Jazz and Twelve O'Clock Tales (Hardcover)
Author: Wanda Coleman
Publisher: Black Sparrow Press (2008)
Los Angeles is the setting for 13 stories in this collection from writer and poet Wanda Coleman. Many of the characters in these stories lead lonely lives full of longing and potential stifled by racism, poverty, and absurd accidents of fate. And yet, even though they are trapped by the present moment, their inner lives are glowing, a mirror of the city of angels in which they live, a metropolis, “always simmering,” as Coleman writes in the final story, “ever waiting to be borne on that balmy promised crescendo.”
Coleman applies a poet’s economy of words to her fiction, setting a scene with lightning-quick strokes, letting a detail, a dialogue, or the brisk vernacular speak for itself. Or, alternatively, she will step in and take center stage, an omniscient voice seeing beyond the impending and inevitable tragedy, but powerless to change either narrative or outcome. Powerless, that is, only within the bounds of the story, for Coleman is an author devoted to change, personal and political, writing to affect the balance of power in America.