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[simpleazon-link asin=”B005GNM3ME” locale=”us”]Black Water Rising: A Novel[/simpleazon-link] by Attica Locke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The first word that came to mind when I finished the last line of Black Water Rising was WOW! This book, which takes place in the 1980’s, gave me an education on union politics, race relations, and the more militant civil rights movement of the late 1960’s and 1970’s. Attica Locke, not nearly old enough to have experienced these events first hand, nevertheless presented what felt like an insiders view into a dark and complicated world where oil was king in Texas. Even more amazing was that she did so through the eyes of a black MAN as her main character. Jay Porter is a new lawyer working out of strip mall making very little profit and representing the desperate. He is an angry, bitter man who knows he should have more and be more. His background, his race, and his anger hold him back. I lived out his experiences via Attica Locke and walked in another man’s shoes. This is why I read. To experience life through the eyes and heart of another person. Only a strong writer like Locke could help a white woman who was a teenager in the 1980’s understand and empathize with the life of a strong-minded black lawyer in the Texas of that same decade. The book grabbed me from the start with a murder in the middle of the night, dragged a bit in the politics here and there, but captured me in full at the climax, holding my undivided attention all the way to its beautiful conclusion. A conclusion that actually made me pause and reflect with the word “wow” the only thought I could conjure in that moment.
My favorite words:
Dashiki-a loose, often colorfully patterned, pullover garment originating in Africa and worn chiefly by men.
Pecuniary-consisting of or given or exacted in money or monetary payments.
Dulcet-pleasant to the ear; melodious.
Dais-a raised platform, as at the front of a room, for a lectern, throne, seats of honor, etc.
Stevedore-a firm or individual engaged in the loading or unloading of a vessel.
Quote from which comes the title (p.367): “The strike, therefore, made it impossible for the company to hide its crime, which was, by then, starting to come up in plain sight, like black water rising in the streets.”
Favorite quote (p.404): “And standing now in a urine-stained corner of this jail cell, where he paid a toll of six cigarettes to be left in peace, he strikes a new bargain with himself. There is a way out of here, he knows, out of this prison in his mind. It requires only the courage to speak.”
Before I was even finished with Black Water Rising, I was online ordering Locke’s second and highly acclaimed book, The Cutting Season. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is a Dennis Lehane, James Ellroy, or Greg Iles fan. I was also reminded of John Grisham at times. Just note that many of the characters use salty language, and the plot contains some violence and sexual situations.