The Collected Stories of Chester Himes

Chester B. Himes, Author Thunder's Mouth Press $14.95 (0p) ISBN 978-1-56025-021-0
Racism, poverty and bad luck are the main players in this volume of 60 stories; when a character gets a hold of $10, it's likely to end in disaster and a $20 debt. Himes, who died in 1984, reveals the underbelly of the Afro-American experience (he began to write while in prison for a jewel theft). In the space of two bleak pages, a black man has his feet burned by a white mob, then amputated by a doctor; when the amputee doesn't rise for the National Anthem, he is struck by a white man. Yet Himes counters the carnage with a dry humor and humanity. In ``Pork Chop Paradise'' an ex-con preacher achieves an apotheosis in the eyes of his flock when he appears to ``turn de cobblestones tuh po'k chops.'' It is, not incidentally, a woman who brings him down. In Himes's stories women frequently--through treachery or love, which in turn inspires crime--cause the ruin of their men. Though Himes ( The Third Generation ) sometimes sketches symbolic fables, more often he's as gritty as a police blotter photo. These stories, written between 1933 and 1979, survive as history, as powerful fiction and, unfortunately, as commentary on the current situation of the Afro-American. (May)
Reviewed on: 07/31/2000
Release date: 08/01/2000
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 446 pages - 978-1-56025-268-9
Hardcover - 429 pages - 978-1-56025-020-3
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