Here is a provocative and fresh new voice in fiction, and a stunning collection of seventeen interconnected short stories set in the urban and exotic locales of New York City and Brazil. In dazzling, jazz-like prose that pulses with the rhythm of the street, Nelson Eubanks traces the influences on and evolution of Maceo, from impressionable adolescent to twentysomething man–each snapshot of memory bursting with event and emotion.
In “Malta Scheffer,” nine-year-old Maceo slips out of a white world of private schools to fade back into his brown world where stickball and dreams of glory just may provide the ticket out of poverty. “The First Thing Smoking” explores the prejudice and hatred that exist within a family, when skin color varies between darker and lighter shades of black. In “Uncle Raymond” eighteen-year-old Maceo learns about his uncle who once showed such musical promise, but later, inexplicably, descended into mental illness. “Avenida Atlântica” and “A Lie in Seven Parts” depict an older Maceo, as he tries to escape his growing awareness of lust and desire as well as the racial strife and violence of his childhood that has peppered the towns of Brazil.
Emerging family secrets, changing neighborhoods, the politics of class and education, the disintegration of relationships, waning passions–Nelson Eubanks seamlessly blends these powerful themes into a rich work of fiction. The First Thing Smoking heralds the arrival of a powerful and nuanced literary talent.
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Published July 29, 2003
by One World/Ballantine.
Literature & Fiction.