THE COLOR OF NIGHT by Madison Smartt Bell

I have chosen this rather longer quotation to show how Madison Smartt Bell can turn on a dime between a realistic description of a California druggie cult in the late sixties to an evocation of the revels of Dionysian maenads from the earliest age of Greek mythology. The link here is an acid trip, but Bell does not need chemicals to effect his alchemy. In 2001, when the book opens, the narrator Mae is a middle-aged croupier in a Las Vegas area casino. Bell’s description is realistic and immediate: “Only the whirl of lights and the electronic burbling of machines, rattle of dice in the craps table cups, and almost inaudible whisper of cards, the friction-free hum of roulette wheels turning.” But two sentences later, he has already made the shift: “It was a sort of fifth-rate hell, and I a minor demon posted to it. A succubus too indifferent to suck.”

April 6, 2011 В· Judi Clark В· No Comments
Tags: , , , , ,  В· Posted in: 2011 Favorites, California, Contemporary, New York City, US Southwest, y Award Winning Author

DEVIL’S DREAM by Madison Smartt Bell

This is a slave talking about his master, Nathan Bedford Forrest, a real character who became one of the most respected Confederate generals in the Civil War. At one point, Bedford breaks a pot over Ben’s head in rage at his insubordination, only to realize that there is a better way to gain his cooperation. So at considerable expense of time and treasure, he seeks out Ben’s wife, who had been sold away from him, and buys her back to be his companion. A former slave-trader who nonetheless treats his people with respect, this is only one of the contradictions that make Forrest so fascinating.

November 26, 2010 В· Judi Clark В· No Comments
Tags: , , , , ,  В· Posted in: Facing History, US South, y Award Winning Author