Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Philadelphia Fire by John Edgar Wideman

Wideman, John Edgar. Philadelphia Fire. NY: Holt, 1990.

Philadelphia fire refers to the 1985 bombing by Philadelphia police of the communal group known as Move and the resulting destruction of a city block in West Philadelphia and the deaths of six adults and five children. The novel is not strictly about this event, although it is central to the novel; it is more about the narrator's psyche exploding when he hears about it. The first part of Philadelphia Fire is a straight forward narrative. The narrator hears about the fire in Greece where he has been living and decides to return to Philadelphia and his old neighborhood, which is in the vicinity of the bombing. He wants to find the one little boy who survives the devastation. Unfortunately, he fails to find him. The rest of the novel is a pastiche of memories from the narrator's lfie in West Philly. He emphasizes the poverty and the lack of opportunity; the neglect, violence and degradation of the neighborhood. The novel ends with the narrator's attendance at a ceremony held to recognize the slain Move family members.

2nd floor Black Library PS3573.I26 P48 1990

Wideman's most recent books are a novel: Fanon. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2008 and a collection of short stories, God's Gymn. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2005.

For other books by John Edgar Wideman at Grinnell College Libraries, follow this link:

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