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Book reviews from The Free Lance-Star.

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Shell-shocked Korean War Vet returns

Coming home not so easy

By Dan Dervin

For The Free Lance–Star

HER LATEST, a highly concentrated short novel, “Home,” finds Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison back in top form.

It tells the ostensibly simple story of Frank Money, a shell-shocked African–American Korean War vet, and his journey of escape from a mental ward up north to rescue his gravely ill young sister, Cee,  the victim of a quack medic’s bizarre experiments.

Frank had looked after Cee throughout her childhood, and she is now his closest living kin.  She offers the one remnant of his life worth saving, the embodiment of  that shared past that  may bring him home to himself.  But home is a Georgia backwater, Lotus, from which he fled and which he now  must  come to terms with.

His is an American odyssey  in sepia.  He struggles with demons both  within and without. The social–political terrain Frank wanders through is a veritable minefield.

It is the perilous  interlude between the racial integration of U.S. servicemen after World War II and the onset  of civil rights.  Ironclad segregation is pervasive. Whenever Frank ventures beyond such black enclaves as missions, all-night diners  or used-clothing outlets, he is  a fugitive in an occupied land, which also happens to be the country he put his life on the line for.

Home?  Where is it?  More crucially, what is it?  If he can get to Cee and bring her around, with the timely support of local women, home might become what he and Cee can cobble together.

Dan Dervin  is a freelance writer  in Fredericksburg.


by Toni Morrison

(Knopf, $24, 160 pp.)


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