Company Man

Brent Wade, Author
Brent Wade, Author Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill $18.95 (219p) ISBN 978-0-945575-73-3
Paperback - 219 pages - 978-0-385-42563-6
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William Covington is black, impotent and paralyzed in half of his face from a recent suicide attempt, a gunshot to the head. Raised by a grandmother to be ``a Generic, a man devoid of any cultural affiliation,'' he's a conservative member of the black bourgeoisie who hates his own ``niggerishness'' (his grandmother's term). Slowed by digressions, flashbacks and occasionally pretentious writing (``My mind is now a colander separating sentiment from remnant obligations''), this flawed first novel provides an interesting study of black self-hatred while also targeting a soulless corporate world riddled with subtle racism. Covington, an executive at an electronics company, writes from a hospital bed, addressing this confessional to an estranged homosexual friend. This device is strained, primarily because Covington, a sellout who spies for top management, is not a wholly sympathetic character; nor does his suicide attempt seem convincing. Forced by his impotence to confront sexual stereotypes of black men, Covington is brought down by the mere threat of a phony sexual harassment charge in the novel's closing pages. (Feb.)
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