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Like Toni Morrison, but without her conceptual and stylistic subtleties, Perry blends mythic gossip into shuddering personal odysseys--illuminating the crippling blood-bonds and social pressures on black parents and children in postwar Montgomery, New York. Hosea Malone, father of a blind baby with a ""watermelon head,"" mocked by God, leaves wife Meredith and his girls; he'll return twelve years later with a white live-in partner and a lucrative drug trade. Meanwhile, Norman Fillis, lover of trees and animals, has visions of fire, of a black man being lynched, of a flying black savior; his destiny is to find and protect the one who'll inherit this knowledge of black kingly legacies. And in the 1950s, when ""evil had come to town,"" Norman recognizes the boy Gerald by a sign: ""He's the one."" But Gerald, continuously, viciously beaten by his father (who hates his father), would rather just watch than get involved--until, at 14, he meets beautiful Josephine Moore from North Carolina, who carries her deformity (a hand chopped off at the wrist) before her like a shield. As the years pass, the community of Montgomery receives a ""visitation of worms"" crawling over the landscape, certainly a sign of ""calamity and strife."" Hosea returns to learn of the fate of his deformed son. Gerald's gentle friend Iceman dies. Gerald makes love with Josephine, an incest victim (with a punishing, doomed father) who plans a double murder. And, by 1980, Josephine has been freed from jail, inheriting money from a kindly California pervert (who collected ""freaks""); Gerald, although made incapable of loving by his father, has been roamed nine years to Margaret; Norman, who never convinced Gerald to fly, is in and out of the asylum; and Josephine joins Gerald in a Montgomery reunion--exploring dominances and submissions, deformities and mutual pain, revelations and resolutions. Hardworking imitation-Morrison: clanging symbols (flying, deformities, etc.), lots of blood, and curiously bloodless characters.

Pub Date: Jan. 6th, 1983
ISBN: 1885478259
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich