The Silver Crescent

Leslie Woodard, Author . Gorgeous Notions $15.95 (175p) ISBN 978-0-9743468-4-7

Without much else to tie together the four stories that comprise Woodard's first book, the author's playful use of language binds them just as well as a cohesive arc or tone. The first three stories are excellent warmups: "Ask the Gentleman," about a black man and the unattainable white woman he loves; "The Tale of the Pegasus," about a despised old woman who sees a flock of the winged horses; and "The Race," about a train porter watching a car keeping pace along the tracks. Woodard's linguistic skill shines most brightly in the final story, the novella-length "The Backs of the Playing Cards," which follows 14-year-old Jasper through the summer of 1941, when her widowed father sends her from their Washington, D.C., home to stay with her three maiden aunts in Revere, Va. There, Jasper learns about her family, Southern race relations and smalltown living, where "everybody sees everything, like goldfish at the bottom of a pond." Woodard's sharp ear gives the dialogue weight and authenticity, as when Jasper's new friend Dorice asks if Jasper remembers her mother, "[a]ll of her, her face and her toes and everything?". These stories have their moments and leave one awaiting Woodard's first novel. (May)

Reviewed on: 03/27/2006
Release date: 01/01/2006
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