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Hue and Cry

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  242 ratings  ·  47 reviews
First published in 1968, this collection includes the Atlantic Prize-winning story Gold Coast (selected by John Updike for the collection Best American Short Stories of the Century) and introduced America to McPherson's unforgettable, enduring vision and distinctive artistry.

Hue and Cry is the remarkably mature and agile debut story collection from Pulitzer Prize winner Ja
Paperback, 304 pages
Published November 27th 2001 by Ecco (first published 1968)
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Average rating 4.16  · 
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James Carpenter
Jul 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book (the 1970 Fawcett Crest paperback edition) sat on my shelf for at least 30 years, something I always meant to "get around to." Would that I had read it much sooner. These stories are beautifully and artfully crafted and would be a tribute to an author much older than McPherson's 26 years when this was published. Over and over I found myself asking, "How it the heck did he do that? ...more
Jan 09, 2016 rated it liked it
McPherson is a writer whose name you see here and there - in a story stuffed in the middle of one anthology or another, or in a foreword, or in a grateful dedication from an ex-student. This was his first book. McPherson writes excellent prose: you could tap every word in each sentence with a tuning fork and enjoy the noise. He has a low-key, convincing way with dialogue, especially with working-class characters, black and white.

The stories themselves are a mixed bag. The opener, about a child r
Whitney Borup
Jul 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stories, i-own
Not all of the stories were equal, but the best of them ("Gold Coast" and "Hue and Cry") were so good that it made up for any lack in the others. I read "Hue and Cry" about two weeks ago and I haven't stopped thinking about it. So complicated and so sad. ...more
Sidik Fofana
May 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
SIX WORD REVIEW: Black canon, don't forget this man. ...more
Dee Cherry
Mar 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While I found these short stories impressive while reading, my favorite was the final and title story.
Aug 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
The experience of a variety of black people (mainly men) in 50s/60s USA: janitors, railway men, prostitutes, musicians, academics, writers. Clear vision, seeing through hypocrisies, close detail and comedy. Very 60s - women are 'pieces', lots of joints smoked, vinyl played (jazz, but later rock). A couple of great stories (Gold Coast, the experiences of a janitor as he works towards getting out of his trapped existence and A Solo Song: for Doc, about being a waiter for many years on a train) and ...more
Bert Hirsch
Oct 25, 2021 rated it really liked it
well written short stories by the African American writer James Alan McPherson. Considered a master of the form by Francine Prose. Several of the stories take place in Boston in the 1960s and 70s.
Kristin Boldon
Powerful writing, but troublingly of its time with misogyny, homo- and fat-phobias.
Thelonious Legend
Mar 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book felt like a throwback to the Harlem Renaissance era and my all time favorite book of short stories. The stories are poignant and heartfelt. Loved it.
Elvira Colon
Apr 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A Solo Song: For Doc — a wonder to read and I’ll always carry it with me
Carol Douglas
Sep 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
James Alan McPherson was an excellent African American writer whose work I discovered recently when a friend lent me this book. Everyone should know McPherson's writing.

This book is a collection of short stories first published in 1968. McPherson clearly didn't worry overly whether everyone would like his work. He's true to his own perception. The title story, "Hue and Cry" is the moving story of Margot, a highly intelligent African American woman who is irritated by people with lazy thinking. S
Feb 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful collection of short stories. One of my favorite things about many of them is they weren't so much about a resolution to a conflict or event, but rather a journey through moments in time towards a realization. And the reader is left at the end of some of these pondering where that realization might take the POV character afterwards.

One of the highlights of this collection, A Solo Song: For Doc, is narrated in such an alive style, an old hand on the trains trying to tell a "youngblood"
Apr 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Master storyteller

I was unfamiliar with this short story collection by renowned author James McPherson. One story in the book was in an anthology I read years ago, and was my introduction to his work. All of this encouraged my reading Hue and Cry. This was a joy ride on so many levels.

The stories are situated in complex interracial interactions and relationships of the 1950s and 60s. The language, tone and dynamics capture the era. This is a valuable prompt for discussion and reflection.

A MacA
Dec 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hue and Cry

I loved this collection- I truly wish we had read this in high school or college - it resonates with a lot of feelings I had as an adolescent and think it may resonate with others. It also touches on racism in ways I haven’t seen before especially from this time period.
Aviya Kushner
Jul 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful book of unforgettable short stories.
Jan 27, 2012 rated it liked it
"Gold Coast" is wonderful. ...more
Mar 01, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: inthebreak
In the star-system, Hue and Cry crosses a whole spectrum, and I considered both two- as well as four-star landings before settling on this compromise, that perhaps fails to get at the mixed feelings I had reading.

The best things in the book are "A Matter of Vocabulary," "A Solo Song: For Doc," and "Gold Coast," along with certainly the ambition, if not the achievement, of the title-novella. "On Trains" is also an anecdote of micro-aggression that has special resonance in our moment. That's half
Aug 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
This collection of short stories is a mixed bag. The first half of the book is a series of tales about black life. They are amusing, penetrating and insightful. McPherson is a writer who happens to be black, not a "black writer." How did one get to be a Pullman Porter in the old days, when that was about the highest a black man could hope to go? What were the rules of the game? How did it come to an end?

