Satisfied with Nothin'

Ernest Hill, Author Simon & Schuster $21.5 (0p) ISBN 978-0-684-82259-4
Originally self-published in 1992, Hill's debut novel is a grim, archetypal tale of a young black man who almost averts a squalid fate. Jamie Ray Griffin is among the first students to integrate his local high school in 1970s rural Louisiana--15 years after court-imposed desegregation. Despite harassment, Jamie internalizes his anger much better than does his best friend, Booger, whose volatile temper leads to a riot on the first day of school. Jamie's athletic abilities earn him a starring role on the football team and the apparent respect of local residents. Yet when his cousin is caught dating a white girl, Jamie witnesses a brutal assault and lynching, which he vows never to forget. In pursuit of a pro football career, he attends a local black university; while struggling to balance academics and increasing athletic demands, he falls in love with Stacy Lefere, an accomplished, upper-class black woman. His exploitive coaches drive others to quit, but Jamie, intent on a pro career, plays hard while his grades slide. When a crippling injury ends his chances to remain in college, Jamie is overlooked in the NFL draft and fails in a subsequent tryout as a free agent when his knee again collapses. Unable to accept Stacy's love, and with academic failure--abetted by counselors who urge him to take ""bowling"" and ""sports injuries""--a near certainty, he returns to a low-paying job at home and begins to confront the truth about himself when a profoundly senseless, stupid tragedy strikes. Hill writes some flavorful dialogue, but his tale is much better at conveying sociological truth than psychological complexity. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 07/29/1996
Release date: 08/01/1996
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-684-83405-4
Paperback - 316 pages - 978-1-4165-5698-5
Paperback - 297 pages - 978-0-9630827-0-1
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