TRAITOR TO THE RACE by Darieck Scott


Email this review


 Yet another first novelist staking claim to James Baldwin's territory of the gay, black male's experience in America falls painfully short. Scott's slim debut centers on Kenneth, an unemployed African- American actor, and his live-in lover, Evan, a blond, blue-eyed soap-opera star. In their Manhattan apartment they frequently play ``games,'' enactments of elaborate sexual fantasies usually dreamed up by Kenneth in his numerous idle hours. Kenneth also ``inhabits'' or invents scenarios about various locals he sees while killing time on a park bench. When Kenneth's gay cousin is raped and killed in Greenwich Village, a minimal amount of tension develops between Kenneth and Evan. Local black, gay activists want to play up the fact that the murder may have been a bias incident, while Kenneth wants to focus quietly on the human tragedy and at the same time question why he's living with a white man instead of someone of his own race. A preachy friend appears midway through to explain to Kenneth why he can't deal with black men (they weren't there for him when he was young) and why it's okay to be with Evan (he isn't just any white man, but a wonderful man who happens to be white). After setting up the brutal murder, the author alternates between the two main characters' points of view--static scenes that make an already slight book seem even more hollow. Baldwin's genius was to show characters confronting complex societal issues while moving readers with their individual stories. Scott, on the other hand, paints with a wide, dull brush of generalities and awkward writing: ``In this day and age, one can only love another by first loving his stereotype.'' An earnest but tedious exercise in the obvious.

Pub Date: May 15th, 1995
ISBN: 0-525-93912-1
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1995