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178 pages, Hardcover
First published April 21, 2015
No lonesome wandering child with a fishing pole passed by and glanced at the adults in the dusty gray car. But if one had, he or she might have noticed the pronounced smiles of the couple, how dreamy their eyes were, but would not care a bit what caused that shine of happiness.The children in this novel can use all the help they can get, whether from God or some other source. Lula Ann Bridewell was not what her high-yellow parents had expected:
A child. New life. Immune to evil or illness, protected from kidnap, beatings, rape, racism, insult, hurt, self-loathing, abandonment. Error-free. All goodness. Minus wrath.
So they believe.
She was so black she scared me. Midnight black, Sudanese black…Ain’t nobody in my family anywhere near that color…I hate to say it, but from the very beginning in the maternity ward, Lula Ann embarrassed me.Toni Morrison said in an interview, “For me, the tar baby came to mean the black woman who can hold things together.” In this instance it is about a very black woman who cannot.
Well, anyway it was nothing like those double-page spreads in fashion magazines, you know, couples standing half-naked in surf, looking so fierce and downright mean, their sexuality like lightning and the sky going dark to show off the shine of their skin. I love those ads. But our affair didn’t even measure up to any old R-&-B song-some tune with a beat to generate fever.but fails at that. In fact the departure of Booker sparks a physical demise for Bride, well, a magical-realist retreat that no one else seems to see, as she progressively devolves back to a child, losing her ear-piercings, pubic hair, weight, sense of taste, menstrual cycle and breasts.
The sun still blazed so the raindrops falling from the baby-blue sky were like crystal breaking into specks of light on the pavement. He decided to play his trumpet alone in the rain anyway, knowing that no pedestrians would stop to listen; rather they closed umbrellas as they rushed down the stairs to the trains. Still in thrall to the sheer beauty of the girl he had seen, he put the trumpet to his lips. What emerged was music he had never played before. Low, muted tones held long, too long as the strains floated through drops of rain.There are plenty more passages that ripple with poetic feeling. And there are some subsidiary characters who brighten up the scene. A fifty-something hippie couple seemed like magical forest dwellers, an epitome of innocence and goodness, with maybe a touch of Tom Bombadil and even Beorn the Berserker. Booker’s aunt, Queen, is a delight, vivacious, colorful, and very interesting, worthy of an entire book on her alone. The rescued daughter of a prostitute is fascinating as well.
They will blow it, she thought. Each will cling to a sad little story of hurt and sorrow -— some long-ago trouble and pain life dumped on their pure and innocent selves. And each one will rewrite that story forever, knowing the plot, guessing the theme, inventing its meaning and dismissing its origin.
“I will call them my people,
Which were not my people
And her beloved,
Which was not beloved.”
“She did do me a favor. Not the foolish one she had in mind, not the money she had offered, but the gift that neither of us planned: the release of tears unshed for fifteen years. No more bottling up. No more filth. Now I am clean and able.”
“They had not asked her where she was from and where she was going. They simply tendered her fed her arranged for her car to be towed for repair. it was too hard too strange for her to understand the kind of care they offered- free, without judgment or even a passing interest in who she was or where she was going.”