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The autobiographical voice is self-righteous, narcissistic, puerile, pretentious, smug, sentimental, unimaginative. . . Then why do we listen? Because the speaker is a black, midway between Southern bourgeois and neo-African intellectual, and his picaresque adventures and impressions of racist society, however poorly written, become interesting in terms of how he exploits his color and class. This sequel to Lacy's 1970 version of his life history, The Rise and Fall of a Proper Negro, documents his confusion while ""trying to figure out what to do with his life."" The story thus far: He has been to a Southern finishing school for ""proper Negroes,"" where he had a proper black virgin; to Tufts and USC, where he acquired a persistent Jewish mistress; to bohemian San Francisco, where he got into blackness (and of course a Sister); to Africa, where he had lots of women, even diplomats' wives. Now living in the West Village, he teaches African history in a Bed-Sty poverty program for unwed mothers, many of whom have been abandoned by the boyfriends they loved. Leslie is hired to help these young women accept themselves and shape their futures. But he has a problem of his own: failing to seduce the dignified middle-aged program director, he has taken on an impressionable girl working her way through college by counseling the young mothers-to-be. But what is more tedious than other people's love letters? Leslie's sexual bravado is a cop-out from mature social commitment and his prolonged identity crisis is a poor premise for autobiography. His consciousness has lowered considerably since we last heard from him.

Pub Date: April 18th, 1974
Publisher: Macmillan