Rising

Edgar White, Author Marion Boyars Publishers $18.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-7145-2878-6
Playwright White's first novel of a projected trilogy, The Pygmies & the Pyramid, is a moving depiction of black history and experience. Its central character, Legion, is a young boy growing up on a small Caribbean island. Through an account of Legion's sexual initiation, drawn with a vivid sense of place and convincing evocations of the characters, we are led back in time to his mother Desmie's own initiation by gambler and womanizer Carlton Wade, Legion's father. Desmie's domineering grandmother takes Legion from his mother, bringing him up as her own son and heir. Desmie's poignant tale, which occupies much of the book, is told in a lyrical voice that evokes D. H. Lawrence, as does the eroticism, which risksbut avoidsmawkishness. A stilted authorial voice sometimes intrudes, striking a slightly discordant note in juxtaposition with the lyrical passages and the expressive, quirky Caribbean voices captured accurately in dialogue. But, this unsureness of tone distracts only slightly from Legion's melancholy tale, which is emblematic of island life with its endemic poverty, suffocating sense of entrapment and boredom, and recourse to sex as a means of transcendence and escape, an act that, ironically, often results in a perpetuation of the cycle of broken family life. At the story's close, Legion leaves for the U.S. where the second book of the trilogy will resumesomething to look forward to on the basis of this low-key but accomplished beginning. (July)
Reviewed on: 10/01/1988
Release date: 10/01/1988
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