"The Getting Place," by Susan Straight. Hyperion. 488...

Book Brief

September 29, 1996|By Laura Perkins | Laura Perkins,Contra Costa Times

"The Getting Place," by Susan Straight. Hyperion. 488 pages. $22.95.

Susan Straight's novel is powerful and ambitious, guaranteed to make its captivated readers squirm. The author presents a compelling history of several generations of one black family in a fast-paced novel driven by murder and violence. Never preachy or simplistic.

Straight explores family bonds, race relations and a wide variety of other issues in a colloquial voice that seems authentic.

The novel opens with a fiery double murder on the Thompson family's property. When patriarch Hosea Thompson goes to investigate, he is shot and wounded by police. Held as a suspect in the prison ward of a hospital, Hosea fades in and out, remembering the devastating violence he experienced as a boy in the Tulsa race riots of 1921 and returning to the frightening violence and more subtle racial oppression of the 1990s.

This is a dark novel, despite the dignity and hope embodied in its characters, because there are no comforting solutions to the dizzying array of issues the author raises.

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