FAITH AND THE GOOD THING by Charles Johnson

FAITH AND THE GOOD THING

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Faith is a black girl from rural Georgia, daughter of a lynched man (a jokester, liar, ""great Fool among frightened ones""), she is also an innocent who travels to Chicago after heeding her dying mother's plea to look for the ""Good Thing,"" who becomes a whore, a housewife, an adulteress; and she bears a child and dies in a fire. But Faith is also -- in this fantasy morality -- a manifestation of mankind's quirky insistence on looking for the Good Thing in a damaging universe. Faith learns how men kick against the world -- by worshipping, dissecting, painting or ignoring it -- and through a resident werewitch, the Swamp Woman, whom Faith visits at the start and end of her journey, and whose identity she assumes at the close, she learns that the Good Thing is an irreducible perception of a unity in experience to be discovered only through love or conjuring. The author mixes magic and misery; a gritty folk speech and philosophical jargon in wisecrack dialectic: ""The Good Thing?"" booms the werewitch, ""You sure you ain't committin' the Fallacy of Misplaced Concreteness, girlie?"" Like Gardiner, whose approach this somewhat resembles, the author enjoys nonsense too. The Swamp Woman who augurs with chicken entrails: ""The liver's in Latin! I can't read no goddamn Latin!"" As is often the case with flights of this sort, the characters are apt to stretch into grotesques to illustrate chapter and verse; however, the author has enough of a firm grasp on folk idiom, and the corrosion of battered lives, to harness some very spectral goings on. A promising talent.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1974
ISBN: 0743212541
Publisher: Viking