Synopses & Reviews
Spanning over forty years of Chester Himes' writing career, this provocative collection of short stories uncovers the internal struggles of black individuals caught between rage and resignation in American society. From the earliest stories, written at the time of Himes' term in prison for jewelry theft, to those written at his emigration to France and later to Spain, where he died in 1984, these tales resound with both wit and indignation. This collection includes all of Himes' surviving stories including some never published before.
"Though Himes sometimes sketches symbolic fables, more often he's as gritty as a police blotter photo. These stories, written between 1933 and 1979, survive as history, as powerful fiction and, unfortunately, as commentary on the current situation of the Afro-American." Publishers Weekly
"Himes seems to have taken his stories wherever he could find them; this collection demonstrates the wide range of his subjects and his extraordinary narrative gifts....This is vintage Himes, the chronicler of a universe where the threat of mindless violence and absurd entrapments lurks just beneath the surface." Voice Literary Supplement
"Despite a few overly blunt parables of racial enmity, Himes consistently captures the brutality of disenfranchisement and the scruffy poetry of street talk with subtlety and grace. Recommended." Library Journal
"[C]ontains some brilliantly written stories that reflect the time that Himes spent in prison....The stories are poignant and direct, though sometimes Himes can be acerbic. But at all times his portrayals of black life ring true." Choice
"There is no typical Himes story....In the short story, Himes ranks alongside Hemingway for style and Eudora Welty for insight....He has James Baldwin's shrewd racial insight, Zora Neal Hurston's humanity, and Raymond Chandler's narrative pace and verve." The Financial Times (London)
"Mr. Himes undertakes to consider the everpresent subconscious terror of the black man...the psychology of the oppressed and the oppressor and their relationship to each other." James Baldwin
Spanning 40 years and including Himes's first work, written during his imprisonment in the 1940s, this collection uncovers the internal struggles of black individuals caught between resignation and rage, probing the heart of the African-American experience with wit, indignation, and ruthless honesty.
About the Author
Considered a peer of James Baldwin and Richard Wright, Chester Himes is a prodigious writer of nearly twenty novels and short stories, essays and film scripts. His novel If He Hollers Let Him Go is widely taught and consistently found on lists of the most important African American books of the twentieth century. He is also well known for creating the adventures of Harlem detectives Coffin Ed Smith and Gravedigger Jones.
Table of Contents
Headwaiter -- Lunching at the Ritzmore -- All God's chillun got pride -- Nigger -- Let me at the enemy - an' George Brown -- With malice toward none -- Penny for your thoughts -- Two soldiers -- So softly smiling -- Heaven has changed -- Looking down the street -- Song says 'Keep on smiling' -- Her whole existence -- He seen it in the stars -- Make with the shape -- Dirty deceivers -- Modern marriage -- Black laughter -- Night of new roses -- Night's for cryin' -- Face in the moonlight -- Strictly business -- Prison mass -- Money don't spend in the stir -- I don't want to die -- Meanest cop in the world -- On dreams and reality -- Way of flesh -- Visiting hour -- Things you do -- There ain't no justice -- Every opportunity -- I'm not trying to hurt you -- Pork chop paradise -- Friends -- To what red hell -- His last day -- In the rain -- Ghost of Rufus Jones -- Whose little baby are you? -- Mama's missionary money -- My but the rats are terrible -- Snake -- In the night -- All he needs is feet -- Christmas gift -- Revelation -- Daydream -- Da-da-dee -- Marihuana and a pistol -- One more way to die -- Naturally, the negro -- Winter coming on -- Spanish gin -- Something in a colored man -- Tang -- One night in New Jersey -- Modern fable -- Prediction -- Life everlasting.