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A TUGGING STRING by David T. Greenberg


A Novel About Growing Up During the Civil Rights Era

by David T. Greenberg

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-525-47967-3
Publisher: Dutton

Although it’s squarely focused on the events that culminate in the 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala., this novel isn’t quite so sure of its genre. Moving abruptly from memoir to history to fiction, it never finds its fit. Greenberg, the son of influential civil-rights lawyer Jack Greenberg, attempts to show how the events of the 1960s both destabilized his family and changed the nation. His highly fictionalized account explores both his own family’s travails and those of the Miltons, a fictional African-American couple whose experiences are meant to be emblematic of life under Jim Crow. The book succeeds when it shares intimate family moments, but too often it resorts to long passages of expository dialogue and fiddles with the facts to make the plot work. A concluding note attempts to separate fact from fiction and in so doing makes readers wonder why the author didn’t simply tell his family’s story and let such works as Diane McWhorter’s A Dream of Freedom (2004) tell others. (afterword, footnotes) (Historical fiction. 10-14)