The Collected Stories of Chester Himes

9780749001063: The Collected Stories of Chester Himes

Spanning 40 years and including Himes's first work, written during his imprisonment in the 1940s, this collection uncovers the internal struggles of black individuals caught between resignation and rage, probing the heart of the African-American experience with wit, indignation, and ruthless honesty.

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From Publishers Weekly:

Racism, poverty and bad luck are the main players in this volume of 60 stories; when a character gets a hold of $10, it's likely to end in disaster and a $20 debt. Himes, who died in 1984, reveals the underbelly of the Afro-American experience (he began to write while in prison for a jewel theft). In the space of two bleak pages, a black man has his feet burned by a white mob, then amputated by a doctor; when the amputee doesn't rise for the National Anthem, he is struck by a white man. Yet Himes counters the carnage with a dry humor and humanity. In "Pork Chop Paradise" an ex-con preacher achieves an apotheosis in the eyes of his flock when he appears to "turn de cobblestones tuh po'k chops." It is, not incidentally, a woman who brings him down. In Himes's stories women frequently--through treachery or love, which in turn inspires crime--cause the ruin of their men. Though Himes ( The Third Generation ) sometimes sketches symbolic fables, more often he's as gritty as a police blotter photo. These stories, written between 1933 and 1979, survive as history, as powerful fiction and, unfortunately, as commentary on the current situation of the Afro-American.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal:

Best remembered for his detective novels, including Cotton Comes to Harlem , Himes died in 1984 after a writing career of nearly 50 years. This important collection of 60 provocatively titled stories explores the gamut of African American experiences during the madcap 1930s and war-troubled 1940s; the majority are terse, harrowing accounts of prison existence in all its violence and desperation. Framing these emotionally challeging stories are arch fantasies and senseless murders, and evocations of dangerous streets and kinetic nightclubs. Despite a few overly blunt parables of racial enmity, Himes consistently captures the brutality of disenfranchisement and the scruffy poetry of street talk with subtlety and grace. * Recommended.
- Janet Ingraham, Spar* tanburg Cty. P.L., S.C.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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