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They Tell Me of a Home by Daniel Black
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They Tell Me of a Home

by Daniel Black

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795152,477 (4.04)5
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    A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines (greytone)
    greytone: The educated male on a prodigal quest...
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A debut novel's source must cut close to the author's thigh-bone to be considered authentic, authoritative and believable. If readers come from Daniel Black's traditional black Baptist/AME religious background, had a working-class family farm in close proximity, were educated within a one-room schoolhouse by a superb teacher, or enjoyed the hilarious banter of distant relatives at huge family reunions, they will relate to the pace and storytelling style of this novel. My Nebraska childhood made this novel's setting very familiar, but the universal appeal of the storyline went far beyond the novel's setting.

The author stepped forward to relate the anguish of a young, educated black male (T.L. Tyson) returning home to wrestle with the demons that drove him away. Although he tells the story brilliantly, this novel alone does not completely answer the questions asked on TLs return to Swamp Creek, Arkansas. The author has penned some subsequent unrelated novels, but I am particularly delighted to know this story is revisited in his recent novel, "Twelve Gates to the City."

If you gravitate toward the 'light and happy' family saga, this is not your novel. I identify with any protagonist who questions why he/she is not loved by a parent at a fulfilling level, or is loved or motivated only by one or two individuals encountered in their lifetime, yet strives to persevere in spite of numerous setbacks.

TL returns to his parents' home to visit his closest sibling, Sister, and question his mother and father about their parenting styles with him and each of his three siblings. As often happens, he learns a lot more about their hidden lives and individual childhoods that helps explain more about his personal motivations than he ever expected, prompting him to act in ways he never anticipated.

The town's eccentric characters add familiar amusements that lighten the dark, plodding storyline, and the successful character developments that ultimately blossom between the Tysons and some of the inhabitants of Swamp Creek make this novel worthwhile reading. I am excited to read the sequel. ( )
  greytone | Mar 5, 2013 |
This must be a debut novel because this book reads very personal. I don't know much about the author but I have a feeling the plot is semi-autobiographical. Through T.L., he slowly tries to reveal all the secrets of his family and this small town, but the pace was too slow for me. Not sure I will finish this without skipping around. My hats off to the author for publishing a novel in which he obviously invested a lot of blood, sweat, and tears.
  firstperson | Jun 26, 2012 |
This is the story of T.L. Tyson, a black man who returns to his home in rural Arkansas after a ten-year absence. While he was away, he earned a PhD in Black Studies, and escaped from a family that appeared dysfunctional and unloving.

On his return, he learns many family secrets and develops a deeper appreciation for his heritage and his family.

I didn't enjoy this book because the interations between the characters were largely unrealistic. The author uses dialogue several times to express his views and analysis of gender relationships, black psychology, and the importance of education. At times the book reads more like an essay than a novel. The character development was uninspired and rather simplistic. This is an author with potential, but still a lot of growing to do. ( )
  LynnB | Aug 28, 2009 |
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To my sons: Toundi and Ryan
To my nieces and nephews: T.J. (Karanga), Michael (Osobiyii), Mark, Ben, Jonathan, Anna, Andre, Imani, Malcolm, Elijah, Malika, Tyler, Darnell, Jamelle, Terrance, Cherelle, Chelsie, Celeste, and Makala

To my granchildren: Rami, Isaiah, Amari, Josiah, Kamia, Austin, Ever, Tacuma, Elijah, Kemet, Kai, Trevan, Iyanna, Shania, Marak, Marquez, Kendryana, Sha, Diallo, M'kai, Ramia, and Zuri.

This is your heritage.
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"Excuse me, sir," I said apprehensively to the Greyhound bus driver. "Could you let me off a the big oak tree about a mile up the road on the right?"
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312362838, Paperback)

Twenty-eight-year-old protagonist Tommy Lee Tyson steps off the Greyhound bus in his hometown of Swamp Creek, Arkansas--a place he left when he was eighteen, vowing never to return. Yet fate and a Ph.D. in black studies force him back to his rural origins as he seeks to understand himself and the black community that produced him. A cold, nonchalant father and an emotionally indifferent mother make his return, after a ten-year hiatus, practically unbearable, and the discovery of his baby sister's death and her burial in the backyard almost consumes him. His mother watches his agony when he discovers his sister's tombstone, but neither she nor other family members is willing to disclose the secret of her death. Only after being prodded incessantly does his older brother, Willie James, relent and provide Tommy Lee with enough knowledge to figure out exactly what happened and why. Meanwhile, Tommy's seventy-year-old teacher--lying on her deathbed--asks him to remain in Swamp Creek and assume her position as the headmaster of the one-room schoolhouse. He refuses vehemently and she dies having bequeathed him her five thousand-book collection in the hopes that he will change his mind. Over the course of a one-week visit, riddled with tension, heartache, and revelation, Tommy Lee Tyson discovers truths about his family, his community, and his undeniable connection to rural Southern black folk and their ways.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:24:28 -0400)

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