A DIFFERENT DRUMMER by William Melvin Kelley


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Mr. Kelley's timely allegory is climaxed by the ""strategic withdrawal"", first of Tucker Callban, then of Tucker's fellow Negroes, from an unnamed, typical cotton-belt state. The concern here is with the events which precipitated that exodus. ""Tucker was feeling his African blood"", surmise some town racists. And that would indicate that there's a little bit of Serendip even in the heart of Dixie. The first of the re-rooted Cailieus had possessed such monumental strength, was of such epic proportion, that it had taken a whole slaver's crew to control him. He was called ""The African"". Fresh off the ship, he gathered up his chains ""like a woman grabs up her skirts"", fled from captivity, and led an band of escaped slaves who sought to free all of their race. The African was finally shot and his baby boy taken from him to beget a progeny of progressively smaller men. Ironically, many generations later, the tiny, bespeckled Tucker Callban is his only true heir. Tired of his second-class citizenship in the South of today, he decides to recover what it is that the Negro has lost. In a superbly written scene of destructive nobility, Tucker salts his land, kills his livestock, and burns his house. He must begin anew away from a legacy of sacrifice and ""good-niggerism"". Not a flawless novel, this is nevertheless a stunning work and one which explores all kinds of Negroes, from Oxford derived to Uncle Tom survived. It is an Odyssey of the Negro gone full circle, back again to the stature of the African.

Pub Date: June 8th, 1962
ISBN: 0385413904
Publisher: Doubleday