A Negro and An Ofay, book 1 in Tales of Elliot Caprice
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Down & Out Books (May 15, 2017)
A Negro and an Ofay, by Danny Gardner was pretty fucking good. I had a blast reading this book. Every character comes to life, and especially the story’s hero, Elliot Caprice. I’m hooked, I want to read more, though I must say, the author has given himself quite a challenge with this introductory novel, where to go next? I can’t wait to find out.
And I’m jealous. Writers who can capture a character’s distinct place in society by his or her voice without being stereotypical or condescending amaze me. Gardner does this really well, and I hate him for it. That’s not true. I admire him for it. Everybody seems to compare Gardner to Walter Mosley and Chester Himes, two writers I enjoy, for the easy reason that he’s a black writer writing about strong multidimensional non-stereotypical hard boiled black characters, and that’s fine and true enough, however I would also compare him to Nelson Algren for his ability to capture a character almost immediately by his voice rather than by long descriptive passages. (I just pulled Algren off the shelf, haven’t read him for possibly years, and I need to make sure I’m not completely talking out of my ass.)
One of the traits that made me enjoy “A Negro and an Ofay” as much as I did, is Gardner’s direct non-PC approach to his storytelling. This is the experience of a black man, or a man who is half black half white in America in the 1950s. He tells it straightforward, and pulls no punches, and yet he doesn’t go over the top, because he doesn’t have to. Racism wasn’t pretty back then, and it still isn’t pretty today, and by placing the novel in the 1950s somehow makes it easier for us white readers to read?
We can at least pretend that it’s gotten a bit better since, though we know that in many instances it hasn’t. I’m seeing more of this type of writing, and maybe it’s because I’m expanding my reading list, or maybe it’s because more writers are writing more openly about this big ol’ American tabou… The Big Elephant in the room: Racism, and how to talk about it.
I’m loving it.
There were times that I felt the narrative to slow down a bit too much, where some descriptive passages went on a bit long, and the back-story telling made the story lag on a bit, however for the most part, this book rocked.
Highly recommended, and I can’t wait to read more from this author.
Peace & Love
please buy my books:
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and Half Price Books (2222 & Lamar)
My books are also available in Houston, Texas at Wired Up on Dunlavy & Westheimer.