Friday, April 16, 2010

Where I Must Go by Angela Jackson *****

How many more novel of the 1960s do we need? Now that we have Angela Jackson's Where I Must Go, we're all set.

Where I Must Go is an autobiographical journey through Magdalena Grace's freshwoman year at Northwestern (fictionalized as Eden) University. Maggie's family is from Mississippi, but she was raised in Chicago. This is a story of Motown music, Vietnam war protests, college activists, and social unrest - a lyrical (after all Angela Jackson is a poet) tale that will stir up proud and fond memories for the baby-boomers who lived through these tumultuous years.

But beyond nostalgia, this is a novel of the black experience from perspective of the "Obama era" - forty years later. Gone is the anger and violent rhetoric of the Black Panthers. With this novel, history is commandeered by the victors: the women. Reading between the lines, this story is as much about breakthroughs for feminism as blacks.

From the perspective of three black roommates, much is revealed from fashions, food and family to brutality, murder and rape. In language, sometimes stark, but often poetic, Angela Jackson's poetess vision brings to life a human ecology of predators and prey, life and death, but somehow all is presented in a great cycle of life.

If you read only one more book of the 1960s, this should be it, even if you weren't born at the time.

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