A family saga about a gay man dealing with feelings of rejection and neglect.
Dorsey (Businessman First, 2014) traces three generations of an African-American family in this novel, from the early 20th century to the present day. The story focuses first on Estelle, the eldest daughter of Anna and Harrison Cory Sr., who, at age 10, is forced to take over as caregiver for two siblings after the death of their mother. Her father doesn’t particularly want to keep or take care of the children, and he ultimately uses them as a workforce in the home of a wealthy white family, where Estelle is forced to look after more kids. As a young woman, she moves to Baltimore against her father’s wishes, and there, she begins dating a young man named Albrecht Rose, and she marries him after she becomes pregnant with his child. Upset at the prospect of raising another youngster, Estelle wants only to get her daughter into school so that she can begin working and earning her own money—but she quickly becomes pregnant again. Thereafter, she secretly goes on birth control, but then Albrecht convinces her to have yet another child, despite his military career which keeps him constantly away. Seymour, their third and final offspring, is a timid person who clings to his mother as the years go by, despite her refusal to accept the fact that he’s gay and repeated reminders that she never wanted him. Dorsey makes Seymour the main character of the last third of the book, but this soon devolves into an unfocused but highly aggrandizing summary of Seymour’s academic and career accomplishments. The overall story presented here is fictional, but it’s based on a true one, and as a result, it often reads less like a novel than like a therapeutic airing of familial grievances. Throughout the book, the author often avoids conventionally staged scenes and dialogue, instead favoring meandering, highly repetitive summaries of characters’ actions, with blunt pronunciations about who’s good (“Seymour was the most innocent and good-natured of Albrecht and Estelle’s children”), who’s bad, and who’s ugly along the way.
An underdeveloped, aggressively vague first novel.