HURRY HOME by John Edgar Wideman


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If you can, that is. Cecil Braithwaite, the narrator of Mr. Wideman's second novel, suffers the Ulyssean predicament of real and imagined wanderings that yield no touchstone, no Ithaca for his estrangement from reality. Cecil is a Negro janitor in a New York apartment building where he lives with his gospel-singing wife, Esther. All is far from what it seems, however--Cecil also holds a bona fide law degree from a university where only one other of his race could claim that accomplishment. He and Esther married graduation day, after the scarring miscarriage of a son and long years of cooperative sacrifice. Their wedding night Cecil left Esther to flee to Europe towards Africa, seeking some self-knowledge that would allow meaning to his limbo status and the loss of the child. A year later he returned, having searched the art galleries of Europe for the face of some black king or slave that he might recognize as his own. Today his small satisfaction in defeat is casting garbage down five flights of stairs and then methodically gathering it up. No-man and Everyman, Cecil is resolved in his irresolution of himself. Mr. Wideman has produced a minor work of more than moderate power. The thrust of the language is incantatory, restless and well-matched to the scrupulously constructed character of Cecil. It deserves to find more than one home.
Pub Date: March 25th, 1970
ISBN: 0557314828
Page count: 176pp
Publisher: Harcourt, Brace & World
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1970


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