by J. California Cooper
J.California Cooper writes with a transparent clarity and such exuberant energy that her characters leaop off the page, bursting with the stories they've got to tell--stories of simple people, stories of families and fate, of love and marriage, of death and the triumph of the human spirit. Cooper is that most rare and wondrous thing: a true storyteller whose tales trace the energies of life itself.
J. California Cooper writes with a transparent clarity and such exuberant energy that her characters leap off the page, bursting with stories they've got to tell--stories of simple people, stories of families and fate, of love and marriage, of death and the triumph of the human spirit.
The five tales here are all told in the first person; they give you the feeling that you're sitting on the front porch with the narrator, somewhere in the South; it's hot and humid, she's snapping beans, you're holding the bowl and she's giving you the inside scoop on everybody. You listen, pass her back the bowl and don't know whether to believe her. In their own gossipy, circuitous, roundabout way, the stories enchant you because they are not stories; they are the truth reconstructed....The major problem with these tales is that each is somewhat didactic. One also has to adjust to Ms. Cooper's no-nonsense style, told in the oral tradition, but with a fablelike quality, often with the moral waiting for you at the end. The narrators can be intrusive, the voice doesn't alter from one story to the next and the excessive use of exclamation points is enough to get on your nerves. After reading ''Some Soul to Keep,'' you feel lucky to have entered the worlds of a few poor black women and their families who don't cry or whine about their condition, but are set on figuring out how to get on with their lives. -- New York Times
Critical Praise for J. California Cooper:
"Her style is deceptively simple and direct, and the vale of tears in which her characters reside is never so deep that a rich chuckle at a foolish person's foolishness cannot be heard." --Alice Walker
"Cooper's stories beckon. It's as if she is patting the seat next to her, enticing us to come sit and listen as she tells complex tales about women, often poor women, chasing dreams of love, a house, and a family." --MS.
"Cooper is humorous, wise, self-deprecating, and always expressive...her stories are about simple truths told with great energy that makes them shine." --Kirkus Reviews
"The stories are wonderful, very human tales that sparkle with warmth, humor, and, often, revenge." --Library Journal
"Cooper's stories dramatize the wages of sin and the rewards of patience, as well as the occasional sweet taste of revenge." --Chicago Tribune
"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
Paperback: 224 pages