Elijah, the protagonist in the book by the same name, is a black baby born into a white southern Klan family. His father hates the child and plans to kill him and the mother. The seven-year-old brother challenges the father and saves the child, hiding Elijah in a dark basement. There, Elijah is visited by the ghosts of great composers and is taught by them. He becomes a child prodigy, and he and his brother Joshua ultimately become lovers. Elijah's future father also becomes Elijah's lover and is able to help guide Elijah to a happy and useful life. The author, who skillfully takes the main character from infancy through adulthood, peoples his novel with a vast cast of characters. The novel spans decades and challenges many common prejudices and fears about homosexuality. In addressing themes of spirituality, relationships, romance, and love, the book also challenges many common assumptions.
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Irving Clement was born in Columbus, Ohio in 1938. He was the fifth child, and second son, of eight children born to James and Hester Clement. He graduated from Reynoldsburg High school in Reynoldsburg, Ohio, where he played four years of Varsity football, and was voted onto the All State High School Barber Shop Quartet. He attended Ohio University where he played Varsity football. To care for sick family members, he reluctantly dropped out. Irving joined the United States Air Force and served four years of active duty. He was one of, if not the first man who sucessfully refused to go to Vietnam as an Advisor. After joining the United States Air Force, he became a Surgical and Obstetric Technician, and trained as a Psychiatric Nurse. His Medical Training was done in the United States Air Force Academy at Gunter Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama. He was in the first class of Medics that were trained by the Air Academy. He was number one in his class. The next year, the Air Academy moved to Denver, Colorado, where it is at the present time. Upon discharge, he settled in Los Angeles, California. He eventually went on staff at the Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Hollywood, California, where he fought for equal care and treatment of Black and Minority patients. He was appointed to the Protocol Committee, which designed the procedures for Advanced Patient Care for the the New Cedars Sinai Hospital. He transferred with all the hospital personnel to the New Cedars Sinai Hospital in Beverly Hills, California. He worked for years on the Betty Ford Oncology Center for Cancer and terminally ill Cancer patients. He suffered the first of many heart attacks. He survived the first of his two Heart Bypass surgeries. He became a Tennis instructor at two public parks where he gave free tennis lessons to many adults and children, which he continues to do at this time. Twelve years later, he survived his second Heart Bypass surgery after he was pronounced dead, and was taken to the Morgue, where he came back to life. He continued his duties as a Private Duty Nurse, where his reputation for being able to deal with the most difficult of patients, was known citywide until 1995, when he retired after 40 years in the Medical Profession. He continued teaching children tennis at the public tennis courts in South West Los Angeles, free of charge. In 2004, he suffered a heart attack and lapsed into Congestive Heart failure. His doctor gave him little hope of surviving as he had an enlarged heart. After lying in bed listening to the music of Fredrick Chopin for several days, his heart converted to normal rhythm, much to the surprise of his doctor at the Veteran's Hospital. In a vision, his dead sister came to him with the story of Elijah. Over a period of less than six weeks, he wrote in long hand; after his friend, Velma Lewis insisted. She refused to listen to the story as Irving tried to tell it to her over and over. Write it and I will type it, said Velma. He wrote and she typed, and the book, Elijah was born, and an old man became a young writer.Review:
Irving Clement's work, Elijah is the story of a young man's coming of age, and his escape from the disastorus effects of his childhood to become one of the most loved people in the world. The canvas that Irving Clement uses to tell the story of Elijah is a broad one, spanning decades and peopled with a vast cast of characters. The author skillfully takes the central character from childhood through adulthood, developing his character and demonstrating how this trusting and somewhat naive boy grows into a successful entertainer with a heart of gold. --Jean Wahlborg, Editorial Coordinator, Dorrance Publishing Co, Inc.
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