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(02/25/2013) Faith & The Good Thing by Charles Johnson. New York. 1974. Viking Press. 196 pages. hardcover. keywords: Literature America Black African American. 0670305693. Jacket design by Abner Graboff.


   ‘It is time to tell you of Faith and the Good Thing.’ Faith Cross, only child of Lavidia and the late Todd Cross (a storyteller who lived in a world full of magic and fabulous fictions) of Hatten County, Georgia, saved at a prayer meeting at the age of twelve, is a beauty, a brown-sugared soul sister turning eighteen on the day her mother breathes her last breath. ‘Momma,’ Faith says, ‘I called for Reverend Brown. .’ Lavidia says, ‘Girl, you get yourself a good thing,’ then gulps once and dies. Faith doesn’t know what that means, but she hungers to find out. She wants – needs - that Good Thing on earth, that really Good Thing. Can anyone show her the way? The Swamp Woman, the werewitch who dwells in the bogs, tells her she’s a Number One - needs direction to avoid disaster. Faith, she says, should leave the Southern backwoods and head for Chicago. Life on earth without the Good Thing, she tells Faith, is marked by famine and misery. It is not much to go on, but it propels sweet Faith Cross away from her rural Dixie and her lost love Alpha Omega Holmes to the lower depths of the Windy City, and from a soulless middle-class existence to the interior of her memories and her hopes. Here, in this quest for the Good Thing, we have the human adventure. We also have the story of Faith Cross - a metaphysical yarn spun from pure feeling; from sex, love, suffering, beauty, and truth. Set to the music of the spheres, haunted by a philosopher’s spirit, conjured up from dreams and disasters, the adventure-strewn path to Faith’s Good Thing lies before us and powerfully beckons us to follow. Trust Charles Johnson, a storyteller with a sorcerer’s touch, to realize the moment of truth. In this remarkable, relentlessly fascinating first novel, he blends superstition, folk tale, and sharply edged realism to bring us closer to that Good Thing than perhaps even he will ever know.

CHARLES JOHNSON received the National Book Award for MIDDLE PASSAGE in 1990. Currently the Pollock Professor of English at the University of Washington, he lives in Seattle.


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