Welcome to Braggsville

T. Geronimo Johnson. Morrow, $25.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-06-230212-0
In his second novel, Johnson (Hold It ’Til It Hurts) delivers a funny and tragic coming-of-age story that spares no one its satirical eye. D’aron Little May Davenport, a misfit in his small Georgia town, enrolls at UC Berkeley to get as far away from home as he can. His new roommate, Louis Chang, is an irrepressible fellow completely at home in California, whose fearless determination to be a stand-up comedian offers a “refreshing antidote to the somber, tense mood sweeping campus.” Soon they meet Candice, a pretty white Iowan with hair that “glowed like butter on burned toast,” and Charlie, a black prep school kid, while they are all being scolded for supposed insensitivity at a dorm party. They quickly become close and call themselves the “4 Little Indians.” When D’aron mentions that Braggsville has an annual Civil War reenactment in their American history class, Candice and Louis persuade the group to stage a “performative intervention” over spring break. This is D’aron’s story, told from his perspective, but there’s a secondary voice, an impish interloper, challenging D’aron and the reader to delve deeper, asking again and again, “Por qué?” Johnson’s prose has a sketched-out and dreamlike quality, a private shorthand that adds to the feeling of intimacy, an apt trick when dealing with subject matter like race and class. This ambitious novel stumbles when it departs from its central story, which should be enough: young people clumsily wielding their new tools of critical theory to impress themselves and each other, without fully understanding the effects of their actions. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 10/27/2014
Release date: 02/01/2015
Genre: Fiction
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-4676-9699-9
Ebook - 400 pages - 978-0-06-230214-4
Hardcover - 384 pages - 978-0-00-754800-2
Compact Disc - 978-1-4815-3324-9
Compact Disc - 978-1-4815-3325-6
Paperback - 400 pages - 978-0-06-230213-7
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-06-237152-2
Paperback - 384 pages - 978-0-00-810129-9
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Audio book sample courtesy of HarperAudio
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