Summary (Masterplots II: African American Literature, Revised Edition)
Appalachee Red, the first part of Raymond Andrews’s Muskhogean Trilogy, traces the development of African American life in the American South from just after World War I until the end of 1963. Although the novel is perhaps best described as tragicomic, it presents readers with many truths of the cultural, social, political, and historial milieus of the South during the first half of the twentieth century.
The novel opens in late autumn of 1918, when Big Man Thompson, a twenty-one-year-old African American man, is arrested, tried, convicted, and imprisoned for a crime he did not commit. This is the first of a number of tragic but realistic injustices experienced by African Americans in the South that the author catalogs. Other such experiences include economic oppression, political manipulation, terrorization of the African American community by law enforcement officials, and forced concubinage of African American women as a rite of southern white manhood. These are accepted codes of conduct in Muskhogean County, Georgia, Andrews’s microcosm of the rural South.
Appalachee Red enters town as a mysterious stranger in the fall of 1945 and, with his own brand of manipulation of Appalachee’s African Americans and whites, goes about deliberately and calculatingly claiming the African American community as his own domain. For the next eighteen years, Red is the undisputed and uncontested king of Appalachee, with most of the population...
(The entire section is 454 words.)
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Bibliography (Masterplots II: African American Literature, Revised Edition)
Andrews, Raymond. The Last Radio Baby: A Memoir. Atlanta: Peachtree, 1990. Autobiography that focuses on the author’s youth.
Blundell, Janet Boyarin. Review of Appalachee Red, by Raymond Andrews. Library Journal, October 1, 1978, p. 2005. A brief early review that praises the novel as “pungent, witty, and powerful.”
Contemporary Authors. Vol. 136. Detroit: Gale, 1991. Contains a useful overview of Andrews’s life and career. Highlight is Andrews’s own commentary on his work. Brief bibliography. Includes information on Andrews’s suicide.
Harris, Trudier. “This Disease Called Strength: The Masculine Manifestation in Raymond Andrews’s Appalachee Red.” In Contemporary Black Men’s Fiction and Drama, edited by Keith Clark. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2001. Discusses the relationship between race, masculinity, and power in Andrews’s novel. Bibliographic references and index.
The New Yorker. Review of Rosiebelle Lee Wildcat Tennessee, by Raymond Andrews. August 11, 1980, 90. Brief, laudatory review of Andrews’s second novel that stresses his abilities as a storyteller who “knows just how far to stretch his audiences’ memory and credulity as he spins and weaves his colorful yarns.”