Plan B

Chester B. Himes, Author, Michel J. Fabre, Editor, Robert E. Skinner, Editor University Press of Mississippi $30 (203p) ISBN 978-0-87805-645-3
Renowned for his searing protest literature about postwar America, Himes ( If He Hollers Let Him Go ) left this apocalyptic vision of the destructive effects of racism unfinished at his death in 1984. Initially it resembles the gritty detective novels which Himes used to express his political and moral views: the setting is Harlem, and the protagonists are black policemen Coffin Ed Johnson and Grave Digger Jones, seen in previous narratives. But in this most outspoken of Himes's books, he gives open expression to his conviction that the violent overthrow of American society is the only solution to racism. Here the detectives stumble upon the beginnings of an armed uprising in Harlem. As lone gunmen target white policemen and random racial strife spreads to other areas, the search for the source of the arms leads to mysterious entrepreneur Tomsson Black, and then back to his family's history in Alabama. With unflinching clarity, Himes examines the tormented lives of blacks, the ruthless, depraved behavior of Southern whites and their ambivalent attitude toward interracial sex. His writing is vivid and passionate, reflecting not only his own ambitions and frustrations, but also the repression, fear and buried rage felt by both blacks and whites in the grip of racism. Fabre and Skinner have skillfully reconstructed this provocative work, retaining the raw anger of the original and incorporating revisions that Himes had projected. Many readers will find Himes's extremist views frightening; the fact that he put the novel aside suggests that he was himself uncertain about his revolutionary vision. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 01/04/1993
Release date: 01/01/1993
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 978-0-87805-751-1
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