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Spiders . . . the first thing that springs to mind when you mention the word “web.” But, our web is a press high speed and economical! From newspapers to quality book work, in black and white or color. Call us at 442-7836 for a quote on your next project. Emloyee Owned and Managed AUSTIN, TEXAS 30,19 Alvin DeVane, Suite 500 389-1500 Data Processing Typesetting Printing Mailing slammed it down at the spike, which momentarily dug at the metal, then skidded off and gouged deep into his palm. Blood spurted from the hole and he ran off up the street beside his shadow. And the neon night swallowed him up. Henry Dumas always managed to analyze the specter of tradition and the black community whether it lay on Southern or Northern soil in his fiction. Also included in the Sweetwater collection is “Six Days Shall You Labor,” a deceptively pastoral look at two black men and a young boy who decide to “frail” a few paper-shell pecan trees on the Sunday a white plantation owner is out of town. “The Voice” provides a soul-searching glimpse at The Expressions, four boys in a pop crooning group, who must come to terms with the recent death of their fifth member. “Strike and Fade” compares the street warfare of the late 1960s to guerilla warfare in Vietnam; Tyro, a former green beret and major street strategist, lost his legs and an arm to the “VC” and has this “message for all the cats on the block”: “. . . learn to fade fast. Learn to strike hard, but don’t be around in the explosion.” 0 UMAS’S FICTION encompasses much more than trials in the lives of little boys and riotous nations. He draws on West African, Egyptian, and Christian mysticism, on gospel music, jazz, and the unaffected speech of black to give his stories an occasionally surreal, often driven, frequently shocking, but always fresh tone. “Fon,” for example, is the mythical tale of , a black man \(metaphorically a stone a bit of coal from the next ontological rung. Fon is chased and stabbed by a drunk, racist, white former sheriff and his lynch-mob buddies. But, the sheriff, et al., are destroyed by a nebulous, but potent, combination of their own hatred and Fon’s ability to transcend them. At the story’s end, Fon reasons: “To have looked at them would have been too ‘much. Four centuries of black eyes burning into four weak white men . . . would’ve set the whole earth on fire. Not yet, he thinks, not yet. . . .” “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?” allows us to hear a Harlem horn player named Probe \(in the tradition of John Coltrane’s recharges a black night club audience with his performance on a mystical “afro-sax.” Three whites who bogart their way into the club with police assistance are killed by the vibrations emanating from this legendary horn “forged from a rare metal found only in Africa and South America.” Arguably, “Rope of Wind” is this collection’s best perhaps because it is the most introspectively autobiographical; probably because it is an extremely wellcrafted, addictively paced narrative of young Johnny B’s flighi from a band of assassins who are tracking a local black minister. Johnny B runs to warn Rev. Westland of the men’s approach but is told by the calm preacher: “I want you to go home to my son, and tell him his papa is gone.” Johnny B then watches from behind a tree as the men take Westland from his church. Johnny B follows the killers’ car on foot for miles through the night in hopes of helping Westland. The car’s taillights are “two red eyes” of which he must not lose sight. Since Johnny B got his second lettername by finding a pool of blood under a lynched black man’s porch, he feels a black presence is essential. Someone must see, bear witness to injustice, even if he is powerless to help the victim escape. The community should also know the identities of a man’s murderers. Johnny chases the car to a deserted barn where he witnesses the deputy sheriff and two others accuse Rev. Westland of killing a white man in another state. The men force Westland into a sack and shoot “five six seven times.” They then tie the blood-soaked sack to the bumper of the car and drag it to another shed. After untying the bag and hiding it in the bushes, Johnny B memorizes the license plate and runs the miles back home where the people embrace their collapsed seer and witness: They laid [Johhny B] in the spot over which Ukie’s blood had flown. They laid him on the porch in the morning. He opened his eyes, stared fixedly at them all . . . “Where you been, Johnny B?” asked Lance, with his lips touching the boy’s ear. They were waiting to hear him, just like they waited to hear Reverend Westland preach . . . they were waiting on him, and so he would tell them .. . “Mr. Westland told me to come get you . . . I . . . follow them . . . they got him . . . go to Todd’s old farm . . . I follow him . . . they . . . I cut him out that sack ‘1And the blood burst out of mouth .. . And they covered him, lest the flies pollute his blood. Henry Dumas might as well have been Johnny B, because Goodbye, Sweetwater: New and Selected Stories tells us exactly what Dumas saw, heard and felt as he ran. Hopefully the flies have all been killed in the last 20 years, and we can uncover him now. El FOR LIBERAL PORTIONS AT CONSERVATIVE PRICES * REMEMBER SCHOLZ GARDEN * * 1607 San Jacinto * 4774171 * THE TEXAS OBSERVER 21