Tales by LeRoi Jones

by sandraseamans

I picked up this anthology yesterday at the book sale and I’ve been reading through the stories marveling at the anger packed into the words.  Maybe because I just finished reading “Little Scarlett” by Walter Mosley that takes place in the same time period as Mr. Jones wrote, that the words slap so hard.  Mr. Mosley laid down the anger in words that tried for understanding, while Mr. Jones uses his words like an axe.

The writing is beautiful and lyrical, more like poetry than prose.  The world he writes is both frightening and beautiful making you want to read on and close your eyes at the same time.  I remember those years, ’67 and ’68, and as I read I could see the faces and feel the fear that filled our TV screens back then.  Amazing what words can do.

Here’s a sample from “A Chase (Alighieri’s Dream)”.  The way it’s written makes you feel like you’re inside his dream.

“Place broken: their faces sat and broke each other.  As suns, Sons gone tired in the heart and left the south.  The North, years later she’d wept for him drunk and a man finally they must have thought.  In the dark, he was even darker.  Wooden fingers running.  Wind so sweet it drank him.”