‘Helga Crane sat alone in her room, which at that hour, eight in the evening, was in soft gloom. Only a single reading lamp, dimmed by a great black and red shade, made a pool of light on the blue Chinese carpet, on the bright covers of the books which she had taken down from their long shelves, on the white pages of the opened one selected, on the shining brass bowl crowded with many-colored nasturtiums beside her on the low table, and on the oriental silk, which covered the stool at her slim feet.’
I had to read this section again, just to confirm that the second sentence was really that long and to immerse myself in the language, style and how they hung together. It worked for me and, in fact, grabbed my attention more, even though I know most writers would try to avoid such long sentences, for fear of losing the reader.
Nella Larsen was of dual heritage. Her father was from one of the Dutch colonies in the Caribbean and her mother was Danish born, so it isn’t surprising that both stories have a theme of identity and race running through them.
You can read my review of both stories on the New Black Magazine’s site, by clicking here.