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As some sort of homage, Jackson sets his novel in the small Mississippi town of Eudora in Welty country, but it's more like the town of Alice, as in Walker. Lest he be charged with a vision of relentless black violence toward women, Jackson has his main character repent his ways and includes a shrew of witchlike proportions. The story is plain enough: Covering the nine months before the narrator's birth, the tale flashes back to her mother's courtship and marriage to one Joseph Henry Thomas, a hard-working illiterate who considers his wife and four children his property and rules the roost with an iron hand—and with a toughness penetrated only by his older sister, Clariece, a mean and pretentious old cow married to a preacher. Clariece certainly lords over Joseph's wife, Anna, the sweet and understanding center of this family saga. Without consulting her, Joseph promises his sixth child, the narrator, to his childless sister, an act that begins the rough times. For, in short order, Joseph loses his job, Anna's best friend dies, and Joseph takes up with the bottle. But the memory of Ida Mae, her wild and sassy friend, helps Anna through the crisis; in letters addressed to Ida Mae interspersed throughout the novel, Anna builds the courage to confront her cruel husband and his brutal sister. In Anna's moment of strength, Jackson provides the chest-thumping moral: ". . . women are the bearers of life, [and] we also provide the strength that makes life worth living."
The down-home parable-making here is undermined by all the pop psych, making this, sadly, a perfect contender for the latest in black schmaltz.
Posted March 29, 2002
Told largely in part by the unborn child, this is a story of self-discovery, strength, and family love. The View From Here is excellent! It goes deep into the soul and deep into the impoverished rural South into the home of Anna and J.T. where years of depression, predjudice, mental and physical abuse has taken its toll on the family. An unplanned pregnancy throws the family into crisis and the loss of employment makes a bad situation worse. J.T. ¿fixes¿ things by offering the unborn child to his older sister/surrogate mother, Clairese, the preacher¿s wife, and turns to corn liquor as console for his idle time. Anna eventually saves her family by (a) pulling on inspiration of her best friend, Ida Mae, who has ¿gone up North¿ in search of freedom and a better life and (b) her mother¿s strength to preservere and do the right thing. This book is a quick read, a real winner¿I was really intrigued to see that it was written by a man! I give this body of work 5 stars and two thumbs up!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 7, 2002
I make a habit of trying to read author's first novels, and rarely am I disappointed. But, when I read The View from Here several years ago, I found myself enchanted by his writing style. Often I check to see if he has published again, and indeed Queen of Harlem is coming soon! I'll go out on a limb and suggest this will be one to recommend, as well his second novel Walking Through Mirrors.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 18, 2000
I LOVE this man's books! I've read both of his books and I could not begin to sing my praises for both of his works ('Walking Through Mirrors' is his other book). Brian Keith Jackson tells a story that reminds me of Toni Morrison's 'The Bluest Eye' in story content but this book is far clearer to read and, quite frankly, far more enjoyable in my opinion. This is a story about a pregnant Anna, her 5 boys, and her husband Joseph. Brian tells a powerful story of how Anna struggles to keep her family together despite her husband and his sister's intentions. I even liked the fact that the story's narration was told through Anna's unborn child. Quite simply put, this is an excellent book by a phenomenal author.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.