JESSIE AND JESUS AND COUSIN CLAIRE by Raymond Andrews

JESSIE AND JESUS AND COUSIN CLAIRE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Two strong-willed, manipulative women dominate the stage in this latest installment of high-jinks and misadventures among black rural Georgians (Baby Sweets, 1983, etc.) by the first winner of the James Baldwin Prize for Fiction--a rambunctious collection of down-home tales that never quite adds up to an integrated whole. The only daughter (or so she believes) of a hard-working dairy farmer and his invalid wife, Jessie Mitchell--handsome, black, and phenomenally determined--has known since birth exactly what she wants in life and how to grab it. Getting off to an early start by ``accidentally'' drowning her despised younger brother, Sidney Junior, Jessie stomps toward young adulthood determined to win everything Sidney had coming to him--the farm, her parents' love, and a good-looking family of her own--even if it means the equally ``accidental'' deaths of Jessie's luckless first lover, Candy Man, and her handsome husband, Amos Blackshear V, both of whom just happen to stumble into the human tornado's way. On the brink of ultimate triumph, Jessie discovers that those she'd dominated best and longest have betrayed her in ways even she never could have imagined. Outraged, she roars off in her shiny new car, only to end up crashed and drowned herself in a nearby creek--her story abruptly ending halfway through this southern yarn. Cut to the more genteel Lester house in town, where sweet-faced Cousin Claire has just appeared on the doorstep intent on wreaking havoc in her own unique, honey-dripping way--wending a path, black-widow-style, through an entire family in her attempt to claim title to their house. Claire's approach to manipulation differs radically from Jessie's, but the results are the same: scandal and destruction at its most richly southern, and a good time had by all. Wildly anecdotal--like listening to a country-store denizen on speed--with colorful characters and a roller-coaster plotline vying in cheerful anarchy. Thirteen b&w line drawings by Benny Andrews (the author's brother) accompany the text.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1991
ISBN: 1-56145-032-4
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Peachtree
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1991