By Lawrence Block
Gulliver Fairborn's novel, Nobody's Baby, replaced Bernie Rhodenbarr's lifestyles. And now lovely Alice Cottrell, Fairborn's one-time paramour, wishes the bookselling, book-loving burglar to wreck right into a room in New York's teeth-achingly fascinating Paddington lodge and purloin a number of the writer's very own letters ahead of an unscrupulous agent can promote them. here is a chance to take advantage of his precise abilities within the carrier of the respected, famously reclusive writer. but if Bernie will get there, the agent is useless . . . and Bernie's sought after for homicide. (He really hates while that happens!)
Perhaps it truly is karmic payback; Bernie did aid himself to a ruby necklace on his method out. (But it was mendacity there. And he is a burglar.) Now he is in even warmer water. And he will have to use each trick within the book—maybe going as far as to attract the hermitic Fairborn himself out of seclusion—to convey this more and more twisted plot to a lovely denouement.
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Farah Griffin places the northern migrant character between the influences of the benevolent ancestor and the confounding stranger, showing, for example, that Ellison's invisible man does not adapt well to the northern city as long as he is seduced by strangers (13031) but that Morrison's Milkman Dead does succeed because of his tutelage by such ancestors as Pilate, Reverend Cooper, and Circe (172-73). Contemporary African-American fiction abounds with ancestor figures: some are flesh-and- blood older relatives or friends who guide protagonists toward remembering and revaluing their cultural heritage, such as Thérèse in Tar Baby, Aunt Cuney in Praisesong for the Widow, Miss Emma and Tante Lou in Gaines's A Lesson before Dying, and Mama Day and Abigail in Mama Day; some are legendary figures in the distant past, like Jake Solomon, who flew back to Africa, or the Ibos, who walked back, in Praisesong; and some are the ur-ancestors who established families and communities, such as Sapphira Wade in Mama Day and Sybela Owens in Wideman's Homewood trilogy.
Carl Pederson posits that "the Middle Passage is arguably the defining moment of the African-American experience" (225). Examining slave narratives, Melvin Dixon concludes, "In their long search for freedom, as in their religion and literature, slaves defined life as a pilgrimage" ("Singing" 313). Eleanor Traylor defines ''the Afro-American paradigm of creation" as "a journey into experience conducted by a people who wrenched from a coherent past [and] cast refugee upon a sea of circumstance confront incoherence and give it form" (68).
Aboard a slave ship, the freedman Rutherford Calhoun encounters the fictional Allmuseri tribe, who are alleged to be an "old people . . who existed when the planetthe galaxy, even- Page 14 was a ball of fire and steam" (43) and who seem like "the Ur-tribe of humanity itself" (61). Also on board the slaver is the Allmuseris' god, which, in Rutherford's presence, takes on the form of Rutherford's father and "the complete content of the antecedent universe to which my father . . belonged" (169).
The Burglar in the Rye by Lawrence Block