Friday, April 10, 2009

Rattlebone Maxine Clair

Rattlebone by Maxine Clair If you've been checking in on my site recently, you've notice my unintentional financial hiatus. Well last week I was at home, I had a serious urge to read a book by a African American author. I wanted some literary comfort and to lose myself in the familar nuinaces that made me love reading in the first place. So I browsed through my bookshelves. At first I eyed Beloved, would this be the day I got past chapter three? But I kept looking, as much as I love Morrison, she wasn't what I was looking for. I considered Octavia Butler's Lilith's Blood next. Same as before, love Butler but that's not what I was looking for. When I said no to Morrison and Butler, I thought to myself maybe its poetry I am after. Nikki Giovanni perhaps? Still the answer was no. Ever notice when you pick up a poetry book you own, you always end up turning to the same poems, no matter how hard you try to find something new. (Or maybe that's just me). Once I said no to Giovanni I was getting a little frustrated, than I found Rattlebone by Maxine Clair. When I got to the third page I knew how Goldilocks felt when she laid down on the third bed. I bought it because I loved the author’s novel October Suite but never got around to reading it. Rattlebone is set in 1950’s Kansas City. It’s 11 interrelated short stories about the Wilson family and their neighbors. The first short story October Brown is told through the eyes of nine year old Irene Wilson. Irene and classmates are trying to figure out their new teacher Ms. Brown. At home Irene’s parents are fighting and Ms. Brown gets in the middle. With each new story we learn and care more about each character. No one is perfect or evil, they simply are, and Irene is the voice for more then half the stories. In the final story, The Last Day of School, Irene is graduating from High School. Clair’s writing is crisp, clear and beautiful. I loved Rattleboon and, it would make a great addition to any high school reading list.
From October Brown

" I doubt that any of us fully believed every part of the story, but we were so seduced by the idea of it that before the end of the first day of school we buzzed with frenzy - a frenzy contained, because we imagined that a woman surrounded by such lore would have to have a bad temper, a flash fire that could drive her from her desk to yours in a single movement, dislodge you by your measly shoulders, plant you hard on the hardwood floor, tell you in growling underbreaths of wrath to stand up straight and say whatever she wanted you to say, and then crumble you in the mortar of her black eyed stare. Intuition is the guardian of childhood it was keen in us, and we were right. Before we knew what current events were she asked us who Wallis Warfield Simspon was and we sat. Attention shot through our arms and nailed our fist to the center of our desktops. Not a single hand went up."

When I read something as good as Rattlebone is makes me very happy and a little frustrated. Its a great work of fiction but since its by an African American author many readers won't find it. I highly recommand Rattlebone and October Suite, which I've read twice.

7 comments:

susan said...

I'll be looking for this, D. I am soooo happy you're back!

Doret said...

Thanks for still coming by

Ali said...

Love this: Would this be the day I got past chapter three?
So glad you found the perfect book for the day, that's such a satisfying feeling! And sometimes a book of short stories is exactly what I need, too.

campbele said...

I have (or had--books easily disappear!) this book in my library. You make me want to pick it up!

Doret said...

Thank you Ali and Edi. It was the perfect book, and I was able to fully enjoy it without my mind wandering to other reads.
Clair is a wonderful writer. If you read Rattlebone you'll enjoy it.

susan said...

I just ordered this at paperbackswap. Thanks.

susan said...

I got a copy today!