RARA-AVIS: Skinner, Salis, and Passing

Thu, 21 Jan 1999 11:28:44 EST Peter Walker writes:

<< >
> Having read our Bob Skinner's new book I was surprised to
> come across a bit in "Balck Hornet" by Jim Sallis in which
> one character - who presents as white - is, in fact, black.
> This is also a key plot ploy in our Bob's book. Now, either this
> is a "New Orleans" theme or our Bob read Salllis and thought
> "Now there's an idea for a book"? >

Someone out there knows more about this topic than I do, but I'll send what
little knowledge I have across the Atlantic about what is perhaps a more
American (or African-American) literary theme (and phenomenon), which is often
called "passing." Many novels that mull over race and identity will include
"passing"--when a character of one race passes as another (as a way of showing
that identity is not about skin color). It works well in mystery or crime
fiction, since such plots often revolve around deception, hidden past, etc.
I've only read one Mosely novel (DEVIL...), but there is a character who is
"passing" there. I suppose one might say there is inadvertent cross-"passing"
in that early novel of detection by fingerprint--Twain's PUDDINGHEAD WILSON.
I would suggest others name crime novels that include "passing," but this
could produce a lot of spoilers.

Doug Levin
# To unsubscribe, say "unsubscribe rara-avis" to majordomo@icomm.ca.
# The web pages for the list are at http://www.vex.net/~buff/rara-avis/.