In Search of Satisfaction [NOOK Book]

Overview

The folk flavor of her storytelling has earned her  constant comparison to Langston Hughes and Zora  Neale Hurston, but through four collections of  short stories and two novels, J. California Cooper  has proven that hers is a wholly original talent  --one that embraces readers in an ever-widening  circle from one book to the next. With In  Search Of Satisfaction, Cooper  gracefully portrays men and women, some good and ...
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In Search of Satisfaction

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Overview

The folk flavor of her storytelling has earned her  constant comparison to Langston Hughes and Zora  Neale Hurston, but through four collections of  short stories and two novels, J. California Cooper  has proven that hers is a wholly original talent  --one that embraces readers in an ever-widening  circle from one book to the next. With In  Search Of Satisfaction, Cooper  gracefully portrays men and women, some good and others  wickedly twisted, caught in their individual  thickets of want and need. On a once-grand plantation  in Yoville, "a legal town-ship founded by the  very rich for their own personal use," a  freed slave named Josephus fathers two daughters,  Ruth and Yinyang, by two different women. His  desire, to give Yinyang and himself money and  opportunities, oozes through the family like an elixir,  melding with the equally strong yearnings of  Yoville's other residents, whose tastes don't  complement their neighbors'. What Josephus buries in his  life affects generations to come. J. California  Cooper's unfettered view of sin, forgiveness, and  redemption gives In Search Of  Satisfaction a singular richness that belies its  universal themes.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

Cooper's second novel is an epic saga of three families whose paths intertwine with the devil in their quests for wealth, power and love. The history of the town is inextricably linked to Josephus, a freed slave, and his two dauthers, Ruth and Yinyang. In seeking the legacy left by their father, the sisters pull each other into the vortex of ever-powerful emotion.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Cooper details a family saga in which two half-sisters attempt to come to grips with their father's legacy. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Cooper's newest work may provoke strong emotions but not much sympathy for the often misguided townspeople of Yoville, where Josephus, a freed slave, schemes to gain money and seek opportunities for himself and his daughter, Yinyang. Readers may be disgusted by the unbelievable display of greed, best exemplified by Carlene-the queen of avarice-or bored by the sometimes irritatingly didactic tone. On the other hand, they will relish Cooper's credible rendition of Southern speech patterns, for which she has been heartily praised. Although readers "in search of satisfaction" may not find it here, they should still scrutinize this award-winning author's earlier works, including, most recently, The Matter Is Life (LJ 6/1/91) and Family (LJ 12/90).-Faye A. Chadwell, Univ. of South Carolina Lib., Columbia
Mary Carroll
The author's note that opens Cooper's new novel declares: "I cannot think of anyone . . . who is not in search of satisfaction." Most readers would agree. But the several generations of characters black and white, rich and poor who populate Cooper's fictional Yoville have various definitions of what they need, and they use both good and evil tools to meet those needs. As in "Family" and the short stories in "The Matter Is Life" both 1991, Cooper's compassionate but demanding moral vision animates her fiction. In a voice that blends elements of oral history, fable, and parable, her intrusive, judgmental, sometimes almost incantatory narrator tells stories of the descendants of an ex-slave named Josephus Josephus from the years after the Civil War to the late 1920s, as well as those descendants' often surprising involvements with the rich but troubled white family who dominates the town. Josephus' children and his grandchildren fall on both sides of the color line; they--and members of the wealthy Befoe family--sometimes choose the path of God and sometimes the ways of Satan. After a slow start, Cooper's latest inexorably involves the reader in the moral dilemmas and decisions of its well-developed characters.
From the Publisher
"Cooper's...style is deceptively simple and  direct, and the vale of tears in which her  characters reside is never so deep that a rich chuckle  at a foolish person's foolishness cannot be heard."
--Alice Walker

"Cooper writes  about small-town life with a verve that nearly bursts off the page."
--Ms

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307778628
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 12/29/2010
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 227,970
  • File size: 688 KB

Reading Group Guide

1. On the surface, Yoville is community of rigid hierarchies, with sharp divisions between rich and poor, black and white, the powerful and the powerless. What other differences among the members of the community emerge as the novel unfolds? For example, how do religious beliefs and a sense of moral values influence the characters' approaches to life? How do cultural biases passed down from one generation to the next affect the way the characters interact? Which characters defy or overturn the patterns of their families, race, or class? Why are they able to do so?

2. How do the attitudes of Yinyang, Ruth, and Carlene towards men, sex, and money differ? In what ways do they overlap? Are their attitudes shaped by their personal circumstances, or do they reflect the realities of the time and place in which they live? Hosanna is clearly a victim of society's mistreatment of women--especially women of color. Compare and contrast her experiences in the city with Yinyang's. What insights do the choices Hosanna makes even as a young girl give you into her character, and how do they establish the path she follows as an adult? In many ways, the men--Josephus, Joel, Carl Befoe, and Richard Befoe--represent cultural archetypes. How does Cooper bring them to life as individuals? Is she entirely successful?

3. The pursuit of money and material goods and the search for emotional and spiritual satisfaction are the dominant themes of the novel. Are these two goals necessarily contradictory? What needs and desires, if any, do Carlene, Yinyang, Ruth, and Hosanna share?

4. As she weaves together the intricate plot lines of the novel, Cooper interjects commentary from Satan as well aspassages reflecting on the morality of the characters' actions. How does this unusual narrative technique affect your experience as a reader? Do these "asides" deepen your understanding of the characters and the themes of the novel, or do you find them unnecessary or intrusive?

