and the loss of his job have left Peter at
the mercy of a series of psychologists.
Teaching at an all-black college in the deep
South promises a new beginning. Within hours
after pulling off the Interstate, Pete has
an apartment, an answering service, and a
new girl friend, Peri Mattox.
But the presence of so many blacks makes him
nervous. The woman whose job he's taking
hasn't left yet and doesn't plan to. Senior
faculty resent his existence. And his
cover-your-ass boss makes it clear it's to be
sink or swim.
Going alone to an after-hours social at the
college gymnasium, he learns of the color-
and gender-based social distinctions
African-Americans make among themselves. And
he meets two women who will figure
prominently later in the novel-Jewlie
Larsson, Peri's aerobic instructor and Mrs.
Angel the white wife of the very-black, very
promiscuous Dean of Agriculture.
Peter agonizes over his relationship with
Peri. They live only in the now, never
discuss their children, their jobs, or their
past marriages. It is only that minor part
of his life in Pineville that they share.
And Peri doesn't like black people, wont
associate with them.
Faces emerge from the (almost) all-black
student body, recognizable personalities:
Martin King, the student-body president--is
he brown-nosing or sincere in his praise;
Kitisha Jackson, the brightest student at
the college, afraid to excel lest no man
will date her; and a dozen or more students
bearing petitions, generally ill-conceived,
often fraudulent, for unexcused absences or
desired changes in grades.
Still, Peter's position at the college seems
increasingly temporary. Changes he thought
he'd made to his department (accompanied by
all the necessary signatures) never
materialize. He turns to Peri for comfort,
only to find she is leaving him for Jewel.
The opening chapter of this novel, an
invocation, found Peter in the office of a
psychiatrist. In the closing chapter, again
in a psychiatrist's office, we view the
events of the novel in a completely
here to read an extract from this book.
here to read an independent review.