Contemporary fantasy (Enchantment, 1999, etc.) set in the close-knit, exclusively black Los Angeles suburb of Baldwin Hills.
Professor Byron Williams, having given a ride to a homeless, bag-laden man—he isn’t sure why—arrives home to find that his wife, Nadine, is pregnant. Imagine Nadine’s astonishment: an hour ago she wasn’t pregnant; now she’s giving birth! Bag Man shows up to take the infant, along with Nadine’s memory of the entire incident. Soon after, young Ceese Tucker discovers a newborn baby in a shopping bag, and brings the boy to Ura Lee Smitcher. Nurse Ura Lee whisks baby and Ceese off to the hospital, where Ceese assists with the boy’s care—and resists an unaccountable urge to drop him down a stairwell. Ura Lee and Ceese informally adopt the child, whom they name Mack Street. As Mack grows, he learns to fear the “cold dreams” in which he dreams other people’s wish-fulfillment dreams, because the dreams come true—but always with a macabre twist. Mack discovers a house that nobody else can see, where he meets Bag Man, better known as Puck, whose back yard opens into fairyland! Oberon, king of the fairies, grown evil by casting off all his good elements, was imprisoned deep underground by his wife Titania, whose ambiguous human-world counterpart is lady biker Yo Yo. And Mack—well, he’s Oberon’s good aspect, placed in the world as the instrument by which Oberon can escape confinement.
An often intriguing story, told with Card’s usual impeccable skills—and yet the themes fail to cohere, and this peculiarly off-center fable never quite drags itself out of sheer make-believe and into fictional reality.