Pate’s fourth (Finding Makeba, 1997, etc.) is indeed a multicultural sideshow headlined by a struggling African-American writer who attempts to explain the death of a white, grant-giving benefactor to a cop. One morning Ichabod “Icky” Word, an unpublished novelist eking out a living in Minneapolis, calls the police to his apartment. When Lt. Bill Bloom arrives alone, Word disarms him, ties him to a chair, and gags him before launching into a book- long explanation of the dead body in the corner of his apartment. The body is that of Dewitt McMichael, a white officer of the Shrubbery Foundation and a self-styled benefactor of underrepresented art, who recently assembled a group of “minority” artists to inform them they were finalists for a half-million-dollar grant. Word had hosted a reception in his apartment for the contestants, and McMichael had joined them. During a particularly heated exchange about white underwriting of minority artists—and all the assumptions behind it—McMichael, maintains Word, died from a ruptured blood vessel, perhaps a stroke. On this spare frame of plot, Pate takes ample opportunity to embroider stereotypes, sexual prejudices, economic biases, police harassment, and the travails of Word’s life in largely white Minneapolis. The fatal exchange, Word reports, involved McMichael’s final confession: “The work you are doing just doesn—t take me anywhere.” Do the issues here sound too complex? Pate obligingly suggests that McMichael is doing this work to assuage the guilt he’s felt, ever since boyhood, when he ran over his pet dog The author’s essayistic subject—the cultural depiction of people who make artistic representations of themselves—overshadows his narrative. As with many book-length sermons, though, there are still some piquant and useful exhibits here.