Sunday, August 11, 2013

the word "cracker" has many meanings but when it is capitalized yet another…

this is a weekly blog about words that I find are indicative of the 21st century use of words as subjective and often used to obliquely as well as violently to express opinion, but for the next 3 months I will not be blogging on that weekly schedule—instead I will post 12 blog weeks at the same time, though the posts will be separate and should be read on that basis.

In an unfortunate way, I was included in what I believe was another person's misunderstanding about this word, "cracker," which I have realized was an emotional and judgmental use of the word "Cracker" applied to posting a negative review about the Kindle E-book version of recently published novel. 

The negative review for my novel was rife with an accusation, racist, and the entire review was prominently displayed on my book's Amazon site as one of the 3 reviews readers have posted about my book.

Though I am planning a trip do read my travel related blog for more information , I was not focused on checking my book sale site for new review posts.  But this weekend I was shocked when a friend e-mailed me with the news about a negative review of my book that I soon realized was associated with locale of my story.  The locale is set in an area of northwest central Florida known as "Cracker country," and as well, in my cast of characters are some "Cracker" descendants. 

Yet I never dreamed or thought that anyone could take offense from the word, "Cracker," and apply the word, "racist," to my book to make conclusions that my novel is racist. 

It happens that I did research about this genuine Americana folkloric culture, and found nothing that related to my conception of plot or theme that would prompt racist accusations.  Instead I found that these were hard working settlers of the Florida swamp lands that cultivated a citrus industry which thrived, grew and expanded throughout Florida.  They also planted ancient oak trees with large overreaching branches that my heroine found were sheltering and protective against a world that had been hostile and unforgiving.   Additionally, the "Crackers" were avid church goers who were suspicious of strangers and could be zealots when it came to accessing the moral standards of those they called "sinners."   All of this was applied to a plot that featured a "big city" gal who is pink slipped out of a reporting career.  She lands serendipitously in an alien culture, then finds that women are relegated to inferior jobs in this patriarchal town called Citrusville where men ruled the roost, a subplot theme for my book.

This critique of "racist" stung me, but then I understood that my blog about words was very appropriate for a discussion about the dictionary meaning of this word, "cracker," and what a word means, versus the emotional and obviously gut wrenching reaction to the word, "Cracker" even when capitalized.

This the meaning of "cracker," according to the Merrium Webster Online Dictionary, is a crackling or snapping noise, a dry crispy baked product, and also a usually disparaging: a poor Southern white, and if capitalized (as I used the Cracker word in my book) a native or resident of Florida or Georgia, a nickname—yet the benign meaning and those that may have another emotional reaction, says volumes about the 21st century aversion to certain words with the depth of an emotional reaction that can be accusatory and even hurtful to all concerned.

I urged the writer of the review of my book, which referred to the book as "racist" and in which the reviewer (purchaser of the E-book Kindle) wondered how such a book could be published, to please read my blog about words.  I hope she will make a comment about her gut wrenching reaction to the use of a word which was as defined by the dictionary "capitalized" and applied as a reference to the locale of the story and some of the cast of characters, especially those who congregated at Ed's Diner.   I also encouraged this reviewer to give my book a reread.  The reviewer did note that the book was interesting, that is until that word, Cracker," was used in my book, and I am sure that this reviewer will be interested in my subplot about women who want equality not only in the workplace.

My novel's heroine, Clarissa Max discovered how to survive as a hack freelance writer, and tells the story of a haunting by the ghostly Max who refuses to be dead and seeks to find her destiny lost by playing mind games that bring about a change in direction for the heroine, who tells her story about finding one door closed and discovering another door open to another kind of life.  

*my recent novel The Haunting And Paradise Taxi (print ISBN 9780615685 available at Smashwords Edition ISBN 9780989053600 available at Apple/BarnesandNoble Nook/Sony/Kobo—blog by the ghostly Max who is haunting Clarissa and blog by heroine, Clarissa Max + my travel blog with the premise of comforttotravel@less$.

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