Saturday, June 15, 2002

Bart Schneider

Bart Schneider is the founding editor of the Hungry Mind Review of Books, now the Ruminator Review, and has written numerous book reviews for periodicals around the country. He edited a collection of essays about the American minority experience and white silence published by Crown called Race: An Anthology in the First Person in 1997. His first novel, Blue Bossa, published by Viking in 1998, was a finalist for The Los Angeles Times Book Prize in First Fiction and won him a $6,000 fellowship from The Minnesota State Arts Board. His newest novel, Secret Love, also by Viking, came out in March of 2001. He is the literary Director of The Loft, the nation's most comprehensive literary center, and was recently elected to the board of the National Book Critics Circle.

You have to be careful reading this story; at first glance it may seem like just another nostalgic look back at the mid-Sixties. Set in the Bay Area, the book touches on a lot of familiar icons: Jazz, Chinatown, Mario Savio, civil rights demonstrations; good old San Francisco as the most liberal city in the country. It's a time of Goldwater, Malcolm X, Cassius Clay and Lenny Bruce. After the Kennedy assassination but before Vietnam and AIDS. There's usually some self-congratulation and self-adulation written into most works by Baby-Boomers about those days, readers innocence times.

The title implies a love story, and there is one; but Schneider's real theme lies in the subtext of his main character's unexplored inner racism. Love doesn't always conquer all, and certainly not this time around.

It's a sad read but a thoughtful one, full of complex characters, with history viewed from a slightly different, if unflattering, perspective.