Catfish Alley

Lynne Bryant, Author
Lynne Bryant, NAL/Accent, $14 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-0-451-23228-1
Hardcover - 519 pages - 978-1-4104-3823-2
Open Ebook - 336 pages - 978-1-101-47894-3
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In Bryant's debut, middle-aged Junior Leaguer Roxanne Reeves throws herself into directing Clarksville, Miss.'s 2002 Pilgrimage Tour of Antebellum Homes and develops, with more trepidation (and community resistance), an African-American Historical Tour. Guiltily admitting to her ignorance of local black history, she asks 89-year-old Grace Clark, a retired African-American school teacher, to consult. Grace takes Roxanne to a part of town known as Catfish Alley; once the lively home of a hotel where Louis Armstrong played, the area is now dotted with warehouses like the one owned by Del Tanner, son of a notorious racist. Unbeknownst to Tanner, his warehouse once housed the first school for black children (and he's not happy when he learns about it). In particular, Grace remembers 1919, when she went to that school for the first time with her brother "Zero," and 1931, when Tanner's father lynched Zero and raped his girlfriend, Adelle, who became the first black nurse at Clarksville Hospital. Though Bryant's approach to narrative is perfunctory, her tale will appeal to readers who enjoyed The Help. The author accesses her own tumultuous Southern history to lend her enchanting tale much local color. (Apr.)
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