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Journalist and novelist Jasper (Dark) shares insightful, though often tedious moral lessons on black man hood. With the recent death of his 83-year-old grandfather, Jesse James Langley Sr., Jasper delves into his forebear's difficult, angry journey in America. Orphaned early in rural Greenville, N.C., Jesse left home, finding work at the Pentagon, where he met and married Sally Helen Smith. They moved to Childress Street, in a Washington, D.C., suburb, and for the next 60 years Jesse proved a steady provider, if embittered by the scarring of racism and an inability to express emotion. His stoic example wasn't duplicated in the next generations, throughout eras transformed by the historic movements of Civil Rights, Black Power and feminism, as well as by drugs decimating black neighborhoods. In erratic chapters, Jasper presents histories of significant family members, including his mother, Angela, an emancipated working woman, divorced over conflicting roles of husband and wife; Uncle Gary and his purposeless life chained to heroin; and success story Latanya Langley, a cousin raised in Norwalk, Conn., so educated and privileged she was considered a "bourgie," or someone who wanted to be white. Jasper asks some tough questions of the black community in his search to understand his own identity. Agent, Gloria Loomis. (Jan. 10) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
Jasper's maternal grandfather, Jesse Langley Sr., mostly sat apart from the family at holiday gatherings, maintaining his distance though he was loved and revered. Jesse's 60 years of marriage to Sally wasn't always so distant. Kenji sets out to discover how the Lone Ranger, who died in 2002, came to prefer the distance even as he remained in the family house in Washington, D.C. In his probing, Kenji speaks to family, friends, and acquaintances to piece together a portrait of a man who survived harsh conditions and limitations imposed by racism to provide for his family in the bosom of a close-knit community. Kenji contrasts the struggles of his parents' generation and their divorce versus the grandparents' stoic marriage. In the process, Kenji learns as much about himself and the plight of black men in general as he does about his grandfather. Novelist Jasper offers a poignant look at love and family complexity. --Vanessa Bush Copyright 2006 Booklist