None but the Righteous

Chantal James. Counterpoint, $26 (240p) ISBN 978-1-64009-459-8
James debuts with the diffuse account of a young man’s travails in the months after a hurricane devastates his hometown of New Orleans. Ham unknowingly carries a centuries-old spirit in a locket around his neck, that of Martin, a Dominican priest. It is through Martin’s eyes that the reader sees Ham, whose speech and movements Martin controls. Like Martin, Ham finds people he can latch on to. First, Ham tracks down Mayfly, a transient he met as a child, in Atlanta. Next, he returns to Deborah, with whom he’d escaped a submerged New Orleans for rural Alabama. Her family represents an accepting, but monotonous, life to him, and he itches to return to New Orleans, resisting Martin’s attempts to make him settle down with Deborah, which would make him easier for Martin to inhabit. James creates intricate character portraits, lush with details of family histories and pathologies, but the extended mood piece doesn’t really amount to a story. Though the narrative lacks urgency, it effectively imparts the protagonist’s feeling of trying to find his way to a home that no longer exists. Readers will have to be patient to get the payoff here. Agent: Stephanie Delman, Sanford J. Greenburger Assoc. (Jan.)
Reviewed on : 10/07/2021
Release date: 01/11/2022
Genre: Fiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-6665-3486-3
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