Standing at the Scratch Line
By Guy Johnson
(Villard, Paperback, 9780375756672, 576pp.)
Publication Date: January 9, 2001
List Price: $15.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.
Enter your zip code below to find indies closest to you.
Raised in the steamy bayous of New Orleans in the early 1900s, LeRoi "King" Tremain, caught up in his family's ongoing feud with the rival DuMont family, learns to fight. But when the teenage King mistakenly kills two white deputies during a botched raid on the DuMonts, the Tremains' fear of reprisal forces King to flee Louisiana.
King thus embarks on an adventure that first takes him to France, where he fights in World War I as a member of the segregated 369th Battalion—in the bigoted army he finds himself locked in combat with American soldiers as well as with Germans. When he returns to America, he battles the Mob in Jazz Age Harlem, the KKK in Louisiana, and crooked politicians trying to destroy a black township in Oklahoma.
King Tremain is driven by two principal forces: He wants to be treated with respect, and he wants to create a family dynasty much like the one he left behind in Louisiana. This is a stunning debut by novelist Guy Johnson that provides a true depiction of the lives of African-Americans in the early decades of the twentieth century.
After completing college in Ghana, Guy Johnson managed a bar on Spain's Costa del Sol, ran a photo-safari service from London through Morocco and Algeria, and worked on oil rigs in Kuwait. Most recently he worked in the local government of Oakland, California, for more than twenty years. He lives in Oakland with his wife and son. He is the son of the author Maya Angelou.
"Eminently readable."—Entertainment Weekly
"Tremain has the qualifications to be one of literature's most versatile heroes."—The Wall Street Journal
"An exuberant novel about dreaming big dreams and honoring black heroes. A page turner full of pride, energy and passionate people."—Black Issues Book Review