by J. California Cooper
In stories that are simple yet elegant, hard-hitting yet poignant, J. California Cooper writes about the search for fulfillment that propels people’s dreams and desires. In “As Time Goes By” a young woman named Futila Ways grows up focusing her dream of a better future on material wealth, only to discover that having everything she ever wanted cannot compensate for the emptiness in her heart. “The Eye of the Beholder” recounts the story of an unattractive young girl, Lily Bea, whose search for love leads her to embrace her own brand of freedom. And in “Catch a Falling Heart” a woman mildly crippled in a fall endures loneliness and solitude until she finds a man and provides a resting place for his love. Each story beautifully conveys the profound human need to seek some sort of satisfaction, just as a wild star seeks a midnight sun.
J. California Cooper’s insights into the hearts and souls of ordinary people and her irresistible storytelling voice have endeared her to fans and critics. As Ms. magazine wrote, “Cooper’s stories beckon. It is as if she is patting the seat next to us, enticing us to come sit and listen.”
An acclaimed novelist (Some People, Some Other Place), playwright (Strangers) and short story writer (Some Love, Some Pain, Sometime), Cooper checks in with a collection of stories that shine a spotlight on the lives of invisible women. Her characters are confined, whether by poverty and degradation, or by narcissism and the trappings of success, and they long for satisfaction and deliverance. In "In the Eye of the Beholder," Lily Bea, an ugly duckling, grows up into a graceful woman with an innate love of beauty that may not do her much good, while Harriet, a damaged hotel proprietress in "Catch a Falling Heart," struggles toward a better life using whatever or whoever is at hand. Fulfillment, when it happens, comes in the trappings of a good man or a home of their own and the economic freedom it signifies. Alcoholism, AIDS, licentiousness and loneliness contend with education, a trust in God and other simple remedies that are difficult to apply. Cooper's narrators are storytellers who watch from the margins of life, who might be seen at first as meddlers, but become recognizable as a small army of empathic souls, who struggle toward self-awareness, honest observation and forging connections (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
J. CALIFORNIA COOPER is the author of the novels Family and In Search of Satisfaction, and of several short-story collections: Homemade Love, the winner of the 1989 American Book Award; A Piece of Mine; The Future Has a Past; Some Love, Some Pain, Sometime; The Matter Is Life; and Some Soul to Keep. She is also the author of seventeen plays and has been honored as Black Playwright of the Year. She lives in northern California.
Paperback: 224 pages