Item# 0684847965

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by James Alan McPherson

With Crabcakes, James Alan McPherson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Elbow Room, marks his reentry into the literary world after a twenty-year absence. McPherson revisits in Crabcakes the years since he first left Georgia as a young man, retracing memories of people and relationships in moments of startling and searing introspection. His meditations on the past - his migration from the deep South of his birth to his travels as a waiter on the Great Northern Railroad, his years at Harvard Law School, in Baltimore, and, most recently, in Iowa - reflect his deep sensitivity to those who, like himself, experience life as outsiders of one kind or another. McPherson, an African American, hungers for community, for a secure place in an era characterized by mass migration and displacement in a society that subordinates and marginalizes some of its members and privileges acquisition over human connection. It is as a lecturer at a university in Japan that McPherson dramatically discovers a clearing in his oppressive sense of dislocation and void. He finds the redemption he has sought in the nearly spiritualized Japanese ritual of neighboring - caring for one's neighbor - and he embraces the Japanese psychological and emotional habits supporting this web of community. The Japanese emphasis on behaving "naturally" is, he writes, fundamentally absent from American racial relations, where one group's interpretation of another's gestures toward the outside world is easily distorted and is often cause for rejection and anger. The rift between black and white Americans is especially "unnatural"; the inability of one to sympathize with the humanity of the other has thwarted the formation of genuine community in our culture. McPherson's illuminating story offers, time and again, images of binding together, caring, consoling, and inclusiveness among individuals whose lives are quite different. Contemplating his own culture through the prism of another, he moves toward commun

Paperback: 281 pages