Moustapha's Eclipse

Reginald McKnight, Author
Reginald McKnight, Author University of Pittsburgh Press $16.95 (129p) ISBN 978-0-8229-3589-6
Reviewed on: 09/01/1988
Release date: 09/01/1988
Winner of the 1988 Drue Heinz Literature Prize, these 10 short stories reflect variously on the black experience in middle America and an anthropologist's discoveries among the folk in Senegal. In ``Mali Is Very Dangerous,'' the narrator of the African stories, an American, tells of a rascally street vendor selling a charm that fends off knife blows; Idi, in the story that bears his name, recounts his uncle's practice of using myth to approach Western technology. The title piece refers to a Muslim farmer fearful of death who becomes entranced after recklessly looking at a solar eclipse. The stories set in the U.S. examine the lives of young blacks living in predominantly white towns. A college student muses about her confused white boyfriend; a black Jew on a school football team discusses his troubled friendship with a latter-day hippie; an old racist just barely adjusts to the New South. McKnight tends to overdevelop his characters and work too hard at dialect. At times a wistful note is overdone. He is, however, clearly searching for an understanding of different kinds of people. If he relaxes his technique, he may yet write notable fiction. (September)
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