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The Catacombs

3.65  ·  Rating Details ·  17 Ratings  ·  6 Reviews
African-American expatriate Bill Demby narrates his attempts to write a novel about his friend Doris, a black actor currently working in Europe. Utterly dependent upon Doris for the development of his novel, he is both a participant in and observer of her life as she enters into an affair with an Italian count. Bill Demby's growing emotional and artistic involvement in the ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published April 18th 1991 by Northeastern University Press (first published 1965)
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Ronald Morton
Jan 12, 2013 Ronald Morton rated it really liked it
Imagine if The Sun Also Rises was written by an expatriate experimental African American author in the 1960's, set (mostly) in Italy, and - as opposed to being littered with casual racism, misogyny and anti-Semitism - demonstrated a deep concern with, and understanding of, modern social issues facing both women and African Americans, and you're getting close to The Catacombs. To that, add the backdrop of the Cuban Missle Crisis and the haunting and crushing certainty that the bombs will rain dow ...more
Joshlynn
Aug 11, 2010 Joshlynn rated it really liked it
A unique and completely forgotten novel by a unique and completely forgotten writer.
Sonora
Dec 08, 2016 Sonora rated it did not like it
Shelves: compulsory
Neither liked it nor found what I was looking for.. One hell of a failure.
Sonora
Jan 14, 2017 Sonora rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: compulsory
For the second time, not better, not at all helpful..
Hoezodanbooks
Jul 01, 2013 Hoezodanbooks rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels, 1960s
A solid read, although the story is at times a bit unfocused and too constructed. The construction is experimental lite; it's a bit ambiguous with the mixture of experimental / traditional storytelling. Perhaps a full force experimental approach would have worked better. Overall well written. Portrait of US turbulent times (1962-1964) viewed by an American expat livin' 4400 miles away in Rome. Just this little sentence might give you an idea of what the 'too constructed' part is about...("...see ...more
Skyler
Jun 30, 2015 Skyler rated it really liked it
"Then it was that a terrible doubt began to creep into my mind: Is this Event taking place because of the television cameras, or are the television cameras here because of the event? This, I suppose, is only a contemporary version of that most ancient of theatrical riddles: What is true and what is illusion? But if history now is to become televised theater, where are we the intellectuals to stand? In the audience? On the stage? Or in the prompters cramped and dusty pit?"
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281277
African American novelist William Demby was born on December 25, 1922 in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.

In 1950 Demby published his first novel, Beetlecreek, which he situated in West Virginia. Fifteen years later he published his second novel, The Catacombs. His novels carry themes of race and national identity, and although he spent much of his life into Italy, his novels were focused on American exper
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