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Brown Glass Windows (Paperback)

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Brown Glass Windows is the story of the Evermans, an African-American family in the Filmore District of San Francisco and the tragic history of their son, Ranger, who returns scarred from his experiences in Vietnam and struggles with drug addiction. Ironically, when he finally conquers his drug habit, he is killed meaninglessly in a drive-by shooting. Ranger's death causes the family, with its suppressed recriminations and accumulated resentments, to pass through the crisis and come out on the other side of grief stronger and more united. The novel is also a kind of elegy to the old Filmore District. As Ranger says, they've redeveloped the neighborhood "into a little doorway to hell," a comment that will resonate deeply with readers not only in San Francisco, but in Hartford, L.A. and other urban centers throughout the country, where people have lost their once closely-knit neighborhoods either through urban decay or gentrification, or both. Brown Glass Windows is a beautifully structured book employing techniques of magical realism—a grittily realistic narrative framed by the spirit world. The novel is narrated by a spirit of a woman 200 years old, who watches over her elderly Black friend, Victoria. Victoria, a wonderfully eccentric character, who paints herself white and strives to be invisible, plays an important role in the healing of the Everman family. devorah major, an accomplished poet, invests her novel's landscape and characters with layers of meaning without ever obfuscating the realistic surface narrative (one is reminded of Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison). Brown Glass Windows gives us a rich blend of realism and imagination, elegizing the passing of an era and presenting vibrant characters who move into the future with hope and courage.

About the Author

devorah major is an African-American poet, novelist, essayist, and teacher. She is the current Poet Laureate of San Francisco. Among her books are Open Weave, Street Smarts, and Where River Meets Ocean.

Praise For…

"This is a bold and beautiful book. The dead and living speak with equal power. They are able to listen to the presence and abscence of family, neighborhood, race. It's either beyond or before magic. Actually, it's the way it is."

—Grace Paley

"Here is a novel for people who continue to walk in the light. major's voice 'tags' the changes that have taken place in the African-American community over the last several years . . . major writes the way Billie Holiday sings. There are blues behind those brown glass windows. Just ask the spirits that keep reminding us to listen."

—E. Ethelbert Miller, Director, African American Resource Center, Howard University

"major tells it the way it is with a magical-realist twist . . ."

Kirkus Reviews
Product Details
ISBN: 9781880684870
ISBN-10: 188068487X
Publisher: Curbstone Books
Publication Date: April 1st, 2002
Pages: 200
Language: English