Book Review: THE WIG (NEA Heritage & Preservation Series)
Publication Date: Jan 01, 2003
List Price: $14.95
Format: Paperback, 176 pages
Imprint: To Be Determined
Publisher: To Be Determined
Parent Company: To Be Determined
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Book Reviewed by Linda Watkins
There were many ways to evaluate, The Wig, by author Charles Wright, so many in
fact, I had a difficult time deciding on how I could should begin this review.
Perhaps that was because the beginning of the book could have also been the end.
No, I haven't flipped out or anything. I just read a 37 year old book that
accurately predicted how we are living, right-now, in the present day.
The Wig was originally published in 1966. If you read it before now it would probably have been insulting. Individuals fighting for civil rights and equality would have balked at its content. It would have been misunderstood, considered cartoonish, buffoonish and demeaning to the black race. Lines worthy of Buckwheat, like, "No sur. Me cain't weed nor wight to save muh name . . ." would have created an uproar against Charles Wright. But now, his work can truly be appreciated as pre-science.
The Wig, is hilariously funny and disgustingly sad at the same time. Imagine how ridiculous the thought of gold fingernails appeared in the 1960's. Or running past the police to avoid being stopped, while they are wearing buttons saying, "We are our brother's keepers," pretending to be your friend. However now, in the twenty first century, it is a picture-perfect glimpse of how predictable our destiny was, and of the society we have become.
Wright allows us to visit 2003 through the eyes' of individuals from the 60's by developing characters that are familiar sights for many of us nowadays. You will meet, the funeral director, the Creole alcoholic, the unforgettable Ms. Sandra Hanover, the Deb and the Duke -- a frustrated musician who smokes marijuana out of a baby saxophone. And although the image of his main character, Lester, (who does his 'doo' to look like he belongs on the other side), doesn't faze us, he cracks you up switching his identity. I was screaming when I read about the siren going off to warn of radioactive dust every quarter hour and I howled with laughter at him tap dancing in front of the Empire State Building. Wright had me doubled over from the beginning of the book. His insight into the future was unbelievable. In fact, it was frighteningly how accurate his fiction book was about unemployment due to jobs being done by computers, not humans and the following of Lily Law (White man's law).
I like Wright's writing style. The Wig is realistic and rich in sincerity. Wright's words are springy, quick and concise. His dialogue and masterful scene changes make for a smooth read, until the end. Here the story takes on a deepness that catches you off guard. It won't be the ending you expect.
In my opinion, The Wig, is going to get a lot of attention, as it should. I expect to hear about a few awards. It was a great read. You won't be putting it down for a while once you pick it up. I recommend it for a Friday night special, along with a tall glass of lemonade. You go on Mr. Wright, with your bad self.