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“If you're black you don't need to get at anything. You're already there. You can live right out of your insides.” So says the antihero of this legendary novel that reimagines the Bible’s prodigal son as a young black man in post-Civil Rights-era America. George Washington—one of his many aliases—is a classic trickster figure, a blend of con artist, deep thinker, and willing object of white women’s sexual fantasies. Fed up with life in racist America, he leaves his rural South for Denmark on a curious quest, determined to discover if there is “any mother fucker in this despiteful world who ever told himself the truth.” In Denmark he spends his days bantering with fellow black expatriates and his nights bedding a series of white women who project their desires on him. Inevitably, these worlds collide, with Washington, aka Anthony Miller, aka Paul Winthrop, aka Mr. Jiveass Nigger, increasingly alienated in a world of opportunists. A return to America after his self-imposed exile promises transformation, but is Washington too far gone? Cecil Brown brings blistering prose, unabashed eroticism, and biting satire to this controversial masterpiece that’s as timely today as when it was first published.
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Cecil Brown holds a PhD in African American Literature from the University of California, Berkeley. His other books include Days Without Weather, Stagolee Shot Billy, and his autobiography, Coming Up Down Home. He lives in Berkeley.
Foreword contributor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is the Director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research and holder of the distinguished title of the Alphonse Fletcher, Jr. University Professor at Harvard University.
FROM THE TALE
The Strøget, Copenhagen’s Fifth Avenue, must be, during the summer months, one of the finest streets in the world. No cars are permitted on this street, which means one can interweave freely, provided he is careful not to step on one of the hundreds of street artists whose nearly bad drawings always draw coins from the patronizing tourists; but the natives here are as much tourists as anyone else. A shop girl on her way home never resists the pleasure of becoming a part of the flow of people moving up and down this wondrous street. Almost every kind of person can be seen strolling here, almost every kind of fashion can be seen in the shop windows. Window shopping is highly cultivated here, the art of window display is practiced with great pain, and the displays change often enough to make a stroll down the Stroget worthwhile at least once a day. This street caries the distinctive flavor of the city itself: quiet, relaxed, private and yet not anonymous, gray but not pale or drab; it is a subtle city almost to the point of being coy. A young English student with a thin beard stands holding hands with his Danish girlfriend as they both study a window advertising the works of some glass blower; an African prince attired in a gray pinstriped double-breasted suit and black leather gloves pushes a baby carriage alongside his blond-haired Danish wife. The city, of course, is chock full of impostors, but there is no necessity on anybody’s part to expose such people. Quite to the contrary, the city, the spirit of the city, seems to offer them protection, which is why almost all people here seem as though in exile.
On this particular day it had been raining all morning intermittently, and around one the pale blue sky burst into yellow sunlight. The cobblestone street had been washed clean by the rain and was now a deep red and gave off a strong smell of freshness and earth. People were moving about quickly, the tourists were out with their cameras again, and young, European-style hippies resumed their task of earning a living by drawing Chagalls in the street.
If, in heading toward Kongens Nytorv down the Strøget, one happens to turn right on a certain street, one will find oneself, after some few blocks, face-to-face with a restaurant called the Drop Inn. The Drop Inn is the place you go to meet the “intellectual” bloods. The other place where you can find black people is the Cassanova, which is usually filled with servicemen. One could say that the Drop Inn comes close to being the Big House and Cassanova has the smell of the slave quarters, but, really, such a distinction is misleading because brothers kept a very heavy traffic going from one to the other.
It is three in the afternoon and we find our hero sitting in the Drop Inn hovering over an empty beer mug. He is sitting with some “friends,” five in number....
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Book Description Ecco Pr, 1991. Condition: Fair. Reprint. Ships from Reno, NV. Shows definite wear, and perhaps considerable marking on inside. Seller Inventory # GRP87818332
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Book Description Ecco Pr, 1991. Paperback. Condition: Used: Good. Seller Inventory # SONG0880013095
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