Platitudes is a novel within a novel that tells two parallel love stories. The first story concerns the romance of high schoolers Earle Tyner and Dorothy LaMont. The second story is about the growing attraction of authors Dewayne Wellington and Isshee Ayam. The romance of the two authors develops while Dewayne is writing the story of Earle and Dorothy, called Platitudes. These two stories are periodically interrupted by parodies of aptitude test questions, menus, song lyrics, and different comic lists.
At the beginning of their story, Earle and Dorothy attend different private schools in New York City and have not met. Both black students try in different ways to fit in at their mostly white schools. Earle excels in computer class and associates with computer buffs Donald and Andy. Together they call themselves “Trinary.” They are looked down upon by the other students, who call them “Nerd One, Two, and Three.” Dorothy divides her time between the wild social life of her wealthy friends at school and the dull work at her mother’s Harlem home-cooking restaurant.
After introducing these characters, author Dewayne interrupts the story of Earle and Dorothy to confess that he is having trouble writing and to ask for assistance. He receives a sharply worded response from Isshee Ayam, who criticizes what Dewayne has written as sexist and offers her version of Earle and Dorothy’s story. In Isshee’s first chapter “Rejoice!,” Earle is a respectful child of a poor but honest rural black family struggling for survival against a heartless creditor, Mr. Wyte.
(The entire section is 665 words.)