Breaking Ice: An Anthology of Contemporary African-American Fiction

Terry McMillan, Editor, John Edgar Wideman, Photographer Penguin Books $21 (720p) ISBN 978-0-14-011697-7
This hefty collection of short stories and excerpts from novels by what McMillan ( Disappearing Acts ) terms ""a new generation of African-American writers"" answers an anthology's highest call: it tantalizes. However briefly, each voice here sparkles. Amiri Baraka's ""Mondongo,"" a tale of a bookish Air Force doctor out for a night on the town in a Puerto Rican village, is a tour de force--making brilliant use of an oppressive, sad, but witty military vernacular. Nathaniel Mackey's ""Djbot Baghostus' Run,"" wherein members of a jazz band all dream the same dream and recite parts of it to each other, is a foot-tapping linguistic jam session. Misthis is correct/pk Hazel, the protagonist in Toni Cade Bambara's story ""My Man Bovanne,"" is an older but by no means wiser woman--""the hussy my daughter always say I was""--whose delight in sex and gossip sends her private rantings into the realm of pure rhythm. These tales mix politics and pleasure in the best of ways, using good storytelling to transmit their messages. Colleen McElroy (""Sister Detroit""), for example, views one Detroit woman's obsession with her husband's automobile as a metaphor for the effects of racism and the Vietnam War. One quibble: the volume would have benefited from a clear distinction between the short stories and the excerpts. QPB selection. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/01/1990
Release date: 10/01/1990
Hardcover - 690 pages - 978-0-670-82562-2
Prebound-Glued - 720 pages - 978-0-613-01430-4
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