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Again Bennett uses a sexual metaphor to impale reality and nightmare, and project the roots of black self-destruction. Handsome Bill is a welfare stud who once helped build ""Seventh Heaven,"" a housing project in New Jersey that is now a hell for powerless men-children living off women. But like all those who are sealed-off and helpless, they need magic. A nether land of randy juju women fight over Bill and his mighty ""johnson."" There's old Aunt Kesiah from back home who is young and lithe at night; the teacher-turned-whore who rescues him from her; and most powerful because she's white, Maria, who drowns Bill's project woman. Right along Bill's jumpy johnson rises with obedient regularity. On more symbolic occasions a black fag professor lectures while cooking mounds of pancakes; a cult attempts assassination with a doll and pins but only succeeds in killing a ""Richard Dixon""; and Bill, with his best friend, tries to produce the only baby ever born between men. At the close Bill ""hates the caricature his people have become"" and is still lost, not really knowing what love is, while somewhere in the air there is his real self--""sacred, soft. . . and half-free."" A dark night of the psyche exposed by day in the nation's Seventh Heavens. Bennett has a unique and consistently effective talent.

Pub Date: Aug. 20th, 1976
Publisher: Doubleday