The Matter Is Life by J. California CooperThe Matter Is Life by J. California Cooper

The Matter Is Life

byJ. California Cooper

Paperback | September 13, 1992

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about

A fourth collection of stories by the award-winning author.
J. California Cooper is the author of four novels and six collections of stories. She was honored as Black Playwright of the Year, and her work received the American Book Award, the James Baldwin Writing Award, and the Literary Lion Award from the American Library Association. She died in 2014.
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Title:The Matter Is LifeFormat:PaperbackDimensions:240 pages, 8 × 5.2 × 0.52 inPublished:September 13, 1992Publisher:Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:038541174X

ISBN - 13:9780385411745

Reviews

Bookclub Guide

US1. Most of Cooper's stories focus on the challenges that beset women living in desperate circumstances. How does she give these stories a universal resonance, making them appealing to a variety of readers?2. The search for love is a common theme in the stories. In addition to the romantic relationships between men and women, what other forms of love does Cooper explore?3. To what extent are Cooper's protagonists role models? Do you think that the stories are meant to convey certain moral or ethical values?4. In what ways do the stories in The Future Has a Past differ from those in the earlier books? Do the problems--and the dreams--of the characters reflect changes in our society? Why or why not?5. What do Cooper's novels share with other books, both fiction and nonfiction, that you have read about the Civil War period? Do her descriptions of the relationships between African Americans and whites before and immediately following the war differ from your previous impressions or beliefs? In what ways does Cooper challenge the traditional depiction of the boundaries between slave and master, black and white? Which characters or relationships do you find particularly surprising? Are the white characters as fully developed as the African Americans are?6. Cooper touches on a wide range of social, economic, and political issues in her writing, including the historical divisions between races and classes; interracial relationships; the significance of complexion in society in general and within the African American community specifically; and the importance of education. What techniques does she use to incorporate these subjects without disrupting the flow of the stories? In what ways can fiction be more effective than nonfiction in revealing the forces that shape our world?7. In describing Cooper's writing, Alice Walker said, "Her style is deceptively simple and direct and the vale of tears in which her characters reside is never so deep that a rich chuckle at a foolish person's foolishness cannot be heard." How do these traits mirror classic forms of storytelling, from myths and Biblical parables to the folk stories passed down through oral traditions? Why do you think Cooper may have chosen to use these timeless techniques to tell her stories?

From Our Editors

American Book Award-winner J. California Cooper spins insight and irony into modern-day parables about simple people who love too little and too late, and about those who toil and struggle against a difficult and often hostile environment. This fourth collection of Cooper's unforgettable stories is alternately charming, disturbing, poignant, and humorous

Editorial Reviews

"Exuberant. With her soul-stirring cry, Cooper urges readers to seize and savor every drop of life."--San Francisco Chronicle"These stories are jazzy, clubby, folksy, small towny, populist, perky, and if you don't like them, you must be in an absolutely unshakeable bad mood...Halfway between gossip and fairy tales, brimming with faith and high spirits, The Matter is Life clues us in on the lives of black women. Buy it. I loved it."--Carolyn See, Los Angeles Times