Angel Child

Mark Steadman, Author Peachtree Publishers $15.95 (244p) ISBN 978-0-934601-28-3
This black novel gives rise to morbid curiosity, its appeal that of a sideshow. Langston James McHenry (""Eljay'') is arguably the most hideous protagonist of our time, a man ``gnomelike and twisted'' by natural and unnatural causes. Married to a woman ``less grotesque,'' Eljay lives contentedly in his freak-filled world. The fatal flaw is his second-born son Gabriel, a baby so angelic as to make the Gerber baby ``look like Porky Pig.'' The consummate symbol, Gabriel challenges Eljay's lifelong prejudice against all things bright and beautiful. The bulk of this novel, Eljay's quest to confront his prejudice, is a long thought-filled drive offering the comfort of roadside oddities, curios and grotesqueriesand what more sententious traveling companion for a drive through the Georgia of 1959 than Eljay's handsome black friend, Bodine Polite? Although Steadman (The Lion's Share) gets credit for making accessible a powerfully skewed character, the climactic reunion of father and son is vaguely dissatisfying. Still, this is a satiric and pointed novel, a grim and modern fable for our time. (October 1)
Reviewed on: 09/30/1987
Release date: 10/01/1987
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