In Rattlebone, a “fictional” black community north of Kansas City, the smell of manure and bacon from Armour’s Packing House is everywhere; Shady Maurice’s roadhouse plays the latest jazz, the best eggs are sold by the Red Quanders, and gospel rules at the Strangers Rest Baptist Church. This is the black Midwest of the 1950s, when towns could count their white folks on one hand – the years before the civil rights movement came along and changed everything. In perfectly cadenced vernacular, Maxine Clair speaks to us through the voices of Rattlebone’s citizens: October Brown, the new schoolteacher with a camel’s walk and shoulder-padded, to-the-nines dresses; Irene Wilson, naive and wise, who must grapple with her parent’s failing marriage as she steps eagerly into adulthood; and Thomas Pemberton, owner of the local rooming house, an old man with a young heart. Sparkling with lyricism, Clair’s interconnected stories celebrate the natural beauty of the Midwest and the dignity and vitality of these most ordinary lives.
First, I have not read this book, but it does have good reviews, so I feel comfortable pointing it out. So there is that! I noticed this book today, and after reading the description I knew I would enjoy it. The thing that catches my attention comes back to a discussion on Goodreads I was involved in for a while that bemoaned the fact there there is little really good writing extant that focuses on ‘other-than-white’ people. Then of course when I saw the part about ‘lyricism’ in writing, that caught my attention even more. I adore a lyrical voice in literature, being able to sink into a story and make it my word for a while. So, let me know what you think. I intend to enjoy this as soon as I get a moment!