BookBrowse Reviews Five-Carat Soul by James McBride

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Five-Carat Soul

by James McBride

Five-Carat Soul by James McBride X
Five-Carat Soul by James McBride
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     Not Yet Rated
  • Published:
    Sep 2017, 320 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Lisa Butts

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James McBride, the National Book Award winner, explores the African American experience in this richly imagined collection of stories.

In the short story "Sonny's Blues," from the 1965 collection Going to Meet the Man, African-American author and social critic James Baldwin, known for his writing on race relations, explores the alienation between two brothers. The unnamed narrator is unable to understand his sibling Sonny, a musician and heroin addict, until he witnesses Sonny's remarkable performance at a jazz club. The resulting scene is one of the most memorable representations of music in literature. James McBride draws heavily from it in the opening story of Five-Carat Soul.

In McBride's version, a Jewish toy collector pursues the owner of a priceless model train all over New York City, finally catching up with him at a hip-hop club in Brooklyn. The owner turns out to be a rapping reverend, and the collector is shocked by the quality of his performance:

...a litany of nonstop cursing, roaring, ...

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