The stories pull no punches, but they also describe how these men gamed the system and manag
Reece Carter
Sep 18, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bipoc
Unfortunately, I don't have a ton of detailed thoughts on this collection because school was hectic this week, but I can say that I came away from it feeling very impressed. McPherson's stories remind me of plays in prose; I get a similar feeling of identification with the way the stories are simple and yet touch on such profound human feelings. Themes include male homosexuality (makes me think of Giovanni's Room in how well done it felt), interracial relationships, the pain of the passage of ti ...more
Jul 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
"Everyone was restless for change, for August is the month when undone summer things must be finished or regretted all through the winter."

McPherson is excellent at conveying the passage of time and the general cultural feel of different times and periods. He also beautifully investigates race and "revolutionary ideas"--it is one thing to be radical and have ideas, and another to be Black. "A Matter of Vocabulary" was an excellent story about race and boyhood. "A Solo Song for Doc" is such a gre
Feb 20, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2021
One of those rare books that you will never forget. It’s themes will forever bubble to the surface of your mind every time you see or think about something which touches on them.
These stories all in some way touch of the black experience in America. A young black boy looks out through a stockroom window at a world which in which he is almost invisible. A train porter sees the injustice of racial prejudice as it unfolds before his eyes. A janitor is the ‘fly on the wall’ of the apartment where h
C.M. Crockford
Great prose throughout - McPherson is a student of perfectly composed phrases and sentences that have a large impact - but deeply flawed. For one, the misogyny throughout is really pervasive. It's hard to tell if McPherson knows that his male, womanizing characters hate women or not, but it's not helped by all the female characters being mostly badly drawn or outright hateful shrews. And the quality goes far down in the last half, each feeling muddled until the frustrating and experimental portr ...more
Feb 22, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I read six of the ten short stories - the six recommended by A Public Place. James does a wonderful job of conveying meaning of what it is like to be a man - a black man - doing work such as bagging potatoes in a supermarket, being a waiter or sleeping-car porter on an overnight train, or a janitor. No matter how good the work, social forces make life hard for the black man. Other stories focus on dealing with boundaries and uncertainties - a black man having to confront whether or not he is gay ...more
Jakob Feller
May 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
what a vivid, weird, deeply mundane and sad collection of stories and yet my god it’s so good. a little difficult to get into and even to finish. you’re left with the thought that maybe none of it mattered but you also get the authors deep talent for creating people who are lost and longing. rarely do characters give such humanity than in some of these stories. i’m gushing because i just read the last story which was so complete in its characterizations but some of the collection was difficult a ...more
Aug 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Read it in a triptych, or whatever 4 paintings together are, with Richard Wright's Uncle Tom's Children, your choice of Paul Beatty, and Jamel Brinkley's A Lucky Man. A lyrical, ironic take on identity and culture in the mid-60s, before the entry of radical political voices, that captures both characters' in-betweenness and their desire to live free of labels, a desire that they're constantly suspecting nobody will let them satisfy. Standouts: "Gold Coast," named one of the best American short s ...more
Paul Henry
May 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Great collection of short stories. Hard hitting dialogue, well written narration, dealing with the ordinary people in life: train porters and waiters, college students, prostitutes, lawyers serving as public defenders without their clients best interests. Most of the stories have a racial overtone to them, for instance the train porters suffering slights from passengers because of their race, or the college student who breaks up with her boy friend after meeting his parents and observing how tak ...more
Apr 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classicfiction
To be clear, the only story in here that I've read is "Gold Coast". It's an excellent story, I was a bit surprised that it's not listed separately here on Goodreads like some other short stories are.

I just learned that "Gold Coast" was even included in the collection "The Best American Short Stories of the Century" edited by John Updike, which certainly seems like a strong endorsement.

But perhaps this is just strong encouragement to find and read the other stories.

Donald Quist
“Gold Coast” and “A Matter of Vocabulary” are among the finest short stories I have ever read.

Loved the syntax and characterization of these stories. The use of second person in the Doc Craft story is stellar.
Michel Christophe
Fun, deep, necessary

I enjoyed reading this collection of short stories. The style, perspectives, the writing itself inspired me to write better. James Alan McPherson deserves to be widely read.
Jul 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I bought this book a few years ago after hearing McPherson's obituary on NPR and being moved. Sometimes book sit on my shelf and then the time is right to read them. This one didn't disappoint, thought the title short story was far and away my favorite of the bunch! ...more
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James Alan McPherson was a Pulitzer Prize-winning American short story writer and essayist. He spent his early career writing short stories and essays, almost without exception, for The Atlantic. At the age of 35, McPherson received a Pulitzer Prize for his collection of stories, Elbow Room (1978). He is also the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship (1973) and the MacArthur Foundation Award (the s ...more

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“Sometimes, in the night, it is expectant and therefore eager to be out. It has slept too long and is restless, fighting the force that keeps it patient. Years of internal slumber has drugged it, but not decisively, so that, once slightly touched, it starts and quivers and attempts to announce itself so strongly that, occasionally, a man's mind will wake in his bed and ask itself: Who is there? 1 likes
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