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From Barnes & NobleBarnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
The Portable Promised Land is a brash, bawdy, and smart collection of short takes on a half-imaginary place called, "Soul City." The territory of Touré's fiction is not so much a world as a state of mind where racial injustice is balanced by an overriding sense of screwball humor, and where the language of the street, the church, and the beauty parlor acquires poetic status.
Touré's dispatches are notes from a reporter's beat covering the wonderland of African-American life -- and his notebook is bursting at the seams. From the fate of a preacher who loves his flock a little too much to a visit to a "breakup ceremony" that turns ugly, Touré presents captivating portraits of the modern world that range from the sly to the mordant to the out-and-out hilarious. Some of the pieces read like extended jokes or stand-up routines -- others are linked short stories morphing into double-edged allegories.
Whatever the genre, Touré writes with an overwhelming love for the language of black America and for the musical possibilities of English in general. But his masterstroke is "The Sad, Sweet Story of Sugarlips Shinehot." This moving and funny fable -- in which a jazz trumpeter is blessed with a selective kind of blindness -- combines a droll take on Ralph Ellison's classic Invisible Man, with a nod to Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon. Touré's vision of Soul City is at once affectionate and angry, flippant and committed, contemplative and provocative. These are stories to change the way we look at the outrageous, absurd, troubled, yet fascinating place we call America. (Summer 2002 Selection)