TALES OF AN ALL-NIGHT TOWN by Elin Schoen

TALES OF AN ALL-NIGHT TOWN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A profile of what is ""said to be the oldest all-black town in the United States"" could have been interesting, but journalist Schoen offers only a straight Rogues Gallery of pimps, pushers, and assorted con men. Lovejoy, a.k.a. Brooklyn, Illinois (less than one square mile on the Mississippi), does have saintly old Doc Riley and Mayor George Thomas (also police commissioner, county supervisor, and Health District representative), but the pivotal personage is James Bollinger--pimp, special deputy policeman, and devotee of astrologer Sidney Omarr--whom we meet as he is gunned down by the police chief (""justifiable homicide""). There follow vignettes of Bollinger interacting with townsfolk: befriending Reno the heroin-pusher; killing ""the militant"" who annoys him in a bar (""self defense""); running reformer Paul Latham out of town because of Latham's plans to turn Brooklyn into a ""model black community""; looking after Othia Garvey, warmhearted prostitute and his woman; shooting Vernon for dealing independently in heroin. The only sign that there may be another side to Brooklyn is mention of a Centennial Celebration with baseball, bingo, Coronation Ball, etc., attracting ""Brooklynites from all over the country."" Otherwise, the clearest picture comes from a Time article written after Bollinger's murder, describing his ""gang of badged deputies"" roaming the streets with ""pistols, sawed-off shotguns, rifles, even machine guns""; Schoen, however, claims that residents were unaware of any such ""reign of terror."" Confusing, lopsided, and empty.

Pub Date: Oct. 16th, 1979
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich