OF LOVE AND DUST by Ernest J. Gaines


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This second novel by a young Negro writer has an honest simplicity and tremendously involving, complicated characterizations. It's contemporary Louisiana and down on the plantation we find Jim Kelly, narrator, easy going, handy with machinery, who is put in charge of ""Playboy Marcus,"" Baton Rouge boy bonded to plantation owner Marshall Hebert after he had killed another Negro in a brawl. Seems Hebert owed Marcus' granny a little favor for forty years of service and a certain little incident in the past. Hebert is also indebted, mysteriously to Bonbon his white overseer who pushes Marcus to the limit in the fields. When Marcus seeks revenge, first with Bonbon's black mistress Pauline (whom he loves) and then with his willing wife who bears the marks from a Bijou past and present shame, the plantation people see trouble like a slow storm, waiting to engulf them all. The build-up in meticulous scenes from the scorching fields at noon to the cool nights with the intricate relationships between Bonbon and Pauline, Marcus and Louise have an abiding realism. Mr. Gaines sees people as pawns, caught up in a slip-stream of circumstance and his sympathetic story transcends the Negro-white motif.

Pub Date: Oct. 31st, 1967
ISBN: 067975248X
Publisher: Dial