All-Bright Court

Connie Rose Porter, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $19.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-395-53271-3
With clear-eyed simplicity, Porter's first novel sketches a portrait of community. Despite its name, All-Bright Court is a dreary and crumbling tenement resting beside a steel plant outside Buffalo, N.Y. The inhabitants are, for the most part, black steelworkers and their families who have migrated from the South. Samuel Taylor and his wife, Mary Kate, move to All-Bright Court in the early '60s and fill their home, No. 18, with children and hopes. Over the years, as Samuel worries about supporting his family and as Mikey, the oldest son, is labeled gifted and sent to brave a white prep school, the family struggles to reconcile hopes with reality. Other inhabitants of All-Bright Court make brief appearances, such as childless Venita and Moses, whose quiet sorrow pervades their daily lives, and crazy Isaac, whose childhood anger sets the tone for a bitter adulthood. Through the '60s and early '70s, the dying steel industry is reflected in the decay of All-Bright Court and the deterioration of its residents' dreams and spirit. Porter's vision is sound and her tale poignant, but her lyrical narrative and spare writing style require a tighter underlying structure. BOMC selection. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/02/1991
Release date: 09/01/1991
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