Corner Boy

Herbert Simmons, Author W. W. Norton & Company $18.95 (252p) ISBN 978-0-393-31465-6
Originally published in 1957, when it was awarded the Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship, Simmons's first novel is a dark tale centering around a young black man named Jake Adams. Jake lives a prosperous life pushing dope for a man named the Monk, who also has a strong hold on politics in the unnamed city. A ladies' man, Jake has an on-again, off-again relationship with a college student named Armenta, whose father resolutely disapproves of him. Meanwhile, Jake's best friend, Scar, once a star high-school athlete, is now falling into heroin addiction. Jake is on quite good terms with one of the few white families who live in the neighborhood, shopkeepers named Garvelis. As sexual tension mounts between Jake and the Garvelis' teenage daughter, Georgia, the novel moves towards its tragic climax. With the exception of the datedness of the book's slang, what is most striking is how contemporary Simmons's view of black urban life feels. While not on a par with a work such as Native Son, to which it invites comparison, Simmons's neglected novel well deserves another look. (July)
Reviewed on: 07/01/1996
Release date: 07/01/1996
Genre: Fiction
Hardcover - 278 pages - 978-0-267-19347-9
Paperback - 280 pages - 978-1-332-72078-1
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