'Well Then, Carry On': Piercing Recalcitrant History in LaShonda Katrice Barnett's Jam on the Vine
Explicates a well-regarded contemporary novel (2015) that wrestles with African-American history, Jim Crow violence, and the sexual identity of its central character, a Black lesbian who becomes a prominent and outspoken journalist. Hemingway makes a cameo appearance as a young man from Illinois who lands a cub-reporting job at the Kansas City Star that the ambitious Ivoe Williams had also applied for. Ivoe soon starts her own newspaper for African-American readers. Rather than using Hemingway as a symbol of white repression, however, Barnett admires his influence as a writer and, in correspondence with McKible, holds him up as an inspiration, along with Toni Morrison and the crusading reporter Ida B. Wells. As McKible writes, "Hemingway and Wells are guiding spirits in Jam on the Vine because they provide Barnett with examples of the clear prose, social activism, and perseverance that were needed by African American writers and journalists resisting Jim Crow, both at home and abroad."