My One Good Nerve
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Author: Ruby Dee, Ossie Davis (Introduction)
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated
Date Published: October 1998
Format: Trade Cloth
Introduction by Ossie Davis
The author of this book is not the same absolutely pure and sweet woman who was Nat King Cole's girlfriend in the film The Saint Louis Blues, or the fresh-faced bride of Jackie Robinson in The Jackie Robinson Story, or the long-suffering wife of Sidney Poitier in A Raisin in the Sun. Part of her, yes, is those women, but only part. Most women, I imagine- and surely Ruby- are a complex of many women. Few, perhaps, have remained as well hidden by only one facet of their personalities as has Ruby, the actor. Here is a Ruby Dee you may never have suspected- the writer.
Ruby, as a writer, is unique- one
of a kind- which means she can only be compared with herself. Nothing about her work
reminds me of anybody; all of it stands alone.
This does not mean that what she writes is esoteric, or exclusive, or private. Her meaning, her rhythm, and her insights are not mysterious, or enigmatic. What she has to say is wide open, free, immediately available to the curious. She has no puzzles that she dares the reader to solve. What she has to say is always public and will fit into any imagination- but only on Ruby's terms.
She tears the world apart as a
child might do, and then, right before your eyes, she builds it back together again. The
same old world, but through Ruby's eyes- it looks brand-new.
There is a profound simplicity in this point of view most times, which to appreciate requires that I become profoundly simple in my own point of view. Reading Ruby can be disarming.
Most of us grow up as quickly as we have to, getting further away by the day from who we were when we were children. We shorten our sails, temper our ambitions, and set aside our fondest expectations in order to face the day. But Ruby reminds us that a simpler world is only a thought away, with the light still glowing in undiminished vigor right in the middle of our secret mind. All we have to do is open our eyes, turn the page, and read.