The African in Me: Stories

Howard Gordon, Author George Braziller $19.95 (156p) ISBN 978-0-8076-1296-5
Although slightly uneven, this debut collection affectingly depicts black life in upstate New York over the past four decades. In these nine stories, racism and violence constantly threaten the family and the community at large. ``The Playground of Hostility,'' set in 1954, deepens these themes through its dramatization of voluntary segregation among children during recess and of a boy's Cold War neurosis. In ``Man Walks Son, Self,'' a boy named Junior chronicles nightly walks with his father while his mother lies dying, her illness the source of rumors that literally invade the home and follow father and son on their nocturnal strolls. Junior recounts the ways in which both parents teach him to bear up under the shadow of racist innuendo. The title story examines the estrangement between its narrator, who is secretly dying of cancer, and his older brother, Cameron, who harbors within his soul the cancer of hatred. Gordon, whose work has been published in Essence and other periodicals, is better at choosing themes than he is at delineating them in a consistent tone; at his best he gives us new ways of looking at the lingering problems of poverty and race relations. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/01/1993
Release date: 02/01/1993
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