by J. California Cooper
In one of the best-loved volumes of her work, J. California Cooper tells exuberant tales full of wonder at the mystery of life and the hardness of fate. Awed, bedeviled, bemused, all of Cooper's characters are borne up by the sheer power of life itself.
Awed, bedevilled, and bemused, all Cooper's characters are borne up by the sheer power of life itself in these wise and exhilarating stories from Cooper's newest book.
The stories in this second collection from the author of A Piece of Mine are all about love. About sex and family too, and life when it is lived with wonder and relish. Told in first-person, in a lively, unobtrusive black dialect, these tales, set in both country and city, are lit with wisdom and high-spirited humor. In ``Happiness Does Not Come in Colors,'' a black activist widowed in the '60s gradually allows herself to become attached to a white man, while a younger black woman finds that activism has expanded her life in surprising ways. In ``The Magic Strength of Need,'' an ambitious girl of exceptional ugliness builds an empire of beauty products and services, is finally wooed by the longed-for rich man and learns to value the love of a constant friend. ``Spooks'' is a sexual comedy in which two men enjoy the favors of a recent widow whose ``husband'' returns to her each night. Cooper is overfond of aphoristic commentary and exclamation marks, and her narrators may have similar-sounding voices, but she tells stories that move and dance about people who pop off the page to lodge themselves firmly in the reader's affection. (August 29)
Critical Praise for J. California Cooper:
"Cooper's work reminds us of Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston." -Alice Walker
"Cooper knows how to 'talk' her stories to us, as though each of them is told by a kindly and concerned friend. The sound of them is lovely, memorable, haunting." --San Francisco Chronicle
"Gutsy and familiar...Cooper's power comes from sticking to her instinct, which is to tell a story, plain and simple." --The Washington Post
"Ms. Cooper is as down-home as Zora Neale Hurston, thank you, and blooming into as skilled a storyteller. Cooper's characters are the folk heroes of black culture.... Tales of triumph that give you reason to keep reading." --Essence
"These stories are jazzy, clubby, folksy, small towny, populist, perky, and if you don't like them, you must be in an absolutely unshakeable bad mood...." --Carolyn See, Los Angeles Times
"Both men and women are treated with such bemused love that these tales of passions gone astray are transformed into celebrations of life." --MS.
Paperback: 175 pages