CHOICE OF STRAWS by E. R. Braithwaite


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Racial bigotry in London is the theme of this novel in which Negro author Braithwaite draws a full portrait of a young white hater of ""Spades"" that is both penetratingly exact and yet oddly unmoving. Or rather, one is never moved by the morally and emotionally blunted clod who is the protagonist, although the novel's statement has a fair amount of power in its unwillingness to sentimentalize at any turn. Jack and Dave Bennett are twins and factory workers whose father was once attacked by a Negro gang and beaten. In revenge the two lads form a personal vigilante team and take up the sport of beating ""Spades"" on dark streets. One night their sport backfires and Jack is knifed though the victim is killed. Later in the night Jack is picked up by a Negro doctor who, in driving him too fast to a hospital, is burned to death with Jack in a crash. During the police investigation of the auto fatalities, Dave meets the dead Negro's sister and falls half in love with her. Dave, however, is completely unmoved by her brother's death and, in fact, hardly sheds a tear over Jack's. The girl draws Dave into an understanding of sorts of British Negro life, but Dave's mother finds out and breaks up all hope of a romance. Dave is left stewing in his undiminished bigotry and hatred of ""Spades"" ... The story is littered with stereotypes, but they are seen with a hard eye.

Pub Date: Jan. 12th, 1966
Publisher: Bobbs-Merrill