By way of kicking things off, she's posted some of her preconceptions about The Help and rather than increase her comment count I'm
I think the first time I consciously acknowledged the existence of The Help was when the random stranger I talked to in Waterstone's this spring asked if I knew whether it was any good. "Uh, it's popular, I think. It's about segregation?" -- that is about as much as I knew about it.
And since I am a huge snob that was all I needed to ignore it. It seemed like an Oprah book: madly popular among (I assumed) suburban housewives, and Serious because it was about something Sad. I imagined book clubs across the country swooning over it. "Oh my god, you guys! It was like, so sad back then! How could people be so mean?" Yes, I know, I'm a horrible, horrible person.
(But don't worry, because in this story I get my comeuppance.)
So there I was, being superior, and then the movie came out. The reviews I read (e.g.) seemed to confirm what I thought about the book: that it was a condescending, sentimental portrayal of inequality meant primarily to make the reader feel better about herself. But then something strange happened: people I knew went to see the movie. And they liked it. Including a usually rather critical grad school companion of mine, whose work centers on racism and discrimination. Maybe they were wrong. Or maybe there was something to this whole The Help thing that I wasn't getting.
So I am duly chastened for my assumptions and prejudices and I haven't even read the book yet. Well done Stockett!
Anyhow, I am reading away and we'll see how it goes.