The Liberation of Lord Byron Jones by Jesse Hill Ford
Boston : Little, Brown and Co., 1965. Book club edition. Hardcover. 364 pages ; 25 cm. Cigarette odor within the pages of this book. Pages are unmarked and binding is firm.
THE LIBERATION LORD BYRON JONES
JESSE HILL FORD
This is a novel which no American can disown but which only a Southerner could have written. The Liberation of Lord Byron Jones is a realistic narrative of racial crisis, set in a small Southern Town, that far Transcends its local setting. Perhaps only once a decade does a work of fiction so completely enter and embody current conflict.
Somerton, Tennessee. does not appear on any map, but ifs sweltering nights, ifs cheerful evasive conversation, ifs sudden rage, ifs reckless heroism, ifs pitiable depravity are common enough. The Town comes to kindling point when George Gordon Lord Byron Jones an undertaker and Somerton is richest man, ask for something that Negroes in Somerton don't get: a divorce, a real divorce, in court. Somerton's best lawyer, Oman Hedgepafh, agrees to handle The case at the urging of his nephew. Lord Byron's wife Emma is a stubborn, insatiable slut. The already dubious reputation of a white policeman is involved. The witnesses for Lord Byron are associated with Mama Lavorn's Cafe and Touris+ — where they have learned little about The law, nothing about divorce, but much about what men want from women.
Lord Byron's actions are simple and dignified; Their Terrible consequences involve dozens of characters, from mayor of Somerton and his attendant bootlegger to blind junkman Cucumber. The scope and electricity of This narra+ive are matched only by the poignancy of *he Theme and power in the writing. Jesse Hill Ford fakes us under The surface of The small Southern *own as no wri+er has done since William Faulkner and Flannery O'Connor. He gives life and breath fo The men and women The headlines and Television reports of *he civil rights revolu+ion have failed to make us understand.
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