Phoebe-Lou Adams

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Last Updated on May 9, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 187

[The hero of "The Chaneysville Incident"] is a cross-grained professor of history living with a woman psychiatrist who keeps asking, "Do you want to talk about it?" He is black and she is white, which gives them plenty to argue about but does not necessarily endear them to the reader. Their partnership is the defect in a novel that is admirable in other respects, for Mr. Bradley portrays believable people from several levels of black society in a small Pennsylvania town, shows how that society interacts with white society, and reconstructs a ferocious episode on the local branch of the Underground Railroad. He writes well of hunting and woodsmanship and makes skillful use of detail that has the ring of authentic regional tradition. He also explains the persistence of racial resentment in a black whose professional success is solidly established. For this last and important point, the psychiatrist was no doubt necessary to the action—but Lord, she is a bore.

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Phoebe-Lou Adams, "Short Reviews: 'The Chaneysville Incident'," in The Atlantic Monthly (copyright © 1981, by The Atlantic Monthly Company, Boston, Mass.; reprinted with permission), Vol. 247, No. 5, May, 1981, p. 84.

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