Chango's Beads and Two-Tone Shoes: A Novel

Chango's Beads and Two-Tone Shoes: A Novel

by William Kennedy
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Chango's Beads and Two-Tone Shoes: A Novel by William Kennedy

From the Pulitzer Prizewinning author of Ironweed, a dramatic novel of love and revolution from one of America's finest writers

When journalist Daniel Quinn meets Ernest Hemingway at the Floridita bar in Havana, Cuba, in 1957, he has no idea that his own affinity for simple, declarative sentences will change his life radically overnight.

So begins William Kennedy's latest novel—a tale of revolutionary intrigue, heroic journalism, crooked politicians, drug-running gangsters, Albany race riots, and the improbable rise of Fidel Castro. Quinn's epic journey carries him through the nightclubs and jungles of Cuba and into the newsrooms and racially charged streets of Albany on the day Robert Kennedy is fatally shot in 1968. The odyssey brings Quinn, and his exotic but unpredictable Cuban wife, Renata, a debutante revolutionary, face-to-face with the darkest facets of human nature and illuminates the power of love in the presence of death.

Kennedy masterfully gathers together an unlikely cast of vivid characters in a breathtaking adventure full of music, mysticism, and murder—a homeless black alcoholic, a radical Catholic priest, a senile parent, a terminally ill jazz legend, the imperious mayor of Albany, Bing Crosby, Hemingway, Castro, and a ragtag ensemble of radicals, prostitutes, provocateurs, and underworld heavies. This is an unforgettably riotous story of revolution, romance, and redemption, set against the landscape of the civil rights movement as it challenges the legendary and vengeful Albany political machine.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780143122043
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/30/2012
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 318,509
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

William Kennedy, author, screenwriter and playwright, was born and raised in Albany, New York. Kennedy brought his native city to literary life in many of his works. The Albany cycle, includes Legs, Billy Phelan's Greatest Game, and the Pulitzer Prize winning Ironweed. The versatile Kennedy wrote the screenplay for Ironweed, the play Grand View, and cowrote the screenplay for the The Cotton Club with Francis Ford Coppola. Kennedy also wrote the nonfiction O Albany! and Riding the Yellow Trolley Car. Some of the other works he is known for include Roscoe and Very Old Bones.

Kennedy is a professor in the English department at the State University of New York at Albany. He is the founding director of the New York State Writers Institute and, in 1993, was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He has received numerous literary awards, including the Literary Lions Award from the New York Public Library, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and a Governor’s Arts Award. Kennedy was also named Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters in France and a member of the board of directors of the New York State Council for the Humanities.

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Chango's Beads and Two-Tone Shoes 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I almost stopped reading after the 1957 section because the dialogue was stilted and the action hard to follow. That would have been a mistake. The Albany section (except for the flashbacks to Havana 1957) mostly shows off Kennedy at what he does best: nostalgia, intrigue, and the occasional unexpected bon mot ("When you're lucky, you can strike oil in the attic"). The narrative remains jumpy, and some of the characters are more archetypical than realistic. But by the end, I didn't care. And I didn't really want the book to end, because I think that Kennedy (like Cody and Max and George) is saying goodbye. -- catwak
Bubikon More than 1 year ago
A meandering novel without much interest. Kennedy is at his best when describing the revolution in Havana and the 1930's in Albany, but for much of the novel the characters have little to recommend their stories. The text of love and women is at tiems embarassing. RAther than focus on a story or a theme, Kennedy travels back and forth from the delightful (the interview with Fidel) to the absurd (a meandering evening in Albany between two elderly people reminiscing about their uninteresting youth).