Chocolate Soldier

Cyrus Colter, Author Thunder's Mouth Press $18.95 (278p) ISBN 978-0-938410-42-3
Colter takes on a formidable task with this novel. He unveils his denouement in the first chaptera ""highly agitated, confused, country black boy'' nicknamed Cager will kill a ``highborn old white woman,'' then takes several hundred pages of admittedly ``verbose'' narration by Cager's friend, a preacher named Meshach Barry, to arrive at the murder. He shifts scenes almost compulsively, from a poor, rural black community to an upwardly mobile black university in a small Tennessee town, from a blues nightclub to a prison for white-collar criminals (Meshach serves time for ``mishandling'' federal educational funds.) With his vivid characterizations and eye for detail, Colter creates an engrossing, disturbing and enlightening fiction about black power and powerlessness. In his plot and his psychological insights, he purposely echoes Wright's Native Son, Ellison's Invisible Man and Dostoyevski's Crime and Punishment. But this ambitious work falls short on several counts: at times the narrative plods, the numerous characters and scene changes are distracting, and the story of Meshach Barry, presented as a subplot, pales beside the passionate tale of Cager. Colter (The Beach Umbrella), an emeritus professor at Northwestern University, is an attorney. Portions of this novel were previously published in TriQuarterly. (May)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1988
Release date: 01/01/1988
Paperback - 278 pages - 978-0-8101-5038-6
Paperback - 192 pages - 978-1-874509-44-8
Hardcover - 350 pages - 978-0-938410-49-2
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