Even the hardboilednAlbert sweats a bit when thenredoubtable Shug sweeps into a room.nThroughout The Color Purple Shugnattempts to raise Ceiie’s consciousnessnby reminding her that whUe the averagenman can be trained to become a halfwayndecent bed partner, he cannot easilyncease being a cad. After all, he is part of anpatriarchal system that is malign andnomnipotent and bent on staying thatnway, “Man.” explains Shug, “corruptneverything. He on your box of grits, inn}X>ur head aiid all o’ver the radio. He trynto make )^ou tliink he eveiywhere.” Innshort, he is the bogeyman as well as BignBrother, and he’s at the root (rfall socialninjustice and htiraan woe.nCelie finally- gi-es up on Albert andnIn the Mail,nNicaragua: Christians Under Fire by Huniberto Belli; The Puebla Institute; GardeonCit>% MI. ‘Hie conclusion—“.N’icaragiian Chrisiians arc confronting a .Vlarxist-Lcninist regimenwiiicli, in spite of its promises regarding religious and odier basic humiin rights, is bent on securingntotalit;irirui rule”—is strongl)’ supported.nSoftening uithotttLiberalization in tlieSoviet Union: The Case ofJiiriKukk byReinnTaagepera; University Press of America; Wasiiiiigton, DC. Dissent ma}’ seem to be morentolerated in the S()’iet I’nion nowadays, but death is still often the res(.)lution.nThe Redemption of Matter: Toward the Rapprochement of Science and Religion bynJames W.Jones; Uoiversit>’ Press of America; Washington, DC. Of C|u;intiim mechanics andnthe Hoh- Cihost,nmoves to Memphis, where—with Shug’snhelp—she metamorphoses into an eminentndesigner of women’s trousers.nAfter hearing the gospel according tonShug, she gives up Christianity, too. FornGod, proclaims Shug, can rarely benfound in church, and never in the “whitenfolks’ white bible.” God, she reckons, isnsimply “inside you and itiside everybodynelse.” Moreover, “God ain’t a he or a she,nbut a It.” And “It” is remarkably laid back.nIt could care less about, say, The SevennDeadly Sins; It just wants everybody tonsrdff the flowers and listen to the birdiesnsing. It wants everybody to have a goodntime—^with every body. As the hedonisticnShug puts it while womanhandlingnCelie: “You can just relax, go withneverything that’s going, and praise Godnby liking what you like.” So much, then,nfor “succinct, profound discussionsnabout the existence of God.”nAnSearch of OurMothers’ Gardens, isna cumulation of 15 years worth of Ms.nWalker’s essays and reviews, some ofnwhich first appeared in Ms. and Motha-nJones Again, there is much here to shownthat Walker is a gifted handler of Englishnprose, and an able fashioner of the autobiographicalnvignette. Especially affectingnare her scattered recollections ofnwhat it was like to be the daughter of anblack shaiTcropper in central Georgia atna time when “culluds” still had to movento the back of the bus and suffer thenpublic snubs and insults of bigotednwhites. CoramendabJe, too, is Walker’snnnaccount of her 1973 search throughnFlorida for the grave of the black novelistnZora Neale Hurston—a search that ultimatelyntook her to a rural cemeterynthick with weeds, insects, and snakes.nThis piece is ftmny and touching and,nunlike the cemetery, neatly plotted.nOn the whole, however, hi Search ofnOur Mothers’ Gardens is a trying book,nfor it brims with the contentious andnsometimes awesomely absurd rhetoricnthat feminist polemicists are wont tonspout. In these pages, Ms. Walker announcesnthat “the whole notion of ladyhoodnis repugnant to me.” She suggestsnthat it is “downright mind straining” forn”white women scholars to think of blacknwomen as women.” She suggests toonthat “Nature is phasing out the whitenman”—and she considers it “good news”nAt one point. Walker identifies as hernprinciple nemesis an “oppressivencapitalist societ}'” which breeds “sexismnand racism.” But elsewhere she makes itnclear that the dreaded white man is reaUynEnemy Number One, since he continuesnto commit “crimes against humanity.nAgainst women. Against every livingnperson of color. Against thepoor.” Wliitenmen are driven by a “lust” to “dominate,nexploit, and despoil not just our planet,nbut the rest of the universe.” Haven’tnthey already left their “litter” on thenmoon? Thunders Walker: “Ifvv’e have anyntrue love for the stars, planets, the rest ofncreation, we must do everj’thing we cannto keep white men away from them.”nNot surprisingly, Fidel Castro is onen,«5.f §84nIIn