In I Got Somebody in Staunton, the acclaimed William Henry Lewis brings us ten often sensual and always eye-opening tales. "Rossonian Days" follows a Kansas City jazz troupe to a gig in Denver, where they hope to strike it big. This story, itself a swinging riff, is also a humbling chronicle of the evolution of jazz and an incisive look at the ...
In I Got Somebody in Staunton, the acclaimed William Henry Lewis brings us ten often sensual and always eye-opening tales. "Rossonian Days" follows a Kansas City jazz troupe to a gig in Denver, where they hope to strike it big. This story, itself a swinging riff, is also a humbling chronicle of the evolution of jazz and an incisive look at the history of America's racial divide. In "Potcakes," Carlos Stubbs is troubled and weary in the midst of paradise, obsessed with the incessant barking of dogs. He has a degree he's not using and a woman he's afraid to love. Time is passing, and he must decide whether he'll languish or thrive. "Kudzu" reunites a couple whose sweetly sexual relationship comes to an end when Evvie, a bohemian free spirit, "drove west, drove north, away from here" in search of something more compelling than her small Southern town could offer. And in the title story, "I Got Somebody in Staunton," a Black college professor, haunted by his dying uncle Ize's memories of lynchings and the ways of the old South, flirts with danger by giving a ride to an enigmatic young White woman whose long, blond hair is twisting into dreads. With I Got Somebody in Staunton, Lewis has written stories that will catapult him into the first rank of American storytellers.
Publishers Weekly, 2005-02-28 Lewis (In the Arms of Our Elders) crafts a thoughtful, appealing collection deeply concerned with the pride and pain of African-American heritage. The weight that troubled history brings to bear on the present is most powerfully recognized in the title story, in which a black man meets a white woman in a bar and agrees to drive her to Staunton, Va., where he's headed to care for his dying uncle. It's a fraught encounter haunted by the man's recollection of his uncle's stories about lynchings. "Rossonian Days," which follows a jazz band on its way to a gig in Denver, is a passionate, poetic riff on the evolution of jazz and its place in African-American culture. Lewis also explores more personal histories, as in the exquisite "Shades," in which a 14-year-old boy mingling with the crowd at a blues festival finally lays eyes on the father he has never met. "In a circle of loud men, all holding beer, all howling in laughter... stood a large man in a worn gray suit tugging his tie jokingly like a noose.... I looked at myself in the reflection of [his] mirrored lenses and thought, So this is me." Though Lewis's plots can be a bit thin and the basic footwork of getting around in a story can feel a little clumsy, the cumulative effect of these 10 pieces is unquestionably powerful. Agent, Nina Graybill. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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