Race Matters

Returning from exile and personal calamity, author Gayl Jones has created her own outlaw-in-training: a Baptist, Bud Light-drinking, stun-gun-toting, 6-foot-plus, African-American freelance trucker

Ten years ago, the couple quietly returned to Jones's native Lexington, Ky., where she cared for her cancer-stricken mother. Then, early last year, she published The Healing, her first novel in 22 years. While it won her renewed critical accolades, it also attracted the attention of the local police who sought to serve Higgins with his outstanding arrest warrant. What ensued was a three-hour armed standoff that culminated in Higgins's suicide when he slit his throat with a butcher knife, and Jones's temporary commitment to a mental hospital.

None of which ought to detract from--anymore than it need enhance--the tour de force that is the author's latest accomplishment, nor muffle the note of hope that her narrator sounds near the book's conclusion. "We has spiritual perfection," she declares, "and we has the capacity to reverse the fables about usselves and attain the truth of who we is and who we wants to become." One hopes, because the novel stirs in us the desire to hope--not only for Jones herself, but for all of us--that such an affirmation is not misplaced.

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