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Chango's Beads and Two-Tone Shoes (Center Point Platinum Fiction (Large Print)) Hardcover – Large Print, January, 2012
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Intrusion: A Novel
A loving couple, grieving the loss of their son, finds their marriage in free fall when a beautiful, long-lost acquaintance inserts herself into their lives. Learn More
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"Written with such brio and encompassing humanity that it may well deserve to be called the best of the bunch . . . In Mr. Kennedy's Albany, as in William Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha County, the past is never past. Changó's Beads and Two-Tone Shoes is invigorated by this same blending of new and old, of progress and recurrence . . . there's more shot and incidence in Changó than in any novel of Mr. Kennedy's since Legs . . . the style here has the sleekness and strength of good crime noir." — Sam Sacks, Wall Street Journal
"Vivid and charming . . . Kennedy, now in his 80s, is in the embrace of nostalgia as he looks back on the adventures of his youth, and this gives the novel much of its not inconsiderable appeal . . . He is a fluid, engaging prose stylist, and frequently a witty one . . . Kennedy has maintained a high level of achievement throughout [his Albany Cycle], deftly blending comedy and drama as, over the years, he has painted a portrait of a single city perhaps unique in American fiction." — Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post
"Kennedy's humor is sly and wonderful . . . there's an almost deliriously rich cast of lowlifes here: gun runners, politicians on the make, street- corner agitators, prostitutes, winos . . . Kennedy's] description of Hemingway . . . is well-nigh perfect." — Kate Tuttle, The Boston Globe --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
About the Author
Kennedy is a professor in the English department at the State University of New York at Albany. He is the founding director of the New York State Writers Institute and, in 1993, was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He has received numerous literary awards, including the Literary Lions Award from the New York Public Library, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and a Governor’s Arts Award. Kennedy was also named Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters in France and a member of the board of directors of the New York State Council for the Humanities.--This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
20 years later that young boy is in Cuba. Quinn is a journalist and he hopes to interview the rebel leader Fidel Castro. He meets a woman and he is instantly smitten. Mix in the Santeria religion, Ernest Hemingway in decline, the repressive Batista regime, and a reporter who is looking for a scoop while indulging in all the intrigue. There's a gangster, gunrunners, daring journalists, and of course, Fidel. The book really starts cooking.
Then we move back to Albany. The year is 1968. Bobby Kennedy has just been shot. Quinn, the reporter, is trying to write a story about the racial unrest in the city. The Albany political machine is in high gear. And we find out what happened to most of the characters we met in previous scenes.
Kennedy has written another timeless work of literature here.
The central figure of CHANGO'S BEADS AND TWO-TONE SHOES is Daniel Quinn, who was introduced as Billy Phelan's ten-year-old nephew way back in Kennedy's second Albany novel, "Billy Phelan's Greatest Game". Numerous other characters from the earlier Albany novels make encore appearances, and there are many engaging new characters as well, including a curious trio of historical figures - Bing Crosby, Ernest Hemingway, and Fidel Castro. Though Daniel Quinn is clearly the protagonist (and, incidentally, in some respects the fictional persona of author William Kennedy), his elderly father George comes close to stealing the show.
The novel consists of three slices of Daniel Quinn's life. The first (consisting of only six pages) occurs in Albany in October 1936, when Quinn is eight. The second occurs in Havana in March 1957, where Quinn has gone as a reporter in search of a story and where he encounters the woman who will become his wife, the passion and bloodshed of revolution, and the mysteries of Santeria (as well as the Chango's beads of the novel's title). The last and largest slice (over 200 pages) is back in Albany on June 5, 1968, the day of vigil after Robert F. Kennedy had been shot in Los Angeles and a day of racial unrest throughout the country, including Albany. Quinn becomes embroiled in the turmoil both as a newspaper reporter and in his personal life.Read more ›
The story traces a "cosmos in motion"... "moving relentlessly in an arc of justice," wearing Chango's beads of power and protection and a pair of two-tone shoes, dancing and undulating to the pulsating rhythms of the constant background music... to the blue notes of jazz.
The story belongs to journalist Daniel Quinn and begins in August 1936, during his childhood in Albany, New York, when one night while out and about the town with his father George, the young eight year-old meets the great crooner Bing Crosby and experiences an unforgettable night of jazz piano and song that will reverberate in his soul for the rest of his life. The tempo is thus set and puts into motion a life's odyssey for Daniel. Inspired by his iconic journalist grandfather, the senior Daniel Quinn, young Quinn embarks on an adventurous career of news journalism and fiction writing.
The story then jumps in time to March, 1957 and the El Floridita bar in Havana, Cuba, where Quinn is delivered into the realm of Papa Hemingway, the great legendary writer in whose literary footsteps Quinn hopes to follow. At the same time as meeting Hemingway, Quinn also falls into the orbit of an enchanting woman destined to become his wife, the beautiful, fiery Renata, around whom the rest of Quinn's life will perpetually revolve.Read more ›
These two opening scenes, the arrival of Hemingway, and Quinn's interview with the young Fidel Castro, establish the narrative tone and atmosphere for this novel which focuses on two revolutions: Castro's revolution in Cuba, and the slightly later revolution in the US in the 1960s regarding civil rights. Using the life of Tremont Van Ort, a pool hustler with two-tone shoes, as a focus for the Albany "revolution," the author concentrates the action on June 5, 1968, the day that Robert Kennedy is shot and a race riot breaks out in Albany.
The chaos of the race riots parallels in many ways the seeming chaos of much of the narrative.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Bought this book because it was recommended by Dennis Lehane, but I guess we just don't have similar tastes! Read morePublished 21 months ago by Denise K. Maguire
one chapture in Cuba - next chapture in Albany very confusingPublished 22 months ago by Barbara J. Regan
When Kennedy published Roscoe some years ago, it looked like he was doing what very few novelists do--he appeared to be going out on top. Read morePublished 23 months ago by entertheregistrar
Would give it SIX stars, but they only let us choose from five. Brilliant, wonderful novel by one of our greatest authors. Read morePublished on June 26, 2014 by Edwin Heaven
This appears to be Kennedy's valediction. I wished it could have been longer, oddly. There's a curtain call feel to the summing up and the references to any number of threads... Read morePublished on June 16, 2014 by Mark J. Spearin
I love this man's writing. The characters, the settings, the action are way above most authors. The two main characters were endearing in cooky ways that we love with snippets of... Read morePublished on March 21, 2014 by Amazon Customer