Books by Norman Silver

CLOUD NINE by Norman Silver
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 21, 1995

When his mother suggests he ``go build something,'' Armstrong constructs a ladder to the clouds, and as the numbered clouds pass bysix, seven, eighthe lassos the ninth as his personal refuge in the sky. Cloud Nine is not only a place of refuge, where Armstrong can escape from his boisterous family, it's also a bed, a trampoline, and a vehicle. Despite pleas and messages from his family, sent via the mailman, planes, and mountain climbers, Armstrong refuses to come down. Familial guilt, refreshingly, just isn't strong enough to make Armstrong abandon his aerial adventures. It's only when his cloud gets snagged on a sharp mountain peak, that Armstrong is forced to land; his family rushes to welcome him back into the noisy fold. Anyone who's ever cloud-gazed or flown through a bank of clouds in an airplane will identify with Silver's fantasy of escaping into the sky, to take refuge from earth's clutter. Ormerod's paintings extend the fantasy element effortlessly, often through wordless panels. Science may not allow humans to float on clouds like inner tubes, or sky surf on a jet-powered cumulus, but this book's paean to the imagination will transport readers easily, believably, up to Armstong's cottony retreat. (Picture book. 5-8) Read full book review >
AN EYE FOR COLOR by Norman Silver
FAMILY AND GROWING UP
Released: Jan. 1, 1993

In a series of interconnected short stories, a young boy grows up in a South African Jewish family. As in Silver's No Tigers in Africa (1991), plot and characters here are not so much driven by racial issues as permeated by them; in ``Fifty-Fifty Tutti-Frutti Chocolate Chip,'' narrator Basil jumbles memories of parents, a girlfriend, a sadistic teacher, career plans, and watching two Coloured being beaten; in ``The Future Is Ours,'' he hangs back guiltily when Hester, the object of his erotic fantasies, is suddenly reclassified as Coloured, and later when she dies in a school riot—``You were right, Hester; we whites will never change unless you change us...My insides are just one screaming ball of fear.'' Failures here far outnumber successes— a police agent sabotages Basil's first serious love affair; his father loses his business; a neighbor commits suicide. Even the lighter moments have a bitter edge: when the police discover that old Boola Naidoo has kept his dead father's thumb in a jar in order to ``sign'' for pension checks, Boola tells his daughter that it's their life savings being carried out the door. The collection ends on a characteristically grim note: Basil escapes military service by insisting that his two eyes see different things—one, a shiny happy world, the other a field of mutilated corpses. Silver is a penetrating observer of his native society, but he sees no light at the end of the tunnel. (Fiction. 12-18) Read full book review >
NO TIGERS IN AFRICA by Norman Silver
FICTION
Released: July 1, 1992

A turgid story about a teenager and his family, deeply warped by their South African past, trying to build a new life in England. Haunted by guilt over the killing of a black man back in Johannesburg, Selwyn retreats into silence, nightmares, and thoughts of suicide, which he eventually attempts. In a confessional narrative slowed to a crawl by overdetailed digressions, he recalls watching his father become an alcoholic and discovering his mother's affair with a black man; somehow, working his remorse down to a manageable level, he finally admits that his father, not he, actually pulled the trigger. Though readers may feel bludgeoned with the alienation theme, Selwyn's racism is treated with some perception; he decries apartheid and denies being prejudiced, but advocates separate black government, casually calls black children ``piccanins,'' and is profoundly disturbed to see a black and white couple kissing. Heavy-handed writing and superfluous teen-novel detritus—vomiting, rough language, a glandular romantic subplot—make this hard-going; still, this South African author explores the ways his native society victimizes everyone in it. (Fiction. YA) Read full book review >