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In this novel, originally published in 1988, Lincoln creates with deft skill the drama that rises from the lives of the people of Clayton City. In turn amusing, disgusting, enraging, wistful, and, as one hears the secrets hidden deep in their hearts, shocking, they exist in a place whose vibrant personality is itself a unique configuration of geography, relationships, patterns of behavior, and events. It is also a place whose unspoken and hidden power lies in its crushing compulsion to maintain itself as it already is-a power that forces everyone to succumb to an inflexible social order. As one character, Dr. Walter Tait, knows, life in Clayton City is a nightmare that can be escaped only if one makes the agonizing and conscious decision to get out. For Dr. Tait, the decision specifically poses a question of having control over death since he has none over life. As another character, Buford Atkins, says, "It's dark out here on the Avenue. . . ."
“In a direct line of descent from both Richard Wright’s Native Son and Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, C. Eric Lincoln’s The Avenue, Clayton City is one of the best written and most gripping accounts of the African American experience that I have encountered in years.”—Henry Louis Gates Jr.
“Truly a masterpiece.”—James H. Cone
Posted November 10, 2011
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!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.