HANGING BY HER TEETH by Bonnie Greer

HANGING BY HER TEETH

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 In her debut novel, playwright Greer infuses the oft-told story of a woman's search for self with a rich African-American flavor. After years of trying everything (the Women's Collective, the Black Women's Collective, the Black Lesbians' Collective, etc.) and supporting every political activist from Martin Luther King to the Black Panthers, confused, 45-year-old Lorraine finds herself teaching Shakespeare at Our Lady Queen of Peace High School in South London. No matter how often she tells herself that she's grown up, no matter how much she wants to settle down with the nice head teacher from Barbados, Lorraine is still obsessed with the father who abandoned her as a child, still torn between the professional expectations for today's African-American woman and her lust for freedom, travel, alcohol, and the blues. Bittersweet letters from Lorraine to her father, which go back as far as the early 1960s, poignantly trace her past: her birth in Chicago to a mother who wanted to be a painter but had a vision when pregnant and became a preacher instead; her inability to see her own reflection since the age of 10, when her father made a secret visit and gave her a seashell-encrusted mirror she immediately shattered; her passion for white men; and her discovery that her father is not dead as her mother claimed but has become an expatriate. After Lorraine's mother passes away, she begins a quest for her father that takes her from Amsterdam to Paris to London (here Greer tips her hat to the generations of American artists who went to Europe to find themselves) and realizes she has not really been looking for her father at all. Greer takes a powerful and refreshingly unusual stand, rejecting conventional notions of home and roots in favor of singularity and independence that add a new dimension to standard conceptions of black heritage and power.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 1-85242-185-1
Page count: 165pp
Publisher: Serpent’s Tail
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 1994




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