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Jones, Gayle

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ISBN 10: 0807083461 / ISBN 13: 9780807083468
Published by Beacon Press, 1999
Condition: As New Hardcover
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A very nice copy. Size: 6x8and 1/2. Bookseller Inventory # 002001

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Mosquito

Publisher: Beacon Press

Publication Date: 1999

Binding: Hard Cover

Book Condition:As New

Dust Jacket Condition: As New

Edition: First Edition.

About this title


Sojourner Nadine Jane Johnson, also known as Mosquito, is an African-American truck driver. Set in a south Texas border town, Mosquito is the story of her accidental and yet growing involvement in "the new underground railroad," a sanctuary movement for Mexican immigrants.
Mosquito's journey begins when she discovers Maria, a stowaway who nearly gives birth in the back of the truck; Maria will eventually name her baby Journal, a misspelled tribute to her unwitting benefactor Sojourner. Along the road, Mosquito introduces us to Delgadina, a Chicana bartender who fries cactus, writes haunting stories, and studies to become a detective - one of the most original and appealing characters in all of Jones's fiction. We also meet Monkey Bread, a childhood pal who is, improbably, assistant to a blonde star in Hollywood, where Mosquito pays her a memorable visit. As her understanding of the immigrants' need to forge new lives and identities deepens, so too does Mosquito's romance with Ray, a gentle revolutionary, philosopher, and, perhaps, a priest.


Depending on your tolerance for digression, Gayl Jones's Mosquito will either be hugely entertaining or absolutely crazy-making. The heroine and narrator of this hefty tome is Sojourner Jane Nadine Johnson--Mosquito, to her friends--an African American truck driver with a mind as flighty as the insect she's named for. You know what you're up against from the very first paragraph in which Mosquito expounds on Texas border towns, tanning products, cacti, a teacup shaped like a cactus, the town of Brownsville, and the Kiowa word for Brownsville (which she can't remember). All of this is delivered in lively dialect: "Am got a few of them cactus plants along Dairy Mart Road, though they ain't the archetypal cactus. I think it's Dairy Mart Road and some of that poverty grass. I guess it called poverty grass 'cause it the Southwest, you know. I'm going to have to find out the names of these grasses and plants and trees so's I can tell y'all what they is. I guess that's what I likes about the Southwest, though, the landscape. Well, I likes the people that I likes (the Perfectability Baptist Church would want me to say more about the likability of peoples and us commandments to love), but when you gets to the Southwest it got it own distinctive landscape." And obviously Sojourner Jane Nadine Johnson, a.k.a. Mosquito, has her own distinctive personality.

What sets the story rolling is Mosquito's discovery of a young pregnant Mexican woman in the back of her truck. Not surprisingly, it takes all of chapter 1 for her to actually get to this discovery as she is distracted numerous times by her mail, other people she's met along the road, a trip to an aquarium in Florida, and the relationship between yoga and yogurt--to name just a few of the many, many subjects she expounds upon before finally getting back around to the pregnant Mexican in the truck. From here on out, the novel concerns Mosquito's involvement in a "new underground railroad," a sanctuary movement for illegal immigrants. In addition to mother-to-be Maria, we meet Delgadina, a Chicana bartender and wannabe detective; Monkey Bread, a childhood friend; and Ray, a man Mosquito might just be willing to slow down for. What raises this novel above the merely picaresque is Jones's sophisticated political sensibility: as Mosquito makes her physical journey across the Southwest, she embarks on a cultural odyssey as well, examining the struggles of all the "second class peoples" to find a place for themselves in America. Letters, plays, poetry, and songs punctuate the narrative and Mosquito's distinctive voice always keeps the story "keepin' on." --Alix Wilber

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