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Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1994 - Fiction - 213 pages
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In Rattlebone, a "fictional" black community north of Kansas City, the smell of manure and bacon from Armour's Packing House is everywhere; Shady Maurice's roadhouse plays the latest jazz, the best eggs are sold by the Red Quanders, and gospel rules at the Strangers Rest Baptist Church. This is the black Midwest of the 1950s, when towns could count their white folks on one hand - the years before the civil rights movement came along and changed everything. In perfectly cadenced vernacular, Maxine Clair speaks to us through the voices of Rattlebone's citizens: October Brown, the new schoolteacher with a camel's walk and shoulder-padded, to-the-nines dresses; Irene Wilson, naive and wise, who must grapple with her parent's failing marriage as she steps eagerly into adulthood; and Thomas Pemberton, owner of the local rooming house, an old man with a young heart. Sparkling with lyricism, Clair's interconnected stories celebrate the natural beauty of the Midwest and the dignity and vitality of these most ordinary lives.

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User Review  - Jennifyr - LibraryThing

Rattlebone is a well written, engaging story about a woman's journey from childhood through adolescence. Maxine Clair captures all the trials and tribulations of the universal stepping stones of ... Read full review


User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

Each of these related stories contains insight and intensity on its own; as a group they successfully create the African- American 1950s Kansas City (Kans.) community of the title as an insular world ... Read full review

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About the author (1994)

Teaches writing at George Washington University. She is the author of Rattlebone, which won the Chicago Tribune's 1994 Heartland Prize for fiction, the American Library Association's Black Caucus Award, and the Friends of American Literature Award. She lives in Maryland.

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