The Avenue, Clayton City

The Avenue, Clayton City

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by Eric C. Lincoln
     
 

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Originally published in 1988, Lincoln's novel creates with deft skill the drama that rises from the lives of the people of Clayton City, a prototypical Southern town, languishing between the two world wars. "One of the best written and most gripping accounts of the African American experience that I have encountered in years."--Henry Louis Gates, Jr.  See more details below

Overview

Originally published in 1988, Lincoln's novel creates with deft skill the drama that rises from the lives of the people of Clayton City, a prototypical Southern town, languishing between the two world wars. "One of the best written and most gripping accounts of the African American experience that I have encountered in years."--Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Set in a fictional Southern town in the late 1930s, this depiction of lives fettered by racial prejudice burns with anger and bitterness. Lincoln, a professor at Duke and author of several works of nonfiction, obviously knows the milieu and has suffered from its injustices. His canvas of vividly differentiated characters trying to live with dignity despite the ``pain, . . . ignorance . . . and resignation, which sucked remorselessly at black existence'' is a realistic picture of that era. Unfortunately, his writing skills are not equal to the task. Instead of a coherent plot, we have a series of loosely bound vignettes, each illustrating another circumstance that victimizes and humiliates the black people of Clayton City, all of whom are insidiously and relentlessly ``kept in their place'' by their white employerseven those who seem relatively benevolent. The only ``good'' white people are the teachers at the ``colored'' academy (the segregated school for blacks); they have all come from the North and are resented and physically threatened by Clayton City's ruling families. This is a message novel whose plot moves mostly through exposition, with little dialogue, action, suspense or drama. In fact, the best parts are really extended essays on such topics as the reason that young bloods demean each other with vulgar ``jive'' talk. To those who do not remember the time before civil-rights activism, this will be an eye-opening look at recent history. But, despite the authenticity of his material, Lincoln has failed to produce a moving or convincing novel. Literary Guild alternate. (March)
Library Journal
This novel by a veteran nonfiction writer is, simply put, a stunning and beautiful work. Set in a mythical Southern town during FDR's early years in the White House, it has ten long chapters offering biographies of the blue-collar residents. Of special note are those of the obese proprietor of a hash house, the wandering dandy's return for his mother's wake, and the progressive white school marm. Race relations, while strained, never grow violentrefreshing in a book on Southern society. Poignant in its grief and humor, the novel depicts American black religion and culture with the power and interest of Alex Haley's Roots . Edward C. Lynskey, Documentation, Atlantic Research Corp., Alexandria, Va.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780345360342
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
01/13/1989
Series:
Black History Titles Ser.

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The Avenue, Clayton City 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book years ago and never forgot it. It is full of humor and features many, many interesting characters. It presents a picture of southern life prior to WWII that is straightforward and unforgettable. He describes the profound difference between the black experience and the white experience in America to a tee. I have often wished that the author had written more novels during his career but this is his only fictional work. I highly recommend it!