All posts tagged: LongTongue

‘A Long-Tongue Saga’ | Christopher Byrd

‘A Long-Tongue Saga’ | Christopher Byrd

For the experimental novelist Leon Forrest, the sermon was a major source of inspiration: a flexible form, especially as refined in the African American tradition, that lends itself to both lofty rhetoric and common speech, mingling history, personal observation, moral assertion, and the interpretation of myth—to say nothing of the joy of allusion. In “In the Light of Likeness—Transformed,” an autobiographical essay collected in The Furious Voice for Freedom (1994), he wrote of discovering “a kind of cosmic totality within the monologue of the Negro preacher, which might, in turn, lead to a cosmic consciousness of the race.” The characters in Forrest’s novels are great talkers—ramblers who become enraptured with their “sagas,” a word that becomes almost a refrain in his hefty fourth novel, Divine Days (1992). Although Forrest was praised by Ralph Ellison, Saul Bellow, Stanley Crouch, and Toni Morrison (who edited his first three novels for Random House), his work remains little known. Divine Days was first published by Another Chicago Press, but a sizable portion of its initial print run was destroyed …