CURLING by Robert Boles


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Mr. Boles concerns himself with the intellectual Negro's dilemma; those who are not obsessed by racism, yet whose color shadows their life in social situations, in psychological relationships. His hero here, Chelsea M. Burlingame, is a rich, educated Negro, living and working in Boston, an adopted son of an old Boston scion who had used Chelsea to replace a son who had been a disappointment. The book roughly deals with Chelsea's relationship with his friend Roger's wife Anne, an ex-lover whom he still loves. As we move between Boston tea parties and the past, we find Chelsea trying to relate to memory: the world before adoption...his new subtly dominating father and much loved stepbrother Allen. There are flashbacks and kaleidoscope scenes, fragmentary memories. And in the meantime he tries to adjust to his current life with its unrequited longings and feeling of displacement. At one point he runs away from Boston on a short futile trip to anywhere only to find himself drawn back and finally, in an act of surprising violence, he kills a pickpocket and is subsequently released with apologies from the police. Is this the ultimate disgrace...or triumph...or is it just part of living as Chelsea finally begins to accept himself as a man? Mr. Boles handles his edgy themes with such careful dispassion that the book becomes a sterile oddity. Chelsea remains a black mannequin manipulated on a white's almost impossible to relate to him.

Pub Date: Feb. 13th, 1967
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin