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Ginny Gall: A Novel by Charlie Smith
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Ginny Gall: A Novel (2016)

by Charlie Smith

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522350,203 (3)5
"Delvin Walker is just a boy when his mother flees their home in the Red Row section of Chattanooga, accused of killing a white man. Taken in by Cornelius Oliver, proprietor of the town's leading Negro funeral home, he discovers the art of caring for the aggrieved, the promise of transcendence in the written word, and a rare peace in a hostile world. Yet tragedy visits them near daily, and after a series of devastating events--a lynching, a church burning--Delvin fears being accused of murdering a local white boy and leaves town"--Jacket flap.… (more)

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Growing up black in Jim Crow America. Lovely, poetic writing. Makes me want to read more by this author. Library book. ( )
  seeword | Aug 7, 2016 |
Ginny Gall is the latest work from prize winning author Charlie Smith.

The title? Ginny Gall is a word coined by 1920's and 1930's blacks meaning..."a suburb of Hell". And that's where Smith takes the reader to start - to the Jim Crow south in Tennessee.

The lead character is Delvin Walker born in Chattanooga in 1913 to a prostitute. He's left alone too soon as his mother flees, accused of killing a white man. Smith takes the reader on Delvin's journey through life as he makes his way - first finding a home with the local black funeral director and then mirroring his mother as he too is accused of killing a white boy and flees Chattanooga. He rides the rails, exploring America, hoping for more, hoping for better. But it seems he can't outrun prejudice, inhumanity and injustice.

I loved Delvin's voice, his hopes and his thoughts. I wept at the fact that you could change the dates of the story and still post it under today's newspaper headlines.

Smith's prose reminded me of black strap molasses - richly coloured and glowing when the light shines through as it is poured. But also viscous and opaque when not moving. I had to put the book down a number of times and come back to it. The prose are beautiful and lyrical, but I found them overwhelming in large doses. Smith details every bit of the book, sometimes to the detriment of his protagonist and his message.

This one's going to be hard to rate - I think there's a very important message here, I think Smith's writing is beautiful and I liked the protagonist very much, but I just got bogged down in detail. ( )
  Twink | Feb 19, 2016 |
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