5. What do Cooper's novels share with other books, both fiction and nonfiction, that you have read about the Civil War period? Do her descriptions of the relationships between African Americans and whites before and immediately following the war differ from your previous impressions or beliefs? In what ways does Cooper challenge the traditional depiction of the boundaries between slave and master, black and white? Which characters or relationships do you find particularly surprising? Are the white characters as fully developed as the African Americans are?

6. Cooper touches on a wide range of social, economic, and political issues in her writing, including the historical divisions between races and classes; interracial relationships; the significance of complexion in society in general and within the African American community specifically; and the importance of education. What techniques does she use to incorporate these subjects without disrupting the flow of the stories? In what ways can fiction be more effective than nonfiction in revealing the forces that shape our world?

7. In describing Cooper's writing, Alice Walker said, "Her style is deceptively simple and direct and the vale of tears in which her characters reside is never so deep that a rich chuckle at a foolish person's foolishness cannot be heard." How do these traits mirror classic forms of storytelling, from myths and Biblical parables to the folk stories passed down through oral traditions? Why do you think Cooper may have chosen to use these timeless techniques to tell her stories?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 26 )
Rating Distribution

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(20)

4 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 26 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 30, 2003

    Real life

    When I need to get in touch with 'me' this is the book I reach for. Everyone can relate to a character in this book. Makes us all wonder what we are truly doing everyday!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2012

    One of my favorite books ever!

    I recommend this book all the time....
    Please have someone read along with you, you will have to have someone to discuss it with....
    This book is great for any adult to read...
    You will be truly satisfied!
    J California Cooper is definetly one of my favorite authors..

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 22, 2011

    Great Book

    J. California Cooper is a great author. I could not put this book down.. I would recommend this book to anyone! Loved it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 17, 2011

    j cooper excellence

    she is the only author i buy without having to read the back cover. excellent writer

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2003

    Magnificent!

    I have been a J. California Cooper fan for over ten years. This is one of my 'favorite of all times' book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2002

    Really Excellent

    California Cooper is just superb. I still think about the first few lines of this book all of the time. They have become like a mantra for me. Truly, everything on the earth is in search of satisfaction. In this book Cooper weaves an intricate tale of how various individuals reach this goal. This is her best work. I am lucky enough to have an autographed copy which I will treasure always. Cheers Cooper.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2002

    Great Book

    I enjoyed every moment, the characters were full of life and all it has to offer. The lessons in the book relate to every day life. A page turner once you get started you will not want to put the book down. I enjoyed this book even more the second time around.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 28, 2012

    Excellent reading!

    J. California Cooper does it again. Whether you are a fan or not, this book would be a great addition to ny library.

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  • Posted July 20, 2012

    EXCELLENT READ HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

    THIS BOOK IS SPELLED BOUND YOU CAN'T PUT IT DOWN. ALL OF HER BOOKS I RECOMMENDED HIGHLY.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2012

    While I appreciate that we are all in search of satisfaction &am

    While I appreciate that we are all in search of satisfaction & think this premise holds tremendous posibility for a great read, this wasn't it. Stopped after the first 60 pages. Can't believe I paid almost $12 for this. I was bored & not keen on the moralistic "devil" device. Found the part I managed to read simplistic, self righteous, and without a sympathetic character to relate to. The negativity towards humanity was depressing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2012

    Too weird for me

    Too vulgar! Extreme weirdness!Purchased because of my earlier readings, but this just was not the Cooper I remember .

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  • Posted June 25, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Excellent

    Once again I am pleased to say that J. California Cooper is an outstanding author. "In Search of Satisfaction" is a remarkable story. Its so intense and a touching story that once you start reading, you wont be able to stop. As always Cooper's books are so memorable. I love and enjoy reading all of her books so much, that she will remain in my personal library for years to come.

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  • Posted June 25, 2009

    Plot

    A good book and a fast read; a story of the descendants of a freed slave, and a rich white family in a small town. The devil lurks at every corner in this book, as some of the characters search for simple comfort and happiness, and others are consumed with greed and wealth. There were a lot of characters to keep up with, but all were very interesting, each in search of something.....

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2003

    Lovely story of the lives of two sisters and how they survive racism

    This book was beautifully written. I love the way she interperses God and the Devil. I love her characters, they seemed to jump from the pages. You may find tears of saddness and joy falling from your eyes. I highly recommend it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2002

    Must Read

    This is an excellent book!!!! I have read a lot of books and this has been one of the best.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 13, 2002

    MUST READ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    J. California-Cooper is absolutely brilliant! I have read ALL of her books and were extremely impressed. I read 'In Search of Satisfaction' a few years ago and was hooked. I am a true fan. I can't wait for her to write something else. She is truly talented and is definitely in the league of Toni Morrison and Alice Walker.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 25, 2001

    A book that touches you spiritual soul

    This was the first book of Cooper that I had the pleasuare to read. I just couldn't put it down. Witness this powerful writing style and be touched.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2001

    Outstanding!!

    J. California Cooper is a prolific author. I am an avid reader, and I've read all of Ms Cooper's works and this one is the best books I've ever read. She has a gift and uses it well. It is extremely well written and the message has universal appeal that is timeless regardless of the reader's gender, sex, or age. It is a phenomenal work! I recommend it to everyone.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2000

    Full of Satisfaction

    I loved reading this book and could not put it down. At work my friends and I talk about the characters in the book like they are real life people. I recommend this book to everyone.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 7, 2000

    YOU CAN'T PUT IT DOWN!!!

    It started as a book report for school, but soon became my satisfaction. This book was so good, it was there like I was a fly on the wall or that spider. When you can become a few characters in a book, you more than relate, you just are. Praises to you Ms. J. California Cooper. Can't wait to start my collection.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 26 Customer Reviews

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