As Lie Is to Grin

Simeon Marsalis. Catapult (PGW, dist.), $16.95 trade paper (160p) ISBN 978-1-936787-59-3
Presented as a combination of diary entries and fragments from a novel within the narrative, Marsalis’s slim, ambitious debut tackles loss and racial identity. The protagonist, David, transitions from living on Long Island with his single mother to his freshman year as a black student at the predominantly white University of Vermont. He has recently broken up with his girlfriend, Melody; their relationship was built on a pair of lies—that his mother was a drug addict, and that he lived in Harlem—that also influence a semiautobiographical novel that he attempts to write. In Vermont, David becomes interested in the work and life of Harlem Renaissance writer Jean Toomer, particularly the author’s 1923 novel Cane and his resistance to being labeled by race. On campus, David sees and begins to follow a young man dressed in a gray suit, who may or may not be real, and who may provide a link to Melody’s grandfather, who attended UVM and “passed” as white. As racial guilt and confusion cause David to unravel, Marsalis incisively comments on a wide range of ideas, from authenticity to architecture. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/07/2017
Release date: 10/01/2017
Open Ebook - 978-1-936787-60-9
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