GETTING MOTHER'S BODY
Audio reviews reflect PW's assessment of the audio adaptation of a book and should be quoted only in reference to the audio version.
With credentials including the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Drama (Topdog/Underdog) and a feature film directed by Spike Lee (Girl 6), Parks makes an impressive foray into fiction writing. This superbly recorded audio adaptation of her debut, replete with instrumental interludes and blues songs sung by the author (who's also a songwriter), is further enlivened by Parks's own compelling, unabridged reading. Her voice is clearly invested in the book's downtrodden African-American characters, and she portrays their grim realities with indelible humor. Pregnant Texas teenager Billy Beede has been raised for the past six years by her aunt and uncle in a mobile home following the death of her conniving mother, Willa Mae, from a botched abortion. Billy gets the disconcerting news her mom's remains must be moved for construction of a shopping center, and Willa Mae is rumored to have been buried with a fortune in jewels. Billy's just discovered she's inherited her mom's knack for seeing "the hole," or blind spot that lets you get what you want in people, so she sets off for the Arizona grave site. Set in the summer of 1963, and recounted in a slow, Southern drawl befitting the mood, the story unravels from a myriad of viewpoints, including the no-good custom coffin salesman who's fathered Billy's unborn baby, the one-legged neighbor in love with Billy, and her deceased mother's feisty lesbian lover. Simultaneous release with the Random hardcover (Forecasts, May 19). (May)