Speaking the Grotesque: The Short Fiction of Gayl Jones by Casey Clabough Most [of the stories in White Rat] are written in first person and most deal with tensions in relationships, dynamics of psychology--psychic landscape--and . . . the `inward.' --Gayl Jones in Rowell, "Interview," 49 Several reviewers of Gayl Jones's first two controversial novels, Corregidora (1975) and Eva's Man (1976), sought to interpret the books primarily in terms of their dark violent and even gothic qualities, muffling the formidable aesthetic dynamics of those works beneath the sensational, problematic vividness of their respective brutal episodes. Critics of Eva's Man in particular used the novel's literal and psychological violence to accuse the text of social and aesthetic irresponsibility. For example, Loyle Hairston attacked the book for its "squalid appraisal of the souls of Black folks" (133), while John Updike lamented, "[T]he characters are dehumanized as much by her [Jones's] artistic vision as by their circumstances" ("Eva and Eleanor" 75). Summing up the majority of early critical reactions to the book, Clarence Major characterized Jones's second novel as a "sad, dark chant ridden with sex and blood" (834). Amid this stormy climate of reviewer condemnation (only a year after the
The Southern Literary Journal – University of North Carolina Press
Published: May 31, 2006
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