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A rather unusual story of Negroes in their own community, struggling to win a place for themselves, a chance to get ahead, an opportunity for their families to feel secure. There's a poignant -- almost a desperate- quality to the writing, and one feels an impending sense of unavoidable tragedy, as Jordan Cummings, a huge, quick-tempered Negro storms his way from job to job. As the story opens, he has lost his latest job at the coal yard because he talked back to a customer; trying to recoup, he gambles and loses hard-earned savings -- and when he goes home, Annie, the wife he truly loves, charges him with being no good. One lives with the Cummings in the weeks that follow; he swallows his pride and goes to apologize to Mona, the woman he insulted- only to fall victim to her half crazed need for a man -- and his resultant sense of shame and betrayal of Annie and their boys. Then back comes his younger brother Bryant, whom he and his father had sent North, Bryant, prosperous and ruthless and much too clever for the Negroes back home in North Carolina. Bryant tricks Jordan- and later Jordan's friend, Jake, out of each thing they build for themselves,- the beginning of a taxi service, the operation of a Negro district bar. And Bryant betrays Jordan's relations with Mona to Annie. The story revolves around the conflict between the brothers- and slowly Jordan conquers his own violent bursts of temper, his own jealousy and rebellion, and finally wins not only a going business, but the wisdom to make a choice between holding the place he has won at home- or taking off for the mirage of prosperity in Harlem. It is a very human story, compassionate, perceptive. John Ehle seems to know his characters, though he is not himself a Negro.

Pub Date: April 17th, 1957
Publisher: Morrow