Standing at the Scratch Line: A Novel (Strivers Row)

Guy Johnson

Published by Villard, 2001
ISBN 10: 0375756671 / ISBN 13: 9780375756672
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Synopsis: Raised in the steamy bayous of New Orleans in the early 1900s, LeRoi "King" Tremain, caught up in his family's ongoing feud with the rival DuMont family, learns to fight. But when the teenage King mistakenly kills two white deputies during a botched raid on the DuMonts, the Tremains' fear of reprisal forces King to flee Louisiana.

King thus embarks on an adventure that first takes him to France, where he fights in World War I as a member of the segregated 369th Battalion—in the bigoted army he finds himself locked in combat with American soldiers as well as with Germans. When he returns to America, he battles the Mob in Jazz Age Harlem, the KKK in Louisiana, and crooked politicians trying to destroy a black township in Oklahoma.

King Tremain is driven by two principal forces: He wants to be treated with respect, and he wants to create a family dynasty much like the one he left behind in Louisiana. This is a stunning debut by novelist Guy Johnson that provides a true depiction of the lives of African-Americans in the early decades of the twentieth century.

Review: King Tremain, the badass central character of Guy Johnson's Standing at the Scratch Line, was born LeRoi and grew up in the swampy Louisiana bayou during the first part of the 20th century. It is only when he serves overseas during World War I, however, that LeRoi comes to appreciate the majesty of his name. As he should: fighting in the front lines with the "colored" 369th, LeRoi earns the title King. King takes his soldier's stance home with him and throughout his life kills whoever gets in his way, be they Italian mobsters or policemen. Not one for morals or rational contemplation, he lives by the code he relays to his army buddies during the war: "I just got two rules: be courageous and don't take no shit!"

In the course of tracking King's life, Standing at the Scratch Line crosses cities and decades--from New York to New Orleans to Oakland, from the teens to the '40s. King becomes a wealthy man, largely thanks to the opportunities presented by Prohibition. Handsome and strapping, he easily wins the heart of a Louisiana farm girl, Serena, who becomes his wife. Unfortunately, their love doesn't last long--even though the marriage does--because of tragedies involving their sons, for which he blames his wife. In King, Guy Johnson offers a character who responds aggressively to his time and place in history. He is a man of menacing proportions, with a justice system all his own. --Katherine Alberg

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Title: Standing at the Scratch Line: A Novel (...
Publisher: Villard
Publication Date: 2001
Binding: Paperback
Book Condition: Used: Good

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Book Description Random House USA Inc, United States, 2001. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. Raised in the steamy bayous of New Orleans in the early 1900s, LeRoi quot;Kingquot; Tremain, caught up in his family s ongoing feud with the rival DuMont family, learns to fight. But when the teenage King mistakenly kills two white deputies during a botched raid on the DuMonts, the Tremains fear of reprisal forces King to flee Louisiana. King thus embarks on an adventure that first takes him to France, where he fights in World War I as a member of the segregated 369th Battalion—in the bigoted army he finds himself locked in combat with American soldiers as well as with Germans. When he returns to America, he battles the Mob in Jazz Age Harlem, the KKK in Louisiana, and crooked politicians trying to destroy a black township in Oklahoma. King Tremain is driven by two principal forces: He wants to be treated with respect, and he wants to create a family dynasty much like the one he left behind in Louisiana. This is a stunning debut by novelist Guy Johnson that provides a true depiction of the lives of African-Americans in the early decades of the twentieth century. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780375756672

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