TO REACH A DREAM by Nathan C. Heard


Email this review


The author grew up in the Newark ghettos and his first book, Howard Street (1968), was written in Trenton state prison. Here he makes the dilemma of the oppressed manifest, matter-of-fact, and terribly real. Bart Enos dedicates himself, young, to achieving the only dream in sight: the street-corner manhood of pimps and hustlers, glamorous, exaggerated, precarious, sustained on material splendor (Cadillacs and clothes) and the brutal, confused exploitation of women. (Bart's first love left him when she heard he'd been raped by an older man in prison; the memory of the rape gives complex pathos to the question, ""What is a man?""). In pursuit of money to fuel the dream, Bart makes love to his middle-aged, middle-class black employer, but when he falls for her daughter, real feelings enter a life-and-death struggle with the dream. The only way to have both seems to be for the two to kill the mother; tragedy follows relentlessly. Bart Enos is understood in this book with hands-off, unsentimental compassion. Analysis, narration, and sensuality don't always fully meld into language, and sometimes the prose is flat, but the burden is all here.

Pub Date: June 9th, 1972
Publisher: Dial